The 2017 hurricane season was an historic one for disasters in the United States, also accompanied by wildfires and mass shootings. On August 25, the devastation began with Hurricane Harvey dumping 51 inches of rain on Texas and Louisiana; a total of 33 trillion gallons of water (Fritz & Samenow, 2017). The following week, Hurricane Irma became the first major hurricane to make landfall in Florida since 2005. It brought mass devastation to the Florida Keys and affected other cities along the coast. Finally, on September 19, Hurricane Maria ravaged the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, leaving 3.7 million residents without electricity (FEMA, 2018).
In total, it has been assessed that Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria caused a combined $265 billion in damage. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), nearly 4.8 million households affected by the 2017 hurricanes and California wildfires registered for assistance—more than the previous 10 years combined (FEMA, 2018).
As we look back on these historic events from just a year ago, lessons continue to be gleaned from the response and recovery. One thing that continues to hold true is that when disaster strikes, business acts. From donating millions to supporting relief organizations, to activating countless employee volunteers, to providing in-kind products and services—communities recover quicker because the private sector mobilizes in times of need.
In 2017, the U.S. Chamber Foundation tracked $416 million in corporate contributions in response to disasters. This year’s case study highlights commitments companies made prior to the disasters and in the months following. Whether investing in resilience or building stronger partnerships, these companies have been committed to using their resources, assets, and expertise to support their employees, their customers, and their communities.
While we hope that we will not have another year like 2017, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center knows that the private sector is taking the lead on disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. I am encouraged by the coordination between the private sector, our federal partners, and the nonprofit community. The innovations and collaborations happening across sectors are strengthening our ability to respond and are helping mitigate the effects of future disasters.
- Health Care Service Corporation and its Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and TexasTaking Care of Employees, Members, and the Community in the Aftermath of a Hurricane
- InsperityInsperity: Bringing Hope to a Hopeless Situation
- JetBlue Airways100x35JetBlue—An Immediate and Long-Term Commitment to Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief
- Kohler Co.Response to Hurricane Maria Damage to Puerto Rico
- Lockheed MartinPuerto Rico Bound: Al Cielo Para Ayudar a Puerto Rico
- MedtronicMedtronic Puts Communities First in Wake of Hurricane Maria
- Shell Oil CompanyAfter Harvey: Helping Houston Recover and Build Resilience
Chapter 1: Building Resilience
Sixty-nine million children are away from their parents every day, in daycare centers, schools, and camps or with neighbors, family, or friends. If a disaster strikes, where will those children be taken? Are child-serving institutions prepared? Are they on the radar of local first responders? These are the questions that the Resilient Children/Resilient Communities (RCRC) Toolbox tries to help parents, communities, and policy-makers answer.
The RCRC Toolbox is the culmination of a $2 million, three-year initiative led by The National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and the international nonprofit Save the Children, funded by GSK, to foster a community-wide approach to child-focused disaster planning. It is the only comprehensive disaster planning resource that specifically focuses on the needs of children, and it has already helped two pilot RCRC communities become better prepared for the needs of children should a disaster strike.
In 2013, GSK embarked on an ambitious long-term global partnership with Save the Children, with the goal to save one million children’s lives. Over the past five years, we have combined our capabilities in R&D, supply chain, procurement, and vaccines with the charity’s expertise working with the most vulnerable children. To date, we have reached over 2.78 million children, including more than 97,600 children under age five who have been fully immunized; over 290,000 children who have been vaccinated against measles or polio; over 187,800 children who have been treated for diarrhea, malaria, or pneumonia and over one million children who have been screened for malnutrition.
In the U.S., this global partnership focuses on supporting children suffering from the impact of natural disasters, including the development of resilience infrastructure in communities to better prepare for and meet their unique needs during and after a disaster strikes. To achieve this, in 2015 we partnered with the National Center for Disaster Preparedness and Save the Children to research and develop a national model. Working in two pilot communities (Washington County, Arkansas, and Putnam County, New York), our RCRC partners helped to form local Community Resilience Coalitions that created and strengthened partnerships between the health department, emergency management, schools, childcare providers, after school programs, law enforcement, and first responders to create communication plans, conduct emergency planning and trainings, and coordinate child-focused planning.
