Sunday, August 26, 2012

Preparing for Isaac!

We're expecting the storm named Isaac to visit the Florida Keys in a few hours.  It's unsure yet whether we'll experience this as a tropical storm (winds in the 45 mph to 73 mph range) or a Category 1 hurricane (winds 74 to 90 mph).  Whatever the case, Dolphin Research Center has completed thorough preparations to secure the facility and, of course, our dolphin and sea lion family!

A stay-behind crew will remain at DRC for the duration of the Isaac event.  This morning it was still safe enough for some of the trainers who live near the facility to go in, feed and care for the pod.  Before the storm arrives in full strength and makes in unsafe for people to be out on the grounds, the stay-behind crew will provide another meal and then hunker down in the safe building.  As soon as possible after the worst of the weather passes, they'll be out on the grounds to check on the dolphins and sea lions and the entire facility.

Everyone always asks what exactly we do to prepare for a hurricane.  We have a detailed plan that we follow and actually began our storm preparations on Friday.  Well in advance of any storm, the Environmental Services team checks the generators and lays in supplies that might be needed.

Staff members take care of their offices and buildings, making sure that equipment is protected and storm shutters properly installed.  As you can imagine, there's a great deal to be done around the lagoons and public areas.  We temporarily remove some of the floating docks and increase the security of others.  Everything that could get blown around or into any of the lagoons is removed and stored.  This includes benches, stairs, gear, equipment, trash and recycling receptacles, and all of the signs that are normally posted around the dolphins.

Even the lunch truck is moved from where it usually sits near the front lagoon and taken to a more secure location!

The tropical birds that normally live in an outdoor aviary take up residence in the DolphinLab classroom to keep them out of the wind and weather.  The various cats are kept inside as well.

Preparing for a storm event is a lot of work, to be sure, but the DRC family works great as a team and everything that needs to be done to protect our home and family is completed in time.  There was a lot of activity yesterday, and we snapped some photos to share a few of the tasks with you.

As soon as possible after the storm, we'll post an update to let you know that everything's okay.  You can also check our Facebook page throughout the storm, as weather, Internet connection and available power permit!

Crossbars were added to reinforce the Causeway Tiki
Guest Services staff shuttered the Gift Shop

Volunteers collected toys and gear for safe storage
Dylan and Adam worked on the sound system

Even the ropes that line the lagoons are removed.  Aleta checked out our progress.

Trainers Laura (red cap) and Loriel bring a meal to the dolphins in the front lagoon.
Loriel is multi-tasking -- getting a storm update from Linda on the phone.

Visual Communications staff and volunteers moved
equipment from the Photo Tiki

The sun shade was taken down from over the lagoons.