The initial predictions were worrisome. Hurricane Florence was forecast to be the worst hurricane to make landfall north of Florida: A category 4 storm backed by a dangerous storm surge that could cause extreme flooding. It was headed toward the North Carolina coast, and Winston-Salem, my hometown, was in its direct path.
Our community of over 240,000 residents is located just west of Raleigh-Durham, in Forsyth County. We’ve experienced tornadoes and other inclement weather in years past, but never anything of this magnitude. Forsyth County residents needed to be prepared. As a volunteer public information officer (PIO) for the county’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), it was my duty to help, and I was able to volunteer knowing that my Nordic teammates had my back.
In my PIO role, I inform residents of potential dangers to the community, including natural disasters. I help monitor emergency situations and provide timely updates to keep the public safe. I’ve volunteered with Forsyth CERT for several years, in addition to working full time as a senior consultant at Nordic. Most recently, I joined Nordic’s Managed Services team, and have successfully balanced both roles by volunteering as a PIO outside of my normal work hours.
However, Hurricane Florence was unprecedented. Based on the initial predictions and the life-threatening nature of this storm, the residents of Forsyth County needed round-the-clock monitoring and updates. I quickly alerted Ike, my Managed Services team lead, that I was going to need to step away to provide full time hurricane response assistance.
Building a contingency plan for seamless client support
Ike was extremely supportive. He quickly escalated my time-off request, gaining immediate approval from key leaders of the Managed Services team. Ike also worked with me to develop a contingency plan, so the rest of my Managed Services team members could continue providing high quality service during my absence.
We formulated this strategy just in time. Shortly after briefing my Nordic colleagues on the contingency plan, I received my deployment request from Forsyth County’s emergency management department. It was reassuring to know that I could lean on my teammates during my time away. They were my rock. There’s no way I could have volunteered during Hurricane Florence without their support.
I spent the next six days posted up at the county’s emergency response command center, monitoring social media for critical updates related to the storm. Since 911 is often inundated with calls in these situations, we use social media to monitor requests for help and to notify first responders. We also use social media to share the latest storm developments with the community.
Fortunately, by the time Hurricane Florence reached Winston-Salem it had been downgraded to a tropical storm. And while we didn’t experience the type of hurricane that was initially predicted, we did receive a large amount of rain, wind, tree damage, and subsequent flooding due to the storm’s high amount of rainfall. Therefore, I was required to monitor for flood updates and wind damage until the inclement weather had subsided and was no longer a threat to the community.
My team was there for me, so I could be there for my community
Upon finishing my volunteer deployment and returning to my daily role at Nordic, I was able to pick up right where I left off. The transition was seamless, and the team had done a tremendous job of covering for me while I was out.
I’m grateful that I had the support of my teammates during this time. I’m also fortunate that we have such a strong team-based structure in Managed Services. This model enables us to cover for one another should someone need to step away from their role due to unforeseen circumstances. I believe this structure makes our team unique and drives success for our department. It helps us build camaraderie, while allowing us to deliver high quality, consistent service to our clients.
Throughout this experience, my teammates exemplified the Nordic maxim: Make it about “we.” Everyone had my back during this time. And I truly believe I could not have been there for my community during Hurricane Florence if my teammates would not have been there for me.
If you’re interested in joining our Managed Services team, visit our careers page for a full list of current openings.