NCDP is evaluating each pilot community against the Community Preparedness Index, which measures overall systemic readiness for children in disaster. While end line studies are currently underway, initial indications show that both communities are quantifiably more resilient as a result of the RCRC initiative. Thanks to their hard work and the support of NCDP and Save the Children, these two communities are better prepared to protect and support more than 76,000 children in their care.
This past April, leaders from each community coalition went to Washington, D.C. to brief members of Congress and federal agency experts on their experience, learnings, and recommendations for how other communities across the U.S. can better prepare for the needs of children. Their powerful and candid testimony highlighted the need for emergency management and child-serving agencies to work together, sharing their expertise to better achieve their shared goal to keep our communities’ most vulnerable population from harm and able to bounce back from trauma.
After three years of hard work, the RCRC initiative has produced a comprehensive online toolbox of resources to share with communities across the U.S. With nearly two-thirds of American households lacking adequate disaster plans, the Resilient Children/Resilient Communities Toolbox provides the resources that parents, community leaders, emergency management officials, schools, and childcare centers need to prepare for emergencies and improve their ability to help children quickly return to a sense of normalcy. The toolbox is available online to the public free of charge.
The goal of the RCRC Toolbox is to foster a community-wide approach to child-focused disaster planning and cultivate better communication between the various local organizations that serve children and families. We are excited to share it with more communities and will continue to advocate and educate for the adoption of these best practices, tools, and methods from this initiative to keep all children safe and resilient in the face of disaster.
Disasters are most often unexpected and urgent, which sometimes conflicts with funders’ desire to perform thorough due diligence and vetting of grant recipients to ensure alignment with strategy and maximum impact. The PwC Charitable Foundation has addressed this tension by identifying credible national and global nonprofits working in disaster relief/response, before a crisis strikes, and establishing strategic multi-year collaborations. Though it takes an upfront investment, having these relationships in place enables the Foundation to mobilize quickly in times of need -- an approach which proved incredibly effective during Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma and the Mexico City earthquake.
Supported by PwC LLP, its partners and staff, the PwC Charitable Foundation funds innovative nonprofits in the areas of education and humanitarianism, and assists the people of PwC in times of need. Disaster response and recovery is an integral part of the Foundation’s humanitarian grantmaking. In 2015, the Foundation made a multi-year grant to Team Rubicon, an international disaster response nonprofit that organizes veterans to serve as first responders. The grant included funding for both capacity-building and Team Rubicon’s Ready Reserve, for federally-declared natural disasters yet to come. When Harvey struck, the Ready Reserve helped a Team Rubicon contingent get on the ground within days. This rapid response would have been impossible without our existing relationship. Once Harvey’s extensive damage had been assessed, the Foundation made an additional grant to Team Rubicon for support recovery and rebuilding operations. In September, a delegation from PwC’s Veterans Affinity Network, spent 14 days working alongside Team Rubicon. Together, they cleaned out houses and removed debris in five regions from Houston to Beaumont, Texas. “Hurricane Harvey was Team Rubicon’s largest operation since inception in 2010. Without the continuous support from allies like the PwC Charitable Foundation, we would not have been able to quickly and effectively serve nearly 1,000 families in the Houston area,” said David Burke, Vice President of Programs and Field Operations, Team Rubicon.
Along with support of Team Rubicon, the Foundation made several additional grants during 2017, turning to nonprofits with which it has long standing relationships, including DonorsChoose.org and Feeding America -- organizations focused on response in affected communities. These collaborations helped bring people to safety, provide basic necessities, keep families together, support rebuilding efforts and deploy resources into communities where they were needed most.
In addition to being prepared to respond to hard-hit communities, the PwC Foundation takes care of PwC people in times of emergency financial hardship and whose lives are upended when disaster strikes through its People Who Care Fund. The PwC Foundation can activate emergency protocols, enabling those impacted to quickly get assistance for immediate necessities -- food, water, clean clothes, and a safe place to stay. This fast action helps turn what might be an unrecoverable disaster into an event with far less severity. As the 2017 season unfolded, PwC partners and staff contributed generously to the Foundation to support real-time response and the people of PwC. The People Who Care Fund was able to provide over 600 emergency financial hardship grants to impacted PwC staff and partners and their immediate family members, often within hours of the onset of each crisis.
