Businesses address hurricane readiness

JACKSONVILLE, NC (WITN) Hurricane Florence was one of the worst storms to hit eastern North Carolina in decades, and businesses learned how to better prepare for the next vast storm as a new hurricane season is weeks away.

Jacksonville-Onslow Economic Development had its annual meeting Thursday, and Florence dominated the panel discussion.

"I cannot say it enough, being prepared and communication. Communication is absolutely key", said Veronica Perez, Site Director at Concentrix, a call center with more than 500 employees.

Concentrix, like many businesses, was closed for weeks for repairs. Typically, that would have left their employees without the regular paychecks. However, the company found another way for their employees to continue working.

"After the hurricane hit, we had found out that the building was damaged and we could not work. We were out of work for 2 weeks, and then after that, we were bused to the sister call center in Greenville", said Janet Gibbs, who works at Concentrix.

Managers said, they scrambled to arrange for charter buses to transport employees hours away for work.

Perez added, "The charter buses was never part of a plan for us, but it was a learning experience, and definitely part of a mitigation plan we can use in the future."

Several leaders agreed, a theme of Thursday's meeting was 'prepare for the worst, and hope for the best'.

Onslow County reported more than $500 million in property damage from Florence, including damage to several businesses. Though a new Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1st, the peak season along North Carolina's coast is typically late August into September.