For our work with FEMA, over 70% of our team is local—including Eric Cruz Silva who monitors the financial performance of our subcontractors. “When you work with love, passion is reflected in your results,” he says. When he first applied at ICF, he thought it was your typical financial job “where you provide the most accurate financial information possible to help management make the best decisions possible.” It didn’t take long for him to see the big picture. “Our work helps local government diligently direct reconstruction to make buildings, homes, and schools more resilient for the next hurricane or earthquake.”
“I believe this job is the most important federal function in Puerto Rico right now, and I’m proud to be part of it,” says Eric Cruz Silva. “This work helps Puerto Rico remain the 'Charming Island' in the Caribbean.”
When your work hits close to home
Native Puerto Rican Heidy De la Cruz Soltero was home when Irma hit. She lost power and water, and traveled to the U.S. mainland shortly before Maria slammed the island. “I saw the destruction on TV. It was exasperating,” she says. She had a strong desire to return home and contribute to the recovery, which is when a friend told her about ICF. “Because I like to ‘Dream Big,’ it felt like fate.”
From our newly formed office in Guaynabo, Heidy started as the liaison between FEMA and the Puerto Rican government. Supporting grant funding efforts, Heidy worked with more than 60 public agencies to complete infrastructure projects.
“Being part of a team that supports the reconstruction of my community has introduced me to the world of public assistance programs,” says Heidy De la Cruz Soltero. “I’m happy I can educate people on how to prepare for a disaster and be more resilient.”
Preparing for the future
In many ways, Irma and Maria changed the playbook in terms of hurricane preparedness. “We created different Continuity of Operations Plans with different steps, depending on what category hurricane might be headed our way,” Dione explains.
This includes planning for more than hurricanes. For example, late last year and in the beginning of this one, a series of strong earthquakes hit. “None of us were expecting that,” she continues. Fortunately, many of our employees had already taken the FEMA earthquake training.
Earthquake preparations are a lot different from emergency preparedness for other types of disasters. In large part because there’s little to no advanced warning. “Regardless, we need to be aware of what to do when any disaster strikes,” adds Dione. “As a tight-knit island community, we always learn, adjust, and adapt.”