WASTE MANAGEMENT PROVIDING RELIEF AND CLEANUP SERVICES
TO VICTIMS OF HURRICANE ANDREW
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Sept. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Waste Management Inc. is providing emergency stabilization, sanitation and cleanup services to the South Florida and Louisiana communities that were devastated by Hurricane Andrew.
Mobilization for the relief efforts began Sunday night, August 23, as Hurricane Andrew bore down on southern Dade County, Fla. The company had equipment, including portable toilets and roll-off containers for holding the storm's debris, on the road to Dade County by Monday afternoon.
The First Wave of Relief: Repairing and Making Shelter
Waste Management concentrated much of the first wave of its relief services in Homestead, Fla., a community practically obliterated by Andrew. The company is coordinating its relief efforts there with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state and local governments.
During the first nine days of immediate response, the company repaired the roof of the armory in Homestead, where rain was threatening to damage the clothing and other supplies being stored inside. The roof was fixed by Thursday, August 27, using 6 mil plastic sheeting and roofing felt.
The company also repaired the roofs of two major shelters for those left homeless -- Brookshire Gym and the Homestead Middle School. The Red Cross is using the middle school to house medical supplies.
Within eight days following the Category 5 winds that turned most buildings in Homestead into rubble, Waste Management had also erected a 58,000-square-foot tent in the city. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers quickly designated it as a central receiving point for the donated supplies that are pouring in.
Waste Management plans to erect a second, 50,000-square-foot tent in the city. The measure is currently awaiting approval of the state's emergency relief office.
Waste Management of North America, The Brand Companies and Chemical Waste Management, all subsidiaries of Waste Management Inc., are participating in the relief efforts. The company has marshaled equipment from its divisions in at least 20 states, including Illinois, Waste Management's worldwide headquarters. Thousands of Waste Management employees nationwide have been called into action to support the relief effort.
"The thrust of our effort has been to reach the city and county officials in each community, find out what they need, and then deliver our services to them as quickly as possible," said Jim O'Connor, president of Waste Management of North America South. Florida and Louisiana are among 11 states under his purview.
Waste Management representatives met with Homestead city officials as early as Tuesday afternoon, August 25. The company shipped 1,500 gallons of water to the city's staff and had set up dumpsters around the community by Wednesday.
Piecing Together 58,000 Square Feet of Warehousing in 10 Hours
When Waste Management asked Homestead officials what they needed, one of the requests was for more space -- and fast -- to house emergency supplies.
Working with Olshan Demolishing Co., a division of the Brand Companies, Waste Management arranged for delivery of three large tents which, when pieced together, became a 58,000-square-foot temporary shelter for food and supplies.
The tenting materials were transported by truck from Houston, arriving Monday, August 31, after a two-day journey. Waste Management employees working on the project slept in a van in Homestead while they waited for the delivery.
Nineteen employees, including personnel from Texas and Pennsylvania, spent 10 hours erecting the tent. The tent's location changed three times during the process, as Army personnel organized various command posts.
One Olshan employee, Willie Smith, managed to secure two roto-hammers, used to penetrate the area's coral rock so that the tent's anchors could be put in place. As soon as the massive structure was up, the Army began diverting all incoming supplies to Waste Management's tent. The tent covers an area larger than a football field.
The Second Wave: the Cleanup
"Food, clothing and shelter were the first tier of the priority list, and that's where our company focused our initial support services," O'Connor said. "Now that these are being stabilized, the next tier is cleanup."
Waste Management had developed its own emergency response plan two years ago. Key personnel started putting the plan into action the Friday before Andrew slammed into South Florida and continued its destructive course through southern Louisiana.
As of September 3, the company had delivered or arranged to deliver 6,000 Port-O-Lets to south Florida. Some are from Waste Management divisions, others from the manufacturers of the portable toilets. Some of the latter units arrive in panels and must first be assembled.
Waste Management is also deploying containers, trucks and other equipment for the cleanup effort. For Florida, it includes at least 382 roll-off containers, the large open boxes that hold debris; another 205 containers for front-end-loader trucks; 29 residential collection trucks, 9 clam (claw arm) trucks, 10 dump trucks, 17 bucket loaders, 11 Bobcats, a backhoe, a forklift and additional support equipment. In Florida, the company is also providing trucks from its biomedical waste operation in the Orlando area to transport medical wastes.
In Louisiana, the company is providing 410 Port-O-Lets, 183 roll-off containers, 52 front-end-loader containers, 8 residential collection trucks, a bucket loader, 17 Bobcats, a street sweeper, and additional support equipment.
Free Emergency-Cleanup Service for Florida City
In Florida, the cleanup equipment began arriving at Waste Management's operating division in Florida City the afternoon following the hurricane. Like its Homestead neighbor, Florida City was crippled by Andrew. Although Waste Management's office there sustained damage, the company continued operating with the help of generators -- and will continue to make Florida City its base of operation.
Waste Management has chosen to contribute to Florida City's recovery though in-kind services rather than a cash donation. The company will provide free cleanup services during the relief effort, in conjunction with the military.
In both Florida City and Homestead, Waste Management is working with the Army to distribute 60,000 heavy-duty plastic garbage bags to residents. The 55-gallon bags, which The Brand Companies provided, should begin reaching residents tomorrow or Saturday.
Approximately 49 Waste Management emergency-response personnel are working in Morgan City, Franklin, New Iberia and other Louisiana communities.
In Florida, the response team includes a core group of 60 employees plus support personnel.
"Our emergency operation is open and functioning to fulfill the needs of the affected communities on a 24-hour basis," said safety director Bob Smedberg, who is coordinating Waste Management's emergency relief effort in both states. Smedberg working 21 hours each day of the first week following the hurricane. (During the second week, he's cut back to 20-hour workdays.)
The Next Wave: Restoration
Waste Management will assist in long-term relief efforts as well. The company has, for example provided about 50,000 square feet of modular building space to Homestead and Florida City. Federal, state and local government agencies have set up their operation in these 65 mobile offices -- from U.S. Customs Service to Homestead and Florida City municipal employees.
Waste Management is also on the Army Corps of Engineers' "short list" of companies being considered for the cleanup of Homestead Air Force Base.
Waste Management of North America South's headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is serving as the command center for the company's relief operations in both states. The office is located about 60 miles from southern Dade County.
Waste Management Inc. is the world's leading environmental services company, with proven capabilities in all aspects of waste handling -- from collection and disposal to recycling and resource recovery.
/CONTACT: Lynda Long of Waste Management of North America South, 305-771-9850/ CO: Waste Management of North America Inc. ST: Florida, Louisiana IN: SU: 1254 09-05-92 11:39 EDT MA -- NYSA006R -- 6773 09/08/92 07:11 EDT