Above (Photo by Associated Press, September 2016): “It was really neat to see that culture can live even beyond our walls, and that it stays alive even in the face of chaos." Watch our short video above with employees reflecting on their experience with the Cedar Rapids flood of 2016.
When I first heard the news of flood warnings in our area a couple weeks ago, my first thought was, “is this real, can this really be happening again?” I flashed my phone alert in front of a leader almost in disbelief. I thought back to 2008 when we experienced the 500 year flood in Cedar Rapids with the river cresting above 31 feet, the highest on record – by far for our city.
Instead of settling in fear, our attitudes and culture at GreatAmerica became, “we’ve gone through this before; we are certainly prepared to go through this again.” Immediately, everyone wanted to help in any way they could. It wasn’t uncommon to see people spend their free time to go help sandbag, build barriers, move items to higher levels, and do whatever they could to protect our company, our city, and our community.
As time went on and news updates were released, our business continuity team at GreatAmerica activated our emergency readiness plan with time for everyone to prepare. Our remote recovery site was up and running, employees were reminded of our procedures, and everyone remained calm thanks to the planning that was in place. The city of Cedar Rapids issued downtown a mandatory evacuation through the Cedar River's major flood stage. As quick as the news came, our team was just as quick to respond with our plan already in place. We all watched the projections of the river rise and fall, and our culture was to continue business as usual from another location.
Even though we were expecting another flood at GreatAmerica, our culture was to do everything we could to protect our building, ensure our employees were safe, and to be able to deliver the GreatAmerica Experience to our customers without skipping a beat. Though we weren’t working out of our headquarters for a week, we were operating out of remote locations nearby which were planned for. We were equipped and ready to continue business as usual, and our focus remained on serving our partners and their customers.
If you walked into our remote recovery site, you would get the same feeling you get when you enter the GreatAmerica building. Teams were smiling, celebrating successes, working together and delivering unparalleled experiences to others. Our statistics showed we were able to perform impressive numbers regardless of being displaced for a few days thanks to our business continuity plan and tenacious employees.
It’s times like these that serve as a prime example of our company culture at GreatAmerica. Our business continuity planning paid off again. The team strategized, rehearsed and planned for events like this, and it made our operations run smoothly and kept people confident. Business continued as usual, and spirits remained high despite the rising water. It’s times like these that our culture and people thrive. Regardless of the flood of 2016, we were determined to end the month strong.
The water levels of the Cedar River have decreased and only after a week of being displaced, we were able to return to our GreatAmerica home with our GreatAmerica family. We are back at our headquarters in downtown Cedar Rapids, and happy to be back with the entire team.
Thank you to everyone for your hands, hearts and outpouring of support. Even though our GreatAmerica building didn’t take on any water during this flood, we prepared for the worst and were lucky to get the best. Regardless of the outcome, it was our culture to know that no matter what, we would come out stronger in the end! Times like these make me appreciate working for a company that values our culture and employees. During a natural disaster, our culture at GreatAmerica held strong no matter the circumstances.
Checkout our video below about preparing your business for unpredictable situations:
It's important to have a business continuity plan. Checkout this post from GreatAmerica on "What it takes to prepare."
Brittney Stepanek, Strategic Marketing Director for Collabrance, is responsible for helping build relationships and brand awareness through strategic marketing initiatives. Before working at Collabrance, Brittney joined GreatAmerica in 2012 doing marketing for the Office Equipment Group. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the University of Iowa.