Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area, with massive flooding throughout southwest Texas and Louisiana. Residents in Florida are starting to rebuild their lives after Hurricane Irma pounded the state and it will be a long time before Puerto Rico recovers from Hurricane Maria.
The aftermath of these storms has left thousands under water, without power and even homeless. Long after the winds die down and the rain stops, efforts to rebuild these areas will continue. As local business owners — as an industry — it’s important to be there for the community.
As cleanup commences, it’s important for you to educate your customers on the dangers of starting up their HVACR systems after flooding.
“Standing water in a yard, house, or basement can damage a home’s heating, cooling, and water heating equipment in ways that are not always readily apparent, putting families at risk,” says Stephen Yurek, president and CEO of Air-Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). “We advise homeowners to play it safe and replace, rather than repair, flood-damaged heating, cooling, and water heating equipment.”
There is a huge safety issue when it comes to starting up their AC units after such a severe storm and flood.
Located just outside Houston in Waller, Texas, Goodman Manufacturing was right in the thick of the storm and has been going above and beyond to help its local community and its contractor customers.
“We were fortunate enough to survive Harvey and continue to provide customers with consistent product output,” says Nathan Walker, senior vice president for Goodman.” We were working in less than favorable conditions but we came together and were able to get up and running almost immediately following the storm.”
As an expert and a leader in your community, you must communicate with your customers the importance of having a certified HVACR technician take a look at the full system prior to starting it back up.
“Many people will want to simply fire everything back up and see what works, but it’s highly advisable that a technician checks it out first,” Walker says. “The damage may not be visible.”
In addition to the electrical concern — which is probably the biggest — the second level of potential damage comes as the unit may have moved during the storm.
You know your market and communicate regularly with your customers. Be sure to reach out to the customers you know are in flooded areas — whether that be via email or phone call — and let them know they need to have that system checked out prior to turning it back on. Social media is a great tool to get the word out.
In addition to educating your customers on the dangers, it’s important for you to be there as a pillar of the community.
Andrea Hughes, director of operations at DUCTZ in Florida, provided shelter for her employees, along with her family, at her home so they would be safe during the worst of the storm.
Like millions of other Florida residents, she is assessing damage to her home and business. She is also working hard to inform her community about how to efficiently and effectively navigate the sometimes confusing process of determining when a home is safe to enter following a hurricane
Edd Helms Electric & Air Conditioning in South Florida has been actively involved in emergency power restoration and emergency HVACR services as well.
Daikin, the parent company for Goodman, is actively participating in the rebuilding efforts for employees and other community members whose lives have been affected. The company has recently donated $100,000 to the Red Cross and $100,000 to WARM (Waller Assistance & Restoration Ministries).
The Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) has also activated it’s Disaster Relief Fund, just as it did after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Every dollar the fund receives is promptly redistributed to those office and field employees of MCAA member companies who are desperately in need as a direct result of Hurricane Harvey. To contribute, visit mcaa.org.
Many local contractors, distrubutors and manufacturers are doing what they can to help these affected areas recover — and even if you’re company isn’t located in Texas, Florida or Puerto Rico, you can help too.
Please consider following the lead of these companies by donating to the Red Cross or another reputable charity.
This industry is full of great people and at times of uncertainty and stress, true leaders rise to the occassion to help those around them. As Charles Dickens once said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”