When I first heard mid last week that Hurricane Harvey was headed directly to the Houston area, all I could think was why they had to name it with my surname. Why, oh, why??? Well at least now no one will misspell it anymore.
Immediately my management team and I started talking about how we were going to prepare for it.
We decided to ship as many projects early out of the area to our clients in case roads would become a problem. Our production folks worked overtime on Wednesday and Thursday to make this happen. We had quarterly leadership training classes planned for Thursday afternoon (8/24) and we had to excuse the shipping and loading supervisors from the class.
During the tax day flood of 2016, our HQ offices were partially flooded, so we went around to all offices and got things off the floor -- especially electronic equipment. We recently had new carpet put in all the offices, so my Executive VP was really nervous this would happen again. We have a retention pond outside of our offices where employees fish or sit and enjoy outside. We drained it as much as we could while preserving the wildlife in the pond.
On Friday (8/25), our HR/payroll manager, Stacy Fulmer, SHRM-CP, came up with a great idea to find a system to send out a mass email like the school systems do. We went to our IT Manager and he found a program called EZtexting.com. It is really easy!!! We were able to obtain all the cell phones of the office staff and production supervisors and input them in the system so we could send a mass text. The production supervisors also obtained numbers from our 200+ production workers so they could call or text them. Next time, we will be sure to add them also into the EZtexting program. We are creating an English group and a Spanish group since I can speak both languages. I was also able to remotely enter into our email program and send a mass company-wide email to keep everyone informed.
All of this prep worked perfectly and we, as a company family, rode out the storm which included tornadoes and flooding. Our plant manager had a high-profile truck, so he came out every day to check on the facilities and feed our “steel cats”. We have lots of free range cats who live in our facility that keep out rodents and snakes.
Monday, we were closed and Tuesday we told folks we would open for those who could safely make it in. By Wednesday (8/30), we only had 38 employees out of 350 in the Houston area call out. Today, almost everyone is back to work.
Out of the 350+ employees in Houston only six employees had their homes flooded, which is amazing. We expected so many more. We are doing many things to help these employees out. "We take care of our family" is the quote from our executive team. Our company is feeling so blessed to have weathered the hurricane as well as we did. Many of us have family members affected so we are helping them as needed.
Thank you to SHRM and the HR Community for all the outpouring of support and love while we Houstonians are weathering the after effects of this horrible disaster. We will come back #HoustonStrong.