FLORIDA, U.S. - In a total fall from grace, a Pizza Hut manager in Florida is revealed to have threatened to punish employees who heeded to warnings by local authorities and evacuated on the day Hurricane Irma was to strike the region.
The manager of the Jacksonville restaurant were warned in a memo that they have a "responsibility and commitment" to the community, and that employees who needed to evacuate would get only a 24-hour "grace period" before the storm.
Hurricane Irma was defined as the Atlantic’s most deadly storm in history, that was to affect up to 37 million people.
Faced with the deadly hurricane, local and national authorities together sounding several warnings to Florida residents to evacuate.
Over 5 million residents, which is about one-third of the state’s population were told to evacuate for their own safety - with Governor Rick Scott issuing a plea for residents to "leave now, don't wait."
Despite a deadly threat to life of all those that do not evacuate - the manager issued a notice to his staff that read, "You cannot evacuate Friday for a Tuesday storm event! Failure to show for these shifts, regardless of reason, will be considered a no call / no show and documentation will be issued."
It added that employees would be required to return to the city within 72 hours of an evacuation.
Once the memo and the threat was revealed, Pizza Hut said in a statement that its "local franchise operator has addressed this situation with the manager involved."
Later, the company said in a statement, “We are uncompromising in our commitment to the safety and well-being of our team members. All locations in the path of Irma are closed and will remain closed until local authorities deem the area safe. We absolutely do not have a policy that dictates when team members can leave or return from a disaster, and the manager who posted this letter did not follow company guidelines. We can also confirm that the local franchise operator has addressed this situation with the manager involved.”
The company further added that all stores in Irma's path had been shuttered and wouldn't reopen "until local authorities deem the area safe."
However, Pizza Hut declined to say whether the manager involved has been disciplined.
On Friday, authorities in Jacksonville issued the first evacuation orders for parts of the city.
Then, on Monday, the sheriff's office tweeted to people in evacuation zones, "Get out NOW” as about 4 feet of water covered some streets.