Just a few days ago on Wednesday, October 10th, one of the most powerful storms in US history made landfall and struck the Florida Panhandle. Hurricane Michael caused mass destruction and wiped out the entirety of Mexico Beach, Florida while also wreaking havoc up into Virginia. The buildings that it took down—both residential and commercial—were not built up to today’s hurricane codes and standards. The amount of rebuilding that will need to take place to return people’s lives to life as they once knew it is years away.
The deadliest US hurricane struck in August of 2005 with Katrina costing over $100 billion to recover from. Thirteen years later, New Orleans is still not fully recovered. Andrew hit South Florida in 1992 and those of us that are old enough to remember can still talk about it like it was yesterday. How far we have come that new technologies and shared resources from across the country can help bring power, phone coverage, and clean water to the stricken areas.
Looking at the pictures brings such a mixed bag of emotions. Construction professionals are quick to want to jump into action when their hearts are stirred.
How do you determine if you stay or if you go to help before or after a natural disaster without jeopardizing your current job?
Take time to have these discussions with your direct supervisor and give them enough time to have the conversations with other leaders and get back to you.
If you do not belong to a group that has planned accordingly to go into the area it might not be advantageous for you to go immediately following the disaster. You may not find accommodations, or you may be limited to where you can go or what you can do without governing approvals.
If you are planning on missing time from work it is important to follow your company’s policies for time off. Your employer will be more likely to support your efforts and may even contribute if you are professional with your planning. They have a business to run and clients to service despite their hearts most likely wanting to help also.
In October of 2017, I wrote an article regarding those that lost their jobs during Irma. The article was a result of us hearing of many individuals that had lost their jobs for not making appropriate arrangements through conversation with their employers before evacuating.
The Panhandle of Florida is going to have to rebuild over time just like what happened with past destruction in other areas. Unless you have family ties to the area or preplanned obligations as a member of the reserves or FEMA, chasing construction work in storm damaged areas may not be best for your career. This is especially if you are committed to an employer and project right where you are.
There are plenty of ways to feel good about helping without physically needing to be boots on the ground over a long period of time. Below we have provided links of suggested organizations to give time, items or money to.
We are fortunate that here in the USA we have people employed in full-time jobs to respond to natural disasters across the country in paid and volunteer roles. They are trained before deploying to the field during a natural disaster and also have preplanned accommodations. Many universities across the country including Everglades University in Florida offer programs on Crisis and Disaster Management.
If construction is your career versus crisis and disaster management, place value on your projects and your employer. Ultimately, you will earn the pay and respect which will offer you the privilege to follow your heart and help with your hands without burning bridges. Your employer might even participate themselves or with other resources and funds.
If an employer or recruiter offers you a big increase in pay for disaster repair work, think twice! There is usually a catch even beyond supply and demand. What motivates you today might limit your options tomorrow.
A heart to help goes a lot further with the support of the others you already have relationships with. It is good to give and best only to go in the right time. Value your commitments at home so you can have not only the choice of going, but a warm welcome if you chose to come back.