The response to Hurricane Florence shows the power of the private sector and government working together toward a common goal.
After years of responding to massive storms separately, the government has figured out that companies and other organizations are a tremendous asset to relief operations. The Federal Emergency Management Agency realized that Waffle House does an astounding job keeping their restaurants open around the clock in almost any weather. (Indeed, the restaurant teaches its staff which menu items can be cooked without certain resources.) FEMA uses the Waffle House Index to measure the impact of storms. Waffle House, for its part, set up a storm center to track Florence and keep its employees safe while keeping its restaurants as functional as possible.
Less publicized, but no less powerful, is the new alliance between the Department of Defense and the Cajun Navy. The Cajun Navy, a group of volunteer boaters who have rescued people from floods after Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey, mobilized hundreds of people to descend on the Carolinas before the storm hit. The group used to work on its own, as sort of its own 911 service that ran parallel to government services. Now, the Department of Defense has recognized that while they have the technology, the Cajun Navy has the manpower. According to Cajun Navy Texas Capt. Taylor Fontenot, “We have government contacts, [Department of Defense], local military that will kind of guide us ’cause nobody wants to see what happened in Harvey and Katrina happen again.
”The private sector stepped up for evacuees in myriad ways. U-Haul offered free storage for people trying to protect their belongings from floodwaters. Delta, United, and American Airlines waived their luggage and pet fees for travelers escaping the storm. AT&T and Verizon are giving unlimited calling, texting, and data to people in Florence’s path.
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