Eastern Shipbuilding Group resumed operations at both of its two main shipbuilding facilities just two weeks after Hurricane Michael devastated Panama City, Fla., and the surrounding communities.
The most powerful storm to ever make landfall in the Florida Panhandle, Hurricane Michael currently stands as the third most powerful hurricane to make landfall in the U.S., topped only by Hurricane Camille in 1969 and the Florida Keys Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. Yet the majority of ESG’s workforce has returned to work very quickly despite the damage caused by the storm.
“Our employees are a resourceful and resilient group of individuals with the drive to succeed in the face of adversity. This has certainly been proven by their ability to bounce back over the two weeks following the storm. Our employees have returned to work much faster than anticipated and brought with them an unbreakable spirit, that I believe sets this shipyard and our community apart,” ESG’s president Joey D’Isernia said in a prepared statement. “Today, our staffing levels exceed 80% of our pre-Hurricane Michael levels and is rising daily.”
Immediately following the storm, ESG set out on an aggressive initiative to locate all of its employees and help get them back on the job as soon as practical after they took the time necessary to secure the safety and security of their families and homes.
Together with its network of friends, partners, and customers in the maritime community, ESG organized daily distribution of meals and goods to employees in need. Additionally, ESG created an interest free deferred payback loan program for those employees in need and has organized a Go Fund Me account to help those employees hardest hit by the storm. ESG also knew temporary housing was going to be a necessity in the short term and immediately built a small community located on greenfield space near its facilities for those employees with temporary housing needs.
ESG has worked closely with its federal, state and commercial partners over the past two weeks to provide updates on the shipyard as well as on projects currently under construction. Power was restored to ESG’s Nelson Facility on 10-21-18 and at ESG’s Allanton Facility on 10-24-18 and production of vessels under contract is ramping back up. Additionally, all of the ESG personnel currently working on the U.S. Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter contract have returned to work. The Offshore Patrol Cutter contract is the largest project in the Coast Guard’s 228-year history, ESG officials said.
“We are grateful to our partners and the maritime business community as a whole for their support and confidence during the aftermath of this historic storm. Seeing our incredible employees get back to building ships last week was an inspiration,” said D’Isernia. “While there is no doubt that the effects of Hurricane Michael will linger with our community for years to come, I can say without reservation that we are open for business and excited about delivering quality vessels to our loyal customers.”