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Listen to Episode 120

Josh talks through earthquake recovery procedures in Alaska with Shannon Rasic, Business Development Manager at Anchorage Public Schools, after their 7.1 magnitude earthquake in late 2018. They discuss how their work order system helped with clean up procedures, as well as best practices for emergency preparedness. 

Show Notes: 

Show Script:

Josh Peach  
Welcome to the Operate Intelligently Podcast, the podcast for all things operations.

Grace Flack  
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the podcast. We're excited to have you here or welcome back. If you've listened with us before, I'm your producer, Grace Flack. And I just want to take a quick minute or two to check in with your host, Josh. So Josh, you've been doing a lot of interviews around the pandemic for the past few months talking to a lot of different people in different types of organizations. What are some of your big takeaways that you've had?

Josh Peach 
Wow, that's a long, long list of takeaways. The biggest that I've got is that our people, the people that we serve a really amazing. They have been resilient. They have gone through, they're in the six stages of disaster, were in number five and they've weathered quite the storm and they've done it standing tall with their teams and accomplished a lot under unforeseen social distancing, mask-wearing, state shutdown, government shutdown, country shut down and adjusted the sails as they needed to to ride with the wind. And they've really innovated. There are so many stories of new innovation, new ways, new processes. I thought one of the coolest things was when I was talking to Chris Phillips about they're going out and doing inspections and they were doing them via Skype where the resident was taking their phone and going down with a camera and showing while the inspector was in the driveway watching and videoing and recording that and then documenting it. So, just the resiliency and the just incredible work that we get to help our clients do every day is is the real big takeaway.

Grace Flack  
That's so true. It's been amazing to see just the positivity. And like you're saying the innovation that's coming through and how people kind of wanted to help each other, you know, weather the storm together. I think that's been really powerful. So just want to put another plug in out there. If you haven't listened to the kind of COVID-themed podcasts we've been doing for the last few months, please go back. They're on all different kinds of topics so find some favorite ones, and definitely check those out. So I did want to introduce the interview that we have coming up today with Shannon. This was recorded a little while back, I think maybe in December. So tell us a little bit more about this interview, Josh?

Josh Peach
Yeah, so this was recorded actually in Anchorage, Alaska, the first week in December. Shannon Rasic works for the Anchorage Public Schools. And the previous year in 2018, I went went up and as I was making my way to Alaska, Anchorage had sustained a massive hit of an earthquake. I think it was around, it was over eight on the Richter scale, but the close proximity to actual Anchorage proper, it was a mile offshore was the epicenter, so it caused incredible destruction and devastation. Amazingly, no lives were lost, which is a testament to the building's post the earthquake I think in the 60s that was a nine plus magnitude that a lot of different engineering requirements. A lot of the big buildings are on rollers. So the hotel I was in, in 2018, we got aftershocks in the sixes. And the building shook back and forth, but it was incredibly structurally sound because the building actually sits on rollers so it's designed to actually move with the earthquakes. But with that said, the Anchorage Public Schools didn't have a single building in their district that didn't sustain damage. And Shannon and her team were responsible for managing, repairing, getting the schools for reoccupying and also documenting everything to ensure any claimable work that is done that they had everything that they needed to be able to submit those properly and best ensure their reimbursement as well as showing the work they did. Because it was a ton in a short amount of time.

Grace Flack  
Yeah, I think you'll really enjoy hearing this interview so we'll jump into that now.

Josh Peach  
Good afternoon. This is Joshua Peach with Dude Solutions and I am here in beautiful Anchorage, Alaska in December. It's raining in the 40s. Typically like zero and snowing but unusually warm and I am lucky enough to have with me from Anchorage Public Schools, Shannon Rasic, I said that right? Okay, wonderful. And Shannon has been a lifelong resident of Alaska. And I was talking to her earlier this morning at the Alaska ASBO conference. And we're talking about the earthquakes that hit last year. And a lot of people don't know this. But there's over 10,000 earthquakes that happen in Alaska every single year. That accounts for 11% of the total earthquakes that happened in the world. And last December before this conference, same time last year as we are here, December 7th or 8th. 

Shannon Rasic  
It was 11-30.

