Hurricane Prep Tips from Dell Disaster Response Volunteers

by Alicia Lopez, Latin America Giving/Global Disaster Relief Response Manager
Jul 2, 2018 2:25 PM ET
Dell team members organized donations of food, supplies and technology aid across 11 Dell sites in Puerto Rico post Hurricane Maria. They collectively raised more than $90,000 and 11 pallets of goods, including 250 donated solar kits. More than 3,500 Dell team members volunteered over 23,000 hours for disaster relief efforts in FY18, taking the initiative to do some truly extraordinary things along the way.

Originally published on Direct2Dell

The 2018 hurricane season – which kicked off June 1 – is expected to be “near-or above-normal,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As those who have been in a hurricane will tell you, nobody affected by Harvey or Irma or any other event will look at an approaching storm without profound anxiety.

Safety professionals and our Dell disaster relief volunteers agree on this recurring advice: Prepare ahead of time. A well-prepared plan for your family can help reduce anxiety and chaos before, during, and afterward.

Last year’s historic hurricane season taught many – including our own volunteers – some lessons about major storms and flooding. Dell team members responded in 2017 to a record-breaking year of natural disasters around the world by helping our employees, customers and suppliers. As waters rose and fires blazed, our team members organized supply drives, connected people to vital services, replaced products, repaired networks and recycled damaged equipment. We share this story within our new FY18 Annual Update on our 2020 Legacy of Good Plan.

Here are some hurricane preparation tips from some of our Dell volunteers, learned through their own experience:

Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure inspired many team members to take bold action. Dell Services Director Jeff Poyner traveled to the island and volunteered tirelessly to deliver supplies and set up emergency communications. Poyner’s tips:

  • Become familiar with your area and plan out potential evacuation routes (in the event your area becomes flooded).
  • Create a “go bag” or “72 Hour Kit“, in the event you must evacuate.
  • Keep a small radio with batteries. Do not count on cellphones or Internet to keep you informed.

Mariely Franzetti, vice president of support services IT and a Puerto Rico native, spearheaded a fundraiser that raised more than $90,000 for the Puerto Rico Community Foundation. She and her colleagues also coordinated the purchase of two generators to aid Poyner’s work. Franzetti’s tips:

  • Stock-up on bottled water ahead of time.
  • Prepare your home for a hurricane. Trim trees away from your home and clear gutters and drains of debris so rainwater can move away. Move any valuables from your home’s basement or low areas. Guidance on how you can strengthen your property is available from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) at

After Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Dell partnered with the Texas and Arizona National Guards and Nutanix to help six Houston schools ready their computers and audiovisual equipment for students’ return. These efforts were led by Joseph Cimato, the director of National Security and Civilian Government Support at Dell. Cimato’s tips:

  • School districts or business with multiple locations should develop one standard for protecting electronics ahead of a hurricane. Cimato says Houston-area schools strongly benefitted from their IT protection plan last year.
  • Move electronics to a safe room and off the ground, to protect from flooding.
  • Shut down computers and unplug machines and power surges.
  • Unplug Ethernet cables from computers or docking stations.
  • Power off printers or any other accessories.
  • Use dry bags or wrap electronics in plastic to ensure some short-term protection.

At Dell, I am Dell’s Latin America giving manager and global disaster relief response manager. In Panama, where I live, I have dealt with earthquakes and when I lived in Venezuela, I experienced landslides. My tips:

  • Sign-up for news alerts from reliable sources. At a recent conference, I learned how social media can spread inaccurate information during a disaster.
  • Check your insurance coverage ahead of time.
  • Make copies of important documents and keep them in your “go bag.”

For more guidance on hurricane preparedness, visit

At Dell, we are monitoring this hurricane season closely with our communities, customers and Dell team members in mind.

Dell’s seven Global Command Centers (GCCs) serve as the front lines of our disaster relief efforts for customers. The GCC teams track all Dell product shipments and are the first to pinpoint weather-related delays. They reroute shipments, keep customers informed and give Dell team members the information they need to help their customers rebound from disaster.

Our team members will continue helping communities affected by hurricanes and other natural disasters. In addition to matching employee donations and providing cash grants to relief organizations, we are exploring ways we can expand our role in assisting with long-term rebuilding and future disaster preparedness.