The Foundation remains committed to pre-funding, and is identifying new nonprofits that are addressing emergency and long-term shelter needs, providing support for children and families and rebuilding schools. It’s working collaboratively with PwC LLP’s National Crisis Management and Responsible Business Leadership teams to disseminate our response protocols and ensure our local leaders know what resources are available to support them in times of need. Increased advance planning and preparation will further strengthen our ability to continue mobilizing and responding quickly to disasters and get resources to the communities when they need it most.
Last, the job is not simply responding to natural and mass violence catastrophes, as disasters can take many shapes and forms. The PwC Charitable Foundation applies this same strategy of preparation and pre-identifying collaborators for early investment when it comes to addressing slow-burning social crises, such as the growing shortage of critical skills in the workforce. No matter what the situation, this approach allows the PwC Foundation to mobilize solutions and deploy support most effectively and that is good for the firm, our staff and the communities in which we operate.
More than $300 billion. That’s the cumulative amount spent in 2017 on weather-related disasters in the United States, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. It was the costliest year for natural disasters in U.S. history. On top of that, the National Institute of Building Sciences estimates that every $1 spent on natural hazard mitigation would save the nation $6 — a compelling case for taking proactive steps to create safer, more resilient communities.
Insurance companies see firsthand the devastation caused by catastrophes, and the industry is continuously looking for ways to increase mitigation efforts in the United States. A program that Travelers established in 2015 — the Travelers Excellence in Community Resilience Award — is doing just that.
Travelers created the award to raise awareness about the importance of disaster preparedness and help fund organizations that assist in recovery efforts and promote related best practices. The award provides a $100,000 grant, which is presented at the annual “Kicking Off Hurricane Preparedness Season” symposium, hosted by the Travelers Institute, the company’s public policy division. The symposium aims to educate communities about strategies to better prepare for — and respond to — severe storms.
The following organizations have received the award for their work in helping communities become more resilient:
- Team Rubicon (2015) uses the skills and experiences of military veterans, along with first responders, to deploy emergency response teams after disasters.
- All Hands and Hearts (2016) engages volunteers and the community to help families recover more quickly from natural disasters.
- Lowlander Center (2017) specializes in promoting the resilience of lowland and bayou communities for the benefit of people and the environment.
- Smart Home America (2018) promotes stronger construction standards, improved building codes, and policies that create more resilient communities. The organization has a strong partnership with the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety to increase awareness of the FORTIFIED Home™ construction method and build FORTIFIED homes in disaster-prone areas. The two organizations are currently working together in Texas to support recovery efforts still underway after Hurricane Harvey.
The award has also led to ongoing relationships with Team Rubicon and All Hands and Hearts.
Since winning the award, Team Rubicon has built a strong relationship with Travelers. The organization has increased its volunteer base by nearly 70 percent. Travelers donated $1 million to launch the Mobile Training Center, an RV that Team Rubicon takes state to state recruiting and training large groups of volunteers to help communities more effectively respond when disaster strikes. Travelers has a proud history of being a military-friendly company, and many of its employees volunteer with Team Rubicon.
All Hands and Hearts
The partnership with All Hands and Hearts came to life this past March, when Travelers sent a group of volunteers to Puerto Rico to assist in the rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Maria. All Hands and Hearts connected Travelers with the mayor of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, who said the real need in the community was a safe place for kids to play. Baseball is a point of pride for the area, and their playing field had been destroyed. The mayor identified a field that Travelers, in coordination with All Hands and Hearts, transformed into a new baseball diamond and playscape. The field is used seven days a week by more than 500 kids.
Travelers hopes to grow its base of partnerships and help more organizations better prepare their respective communities across the country.
Applications for the 2019 Travelers Excellence in Community Resilience Award will open in November of 2018.
Sometimes the most powerful disaster planning and relief stories are the ones you don’t hear about — the disruptions and damage that do not occur, because of the robust planning and preparations done in anticipation of a major storm event.
The city of Ingleside, Texas, was significantly impacted by Hurricane Harvey last year. But municipal leaders had a strong contingency plan they’d put in place several years ago to protect their water systems — helping mitigate the impact of the massive storm.