Josh Peach  
On November 30. I came up on the first I think summer came up the day after, what was that to talk about the earthquake that was a big one.That was a doozy

Shannon Rasic  
So it was a Friday, November 30 at 8:29am in the morning. I think the final number they gave out was it was a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that hit just a little bit outside of Anchorage. And it was huge. And it lasted for what felt like forever. Everybody was frantic and didn't know. There was holes in the rails. 

Josh Peach  
I mean, it was I mean, it was devastating.

Shannon Rasic  
Whole bridges falling apart. And just about every school in the Anchorage School District had some extent of damage. 

Josh Peach  
How many schools are there in Anchorage?

Shannon Rasic  
There's 80 something schools but 90 facilities.

Josh Peach  
Okay. Was this the worst earthquake you've experienced here? 

Shannon Rasic  
Yeah. 

Josh Peach  
Okay. And so at 8:30 in the morning school, everybody's got getting ready to go to school. It's dark out. A lot of people don't know is you know, it doesn't get light until about 10 o'clock in the morning and then gets dark at three. So it's still dark out. Kids are just starting to get into school. Earthquake happens. And 90 buildings in essence are getting hit with this rattled and shook and some have more damage than others. Were any completely destroyed where they're not gonna get rebuilt or?

Shannon Rasic  
There's two Eagle River Elementary and Greening Middle School that have a severe damage. And for a while it was questionable whether we're going to rebuild or just repair. I think the conclusion is that we're going to repair them but it's not cheap.

Josh Peach  
Are they newer schools? Are they older? 

Shannon Rasic  
Older. 

Josh Peach  
Okay, so they probably aren't built up to the standards from where they prior to the last big one which was in 64.

Shannon Rasic  
Yeah. Eagle River Elementary actually had similar damage in the 64 earthquake and rebuilt like the certain wing of the school. And then same thing happened again.

Josh Peach  
The building we're in was built after the 64 earthquake, which was like a nine magnitude, right? If I remember correctly, it was up there.

Shannon Rasic  
I think that the difference was how long it lasted. It lasted for quite a while.

Josh Peach  
And then the center of it was really really close. It's like a mile away from from Anchorage proper, if you will. But when I was here, there was a five there was some aftershocks, there was like a five and the building was like swaying and every because I don't worry about it, it's on rollers. It's fine. It was built after the 64, which changed all the regulations of how you built your buildings. 

Shannon Rasic  
And that's what kind of saved our city is Anchorage Code after the 64. Like Anchorage Code kind of tightened up and it could have been a lot worse.

Josh Peach  
You might know this. I'm sure you do know this. And I want to make sure the statistic right. But that earthquake was the first with a seven magnitude or greater that didn't have a single fatality. 

Shannon Rasic  
That sounds right. Yeah.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, there was no fatalities. I mean, I don't think yet. You think you had a handful of injuries but it was...

Shannon Rasic  
Not even that, really.

Josh Peach  
Dishes fell on people's heads or something. And then it was like, you know, limited but it wasn't anything. I remember reading that I'm 99% sure. So somebody do a search and call me out on it. But I think this was the first earthquake with a 7.0 or greater magnitude that didn't have a single fatality, which is amazing when you think about it. It didn't, it barely made the news. You know, it happened and it was on the news and then within a couple days, but you guys are unbelievably resilient. I mean, how long were the school out for a couple days?

Shannon Rasic  
10 days until all schools so the earthquake happened on Friday, so luckily, we had two weekends in there, where we could get a lot of the repairs done.

Josh Peach  
So basically, five business days of school was all you guys are six if you count Friday, that's amazing. So cleanup, you get a mess, right? What does that like? That would probably resemble, you know, any natural disaster. Obviously, yours is on a much larger scale. It's a much, you know, tornado comes through, it'll cut through one line. You guys had your whole district affected. But what does that look like? What does that entail? How long does it take, you know, where does the repair come from? How does the money, tell the story as far as how that after effect looks.

