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Florida PMPs Pick Up the Pieces Following Ian

Florida PMPs Pick Up the Pieces Following IanPhoto from Unsplash

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Days after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida, pest management professionals are supporting one another and their communities in the aftermath of this devastating weather event. Florida PMPs are recovering after HuIrricane Ian produced high winds, heavy rains and flooding.

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Days after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida, pest management professionals are supporting one another and their communities in the aftermath of this devastating weather event.

PCT reached out to several pest management professionals to find out how they fared during Ian and learn about recovery plans (and PCT will be updating this article as we receive more reports).

One company with a large presence in Southwest Florida is Truly Nolen. Justin Bellet, COO, Truly Nolen, said the company is no stranger to responding to (and regrouping after) a hurricane, but Ian has been a different beast.

Roughly 24 hours after Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida, Bellet said Truly Nolen was still trying to account for all of its employees, a process that has been slowed by cell phone and Internet outages. “Almost every employee has had some type of catastrophic damage, either to their personal life or their home. Right now, it’s pretty bad.”

In the days leading up to the hurricane, Truly Nolen put into place its three-fold hurricane preparedness plan, which included (1) establishing lines of employee communication; (2) checklists to prepare employees, offices and other assets; and (3) providing employees with vehicle check lists. Bellet also said he had generators installed in four different strategic locations throughout Florida.

As for the next steps, that is simple. “Support your people and support your customers,” said Bellet, who added that the first thing he will be doing once roads open is providing employees with cash loans. “Our business is going to take a big hit, but you have to support your people through this. And then you have to show your community that you are there to support them.”

Bellet added that in the wake of prior hurricanes Truly Nolen has paid its employees to check in on customers and assist however they can within reason, and the company plans to do so with Ian.

Arrow Exterminators also has a large presence in Southwest Florida. Tommy Giardino, senior vice president of operations, Arrow Exterminators, said the company had no immediate reported injuries among its 700 employees in Florida. “That’s our number one priority – the safety of our employees,” he said. “We are seeing extensive damages with roofs, garage doors, fences. In Orange Park, we just had a massive oak tree fall and just miss one of our employee’s house.” Twenty-four hours after the storm Giardino said 42 of the company’s 45 Florida offices were closed.

Giardino said most of the offices were in pretty good shape structurally. “We’ve lost a lot of signs. We just put up a very expensive sign in Port Charlotte and it’s completely gone. But we can work through those things. So for us, overall, it could be way worse. I’m sure more news will come in, but as of now, no significant injuries, which is always our biggest concern.”

Similar to Truly Nolen, Arrow Exterminators began preparing for the possibility of a hurricane one week prior. Giardino credited Arrow’s fleet and risk management team for providing checklists for both service centers and for employees (for their homes).

Giardino said when Arrow service professionals make their way back to the community they will be checking in with customers and this might include expanding services beyond what they typically do. “We’ll go help people clear out their driveways as part of the service. Anything reasonable without putting our employees in danger or risk (e.g., where powerlines are down).”

When the hurricane and aftermath do subside, “With the humidity, the moisture, the insects, there will be higher pest pressure,” Giardino added.

All U Need Pest Control has locations in Ruskin, Venice, Port Charlotte, Bonita Springs, as well as its headquarters in Fort Myers. Preparations the company made included protecting its 60+ vans in its warehouses. When those were filled they strategically stored the other vehicles between two buildings for protection from wind and damage.

When Ian was about 12 hours away from landfall, team members showed up and assisted with boarding up offices. They worked simultaneously as a team cutting wood, hanging it to the windows, picking up debris and anything else that was necessary.

The hurricane made landfall right off the coast of Lee County, where All U Need Pest Control’s main headquarters and CSR department are located. The buildings and vehicles sustained minimal damage relative to those experienced in the local community. However, employees lost roofs, cars and entire homes.

