Hurricanes and tropical storms are a reality for residents of the US Gulf Coast. From Corpus Christi, Texas, to Naples, FL, August and September have become synonymous with torrential rains and high winds. But no matter how often severe weather hits this area, it never becomes routine; family members are separated, longtime residents are displaced from their homes, irreplaceable possessions are destroyed and entire lives are upended by these unpredictable natural disasters. In late summer 2017, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused countless scenes of heartbreaking devastation like this. In these difficult times, simple human contact can be powerful and invigorating for survivors. Few people have understood this as well as Chris Harper, vice president of communications at The Arbor Company, an Atlanta-based company that manages senior communities in the Gulf Coast region of Texas and Florida. When Hurricane Harvey began rolling into Southeast Texas and floodwaters began to rise in Houston, evacuation orders were received for one of Arbor Company's retirement communities in the suburbs of the city. It was a dramatic scene straight out of a movie, with police and volunteers assembling a "Cajun navy" of private boats to evacuate the remaining elderly people. “We had about 120 people in the building at the time, and some of them had already been evacuated by friends and family,” Harper explained. "And because it was this last-minute mandatory evacuation, and because FEMA was in charge of the operation, our residents were being sorted at the pickup location and sent to different shelters in the Houston area. " Travel soon became impossible due to widespread flooding, and landline and internet services were spotty or non-existent throughout the Houston metro area. For more than a week, 148,000 Houstonians were without phones or internet service, with flooding and storms destroying at least 17 emergency call centers and 320 cell sites.
This presented an immediate and pressing problem: how could family members of elderly Arbor Society residents get in touch to Employee Email Database let each other know they were okay? "Families wanted to know where their loved ones were or vice versa, and we wanted to know that too, because we treat our residents like our own family," Harper said. The solution would come from an unlikely place: automated voice transcription technology. The Arbor Company's innovative thinking saves the day "Since the building's phone system was under water at this point, we had the idea that we needed to have a way for families to contact us," he said. “As we've been using CallRail for a while, I thought why not set up a tracking number? Very quickly, like within five minutes, we created an offline tracking number and set up a record there. »Arbor previously only used call tracking for inbound marketing and analytics, but soon discovered the technology could have life-saving implications in this time of crisis. They could add and update a recorded message for incoming callers to ensure they were providing family members with the latest information about loved ones. But more importantly, they could give callers the option to leave a message that the Arbor company could then relay to their elders, as well as residents' responses to their families. Even though the phone and internet throughout Houston was down for more than a week, cellular coverage thankfully remained stable enough for the Arbor Company to maintain a lifeline between seniors and their families. And with CallRail's transcription service, incoming messages were automatically transcribed and sent as emails in minutes.
"When they left a voicemail, we used the transcription service, and [the transcription] was then emailed to our manager who was on the ground in Houston," Harper explained. “Our team was able to receive emails on their phones and zap those messages very quickly. »First Harvey, then Irma The plan worked so well that when Hurricane Irma was about to hit Florida a week and a half later, Harper sprang into action and preemptively implemented an expanded version of this system for Florida communities of Arbor Company. "We have seven communities in Florida, and they're all coastal, so they were all basically in the path of the storm," Harper explained. “We have set up hurricane hotline numbers for each of these communities, as well as a primary 800 number to route calls to specific buildings.”He continued, “Local officials ended up evacuating three of our communities in Florida, which isn't necessarily normal, but it's something we've had to deal with on the Florida coast before. And throughout that process, we were able to communicate with the families through Facebook and our outbound robocalls, and then having CallRail to handle the inbound messages.