Monday, August 20, 2007

Brooks Tropicals prepares for Hurricane Dean

As Hurricane Dean intensified (possibly a category 5 later today), Brooks Tropicals and its subsidiary Fruta Bomba has braced itself for the storm.

The company put its hurricane alert plan into effect over the weekend which allowed company employees in the storm's path to go home and finalize their personal preparations for the hurricane.

"Our first concern is with our employees," said Brooks Tropicals' CEO, Craig Wheeling. "Timing is critical. Hurricane preparations were started early enough in the field and in our packing house to give our employees the time they need with their families. After the storm, we'll immediately send a team down to help in clean-up efforts,
set-up satellite communications and support the needs of our employees and their families."

Brooks Tropicals' has almost eighty years of dealing with hurricanes both at its headquarters in Homestead, Fla. and at its Northern Belize, CA location where the company grows, packs and ships Caribbean Red and Caribbean Sunrise papayas.

Hurricane preparations routinely include: completely filling fuel tanks for on-site generators, taking down all satellite equipment for safe keeping, securing all buildings and vehicles and a general sweep of the packing facility and fields to take-in or secure any equipment that might
sustain damage during the storm.

At its Homestead location, the business' hurricane alert plan allows the firm to go back to 'business as usual' immediately after a storm despite local electrical outages that sometimes lasts for a week or longer. In Belize, the company plans on having a complete assessment of damages within a week.

Weather conditions are predicted to deteriorate over the eastern Yucatan peninsula and northern Belize
tonight ahead of the storm. The center of Hurricane Dean is expected to make landfall further north on the Mexican Yucatan peninsula very early Tuesday morning. Northern Belize, where the Brooks Tropicals' papaya operations are located, will get the southern part of the storm. Tropical storm force winds are expected.

Category five hurricanes have winds speeds of 156+ mph and storm surges of 18+ feet based on the Saffir - Simpson Hurricane Scale.