For more than a decade, Florida has avoided catastrophic hurricanes. Catastrophic storms like Wilma and Charley, the kind that rip along our peninsula and leave a path of destruction, disaster and sometimes, even death. But in early October, we watched as forecaster’s predicted Florida in the path of a dangerous Category 3 storm, Hurricane Matthew.
At the time, the National Hurricane Center projected Matthew as a potentially historic disaster for much of Florida’s east coast. At Newby Management, our team was on high alert with several of our communities in the storm’s direct path.
With experience in previous hurricanes, we activated the Newby Emergency Action Team (NEAT). In August 2004, Hurricane Charley tore through Southwest Florida and severely damaged a Newby Management community. From that experience, the team created NEAT to respond to natural disasters that may occur in Newby communities including hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, flooding and terrorism.
Despite predictions, Hurricane Matthew never made direct landfall in Florida. Instead, the harsh outer bands of the storm licked the state, causing widespread flooding, damage and power outages across the state, leaving 5 people dead.
In our communities, although there were reports of some significant damage, we lost no lives and no one was injured. NEAT responded before, during and after the storm to help keep residents safe and get their lives back on track quickly. Over the past 11 years, the NEAT team has been deployed 14 times to assist our communities across Florida.
While NEAT does not replace state or federal resources like Red Cross, we do understand that during times of natural disaster, these agencies can get overwhelmed. That’s where NEAT steps in. Our team of trained volunteers is able to provide resources and organization until the appropriate agencies can take over.
Here is a break-down of Newby Management’s response to Hurricane Matthew:
BEFORE HURRICANE MATTHEW:
• Corporate team members including the president, vice president, CEO and regional managers began reviewing NEAT documentation pertaining to storm preparation in the days leading up to Hurricane Matthew.
• Regional managers at the corporate office called their community managers to review their preparations and storm procedures.
• Based on Hurricane Matthew’s projected path, 2 NEAT teams were formed. One was set to deploy to Sandhill Shores in Fort Pierce, and the other was set to deploy to the east coast, where Newby Management has three communities. These two areas were projected to get the worst of the storm.
• The corporate office continued to monitor the path of Hurricane Matthew to ensure the proper personnel and resources where in place.
• Team members worked to ensure the 2 NEAT trailers were stocked and ready. These 6 x 12 trailers hold everything from generators and air compressors to bug spray and gloves.
• Community managers were instructed to board up clubhouses, clear debris and ensure their community was prepared to handle strong winds and potential flooding.
AFTER HURRICANE MATTHEW:
• Hurricane Matthew hit on Friday October 7, 2016. Although the storm did not directly hit the state, the east coast sustained strong winds and some serious damage.
• After receiving reports from the on-site NEAT teams at several communities, the corporate team made the decision to deploy both stocked NEAT trailers to the east coast, where two communities needed immediate attention.
• Saturday and Sunday the NEAT team deployed to the communities.
• Saturday morning, the team made a preliminary assessment of all affected communities.
• 3 NEAT team volunteers went to Highland Country Estates in Debary to help with moderate clean-up there. The NEAT trailer also made a stop at this community to drop of necessary supplies.
• The rest of the NEAT team met at Magnolia Village to prioritize response activities. Teams were then split up between the 3 communities to begin work.
• Teams worked to clear roadways and clean up twisted metal.
• On Sunday, 2 regional managers and Newby Management’s president made final preparations for the second team of NEAT volunteers to finish the initial relief efforts on Monday. Although, full clean up and recovery will take weeks.
COMMENTS FROM TEAM MEMBERS ON NEWBY MANAGEMENT’S HURRICANE MATTHEW RESPONSE:
- ”I cannot say enough about how grateful I am for all of my community managers,” said Neil Brown, Newby Management Regional Manager. “They all responded wonderfully in the preparation and response to this event. I have yet to hear a complaint. This is true also of the response volunteers from the corporate office and other communities.”
- “I am always amazed at how in the face of tragedy people will pull together to accomplish difficult tasks, said Barry Campbell, Newby Management Regional Manager. “The way our company personnel responded with positive attitudes, ready to work, focused on serving and preserving property is what made this response so successful. Training and planning helped, solid leadership did its part, but the aforementioned attitudes of service made it a successful “team” response.
Learn more about NEAT and Newby Management’s response to natural disasters.