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Dolly's Silver Lining

Amy Campbell

July 29, 2008

3 Min Read
Dolly's Silver Lining

As the Southwest Regional Manager for AAA Storage in Corpus Christi, Texas, John Roser was called to the aid of an affiliate facility damaged by Hurricane Dolly. Below, John, who also operates USA Storage Resource, talks about his experience and offers tips for others who may have to weather a storm themselves.   

Let me begin by saying thanks to all who have offered prayers and support for Butch and Maria Diaz, managers at AAA Storage Palm Valley in Harlingen, Texas.

Hurricane Dolly packed a one-two punch of 100 mph winds and an unofficial 10-plus inches of rain. About 1,000 square feet of galvanized seamed roofing was peeled from one building at AAA Storage in Harlingen, Texas, with six or seven units fully exposed to the elements for the duration of the hurricane.

The roof of the office/apartment lost some shingles and the managers thought for a moment that the roof was on its way as well. Thankfully, it held. A dozen additional doors were either blown in or otherwise damaged by flying debris; some gutters came down and were damaged, several security lights and the pole sign are either damaged or inoperable.

Here's the silver lining: To the credit of the site managers, construction crew, insurance adjusters and understanding customers, the site is fully operational. with only three units remaining unrentable, just three days after the storm!

The lesson, besides the necessity of tenant insurance, is to have proper pre-storm preparation and swift execution of the plan once an event does occur (this goes for any event, not just hurricanes). For example, in our situation, immediately before the storm (and before we were certain of its projected path), we reviewed scenarios and plans with site managers, the operations director and construction supervisor via fax, e-mail and telephone.

The site managers prepared customers by assisting with insurance inquiries and allowing additional gate time for those who wished to sandbag units or remove items prior to landfall. The operations director forwarded relevant information to owners and insurance contacts, while the construction supervisor borrowed a crew from a new AAA project, placing them on standby for immediate dispatch to the Rio Grande Valley, about 300 miles distant.

During the storm, we were given information by the site managers as often as they could safely communicate by cell phone. We were extremely proud of these two, who watched with lumps in their throats as Dolly thrashed their pride and joy and scattered customer property to the wind ...

A flurry of activity followed the storm, and my wife, Barbara, and I were on site Friday afternoon in our RV to help coordinate the cleanup. The construction crew was onsite less than 48 hours after the event, as were the insurance adjusters, all of whom cooperated wonderfully to make the site operational again as quickly as possible.

The unified effort was accomplished within sight of the affected tenants, who seemed reassured that there was so much activity ongoing and on their behalf. Managers Butch and Maria again were wonderful as they contacted affected tenants and assisted with relocation of their property and cleanup.

The results of the effort were amazing, and AAA Storage Palm Valley was fully operational, except for two back-ordered unit doors, by Monday morning. I am convinced that the speed with which we recovered was due in large part to effective planning and execution of a simple disaster procedure.

About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Editor, Inside Self Storage

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