The extraordinary devastation caused by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in the fall of 2017 only strengthened our resolve to provide safety, support and services to our employees, customers and communities. We are proud of how our employees responded to the 2017 hurricanes: with professionalism, compassion and a deep commitment to safe operations.
We work to prepare our teams for disasters as part of our culture of safety and resiliency. Prior to Hurricane Irma making landfall, for example, our Florida and Mid-Atlantic teams prepared for the emergency by updating online service alerts, ensuring site managers had complete lists of employee contact information, distributing pre-storm preparation information to customers and emergency operating centers, planning social media content to communicate with customers, securing water for sites, keeping tanks full of fuel and moving vehicles to higher ground if needed.
We donated $3 million to Harvey aid relief and an additional $1 million in support of Hurricane Irma recovery efforts. Our team members also stepped up to help one another through the Waste Management Employees Care Fund, which provided financial assistance to nearly 550 employees impacted by Harvey or Irma.
In the wake of Hurricane Irma, all 67 Waste Management business units within the Florida Area were closed due to the scope, path and severity of the storm. Within 48 hours, however, Waste Management drivers were back on the job servicing customers statewide. And in the Florida Keys, service resumed on the fifth day after the storm, with drivers taking their time, navigating trouble spots and dealing with the excessive amounts of storm debris and garbage curbside.
While no Waste Management employees were injured in the storm, many did suffer extensive property damage and needed to relocate. The Waste Management Employees Care Fund quickly provided more than 260 Waste Management employees in Florida with company assistance totaling nearly $20,000.
Post-storm, 38 Waste Management “Green Team” members from around the country arrived to assist with hauling and post-collection operations, staying on the job for several months. The Florida team worked diligently to meet customers’ needs. Sales, Dispatch and Operations coordinated seamlessly to deliver nearly 2,500 containers the week after the storm to priority customers, including the 16 Florida Power & Light staging areas for first responders.
Waste Management volunteers took care of our communities as well, by delivering bags of ice to Everglades City and the South Winds Trailer Park in Sarasota; 500 hot meals to the Gifford Youth Achievement Center in Indian River County; and lunch to the Florida Power & Light linemen restoring power in Okeechobee.
Although we no longer have operations in Puerto Rico, we could not ignore the terrible devastation of Hurricane Maria. In response, we donated the use of a Waste Management corporate aircraft to help transport medicine and other supplies coordinated by an aviation services company that had run out of room on its own planes.