Shannon Rasic  
Yeah, so after the earthquake happened, we establish our emergency command center. And kind of the first thing we did is we deployed project managers and maintenance guys to all the different schools, we have them divided into zones. So there's like a zone binder with where they can take notes of, you know, what they see and what damages are out there. And then as we get that information back, that's how we decide to best allocate our resources. So the custodians, they were the ones that did a lot of the heavy lifting with the cleanup. They, a lot of them started in their schools that they're normally at because we have custodians at every school so that was helpful, but then we shifted around. And then the maintenance guys, after the first few days of getting reports on the damages, we decided to bring in three local general contractors that we work a lot with some of them we already had existing contracts with and we kind of divided the schools between in-ouse and them. So they deployed their own teams, hired on people out of the labor hall you know, just to come help with this earthquake. And it was a lot. It was you know, everything was kept track of in an Excel, people were calling into the phone reporting what they saw. So the damage consisted mostly have ceiling tiles that fell, sprinkler heads that broke off and water whenever domestic and glycol leaks. Lots of cosmetic cracking, some structural. 

Josh Peach  
So do you have the total price tag on that?

Shannon Rasic  
Um, I think so on what we've done so far, right, a ballpark, I'd say probably about 15 million in expenses to date, but to bring every school hole it's gonna be 50 million plus. So there's still a lot of work to do out there. 

Josh Peach  
And, you know, most of that's covered from under insurance policies, no?

Shannon Rasic  
Earthquake insurance is really hard to get in Alaska.

Josh Peach  
Well with 10,000. I mean, it's yeah, the likelihood of you having one is 100%. It's whether or not it does damage is the the next question.

Shannon Rasic  
Yeah. So we had, we didn't have earthquake insurance, but we had sprinkler leakage insurance. So everywhere sprinkler pipe broke, water went everywhere. That was covered.

Josh Peach  
Curious about stimulus funding and how it could help your organization? Join our webinar: Stimulus Funding: What You Need To Know Now on Wednesday, June 24, at 1pm Eastern Standard Time. We'll help you navigate through this time with a lively panel discussion with industry experts to gain tips around what type of stimulus funding will likely become available, how you can prepare to submit your organization for funding opportunities, and how to use your operations data to make the biggest impact funds. Register via the link in the show notes. 

I'm not familiar enough with it but we were able to do some sort of funding for FEMA or what is it?

Shannon Rasic  
Yeah, we're still working with FEMA a year later and still in the beginning process, It's gonna be forever it feels like.

Josh Peach  
So do they require or this whole thing came up about discussing with kind of what Dude does, you know, we were offering you know we provide software to track and manage work orders and preventive maintenance and all that stuff. And you know one of the things that is often overlooked is it's great for the day to day, it's great that we have it someplace, but and we're not in if something happens sadly we're in a when something happens of whether it's natural, or whether a sprinkler breaks on its own or you know sadly kid pulls the shower and the science lab that's always on the top floor and leaves it running and the drains clogged and you know because it never gets used and floods out three other floors. You know, how does/did Dude help with the, you know the submissions or the management or you know, you said you had stuff coming in from all angles. How did that? How did we make a difference, if we did?

Shannon Rasic  
Well, I don't know what we would have done without the work order system. Because being a district of our size, and 90 facilities with hundreds of people out there doing who knows what. Having the work order system was really the one way where we could have a record of what was going on and be able to report on it after the fact, have people track their labor hours to it. One of the first things we did when the earthquake hit was we created a earthquake project in the work order system so that every work order that came after those days and even still today, work orders for people find something else that was broken. It allowed us to be able to report and kind of handle that mass of data more easily than we would if we were trying to stubby pencil it or have people fill out logs of what they did and where they were.

Josh Peach  
Or just a spreadsheet, even an Excel spreadsheet that you guys were fielding calls on. That's, I mean, again, I can't remember the first I think it was the, one of the big snowstorms we had on the east coast. And New Jersey got pummeled and we've got a ton of clients there and they were talking about how they you utilize our software for you know, FEMA tracking, reporting and you know, even taking photographs. You know, what they were able to utilize was that, you know, some things they'll for preventive maintenance and photograph every time they do a PM out there, just maybe a piece of equipment, just see if it's aged, if it's near the ocean, if it's rusted, more what have you, and to be able to take those historical photos and say, 'hey, here's what this was. And here's, you know, here's, you know where it was,' and I just learned a bit on the Gulf Coast State College, which is in Panama City, Florida, they got dumped. I mean, just entire buildings disappeared, homes just washed away. And it's, you know, tracking and showing, hey, there was a house here, how do you know like it's gone. It's just a plot of land. So just to have that historical information. So, when something like this happens, you start to track, you start to put everything in, you put a project in, are you submitting that information directly from Dude to those reports directly from Dude, you have to do other stuff?

