Houston-based Universal Weather & Aviation (Booth No. 219) is recovering from infrastructure damage from Hurricane Ike, which pummeled the Texas Gulf Coast on September 13. Despite the loss of commercial power, the facility remained open throughout the storm, which passed almost directly over Universal’s Houston headquarters.
“Through preparation and the unmatched dedication of our employees, we [were able] to facilitate our complete workload of trips despite the devastation our area endured,” said Universal COO Dave Diulus. “We not only maintained operations but also provided uninterrupted service despite taking a near direct hit from such a large and destructive hurricane.”
The company received approximately 1,200 phone calls and handled 200 to 250 legs the day the storm hit, according to vice president of trip support services Pete Lewis.
He credited the company’s preparations before the storm for the ability to manage the workload. He also credited the company’s personnel. “Our employees have overcome gas shortages, power outages and damage to their own homes, but still reported to work,” he said.
In the days before the storm hit, the company formed two teams. One made up of IT personnel, meteorologists and trip support specialists stayed at the Houston facility, while the other traveled to a secure off-site location, away from the storm’s path, Diulus said. Both the Houston and off-site facilities were equipped with backup generators. The off-site location is “designed to withstand the turbulent Gulf hurricane season or any other disaster that could cause disruption to our headquarters’ infrastructure,” according to the company.
“Being headquartered near the Gulf Coast means hurricanes and tropical storms are a fact of life around here,” Diulus said. “However, we prepared for just the type of situation that occurred with Ike, and thanks to careful planning we were able to continue to provide seamless service to our clients while most of the upper Texas coast was shut down.”