On Monday, August 10, a derecho hit the city of Cedar Rapids, IA, home of Genova’s main office. The hour-long storm brought sustained straight-line winds of 80+ MPH, with an estimated maximum of 140 MPH. The storm was compared to a Category 2 hurricane, damaging homes, toppling trees and power lines, and devastating crops throughout the area. As a result of the storm, the main office lost power for five days, and most of our local employees experienced similar issues at home. Many employees experienced damage to their homes and/or vehicles. Fortunately, nobody was injured.
For the first couple of days, even basic communication was a challenge. Cellular communication was spotty, internet access was effectively non-existent, and with roads being blocked by power lines, trees and other debris, travel was a no-go as well. This was a disaster in every business and personal sense of the word, and our resilience was put to the test.
From a business perspective, our remote employees were essentially able to work as normal. Some of our local employees were able to work remotely by leaving the immediate area. A few key executives communicated with employees via text, email and phone calls, and made multiple daily visits to the office with a goal of restoring us to full productivity as soon as possible.
In the meantime, we all banded together and took care of one another. We did buddy checks, helped each other clean up, and offered up places to take a hot shower. We came together not only as co-workers, but as friends. Some of our employees from Pensacola, FL, who are used to hurricanes, sent an edible arrangement to the Cedar Rapids office after it opened back up.
We’re closing in on a month since the storm originally hit. The office is back up and running. We’ve patched up our homes and our city is in the process of cleaning up. The immediate crisis has passed, and things are slowly returning to normal. Our disaster recovery and business continuity plan worked well, and we’ve already worked out a plan to enhance our few shortcomings. Our employees have safely returned to the office, many with a strengthened sense of fellowship and camaraderie. This is an experience that we will never forget. But we will learn from the event, and we will grow stronger as a result. And that growth is no small thing, because we are already Iowa Strong and Genova Strong.