With yet another major hurricane taking aim at the Gulf Coast, Riverlands Golf and Country Club superintendent Randy Smith took a break from chronicling his cleanup experiences from Hurricane Katrina to post on the Talking it Over forum on GCSAA's Web site a few tips for other superintendents who are now preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Rita. He's also preparing for Rita, as the New Orleans area is expecting several inches of rain as the storm rolls toward land.
Hurricane Prep Tips
1. Make sure you get addresses and phone numbers of where your crew will be staying.
2. Make sure you have your gas and diesel tanks full. It may be three weeks or longer before you can get more. And for God's sake, make sure that you can get the gas out of the tanks. If you do not have power, your electric pumps will not work.
3. Make sure you already have enough chainsaws to handle the amount of trees or branches you will have down. If you have a driveway that can be blocked by downed trees, put these saws in your own vehicle or your most dependable crew person's vehicle so when you drive in, you can cut your way into your shop.
4. Make sure you have plenty of blades for your saws -- they become gold right after the storm, as do the chainsaws.
5. Have backpack blowers handy, as well as trash bags to clean up the leaves. This is really best at your own house.
6. Have a generator for your house. This is a MUST. It will keep your food from going bad and chances are FEMA will reimburse you for it later.
7. Buy a generator for the club. This is also a good idea because you can keep food from spoiling. You may need this food to feed your crew while your in the cleanup phase.
8. Keep plenty of safety equipment and have a harsh reality meeting with your crew about using them at this time. Point blank, the hospitals may not be open, you may not be able to reach them because of the destruction and power lines being down. This is no time to get careless.
9. Develop a plan of action for yourself and your crew. Have a crew meeting to discuss these plans. Such plans should cover topics like ...
- Where to get in touch with you
- When you will be returning to work after the storm, as well as when you expect them to return
- What hours you may expect to start and finish work. Many times they will have mandatory curfews in place and you really do not want your crew hassled by the police.
Consider taking the day after the storm off, for your crew's sake. Tell them that the first day is for them to handle their own homes, the homes of family and the homes of neighbors. If you loan them a chainsaw and a blower (at least to the ones you can trust), they will be able to help their neighbors more effectively. I am a firm believer in helping neighbors without them asking. It will reciprocate itself ten fold in them watching your home and family when you are away.
10. Batten down the hatches at your club, as well as your residence, and offer to help your workers do the same. You can also set up a help ladder among workers to get them to help each other. This can work both ways in that after the storm has passed, they can revers that ladder and help each other clean up.
11. Turn off all power to all buildings that do not have refrigerator equipment to help avoid lightning strikes from taking out valuable electronic equipment such as your pump house or computers in your office or at the club.
12. Find a safe place to store all computers that will keep them high and dry. Consider wrapping them in garbage bags and putting them on higher levels.
13. Keep ever alert during the storm and watch out for tornadoes. They are a serious threat during hurricanes.
14. Take plenty of pictures of all damage. If you do not own a digital camera, either consider buying one now, along with extra memory cards, or by lots of those throw-away cameras. It would not be uncommon to take between 200-600 pictures.