Sunbelt Rentals Responds Quickly to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

Beep… beep…. beep. [pause] Beep… beep… beep. [pause] Beep… beep… beep.

The constant cry of the fire alarm sounds, warning those around to quickly evacuate. While heading to the exit, debris is everywhere: thick sheets of drywall, white popcorn ceiling remnants, jagged wood 2x4’s, and scattered pieces of broken tree limbs forcefully pushed into the building. While carefully watching every step to avoid the shrapnel, people escape, only to realize outside is much, much worse.

Hurricanes are among the most dangerous and destructive storm systems in the world. Each year, the heavy rain, strong winds, floods, and coastal storm surges pose a significant threat to lives and properties.

On Thursday, August 24, 2017, The National Hurricane Center issued public advisories stating that Hurricane Harvey was rapidly intensifying and was life-threatening. This Category 4 hurricane caused a catastrophic flood disaster in Texas and Louisiana.

The storm produced winds of 130 mph near Rockport, Texas, as well as 52 inches of rain in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana. Nearly 7,000 homes were destroyed, 84,000 homes were damaged, and 500,000 cars and trucks were lost. Approximately 30,000 people were forced from their homes, and close to 37,000 people sought refuge in shelters. Hurricane Harvey resulted in the largest U.S. flood on record in the past 1,000 years, causing 70 deaths.

Just four weeks later, disaster struck again. Hurricane Irma, another Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of up to 130 mph, made U.S. landfall on September 10. Irma caused power loss for 6 million homes in Florida, 2 million in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, 800,000 in Georgia, and 270,000 in South Carolina. Because of the severity of the storm, 6.5 million Floridians were asked to evacuate the state, and 200,000 people were housed in shelters. Irma caused 75 storm-related deaths in the state of Florida.

As soon as the first warnings of the storms were administered, and within three hours of the storm names being released, Sunbelt Rentals rallied emergency response team members and expedited contingency plan agreements. Response team members mapped out and set up staging areas, and coordinated support and recovery plans to the communities preparing for landfall. As landfall became eminent, team members organized transportation logistics, fuel solutions, and temporary housing. In addition to securing food and water for the Sunbelt Rentals team members, a community support plan for those affected locally went into action.

Our ‘all hands on deck’ approach included hundreds of seasoned professionals for Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, all of whom moved equipment and people to support first responders. The equipment supplied to our customers and first responders included generators, pumps, refrigerant and desiccant dehumidifiers, HVAC, light towers, forklifts, skidloaders, backhoes, chainsaws, chippers, and more.

To repair and rebuild, equipment is supplied to first responders for removing waste and flood waters to open roads. This equipment includes skid-steers, grapples, tile strippers, chainsaws, chippers, dewatering pumps, generators, HVAC, and light towers. Once the roads are cleared, access is gained to begin drying out residential and commercial buildings using fans and dehumidifiers, and the equipment is strategically situated to prevent the growth of mold.

After this, our team walks job sites with our customers to gain specifications on what equipment is needed for more complex applications. Some jobs require engineered solutions to determine the proper equipment and where it’s needed. Claim contractors and adjusters will then assess the state of damage. Once Federal Relief is granted, the rebuilding process begins for infrastructure, residential, and commercial business in private and public sectors. This process consists of the demolition of fully comprised facilities and infrastructures.

Every time a natural disaster strikes, we ensure enough equipment is available to exceed expectations. With that said, Sunbelt Rentals promised and delivered by meeting 100% of our contingency plan commitments for Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.

“Our team responded phenomenally. It not only takes a lot of time and effort to make sure our employees and our clients are prepared, but it also takes an incredible amount of stability,” said John Washburn, Senior VP of Sales & Marketing. “Our team members needed to find the balance between their personal life and their work life to not only look after each other, but also to serve the greater community.”

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, and the Eastern Pacific hurricane season runs May 15 through November 30. The event of natural disasters presents the following for the industry, specifically Sunbelt Rentals: the immediate opportunity to help the affected communities recover, the importance of creating a balance for supply and demand, and the medium and long-term effect for opportunities based on supply and demand – this further enhances the structural shift from ownership to rental.

The team at Sunbelt Rentals organized the movement of our equipment across the country on more than 1,600 truckloads to support the recovery efforts for Hurricane Harvey and Irma. This simple statistic goes to show that our team will be ready to successfully service our customers whenever and wherever they need us.


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