Xylem, a global water technology leader, offers municipalities a contingency planning program to prepare for a major flooding event or loss of power. The company also provides industrial and refinery-based customers with this expertise. Xylem’s team of engineers and technicians work closely with municipalities and businesses to create a comprehensive strategy that identifies exactly what additional backup equipment is needed, from pumps, hosing, and accessories, to a forklift or crane onsite, and beyond. Xylem then gives customers the option to rent pumps and equipment throughout the hurricane season at a reduced rate to have on standby for when a storm hits.
Since the city of Ingleside had already gone through a rigorous disaster planning process with Xylem, the company had a detailed view of what the municipality needed to help prevent Ingleside’s water systems from being disrupted. An evaluation of the city’s infrastructure identified the number of lift stations, which pumps aligned with which lift stations, and how much hose was needed for each station. In the days prior to the storm, the city contacted Xylem and activated its contingency plan.
Xylem already had a staging area up and running in San Antonio, Texas, with extra rental pumps and equipment at the ready. After getting the call from Ingleside, the company mobilized seven pumps with hose and pipe and delivered them, enabling Ingleside’s water treatment and wastewater systems to get back up and running within a day and to keep running, despite the massive impact of the storm across the area, while others in the state were left for several days without water services.
Taking the time to put a comprehensive contingency plan in place helps protect critical municipal operations like water and wastewater systems, and in doing so helps ensure vital services to local communities. It’s also an important efficiency driver, since municipalities can avoid spending the extra time and money required to respond to a disaster event after the fact, when available resources and expertise can be much harder, if not impossible, to find close at hand.
Xylem has customers that purchase hurricane rental packages every year, from the beginning of the hurricane season straight through November. With a robust contingency plan in place, and the right equipment reserved and ready to be deployed, municipalities and businesses can take a critical step forward in building resilience, and help ensure that when the next major storm hits, they are well-prepared to protect and manage one resource that is so critical to the health and safety of their constituents: their water.
Chapter 2: Successful Partnerships
When disaster strikes, emergency management agencies at the federal, state, and local levels are at the heart of coordinating the response efforts. Airbnb’s Disaster Response & Relief program continues to cultivate and build strong partnerships with these agencies to help support their efforts to help communities respond to, and recover from, disasters.
In this case study, we explore our cross-sector partnership with the Florida Division of Emergency Management and how we worked collaboratively during the Orlando Pulse shooting and Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
During and directly after a disaster, temporary accommodations for evacuees and relief workers can be hard to find. In times of need, Airbnb activates its community to aid government and non-government efforts to address this. Our team works with emergency management agencies to relay updates about disaster events to our hosts and guests who may be impacted by the disaster.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) works to ensure that Florida is prepared to respond to emergencies, recover from them, and mitigate against their impacts.
On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard, killed 49 people and wounded 58 others in a terrorist attack/hate crime inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Following this horrific event, Airbnb and FDEM connected, and we created a support plan in coordination with JetBlue and Uber.
Following the attacks, relatives of those impacted needed support during their travel to Florida to attend funerals for loved ones or visit loved ones injured in the hospital. Generally, while local authorities offer the necessary support packages for families and relatives of victims, the private sector can help extend assistance to those impacted. In Airbnb’s case, in Orlando, we were able to leverage our community of hosts to open up their homes to those in need, offering comfortable, welcoming spaces to go to in those difficult times.
After receiving a request by FDEM to provide support, our team jumped on a response call with FDEM, Uber, and JetBlue to create a coordinated services model. We sent our Head of Disaster Response to go on the ground and determine needs with the core partners. We then deployed an additional six team members to support on the ground in Orlando. JetBlue provided the flights for families impacted, Uber provided ground transportation, and we provided temporary accommodations. Our team was stationed in the Orlando airport for five days and any travelers on JetBlue who were related to the victims were escorted to the Airbnb booth to arrange accommodation.
FDEM was a critical partner in connecting Airbnb, JetBlue, and Uber which made it easier to reach those in need of assistance.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria were category 5 hurricanes that caused extensive damage across the Caribbean and southeastern United States.
On September 4, 2017, a state of emergency was declared by the governor of Florida and thousands of people looked for shelter; 6.5 million people were under mandatory or voluntary evacuations, and over 500 shelters were opened throughout Florida.
