Lessons learned after Maria are helping in the wake of Hurricane Fiona
The power is returning to much of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Fiona, and all Medtronic operations are fully functioning.
“All shifts at all sites resumed operations Tuesday morning, September 20,” said Carlos Rodriguez, Senior Manufacturing Director. “Fiona caused some water in a couple of our facilities but we have them under control. And we do not have any major equipment issues. Everything is up and running.”
Medtronic reached out to all employees to make sure they’re safe and supported. Two thirds of employees made it to work for the first shift on Tuesday, more arrived Wednesday and production lines are now operating normally. Many employees came to work despite emergencies at home, such as no power or water. ”We’re doing everything we can to help them,” Rodriguez said.
Schools were closed throughout the island and that also caused daycare issues for working parents. Several employees report having problems finding enough gasoline to power their home generators, and Medtronic is looking into how to help them as well. The company continues to provide onsite employees with immediate essentials such as water, ice and power stations.
In the mountain community of Villalba, employees began returning to work as early as 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, despite continuing rain and debris on the roads. “Almost 70 percent of our workers made it here Tuesday and more than 90 percent made it Wednesday,” said Mara Cardona Vega, senior manufacturing director and site leader in Villalba. “And many of them have water in their own homes. But they’re very committed to our Mission and we’re very proud of everyone.”
All roads leading to Medtronic facilities have now been cleared of debris.
Medtronic facilities in Ponce, Juncos, Humacao and Villalba resumed operations using massive, diesel-powered generators. Each facility has enough backup fuel and water to run for several days, and supply lines to bring in additional fuel and water are already in place, if needed.
Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico almost five years to the day after Hurricane Maria. Although nowhere near as devastating as Maria, damage from Fiona has been significant. In Ponce, 70 percent of Medtronic employees live in the area hardest hit by Fiona.
Lessons learned in the aftermath of Maria are helping get Medtronic facilities back online, said Manuel Mellado, senior manufacturing director at the Medtronic facility in Juncos.
“Water runoff from Maria flooded the main hallway in one of our buildings,” Mellado said. “So we reinforced that area and added drainage to move storm water away from the facility. It worked perfectly during Fiona.”
Other infrastructure additions in the wake of Maria helped get Medtronic online quicker after Fiona, said facilities director Billy Laboy. “We have more backups in place for water, electricity and communications. And our employees still have the generators we gave them during Maria. So everyone was a lot better prepared.”
“It’s been a big job, but we’re handling it,” Rodriguez added. “We know that lives can depend on us keeping production online and we’re doing everything we can to make that happen.”
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