Extras from “Weathering the Storm”

The April 2018 issue of SN covers six directors who demonstrate a lot more than bravado and commitment in SN Editorial Assistant Rachel E. O’Connell’s article, “Weathering the Storm.” In this online content, you’ll find extra statistics, a PowerPoint on disaster preparedness planning, more quotations from those directors who faced the devastating hurricanes (Irma & Harvey) and California fires (Thomas) in 2017, as well as a selection of photos from those directors and their inspiring experiences managing these crises.

Photos courtesy of Dawn Houser, Suzanne Lugotoff and Shirley Parker

Worst Hurricanes in U.S. History by Cost

  1. KATRINA, 2005, CAT 3, $125,000,000,000
  2. HARVEY, 2017, CAT 4, $125,000,000,000
  3. MARIA, 2017, CAT 4, $90,000,000,000
  4. SANDY 2012, CAT 1, $65,000,000,000
  5. IRMA, 2017, CAT 4, $50,000,000,000

Collier County Public School Disaster Planning Preparedness PowerPoint

Suzanne Lugotoff, SNS, director of child nutrition services, Oxnard (Calif.) Elementary School District

  • It started in Santa Paula. Oxnard was affected but not as much as the other districts (Ojai Unified, Ventura, Santa Paula Unified, Fillmore, and Santa Barbara). They hug the entire landscape. If you look at the map, you’ll see that the fire went east to Fillmore.
  • If you look at the map, Ojai was fully circled and isolated. I don’t know what kind of blessing happened, but the fire didn’t take the valley.
  • My immediate response was that I was on the phone with my team in the office. You’re dealing with business, recreating orders; all of our vendors were able to support us in getting the foods we needed. That was my number one priority. You don’t have a choice—you do what you have to do.
  • We had to be creative in the second week where we were only in session for two days and we stuck with our original menu.

Melissa Albright, SNS, director of food services, Monroe County (Fla.) School District

  • We had a lot of people who lost their homes and a lot of people in temporary housing as a result.
  • As soon as our employees got back in, I worked with maintenance and custodians.
  • That was our first time being through a hurricane. I’m from North Carolina and have experienced snow days before.  
  • USDA asked if we needed food before the hurricane, which we didn’t because we had our own vendors and stock.
  • Monroe County is 105 miles long. The hurricane came through the middle of the Keys. They didn’t allow us back in until September 18—and it hit on the 6th.

Dawn Houser, MBA, SNS, director of nutrition services, Collier County (Fla.) School District

  • The Hurricane was predicted to come in on the other coast. Then it made landfall on Marco Island, then Capri. I’m eight minutes from Marco. It hit Collier and the Keys and sections of Lee County. It really did a job on Monroe and Collier Counties.
  • We had first responders coming in and trying to make contact. My car was my office. Every morning, I’d start my generator, start my car, and plug in my phone. All over the county, everyone was without power. Trees were down; power lines were down. Keep in mind that Marco Island floods without a hurricane, so it was completely flooded. People were fighting to get gasoline, ice and drinking water. And what food you had was what you had—that was true personally and for schools all over the district. There was not one piece of food for purchase—not pan, not fresh, not frozen, not even anything in the Walmart. And, of course, we didn’t have any power to cook anything. It was just trying to survive.
  • (As of Dec 2017): There are some areas still flooded and they’re not going to let people rebuild. Every school suffered damage.

Sonny Stelmacki, director of food and nutrition services, Lee County (Fla.) Public Schools

  • Lee County has encountered a lot of “near misses” when it comes to hurricanes. So, this was the first time we had to step up our game.
  • We opened nine shelter locations. The county designates which locations are to serve beforehand and we have arrangements that we will open these shelters and man them, providing meals as long as that school location meets their flood plane regulations. They will not open a school as a shelter without the proper safety requirements, which includes elevation and other safety ratings for the buildings. Some of our schools are not as sturdy as others so only those nine are approved.
  • Facility-wise, we are fully recovered (as of December 2017). We didn’t have too much damage, fortunately. Our director of maintenance made sure he had his people at the right places at the right times.
  • One of our biggest challenges was communications within the district and with our staff. The electricity was out within the majority of our area. The shelter schools had generators and were self-sufficient, though, even if the surrounding area was without power.

Jane Zentko, RD, director of nutrition services, Duval County (Fla.) School District

  • The day after the storm came through Jacksonville, essential administrative staff of the DCPS food service office and Chartwells returned to offices to evaluate any damage and made a plan to visit schools to assess damage and determine readiness for safe re-opening of schools.
  • Due to the number of days that the schools were closed, the Food Service department and Chartwells had sufficient time to work with vendors to replace food where needed due to power loss or damage so the planned menu could be served with only minor adjustments.
  • Will Ratley, Regional Director of Operations with Chartwells – worked in partnership with Jacksonville EOC and Red Cross to develop, direct, and successfully execute a feeding plan for all open shelters in Jacksonville, feeding 4,750 people daily over seven days in 13 shelters. Post-storm, Will Ratley coordinated the efforts to provide extended feedings for the recovery teams in Nassau, Putnam and Clay Counties, as well.
  • These were some of our biggest challenges at the time:
  • But, that said, DCPS Food Service has no outstanding recovery needs from Hurricane Irma.

Shirley Parker, MA, RD, LD, director, Humble (Texas) Independent School District

    Harvey hit exactly the week we were to open school. Our employees were back doing inservice and prep. When the hurricane hit, we could not open at the estimated time, so we had to store everything as securely as possible.

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