Our team monitored the hurricane before it made impact and mapped out a response plan for the Airbnb community in coordination with FDEM and FEMA, which informed our efforts and offered field expertise. Airbnb reached out to FDEM to offer our support with emergency accommodations, and our response and partnership with was highlighted by several media outlets including USA TODAY and Florida Politics.
Our support included:
- Sending safety and preparedness messaging to 64,000 hosts and guests in areas of impact.
- Activating our host community through Open Homes.
Through messaging, we were able to provide the most up-to-date information about the hurricanes from FDEM. Messaging
contained links to alerts and advisories from local officials plus links to our FAQs on how to modify a reservation.
We also activated our host community to offer free shelter to evacuees and relief workers. Airbnb automatically contacted hosts in the impacted and surrounding areas asking if they had extra space that they would like to share with their displaced neighbors through our disaster response portal ().
- Having a relationship in place with FDEM ensured that our response was effective and impactful.
- Having a relationship with FDEM enabled Airbnb to mobilize quickly and access those in need.
- There is more work to be done. We identified areas where we can partner in the recovery phase and opportunities to improve and update our product.
On September 20, 2017, Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria, a category 4 storm. Maria caused unprecedented damage, including the effective destruction of the island’s power grid and its communication infrastructure, some of which continues to this day. We saw the damage firsthand when we visited Puerto Rico as part of a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation delegation in January 2018.
Maria had a profound effect on Puerto Rican government and society, triggering their strong interest in becoming more resilient in the face of similar events in the future.
IBM had just completed a pro bono Tam Nguyen, Global Head of Sustainability at Bechtel, sparked a collaboration between our companies. with the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) to assess the damage of IT and communications equipment for more than 1,100 schools when a chance meeting with
Building resilient communities is a key initiative for both IBM’s and Bechtel’s corporate citizenship programs. We discussed the possibility of combining IBM’s expertise in technology and IT consulting with Bechtel’s expertise in engineering on a community resilience project for the PRDE. We seized the opportunity to collaborate and bring these skills and perspectives to the school system. As part of a second Impact Grant from IBM, our two companies collaborated on a disaster resilience assessment for the PRDE.
A joint IBM and Bechtel team traveled twice to Puerto Rico to perform site visits, technical assessments, and stakeholder engagements with communities, teachers, school employees, parents, and education officials. The combined team brought deep expertise across civil engineering, disaster, environment, resiliency, and sustainability.
The team’s first visit was in March 2018, for a week-long field study to observe the damage, acquire a sense of the effect Maria had on the schools, and determine how the system’s resilience might be improved. They also met with Dr. Julia Keleher, Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Education, to understand her requirements and expectations for the grant.
Following their visit, the team analyzed the data collected during the field study. They used the customized for an educational system disaster resilience assessment. This scorecard provides coverage of the issues involved in disaster resilience and a structure for determining the relationship between them.
The team visited Puerto Rico for a second time in April 2018, for a one-and-a-half-day Disaster Resilience workshop. From observations gathered during the field study, they identified key issues and provided an interim report as backdrop. Leveraging our skills in creating resilience improvements, combined with consulting and engineering expertise and input from recent interviews, IBM and Bechtel facilitated discussion and encouraged workshop participants to develop approaches that would advance their emergency preparedness and recovery capabilities. PRDE participants identified a scope and sequence of actions required to improve the PRDE system’s resilience. This workshop created a shared view of the PRDE’s current resiliency status and priorities for action.
A final report was shared with the PRDE in May 2018. Two observations particularly hit home with me:
- Puerto Rico’s schools formed the heart of community recovery, providing food, shelter, and camaraderie. Local support and response was organic and ad hoc, but highly collaborative communities rallied around the schools to help each other, which continues today.
- A more structured response organized around specific roles and responsibilities before, during, and after an event would do much to improve PRDE resilience. This structure should empower local and regional action by delegating responsibility lower in the hierarchy. Furthermore, the PRDE will benefit by acknowledging and taking advantage of the collaborative and supportive nature of Puerto Rican citizens.
The experience of working with Bechtel and the PRDE on this Impact Grant provided considerable insights. First, it taught us that the tremendous impact of the storm on Puerto Rico is poorly understood around the world. More important, it also taught us how well and collaboratively residents of the island worked to respond to one of the worst storms to befall any community. We are very grateful to all of the people who took the time to share their thoughts and ideas for improving the resilience of the school system, and are humbled by their spirit and generosity.
