Hurricane Ian uprooted this giant tree and pushed it onto Mildred Nicaragua’s home in Venice, Fl.
The Saturday morning after Hurricane Ian ravaged Florida’s west coast, Mildred Nicaragua’s team showed up at her Venice, Fl. home where the Senior IT Project Manager lives with her 75-year-old mother. They brought a generator, tools to cut fallen trees, good cheer – and a day’s worth of hard work to help their team member recover.
But before that was the terrifying night of the storm.
“The scariest moment was when the large tree in the backyard fell on the house,” Mildred said. “It was a loud thump with branches snapping. Our electricity went out that morning and it added to the fear.”
She continued, “My mom was braver than I was during the storm; I spent most of the time in the bathtub with our two dogs and our parakeet, Theo. We were most worried about the large mango tree on the side of the house; it fell partially on the AC unit and the neighbor’s property.”
Joe Gallenstein outside Mildred’s home.
Here Comes the Cavalry
First, Peoples Gas Construction Coordinator Chris Tillett arrived to make sure Mildred and her mother were OK – standard procedure by TECO to ensure any team member who needs help gets it.
Meanwhile, Senior IT Project Managers Joe Gallenstein and Bob Maxey, along with Lead IT Project Manager Ron Scharber, heard Mildred’s home had been hit hard and devised a plan to help. With little damage to their own homes, they were well-positioned to jump in. Joined by a TECO crew, navigating epic traffic jams and debris-strewn streets, they journeyed south to Venice, found Mildred’s house and got to work.
“It was so encouraging to get help from Ron, my performance coach, and Program Management Office (PMO) colleagues Bob and Joe,” Mildred said, describing her feelings when her team members arrived. “I’m grateful for their support and kind generosity. They brought ladders, ice water, a generator and power saws. They also brought a crew with them that used a bobcat to remove the roots from the ground. I never expected to see a bobcat in the yard.”
Mildred in the thick of the cleanup effort.
Ron said safety was the top priority. “We were working off ladders and moving limbs that were being cut off to expose the roof. The team was extremely careful to make sure no one was below them while cutting limbs off the roof. We wore eye protection as well as hard hats.”
Nearly 12 hours of work ensued. The crew even returned the next day to pick up where they left off and help Mildred’s neighbors. It was gold-standard teamwork at a time of greatest need.
Mildred’s mom picking mangoes during “more normal” times from a tree now gone.
“Is It Over Yet?”
Signs of Ian’s destruction will linger in places like Venice. But Mildred and her mom have the most important things still – each other, their pets and home, along with a company in TECO that cares.
“There are a lot of people who were hit harder,” Mildred said. “My mom knows it could have been a lot worse so she’s hanging in there.”
There may be no ‘I’ in ‘team,’ but when a storm has an eye, it can take a team to get through it. While Hurricane Season 2022 will remain full of striking memories for millions of people (“Is it over yet?” Mildred said), one particular thought stands out for Mildred and her mom:
“I’m so happy to be part of the TECO family.”
How You Can Help
TECO has contributed $500,000 to the Florida Disaster Fund to support communities impacted by Hurricane Ian. You can join our support by visiting www.FloridaDisasterFund.org or text DISASTER to 20222.