Businesses deal with winter weather woes
Written by TARA KELLER Sentinel Staff Writer
Tuesday, 04 February 2014 10:48
Just as Bowling Green prepares for another round of winter, two businesses are recovering from the first.
The week of subzero temperatures and Level 3 snow emergencies at the beginning of January left the Holiday Inn Express and Heritage Corner Health Care Campus with more than the forecast predicted.
After parts of I-75 closed because of the snow emergency, stranded motorists walked or were escorted to the Holiday Inn Express.
"They were all happy to be here. There were lots of stories of people thankful they made it here," said Veronica Ramos, director of sales. "It really made us feel good that we were there for them."
One guest abandoned his semi-truck on the highway to get out of the cold.
During his extended hotel stay, he shared his story with Ramos and the other guests.
"He came in wearing every layer of clothing he had. He said 'I knew if I fell asleep in my truck, I would freeze to death,'" Ramos said. "He made me want to cry."
Ramos didn't cry, though. She had too much to do.
The hotel's food trucks were scheduled to arrive on that Wednesday, but they couldn't make it through the snow.
"We were down to the bare minimum," Ramos said. "We ran out of sausage links for breakfast, so we ended up shooting across the street to Meijer."
If "that wasn't enough," the hotel's sprinkler in the elevator broke at the end of that week.
Once again, Ramos gathered her team together and got the issue fixed.
"Everyone pulled together to help the guests," she said. "We had people give us goodbye hugs. I read a review on our site that said we were the best place to get stranded."
While Holiday Inn Express had to manage a full house, Heritage Corner had to empty its house.
On Jan. 7, a pipe burst at the facility and damaged the sprinkler system.
Because of the damage, the fire alarm system wasn't up to code and the state mandated an evacuation.
"We had 24 hours to get out," said Mathew Manley, chief operations officer. "We made sure we did it by state regulations. The administration staff did a great job."
The pipe burst in the mechanical room and flooded a third of the facility with water.
Two of the rooms were occupied by clients, but they were at dinner when the flooding began.
"We had until 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday to get everybody out," Manley said. "The last person left the building by 5:06 p.m."
That's when the real work started.
While his clients were temporarily living off-site at either Wood Haven Health Care or another Heritage Corner building, Manley and his staff logged in a 22-hour day trying to clean up.
"It just got done. I knew what needed to happen," he said. "We handled it the best we could."
After the water removal, repainting and repairing the pipes/sprinkler system, Manley welcomed his clients back that following Monday.
Manley thought his new building wouldn't have to pass weather's test anytime soon, but he's glad it did.
"Evacuating was the safest thing to do," he said. "We didn't incur any more damage and didn't put our clients at risk."