Thursday, September 7, 2017

HART is Prepared for a Storm. Are You?

HART operates Evacuation service. Know your route!
As Floridians, we are all aware of the threat of hurricanes from June-November. It's a part of the "charm" of living in the Sunshine State!

Should a hurricane threaten the Tampa Bay area, it is vital that residents heed any warnings and prepare for the worst of the storm.

Just as residents and their families need to prepare, so does HART. Have you ever wondered how an organization with over 750 employees and 200+ vehicles plans for a major storm?

Let's take a look at what it takes to prep the HART network for a major hurricane.

Should a storm threaten the Tampa Bay area, the Hillsborough Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will be activated. Once activated, a HART representative will be located at the center to keep the agency abreast of storm developments and coordinate evacuation service.

When instructed by the EOC, HART will cease normal service and begin Emergency Evacuation service to move residents from lower ground, to higher ground. For the safety of our riders and employees, normal HART service will cease once the EOC and HART Emergency Management determine that conditions are unsafe to continue service. 

When word is received that landfall is eminent in Tampa Bay within 72 hours, our volunteer Emergency Response Team (ERT) will activate.

The organization then begins the process of securing HART facilities. This includes:
  • Securing windows and outside objects
  • Shutting off water, electricity, gas, etc.
  • Disconnecting computerized equipment and covering with plastic sheeting
  • Backing up computer data to multiple sources

If the Tampa Bay area is forecasted to take a direct hit from a Category 3 or greater storm, HART may split the vehicle fleet up. You may have seen something similar in Houston, when Harvey hit. Our designated locations are the Hidden River Park-n-Ride lot and the University of South Florida. The remainder would remain at the 21st Avenue Operations Facility.

If the need arises, streetcars will be moved off-site
The TECO Line Streetcar System will house the majority of the fleet in the Ybor Streetcar Barn. However, depending on the severity of the storm, streetcars may be moved to an off-site storage location on the bed of a tow truck.

Following the passing of the storm, three phases will occur:
  1. Recovery - Damage assessment for facilities, vehicles, and other property
  2. Communication - Call back/contacting HART personnel
  3. Restoration - Delivery of service
HART will work to the best of our ability to get the network back up and get back to our daily job of moving Hillsborough County!

Rest assured though, HART is prepared for a storm. Make sure you are too!

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Comments to this blog are moderated by HART staff. Constructive comments are welcome; any obscene, threatening, or otherwise inappropriate comments will be deleted before posting. Questions about specific service ("is my bus on time?") cannot be answered here, and should be directed to the HARTinfo Line at (813) 254-HART (4278). General questions may be addressed in future posts.