Shannon Rasic  
We have to do other stuff to them. So we usually submit a work order detail report with every type of other submission we're doing with FEMA just on the back end so that they will track that through they can. Another thing that we did right after the earthquake, that was really helpful with all the financial accounting of all the different expenses was we added a work order field to all of our credit card purchases and POS so that when we're allocating those to the certain accountant budget, that work order number in there, we can report emerged out of quarter report and it'll tell you this purchase was here and this amount.

Josh Peach  
So when I was growing up, there wasn't a lot of planning, preparation, thought that something might happen. It's a much different world today. Not only do we have earthquakes that happen everywhere, you guys just happen to be in the jackpot of that. Tornadoes, which are popping up. There was one Dallas, right in downtown Dallas, destroyed 27 school buildings two months ago, unheard of. Floods, snow events and hurricanes. One of the largest destructions was a gas, we had gas blasts so that you know gas, whether it's on trains, there was an explosion with a series of trains in the Midwest years and years ago that destroyed a couple school buildings. So now we really need to be in when it happens like preparedness. Like what are a couple of things that you would say are best practice, must do, have to do to be prepared for anything like something happens where you have to have your emergency preparedness team, like what are some of your best practices you think for being being prepared for when something happens?

Shannon Rasic  
Yeah. Um, so one thing I think that helped us is that we stuck to our standard operating procedure, especially when it came to the work order system and how we track and report things. We stuck to that as close as possible because that's normal business. You know, if we would have tossed all rules and regulations and practices aside and just, you know, let everything turn into mayhem repairs that weren't tracked, then I think we would have a hard time getting reimbursement. And trying to note what we did. As for us for planning in advance, there's the ATC 20, which is a kind of an emergency preparedness training that a lot of people in the district go through and that teaches you how to identify damages, put the appropriate placard on buildings.

Josh Peach  
Is that an Alaska thing is that ATC 20 or is it something that's federal? National?

Shannon Rasic  
I'm not sure, I haven't actually had the training yet. Most of the people on my team has. So, um, other things too is just having the we have these emergency backpacks put together that we can deploy out with people with all the first aid kits

Josh Peach  
Go bags, yeah.

Shannon Rasic  
Um, other than that, as far as preparation, you know, there's always room to get better and there's a lot of things we learned from this.

Josh Peach  
Well, that's the whole thing is like, it's after it happens, you debrief and you say, and that's probably something you guys are still doing now, which is, you know, these constant debriefs and say, Okay, what could we have done differently here? What could we have done differently? What you know, when this, something happens again. Shameless plug for my friend Paul Tim. He does the go bags. I had no idea what half this stuff didn't make any sense to me. And he says, Well, you know, you're stuck for, you know, something like a blanket, you know, and he's multipurpose. It's like, if you have to, you know, you're there for 12 hours, you're stuck in a room and people have to go the bathroom, use it as a curtain, you know, it's like all this stuff that you have in those bags that serve multiple different purposes. Well, this was great. This is very informative. I can't thank you enough. We just filled in a quick 15 minute slot here while we're in between lunch and classes, and we're down to 120 seconds before we have to get back in and learn. So congratulations, first of all, on what you and your team have done and accomplished. It seems like nothing happened here. I was here two days after and I saw some of this destruction, but the resiliency of Alaskans in general is amazing. What you were able to do and one of the largest school districts around the country and keep things going with $50 million, you know, estimated in damages, nothing short of amazing. Because the most important thing is getting those kids back in the school and learning and feeling comfortable. So congratulations to you and your team, keep up the great work. We're here to help any way we can and I really appreciate you sharing your story with us. So till then, I guess we're going to sign off.

Thanks for listening to the Operate Intelligently Podcast produced by Dude Solutions. You can reach us by emailing dspodcast@dudesolutions.com or check us out on the web at dudesolutions.com

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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