For more details on this collaboration, view the 3BL webinar titled "Responding to Disaster: IBM and Bechtel Partner to Address Resiliency."
When Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria struck communities across the U.S. and the Caribbean, The UPS Foundation mobilized its Humanitarian Relief & Resilience Program — engaging strategic partners and UPS skilled volunteers — to bring swift solutions via its global logistics network and innovative drone technology.
UPS pledged more than $3 million in funding, logistics, and technical support within days, accessing budgeted emergency funding and in-kind commitments awarded prior to hurricane season. While announcing its support quickly, The UPS Foundation pledged equal amounts for urgent relief and long-term recovery. UPS logisticians facilitated over 350 supply shipments on behalf of partners such as the American Red Cross, CARE, CDC, Good360, FEMA, National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, The Salvation Army, UNICEF, and others.
The UPS Foundation quickly deployed a volunteer coordinator to Houston to help determine needs of nonprofit partners and community leaders mobilizing local UPS employees to help gut homes, resupply area schools, and assist impacted families. Four UPS Logistics Action Team members were also deployed to work with emergency management and humanitarian agencies to restore broken supply chains in Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean. UPS and Cyphy Works partnered to conduct the American Red Cross’s first-ever damage assessment using new tethered drone technology, identifying areas that were otherwise inaccessible due to flooding.
When Hurricane Irma hit less than two weeks after Harvey, The UPS Foundation’s Logistics Action Team coordinated American Red Cross support shipments, which included more than eight truckloads per day of cleaning supplies, food, comfort items, and clothing on behalf of the American Red Cross, and shipments of cleanup kits, bedding, hygienic supplies, and more for partners like The Salvation Army and Good360. On the ground, UPS Solutions Managers helped The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross distribute relief supplies in the Caribbean and Florida.
When Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 hurricane, hit Puerto Rico, cutting off access to essential services including water, UPS worked with FEMA and other partners like United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) USA and the governor of New York to transport supplies to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, via 30 charter flights and 95 ocean container shipments. Items including electric generators, water filters, pallets of canned goods, hygiene items, and cleaning kits were delivered via our smart logistics network. In Puerto Rico, UPS and UNICEF volunteers worked with local nonprofits and the governor of Puerto Rico to coordinate delivery of hygiene supplies for 60,000 people by transporting the kits to 10 designated humanitarian supply centers in Puerto Rico.
UPS continues to work with its humanitarian partners in 2018 in support of long-term recovery efforts. Working with Good360, UPS continues to transport mattresses, bedding, and rebuilding supplies to impacted communities. Working with Toolbank Disaster Relief Services, UPS has staged Toolbank trailers with thousands of tools and personal protective equipment for volunteers helping rebuild. With The Salvation Army, UPS continues to transport water purification systems to provide the affected communities with clean water.
While long-term recovery will last several years in these communities, UPS continues to partner with the top relief agencies to deliver the highest priority items needed for recovery. Meanwhile, well-intentioned individuals and groups continue to organize collection drives for these communities. UPS continues to help educate the general public to donate responsibly. While collecting clothing, food, bottled water, toys, and other household items may feel more emotionally satisfying than monetary donations, the impact of such material donations is counter-effective. Responsible donating means that even small financial contributions can do more good, for more people, more quickly and with greater efficiency, than unsolicited material donations. It is also crucial to remember that when the public sends funding to the disaster area, supplies are purchased from local businesses that are also distressed.
At UPS, donating responsibly means working strategically, playing to our strengths, engaging our people, and leveraging our key competencies to help our neighbors and communities recover as quickly as possible. The UPS Foundation is committed to strengthening communities, building resilience, and helping to build a culture of preparedness for our employees, our customers, and our communities. For more information on how UPS is helping businesses prepare for disaster in collaboration with the US Chamber Foundation, please visit
Chapter 3: Employee and Community Response
Houston has a history of major floods, but there was no way anyone could’ve predicted the full impact of Hurricane Harvey’s winds and 19 trillion gallons of rain over southeast Texas. The Perryman Group estimates the economic impact will far exceed any other natural disaster in U.S. history. Experts estimated Harvey would cost more than $240 billion — more than Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy combined.
