Remembering Hurricane Andrew and Impactful Business Decisions

When Hurricane Andrew hit south Florida on August 24, 1992, I was living in the Pittsburgh area. I was also a part of the regional management team overseeing the physical security services for the Turkey Point nuclear plant in south Florida.

The eye of the hurricane, which had sustained winds of up to 145 miles per hour with gusts up to 175 miles per hour, passed directly over Turkey Point and caused extensive damage to its four generating units. However, there was no damage to the safety-related systems except for minor water intrusion. No radiation was released into the environment.

The nuclear units, manually shut down hours before the hurricane arrived, remained stable. There is much more to this story of the plant, but the bottom line is that they prepared for impact.

But there was more than the plant structure and safety to care for following this massive upset. The impact on those people who physically operated and supported the plant operations at the facility and their families. And they needed support and quickly.

Unfortunately, over 100 of our security team members supporting Turkey Point lost their homes and possessions, as did many Florida Power & Light (FP&L) employees and other vendor personnel. Most of these people lost everything. Their homes, cars, clothing, food, furniture – everything. And even some lives.

How do you continue to operate with employees so devastated?

Of course, as the security vendor, we, too, prepared for impact with a well-constructed contingency plan. We flew down as soon as flights were available. And what we saw was both dreadful and amazing. The devastation was greater than any photo can explain. And Florida Power & Light was on top of their game. They impressed me on many levels.

They provided on-site make-shift housing for all employees and their families that supported the plant. And, they treated them all with top-level care.

They provided counselors to help adults and children who were traumatized from living through the experience.

They provided food and so much more.

And together, we all found ways to get donations to help as much as possible.

How well do you consider the impact of disasters, decisions, and mishaps on the people who support your business?

Think about what happens when you don’t. In this case, the people supporting FP&L would have had no choice but to leave the area. They had no homes, clothes, or food. Yes, they had a job, but the needs reached far greater.

In my book, WINX (pronounced WIN X), I write about the need to focus on the critical trio. When assessing problems and making decisions, always consider the impact on the customers, the employees, and the company. After all, what happens when any one of those is drastically hurt?

Well done, FP&L. It was an honor to be a small part of your massive and successful effort.

Parone Group helps every person at every level of your organization thrive.  To check out our new book WINX, The Problem Solving Model to Win Exponentially With Customers, Employees & Your Bottom line click here