When it became clear Hurricane Harvey was going to hit the Texas coast, Numotion leaders sprang into action looking for avenues to keep south Texas branch members safe.
The first step? Establish a line of communication for employees to call to confirm they were safe or to ask for help. IT donated its help hotline to the cause – they were only lacking a volunteer to be on call 24/7. Network Engineer Team Lead Kyle Copeland
jumped at the opportunity and the Hurricane Hotline was born.
In 1993, St. Louis, MO experienced devastating flooding. Copeland was too young to go into the community to help. He remembers feeling helpless as he watched news footage of the water’s damage. 20 years later, as flood predictions for Houston were broadcast across the nation, Copeland was revisited by that desperate calling to help. But this time he was too far away.
As soon as an email went out to employees asking for a volunteer to manage the Hurricane Hotline, Kyle knew it was meant for him.
More work than meets the eye
All day and night Copeland had the volume turned up on his cell phone, ready to assist hurricane victims at any time. After a learning curve with the first call, he learned important questions to ask:
- Are you safe?
- How many family members are you responsible for?
- How old is each member of the family?
- Are there any pets with you?
- Where is your home and where are you being evacuated to?
- Do you need shelter, clothing or food?
- What else can we do?
“I had to build as big of a picture as possible,” explained Copeland
. “Everyone had different needs and was experiencing different levels of loss. No one knew what to expect when they called in, so I did my best to make our mission clear – tell me what you need and I will get that resource or find someone who can.”
After collecting the initial data, Copeland shared it all in an email to Numotion’s hurricane response team. Members of this crisis team included Customer Experience Manger Marlene Driscoll
, VP of Environmental Health & Safety Chris McKeeman
, Director of Enterprise Technology Kelly Senatro
, Chief Information Officer Dan Prestegaard
and human resources employees. Whoever replied first was made responsible for helping research solutions to meet the family’s needs. If there wasn’t a quick reply? Copeland started calling the team until someone picked up.
“Kyle is an incredibly caring and thoughtful person and he’s an absolute joy to have as a leader in IT,” said Prestegaard
. “Kyle eagerly volunteered to help fellow employees through the hurricane crisis. When we were discussing what to do, he leaped into action. He set up the hotline and volunteered to be on call 24 hours a day.”
In addition to managing the hotline and remaining responsible for his everyday duties as a telecom engineer, Copeland kept an attentive eye on hurricane shelter resources, the weather and other online and mobile resources to ensure his knowledge was up to date.
“Kyle took control of the situation with Harvey right away,” said his manager, Senatro
. “He fielded questions and concerns that were not
IT related and ran with them. His compassion for the folks that were in trouble was sobering. Kyle stuck with the callers until formal arrangements were made and was willing and ready to take care of needs out of his own pocket.”
Organization & Diligence
Copeland’s execution of the crisis communication plan is what allowed Numotion to keep track of employees and help guarantee their safety. Not only did he start the response effort with the Hurricane Hotline, but he was instrumental in keeping up with everyone on the Hurricane Tracker.
“Kyle was absolutely fantastic spearheading the Hurricane Hotline,” said McKeeman
. “He managed our online Hurricane Tracker, a document developed to log employee and customer needs as well as the numerous offers of assistance from branches and Numotion employees. Kyle was the first line of communication for many of our employees requiring assistance. I can’t think of a better person in the position.”
“When the subsequent hurricanes hit, Kyle could have handed off the hotline to someone else, but by that point he was experienced at crisis management and he wanted to make sure our handling was the ‘best it could be’ so he asked to keep the hotline,” said Prestegaard.
“Kyle’s efforts are truly worthy of celebration, and I sincerely thank him for everything he has done and continues to do.”