TrueBlue recruits workers ready for hurricane clear-up

US blue-collar recruiter TrueBlue is playing an active role in recruiting workers in the recovery effort in hurricane-torn areas.

With Houston coping with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and Hurricane Irma set to make landfall in the US following its devastation in the Caribbean, TrueBlue’s president and COO Patrick Beharelle reports on how the agency is helping affected areas rebuild and prepare for what’s to come.

In a statement sent to Recruiter, Beharelle explains that within Houston, this has meant co-ordinating efforts throughout the agency’s entire 11 branch network – recruiting workers, while temporarily shifting its admin to branches outside the affected area.

“We have also brought a mobile unit into the city, so we are bringing our recruiting centre to jobseekers. People can also get registered into our system and authorised to use our new JobStack mobile app.

“JobStack allows them to search for jobs and accept work right on their phones, eliminating the need to visit a branch, and to get them dispatched faster. Customers can also use JobStack to request workers. It’s really all hands on deck right now in the area, and we’ll use a similar approach in other areas that may be impacted by Hurricane Irma.”

While Beharelle says the firm is relying on its experience of being involved with the recovery of storm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina, he says the scale of the impact on Houston is massive as it’s the US’s fourth largest city.

“I think this has been the largest immediate recruitment of people I can remember, and part of that is a new approach by government leaders to get damaged wallboard, flooring, etc. out of damaged homes and businesses as quickly as possible to avoid the mould and other issues that can cause huge problems later.

“Having seen how damage lingered after Katrina, I think that’s led to a desire to get Houston back on its feet as soon as possible, especially since it’s such an important economic centre. This is going to be a long process, because after the initial round of people needed to remove debris and damage, there is going to be a tremendous demand for the skilled services we offer in the construction trades.”

And with regards to the impending impact of Irma, Beharelle says the agency’s first concern is for its staff, thought an additional concern is it is currently unclear where Irma will make landfall.
 “In any disaster, our first concern is the safety and wellbeing of our people. In the days leading up to landfall, we’re telling our people to make their loved ones their top priority.

“It’s still a little unclear exactly what path Hurricane Irma will take, but whichever one it is we know it will be devastating. South Florida appears to be in its sights, though, and we’re doing the same sort of preparation we did for Harvey. First, we’re making sure all our people are safe and that they evacuate if the order is given. However, we have staff and workers on standby to arrive in the area as soon as the storm passes; in Houston, we had several buses filled with staff and workers. 

“We’re also supporting others’ response efforts, including FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] and a large food supplier who is preparing emergency food kits; we’re ready to respond to the same call to help those impacted by Irma.”

And while the firm will assess the state of its branches immediately after the storm, it has already prepared to shift some operations to outlying areas or its corporate support centres.

“We have recruited workers that we’ll bring into the area and then import the staff needed to ramp up recruitment in the areas that are hardest hit. These back-to-back storms are an incredible challenge, but it’s something we have to meet.

“It’s important to get people working, because it helps those who have been displaced from their jobs due to damage to businesses and it also rebuilds the community faster.”

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