Fourteen states. Six hotels. And one night in a Walmart parking lot.

That was how Jenna Snyder, business development manager at INTEK, spent her September.

INTEK's Jenna Snyder snaps a photo of a washed-up sailboat after the hurricane.

From September 2 to October 2, 2017, Jenna Snyder was out of the INTEK office, doing a different type of cleaning.

At the encouragement of INTEK owner Jerry Berg, Jenna traveled to the Houston and Miami areas to provide assistance as a clerk after the hurricanes hit.

We’ve seen some pretty nasty stuff here at INTEK — everything from water-damaged basements to homes ravaged by fire — but, as Jenna can attest, nothing compares to the devastation of these communities.

Now that she’s back in Sioux Falls, Jenna is armed with more knowledge (and compassion) for the cleaning industry than ever before.

We sat down with Jenna to hear more about her experience with hurricane relief and how she’ll apply it to INTEK’s commercial cleaning jobs in Sioux Falls.


1. What inspired you to get involved in the hurricane relief?

INTEK had never gone to help out with a hurricane before. But the owner, Jerry, has always wanted to, and I was willing to go.

The owner of a company I worked with in Chicago had gone to help out a couple of times, so we asked him if he needed help. He agreed to train me on how to do all the paperwork that is involved with hurricane relief.


2. What sort of tasks did you help with in Houston and Miami?

I started off in Houston, where I learned the paperwork process. After Hurricane Irma hit Miami, they needed help with paperwork, too — so after a week of training in Houston, I headed to Miami.

The billing portion of the paperwork is based off time and materials. That means every fan, every hammer, and every hour an employee works is accounted for . . . every single day. So if a fan is used in a building for three days in a row, you have to fill out a new sheet every day, stating what equipment was used that day.

Along with that, you have to have every employee sign for their per diem (their hotel stay, what they drove, the miles they drove, and the hours they worked) every day. So if you have eight of your own employees and 30 temp workers, everyone has to sign in and sign out, and all that information has to get filled out every day.

We worked on a 15-story building and a 30-story building in Miami (along with a bunch of other small projects). We did not do anything residential; it was all commercial. That’s because the payment process is a lot quicker — often, if you do residential, either they don’t have insurance, or it’s hard to get the insurance company there (let alone get them to pay for it).

So, I’m now an expert in commercial cleaning projects!


3. Tell us about one shocking experience from your trip.

One part of the trip (from Mobile, Alabama, to Florida) was only supposed to take us five hours . . . and it took us 18.

The reason was that the residents who had evacuated Florida were all going back to their homes, so traffic was crazy. We were literally at a dead stop or going no more than 30 miles per hour the entire time. 

A semi truck is obstructed by tree branches during INTEK's trip south for hurricane relief.

4. What is your main takeaway from this experience?

Be prepared, and expect the worse.

I brought from home some nonperishable food, laundry detergent, and rubber boots. We ended up needing the food because there was nothing for groceries. I used the laundry detergent to wash my clothes in a hotel tub. The only thing I didn’t need was my rubber boots, because the water was gone by the time we got there. Go figure.


5. Did you learn anything that you’ll apply to your position at INTEK?

There were a lot of little things I experienced that I would definitely use if we were to go on hurricane runs next year.

I would purchase a bunch of gas containers before I left. When we were looking in Houston and Florida, it was very hard to find any of them. Not only that, but you obviously use gas while driving around to find those containers — and then it comes down to finding a place that actually has gas.

The other thing I would suggest is that if you have an idea of where you might be stationed doing work, make reservations ahead of time — and make sure you can cancel them if you need to. I spend one night in a Walmart parking lot because all the hotels in Tallahassee were taken. Literally — every hotel we called.

The more prepared you are before you go, the easier your whole trip will be.

A devastated beach during INTEK's trip south for hurricane relief.


What You Can Do to Help

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma may not be plastered all over the news anymore, but that doesn’t mean the communities of Houston and Miami aren’t still hurting.

In fact, recent polls have suggested that as little as 26% of Hurricane Harvey survivors have actually received aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

To learn ways you can provide support, here are some things you can do to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.

And if another natural disaster should strike — which we pray it won’t — be watching for our response. After Jenna’s rewarding experience this fall, we feel more passionate than ever about helping communities like these. Maybe you can even join our relief efforts somewhere down the road!

In the meantime, remember that you can always count on us for your cleaning and restoration needs here in Sioux Falls and Yankton — especially commercial and janitorial cleaning. Thanks to Jenna, we’re now better at those services than ever!