Florida Power & Light Company (FP&L) provided an update at a recent Coral Springs Regional Chamber of Commerce meeting I attended. While listening, I had a “flashback” of a significant experience at their Turkey Point Nuclear Power facility.
In 1992, when Hurricane Andrew ripped through South Florida I worked for a company that provided security for FP&L’s Turkey Point and St. Lucie nuclear power stations.
Over 100 of our employees assigned to the Turkey Point facility lost their homes and everything in and around them. Homes, vehicles, clothes, food, memories and even some friends and family – were lost.
I lived in Pittsburgh at the time.
Hurricane contingency plans, of course, went into effect before the storm even touched the facility. Appropriate action was taken to protect the integrity of the facility and the people operating and protecting the plant and its operation.
As soon as the access roads were cleared of debris my boss and I arrived to better assess and provide hands-on assistance. We toured the areas as much as road access would permit, and it was the most devastating disaster I had ever witnessed.
I learned so much about the integrity of FP&L through this experience. They actually housed our employees including their families at their (FP&L) property! In case you are wondering, I know it was not all from the goodness of their hearts; after all, an operating plan for a nuclear power station requires security. They had to take action to support the ‘support system’, and that they did.
This story is not just what they did, but rather how they infused their strategy with compassion.
My first images of our employees’ spouses with their children all grouped together was forever etched in my mind. There was one little girl, in particular, who I can still picture like it was yesterday. The look in her eyes – very sad.
We had such wonderful employees of which many could fit all of their belongings in one box. Thankfully, their lives were spared and the kindness FP&L offered was fantastic. You see, although our employees were contractors, they and their families were treated like family.
Everyone there worked as a team, making their way through this horrible disaster with more care than I could have ever imagined. The energy was of kindness, generosity, and everyone was on top of their game.
There were so many things I could write about, but the six things I will never forget include:
- The devastation
- The look on children’s faces
- The effortless teamwork of everyone involved
- The compassion and generosity of FP&L
- How very proud I was of our team
- And the American Flag
South Florida was in total blackness at night during that time, yet on top of the entrance building roof was our flag, illuminated with a generator. Brilliant, I thought. I was reminded of how proud I was to be an American and was sure others felt the same.
As for me, I was not affected by the storm, but the situation greatly influenced me. The incredible leadership of FP&L was without question a piece of MY professional development. How? I now help companies create strong cultures! Watching FP&L at that time without question influenced my passion.
The worst of times are understandably stressful. We can either lead by creating additional stress, or exercise calm decisiveness.
“Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.”
– James Lane Allen
How do you handle stress? How would your employees and vendors write of you regarding the worst times? How have you influenced them by your example? When faced with the most difficult times, remember people are watching, and will remember. Heck, they may even write an article (smile). I try to be a good example, and I am sure you do as well, but we all could use a reminder. This “flashback” was mine.
Thank you FP&L for the compassionate care and excellent example.
I will never forget.
(P.S. And thank you Turkey Point security team for inviting me to your reunion last year. I was honored!)
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