Maximizing Your Recovered Costs After a Natural Disaster

January 2014, Government Fleet - Feature

by Shelley Mika - Also by this author

At a Glance

When stocked with up-to-date information, your FMIS can maximize cost recovery after disaster strikes. Key data includes:

  • FEMA equipment codes
  • Work action codes for repairs
  • Updated costs per hour.

When Hurricane Sandy struck in late 2012, storm surges caused severe flooding in New York and New Jersey. Among the hurricane’s victims were the facilities for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, many of which were located near water.

As a result, the agency’s fleet took a hit. It lost more than 130 vehicles ranging from light-duty equipment such as police cars, pick-up trucks, and maintenance trucks, to heavy-duty snow plows and emergency response vehicles. Not many could be repaired.

“Salt water is terribly corrosive to engines and electrical components,” explained Jim Reinish, manager, Central Automotive Division, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “Vehicles that looked perfectly fine from the outside were lost due to destroyed mechanical and electrical components.”

The Big Thompson River, located 80 yards from the City of Loveland, Colo., fleet facility, normally flows at 100 cubic feet per second (cfs) — during the September 2013 floods, this increased to 12,000 cfs. Photo courtesy of City of Loveland
The Big Thompson River, located 80 yards from the City of Loveland, Colo., fleet facility, normally flows at 100 cubic feet per second (cfs) — during the September 2013 floods, this increased to 12,000 cfs. Photo courtesy of City of Loveland

While the fleet couldn’t control the impact of the floodwaters, with help from its fleet management information system (FMIS), the division was able to better control its recovery efforts. “A fleet management information system is invaluable during recovery efforts,” Reinish said. “Our FMIS was used to quantify data that was used to develop claims that were filed with FEMA.” With those claims to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the millions of dollars, the fleet’s FMIS — AssetWorks M4 — was instrumental in the agency’s recovery efforts.

When fleets put an FMIS strategy in place, they, too can be prepared to recover from the worst by taking these key steps ahead of time.

Leveraging an FMIS for Recovery

More recently, the City of Loveland, Colo., also encountered mass flooding, but this wasn’t the city’s first tangle with Mother Nature. In 1976, the Big Thompson flood killed 144 people — and the fleet learned from the experience.

After flooding hit in early September 2013, the fleet relied on its FMIS to provide prompt information to FEMA in order to recoup costs for damage.

“The Emergency Operations Center asked for a vehicle class/type master list. We provided this through the reporting structure in less than one minute,” said Steve Kibler, ACFM, fleet manager, City of Loveland, Colo. “Before the emergency project number was established, we had a code for any declared emergency repairs. Engine horsepower seemed to be a major requirement for FEMA forms. We have this recorded in our FMIS.”

The city uses FASTER Asset Solutions to manage its vehicles. Based on his experience, Kibler strongly recommends every fleet keep its FMIS stocked with relevant information that will help recover assets in the aftermath of a disaster.

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