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NFMT: Hurricane Recovery Depended on Planning, Teamwork


By Cathryn Jakicic Emergency Preparedness
hurricane Irma

After Hurricane Irma struck land in September of 2017, the U.S. Embassy building in Havana, Cuba, was swamped by a wall of water caused by a storm surge, What got the building up and running again was teamwork, according to a panel at the NFMT (National Facilities Management & Technology) conference — held in Baltimore, Md., from March 26-28.

The panel — Ed Babczak, Director of Fire Protection, Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO), of the U.S.Department of State, John Fiala, Chief, Office of Facility Management’s Maintenance Support Division, Department of State and Brain Pendergast, Foreign Service Facility Manager, Department of State — talked about the challenges and lessons learned from their experience with Irma.

The 2017 hurricane season lasted from June 1 through Nov. 30, causing more than 3,300 deaths and 280 billion dollars in damages. Almost all of this damage (99.7 percent) was caused by the hurricanes. Irma, Harvey and Maria.

Irma, a Category 5 storm, plowed through Havana for five days, damaged great swaths of the island, including the embassy.

According to the panel, the keys to dealing with an potential emergency are:

• Written Preparedness plans
• Access to Critical equipment
• Flexibility in execution
• Teamwork

Check out video of the damage to the embassy compound.

Cathryn Jakicic is healthcare industries editor of FacilitiesNet.com. For more information on hospital campuses and other medical facilities, visit Healthcare Facilities Today.

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