Hurricane preparedness in the public refrigerated warehousing industry

Hurricane preparedness in the public refrigerated warehousing industry

The highway billboards with the monstrous hurricane off Florida’s west coast almost screams at passing motorists when they warn “GET A PLAN” in huge letters.

Almost a month and a half into the Atlantic tropical storm season it’s still good advice for anyone— resident and business owner alike— who isn’t ready.

Were you ready the last time hurricanes swept through Central Florida? That was 10 years ago, when not one but three major storms— Charley, Frances, and Jeanne— hit Polk County in quick succession.

Did you or people you know lose electricity for a significant period of time? Without the benefit of generator power, did you, relatives of friends have to throw out food that spoiled without proper refrigeration? If so, imagine that situation multiplied by the thousands. Imagine the economic losses, legal and insurance wranglings, and pure waste a food public refrigerated warehousing (PRW) operation would endure if it wasn’t prepared for a hit by a Hurricane Katrina. The stakes are much too high in this industry to operate without a loss-of-power backup plan.

In Florida, or anywhere a hurricane can strike, any PRW business worth its salt will have a thorough set of emergency operating procedures in place and, out of courtesy, will communicate those procedures in summary form to its customers. At Adams Cold Storage, our storm contingency plan includes a procedure to keep food products at proper temperature for as long as possible; a priority-customer arrangement with our power utility; and stand-by agreements with electrical, refrigeration, and building contractors to make repairs in the event of any on-site damage.

PRW emergency plans carry a hefty price tag, but it’s a price we must be willing to pay to preserve our customers’ valuable products and protect our good name within the industry.

What about protecting what you have in the fridge or freezer— products you’ve already purchased with your hard-earned money? It’ll cost you at least the price of a good portable generator and the gasoline and oil to run it. With any luck, you’ll never have to use it.

CREDITS

column by BEN ADAMS, JR.

BIO: Ben Adams, Jr. is an owner and president of Adams Cold Storage LLC in Auburndale. He has been directly involved in citrus production, warehousing and distribution, as well as state and community support, since 1980. His facility incorporates 200,000 square feet of multi-temperature warehousing, with an extensive expansion project currently under way.