Lessons learned after Maria are helping in the wake of Hurricane Fiona
The power remains out in most of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Fiona, but all Medtronic operations are coming back online anyway.
“All shifts at all sites resumed operations Tuesday morning,” 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 is reaching out to all employees to make sure they’re safe and supported. The company has already reached 98 percent of employees and continues to work to contact the rest. Two thirds of employees made it to work for the first shift on Tuesday and more arrived Wednesday. Those who couldn’t are dealing with emergencies at home, such as no power or water. ”We’re doing everything we can to help them,” Rodriguez said.
Schools are closed throughout the island and that’s also causing 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 is also providing 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.”
Medtronic facilities in Ponce, Juncos, Humacao and Villalba are resuming 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 and we’re ready to go.”
Other infrastructure additions in the wake of Maria are helping 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 is a lot better prepared.”
“It’s a big job, but we’re ready,” Rodriguez added. “We know that lives can depend on us keeping production online and we’re doing everything we can to make that happen.”
L003 - 09212022