Hurricane Irma and Why It’s So Important to Have Laundry Backup


With its 17 named storms and 10 hurricanes – including Hurricane Irma – the 2017 season isn’t one we’ll soon forget. We all learned a lot last year about our resilience and willingness to help each other, and one of the other key takeaways for hotels we’d like to address is the importance of having laundry backup. 

Crown Linen didn’t miss a single delivery during last year’s storms, and the redundancy in our system is what kept us going.

With the 2018 hurricane season almost upon us, here are some lessons from Hurricane Irma and why it’s so important to have laundry backup.

Knocked Down But Not Out by Hurricane Irma

After Irma swept across the state in September, only two of our five facilities across Florida had power. But as we mentioned, we managed not to miss a single delivery and turned everyone’s linens within 24 hours.

How did we do it? By working closely with customers, carefully shifting volume and lots and lots of logistics. And, most importantly, by having multiple plants in place to fall back on. That redundancy meant we could transfer operations to our two operating plants and kept cranking.

We collaborated with hotels to scale back their dirty linens by, for instance, only changing essentials in guest rooms instead of every item.

Hotels, meanwhile, were dealing with their own facilities issues and the influx of evacuees from places like Jacksonville and the Keys, as well as emergency responders, the National Guard, staff from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, utility and construction workers, insurance adjusters and more.

The Takeaway

The major takeaway is how critical it is to have a laundry backup plan. And it exposes the operational risk of having a single on-premise laundry facility. If something happens to your laundry, whether it’s a natural disaster or a machine maintenance issue, you’re in the position of having a single point of failure that could bring everything down.

Think of it this way: Say you’re a 200-room hotel or resort and a storm damages 20 guest rooms. You’d be down those rooms. But if the same storm damages your laundry facility, you’re suddenly down all 200 rooms because you can’t turn them.

Laundry Backup Solution

To stay up and running to serve the guests who are relying on you during leisure, business and yes, even disasters, we recommend partnering with a commercial laundry service that has backup and redundancies built in.

A large laundry provider will have not only multiple tunnel washers, boilers and air compressors, they’ll have more than one facility that can absorb any outages into its network.

Bracing for 2018

It’s hard to believe, but the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1 and won’t officially end until Nov. 30. Some researchers are predicting another active year, and we’re doing what we can to be help the state’s hotels weather the storms.

If you’re curious about the names for this year’s storms, the World Meteorological Organization has released the 2018 list: Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sara, Tony, Valerie and William.

The 2017 Hurricane Season at a Glance

2017 Atlantic Hurricane list

The 2017 season ran from June 1 to Nov. 30 and saw six major hurricanes of Category 3, 4 or 5, including the first two major hurricanes to hit the continental U.S. since Wilma struck Florida in October 2005.

Massive Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida on Sept. 10 as a Category 4 with 130 mph sustained winds, leaving few parts of state unscathed.