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Hurricane-proof

Q&A with Devonshire’s Eddy Hernandez

Created date

July 1st, 2016
Devonshire Director of Engineering Eddy Hernandez.

Devonshire Director of Engineering Eddy Hernandez.

People living at Devonshire at PGA National, Erickson Living’s full-service retirement community in Palm Beach Gardens, lead a worry-free, pampered lifestyle. 

They don’t even worry about hurricanes. Unlike other communities, Devonshire is not in an evacuation zone, and its members have never had to evacuate.

Members have additional peace of mind due to the expertise of Devonshire Director of Engineering Eddy Hernandez. Hernandez, who has 30 years of hurricane experience, including Hurricane Andrew, is a stickler for details.

Here are his responses to questions about Devonshire’s hurricane preparedness.

Q: How safe is Devonshire during a hurricane?

A: It’s safe. After Hurricane Andrew, Florida elevated its building code. It’s now one of the harshest codes in the country, and anything built after Andrew was built in compliance with it. That includes Devonshire, which started construction in 1999. 

Devonshire’s buildings are concrete block structures with impact windows. We’ve recently replaced windows to comply with the latest codes and replaced all four of our roofs to also meet new guidelines. 

Q: How do you prepare for threatening weather?

A: We don’t wait for a weather report. We have a hurricane procedure manual, and we prepare ahead of time. 

For example, we clean all our downspouts so the drains will flow freely.

We have backup generators for the clubhouse, so the kitchen will have the capability to prepare hot meals. We’ll also have safety lighting throughout the buildings. 

We check those generators and ensure that all fuels are topped off, and we check that we have adequate electrical outlets.

We test that our satellite phones work should the phone system go out. 

We’re tied into the Palm Beach Gardens’ water system, which has backup generators, but we also check that we have adequate collapsible jugs of water.

And we always talk through potential what-ifs and prepare a plan B. We even empty out our dumpsters in case trash pickup is curtailed. We have to have a plan for every eventuality.

Q: How is staff involved?

A: It’s important to point out that we have seasoned staff people who’ve gone through hurricanes. 

Our department directors check their lists of emergency supplies and restock as needed. 

We review our procedures and protocols with all departments, and we host breakout sessions for residents about hurricane preparedness. 

Should a hurricane threaten, every director will stay on-site through the duration. They’ll shower and sleep at Devonshire.

Staff members will be divided into two teams: One team will stay on-site immediately before and during the storm; the other team will come in afterward to assist in cleanup efforts.

Q: What’s your top priority?

A: No question about that. Our community members are our greatest assets. Their safety is our top priority.

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