Kyle Selbach, director of operations, All U Need Pest Control, and a lifelong Ft. Myers resident, said, “The destruction and devastation that my county took on is unimaginable. But one thing I know for certain is that this area will be rebuilt stronger than ever with the overflowing support from our community and state. Our employees mean everything to us, we will provide the foundation for them to work and get back to normalcy. The team is eager to open doors back up, get in our trucks, and get back into our community and see the people that we are so lucky to call customers.”

Massey Services, headquartered in Orlando with offices throughout Florida, reported that a few team members had extensive damage to their homes, and some were forced to evacuate. “If any team members did experience damage which makes their home unlivable, Massey is providing funds for them to stay in local hotels for as long as they need,” said Tony Massey, president and CEO of Massey Services.

Several of the company’s service centers in the Southwest Florida area experienced some damage, including Massey’s Port Charlotte, Fa., office, which had its roof torn off.

As part of Massey Services’ hurricane policy and procedure, the company began monitoring the storm during the week of Sept. 19 and initiated daily meetings beginning on Sept. 23. They tracked the storm every three hours or whenever NOAA provided an update, which helped the company determine when to begin closing locations.

“We wanted to make sure that we gave team members time to prepare their home for the storm; and we gave time for team members to evacuate if they were in an evacuation zone,” said Massey.

On Sept. 27, Massey Services made sure it had plans in place to forward customer calls to service centers that were open so they could handle any incoming customer calls.

Now that the storm has passed, in addition to ensuring all of its team members were safe and accounted for, Massey Services will be following up with customers in affected areas to share important information with them and offer the following services at no charge:

• Retreatment of liquid termite protection in areas with flooding• Reinstallation of Sentricon bait stations in areas with flooding• Extra pest services to eliminate any pest issues as a result of flooding• Bora-Care treatment prior to replacing any drywall that was removed

“We make sure our customers are aware that we are here for them and that their Massey guarantees remain intact, even if their home has experienced significant damage,” Massey added.

Rollins reported that all of its employees across its brands’ locations are safe in Florida, although several suffered personal housing damage and losses. The company is helping these employees with hotel rooms and other arrangements.

Rollins said is still in the process of identifying the extent of damage to facilities and vehicles. Most Rollins trucks have GPS, so they have been able to locate a vehicle if it has been displaced. As of today, some of its Florida branches are open, and the company is working to open the rest when it is safe to do so.

One example of how the Rollins Disaster Recovery Team at the corporate office was able to address branch issues occurred this weekend. Employees from across the entire Orkin Southeast Division – those able to get to Ft. Myers safely – were on hand Saturday for a supply and meal giveaway at the Orkin branch. They were able to feed 350 people and pass out more than 3,000 waters to those impacted by Hurricane Ian. In addition, the Rollins Employee Relief fund is available to help employees in need and it is actively encouraging donations from non-impacted employees to help grow the fund and support more employees.


Expected Pest Issues
Editor’s note: Although pest management professionals have other issues to deal with now, there is and will be a need for pest management services. Daniel Dye, retired training coordinator for Florida Pest Control, Fla., shared early observations and what he expects to see.


With the rain, I’m already experiencing three species of roaches on and in the house (in Gainesville, Fla): Florida Wood Cockroach (Eurycotis floridana), Surinam Cockroach (Pycnoscelus surinamensis) and Smokybrown Cockroach (Periplaneta fuliginosa). I’m sure before it’s all over I’ll see one or two scorpions as well. Spiders aren’t usually a big problem here anytime, except for wolf spiders being forced up onto structures from the ground due to heavy rain.

Mosquitoes will be a problem. Day biters are already everywhere outside! Another issue will be snakes in areas because of flooding. Floating masses of red imported fire ants will be seen in floodwaters. Other species of ants will be forced up into structures too. Gallinipper mosquitoes (Psorophora ciliata) will become a problem after water drains down into smaller pools in fields and such. All in all, we can expect some insects that would normally stay outside to invade homes during and after the storm.

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