Sunday, July 31, 2005

Intense Summer

Where do I begin? My last post chronicled the bizarre tropical weather in June with the arrival of Tropical Storm Arlene to our shores. Although coastal dwellers realize the Hurricane season officially spans the time period of June 1 to November 30, no one EVER expected three tropical systems to disrupt our summer.

The disruption, thankfully, did not result in physical damage to properties, at least none that was significant. It did, however, take a toll on our energy level and nerves. The fact that Hurricane Dennis was predicted to make landfall on our section of the coast as a possible category 4, unheard of for July, was indeed more than distressing. All of our preparation systems worked smoothly at Meyer Real Estate as we said goodbye to customers during our busiest week of the year and readied our properties for the storm winds and water. Most employees were compelled to flee the area since a mandatory evacuation order was issued by Alabama's governor.

The Hurricane was predicted to make landfall on our portion of the coast at 3:00 p.m. on that bizarre Sunday and mid-morning it began to move more northward rather than northwest. The final landfall 40 miles to our east spared our coast. Relief is not a strong enough word to describe our elation at having been spared more property damage.

After our management team formed a game plan during a large conference call on Sunday night, we were prepared to resume intense activity the next day. No one that night however could have predicted just how intense. Phone calls the next two days peaked to levels not experienced before, namely 3,500 on Monday and 4,000+ on Tuesday of that week. We began to receive panicked calls from customers displaced from their planned vacations on the coast to our east from Pensacola to Destin. Most of our customers wanted to return or reschedule their visits and property owners wanted and needed property status reports.

So, very soon we began operations as usual but not really usual. We are still challenged by a coastal area in recovery. For example, not all buildings have reopened and in many open buildings the pools and other amenities have not opened. Beach nourishment, so necessary to restore and enhance our coast, brings it's own special issues. Although we published the proposed project schedule, so that our customers would be aware of the possible effects on their vacation, the three storms of summer delayed the project. Now some of our arriving guests are unhappy with the project's effect on their time at the beach.

Bottom line, we are making great progress in the Hurricane Ivan recovery process but the intensity and challenges are still abundant. Along the way though we've had wonderful expressions from our guests and property owners who have empathy for our experiences. We are rewarded by the manner in which our business contributes to the quality of life of our customers. Even though intense, we are committed to the vacation rental, real estate sales and property management industry.

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