Strong after the storm: Hanson stands by clients

Hanson’s relationship with our aviation clients is instrumental in our ability to support an airport’s success. When disaster strikes and the effects take a toll, those relationships and our expertise are tested. Intricate involvement in and an understanding of the airport’s priorities and projects prior to a natural disaster are critical factors in Hanson’s ability to jump in and help. The Hanson team works closely alongside the airport staff members as they rebuild their facility and recover safe operations.

Hurricane Ian, which reached Category 5 strength and struck the southwest coast of Florida on Sept. 28, 2022, caused catastrophic damage at Naples Airport in Florida. After the storm, several of Hanson’s staff members provided damage assessments and recovery recommendation reporting on airfield infrastructure, electrical distribution and components and secure perimeter access and control. Hanson has a long-standing consultant relationship with the airport.

Opportunities for improvement

In addition to the airfield infrastructure damage, in the case of Naples, the airport’s perimeter security and access control systems sustained damage. In beginning repairs, we discovered failure points that led us to studies and designing improvements to systems such as slide gate controllers, including repairs, replacements and elevation above the flood plain, as well as backup power for the controls of critical access points for emergency services. As of February 2024, Hanson continues to work with the airport on the repair and replacement of the fuel systems, in addition to the electrical and communications infrastructure for monitoring, controls, containment and regular operations.

The damage uncovered an opportunity to address the airport’s stormwater management, including the infrastructure of the inflow and outflow structures and protection from storm surge and rising waters. We found that the salinity of the freshwater and stormwater ponds on the airport property was negatively affecting water quality and deemed them unusable for reclaimed water purposes, such as landscaping irrigation.

We also worked with Naples to address damage to the airport’s rooftop equipment, such as electrical panels, cameras and heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.

Turning problems into progress

Our focus for any airport after a major storm is to work with the staff on FEMA-funded airfield electrical refurbishment, repairs and the replacement of components such as airfield signs, ground lighting infrastructure wiring and lights, as well as ground-mounted power and controls, including deteriorated enclosures. Components such as these, exposed to harsh weather conditions, sustain wear and tear in corrosive saltwater environments — even more so during a historic weather event such as Hurricane Ian. This wear and tear significantly decrease the components’ usable lifespan and leads to a need for updates to maintenance plans, expedited project programming and thorough communication with government entities to seek funding for upgrades and replacements.

Whether after a storm or in the face of any need, we prioritize our clients’ well-being. We understand that the airport is an economic engine and must return to safe operations as soon as possible after a storm. We focus on defining a path to recovery. We’re here for you.

Greg Helton is an associate project manager in Hanson’s Sarasota, Florida, office who can be reached at