City Employees are Hurricane Ready

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - A lot can happen between the time a hurricane forms in the distant waters of the Atlantic Ocean to the moment it makes direct landfall along the Texas Coast. A tropical system’s typically unpredictable track usually means the timespan for preparation and eventual action can swiftly shift from several days to just a few hours. As residents keep a close eye on a storm’s path, City employees are also closely monitoring the situation. They not only carry out preparation to ensure the safety of their families, but many City employees are trained to help area residents by following predetermined assignments and plans of action.

For Lawrence Mikolajczyk, director of Solid Waste Services, having the training and specific plans in place prior to a storm’s arrival is the key to ensuring the safety of his employees as well as maintaining the continued availability of his department’s services. He recalls when Hurricane Bret affected the area in 1999, it created significant challenges even though the storm did not make direct landfall in the City.

“Hurricane Bret made landfall approximately 60 miles south of the Corpus Christi,”Mikolajczyk said, “but we had to deal with 70 mile-per-hour straight line winds with lots of rain which mainly affected the east side of the City.”

This meant Mikolajczyk and his team had to not only respond to storm-related debris issues for the most affected part of the City, but it also had to maintain a regular service schedules to the less impacted areas.  Mikolajczyk attributes his department’s successful handling of the situation to the formulation of a detailed plan and effectively executing it.

For Constance Sanchez, director of Finance, knowing the plan and quickly acting on it means securing her family and property and then reporting for her assigned duties as a City employee.

 “In a storm emergency, I report to the EOC to field phone calls and gather information on what departments spend and then reporting that to FEMA,” she said.  “The Finance Department has to make sure the City will to be reimbursed for any costs which were expended during the hurricane.” 

Sanchez, a City employee for 26 years, says her department’s required preparations are designed to safeguard valuable information as well as to ensure important department operations will continue regardless of the storm’s effects.

“Our plan ensures we will still be able to pay our employees off-site,” she said.  “It is a big challenge to keep our department running as seamlessly as possible despite severe weather conditions.”

Regardless of how unpredictable a hurricane may be, it is good to know City employees can rely on a clear plan of action as they stand ready to serve fellow employees and the citizens of Corpus Christi.

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