Now that the power has been restored and the water is running again across Texas, some residents and O&P businesses across the Lone Star State are realizing how ill-prepared they were for the extreme winter weather that hit in February, but how they also caught some lucky breaks.
The O&P EDGE caught up with Hanger Clinic, headquartered in Austin and Titan O&P Fabrications in Hutto, a suburb of Austin, to find out how their businesses weathered the storm.
Meghan Williams, public relations and communications program manager for Hanger, said “Throughout Texas, some of our clinic locations were impacted and had to be closed for several days the week of the storm. We were fortunate that there were no major impacts or damage once water and electricity were restored.” The Hanger Resource Center workforce in Austin had already been working remotely because of the pandemic, Williams said, which kept them safely off the roads.
At Titan O&P Fabrications, the facility was forced to close early the day the storm hit on Friday, February 12.
“We started to have ice storms, so we closed early that day to make sure our team could make it home safely,” said Drew Chandler Hennig, who cofounded Titan O&P with her husband, Andrew Hennig, in October 2014.
Titan remained closed through Monday, February 22. “Our team couldn’t get to the lab safely and that was very important to us,” she said. “UPS and FedEx stopped running from February 12 until February 22.”
While the power was intermittent for three to four days at Titan, the facility was completely without power for a solid 48 hours, Drew said. “Thankfully when we built out the facility, we added spray foam to help regulate the temperatures during fabrication,” she said. “We knew it would save us in the summer against the Texas heat. However, it ended up helping the lab keep the cold out as much as possible.”
And while Titan O&P was without water for nearly a week because the city had shut off the water supply for the area, the facility’s pipes didn’t burst. “We do have five-gallon jugs of water for drinking at the lab, which we offered first to our team who were out of water for days,” Drew said. “Then we were able to help out some of the businesses around us. We have a pet boarding facility in the business park. They had pets there because the owners couldn’t make it to pick them up. So, we gave them a few jugs and they were able to keep the animals safe.”
This recent storm has caused Titan to think ahead about being prepared for the next big storm.
“Our main concerns are always to make sure our team is safe,” Drew said. “After that we just have to monitor situations as they come. We try to prepare as much as possible, and we support our team. With weather and road conditions the way they were, it wasn’t safe to ask them to come in. The larger things like power and water are out of our control. We have to rely on the city for those.”
Communication with their customers was important as well, she said. “It was important to communicate what was happening during and after the storm. Practitioners and clinics were waiting on fabricated products that were stuck with UPS/FedEx or that were on hold at our facility. As the process came together, we put together a robust plan so that clinics could communicate with their patients.”
From a personal standpoint, Drew said she’s planning on getting some new ski gear. “I have warm outerwear but it’s not all waterproof,” she said.