Hurricane Harvey ravaged the economy, as well as the health, of southeast Texas. During and after the hurricane, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) uncovered specific health impacts of the storm. As the largest health insurer in the state, we have approximately 1.5 million members in the 60 counties that the governor declared as disaster zones. We also have 234 employees that were in the impacted area. After the hurricane, we closed three of our offices up to two weeks and re-routed their operations to other parts of the state.
Our Crisis Management & Issues and Crisis Communications Teams had their eyes on Hurricane Harvey and were ready to respond. Our executive task force brought all key company stakeholders together daily to effectively respond to member and employee needs as they arose. Our daily huddles included representatives from across the company, including sales and marketing, human resources, customer service, corporate and local communications, government affairs, community affairs, legal, information technology and regulatory. The task force provided daily summaries to senior leadership.
In the days immediately after the storm, executives, managers, and Human Resources teams made personal phone calls and sent follow-up emails to make sure employees were safe. We learned that 27 employees needed assistance, 9 had significant damage to their homes, and 11 were displaced.
We adjusted policies for impacted employees:
- Immediately issued $500 gift cards
- Changed policy to allow personal time off to employees impacted by natural disasters
- Leveraged our Blue Bear Employee Relief FundSM by encouraging employees to make special donations to the fund, and increased the maximum dollar amount employees could receive
- Promoted resources available through the Employee Assistance Program
Disaster Relief Support for Members and the Community:
More than 1 million BCBSTX members were impacted. To support them and the entire impacted area, BCBSTX responded with several initiatives:
- Quickly adopted guidelines from the Texas Department of Insurance and provided BCBSTX members guidance for benefit and pharmacy-related questions
- Extended call center hours for members as well as providers
- Communicated to all audiences
- Donated $2 million to relief efforts through organizations such as the United Way, Greater Houston Community Foundation, Feeding Texas, American Red Cross, The Houston Area Urban League, Kids’ Meals, Catholic Charities, Houston Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the City of Houston
- Provided mobile assistance centers (boots-on-the-ground) support at relief shelters that included free Wi-Fi, charging stations and live streaming TV
- Customer service, sales, and community affairs teams and other employee volunteers donated more than 10,000 supplies to evacuees. Items included hand sanitizer, bags, first aid kits, soap, face cloths, toothpaste, dental floss, tissues, bottled water, clothing, and healthy snacks.
- Administered approximately 800 vaccinations through the Caring Foundation of Texas
The most important lessons learned from this devastation in our region were the importance of regular communication with everyone and identification of all stakeholders. We worked hard to maintain a customer-first culture and continue business operations so our members would continue to have access to quality health care. We communicated to the following audiences: employees, members, providers, employers (customers), brokers, Texas Medical Association, our board members, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, legislators and the media. During critical times, everyone at every level plays an active role in responding to a disaster.
In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey poured 50 inches of rain on the greater Houston area. The Lake Houston area, home to Insperity for more than 30 years, was one of the largest areas impacted, with over 250 businesses flooded. As Hurricane Harvey was underway, businesses, citizens, and employees in our community were displaced. Many citizens were receiving little to no assistance and our area was in desperate need.
As a professional employer organization, Insperity is dedicated to helping businesses succeed so communities prosper. We do this through providing human resource support and other related services. Although our company makes a difference for small businesses every day, we knew that it was time to take action to help our community in a large way by establishing the Lake Houston Area Relief Fund (LHARF).
The objective of LHARF was to bring hope to a hopeless situation, therefore creating resiliency among our community. Many families and small businesses in our area were unable to find help through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The fund was created to assist those very people. Our business leveraged our Information Technology and Marketing departments to quickly create an application available to those outside of Insperity. Our company offered to match up to $1 million of donations to the fund, while also allowing employees multiple weeks of flexible work time to assist fellow neighbors and businesses in the cleanup. Insperity’s priority is to help businesses succeed so communities prosper, so leveraging our skills and assets to assist those affected aligned directly with our mission. The committee explored all avenues in order to leverage LHARF to ensure targeted assistance to those affected.
As a professional employer organization, it is Insperity’s job to help small/medium businesses succeed in their own communities. By collaborating with the local chamber and a local charity to create LHARF, Insperity was able to have an active hand in supporting small businesses in our home community. Contributing to the communities where we live and work is a core value of Insperity. The idea of LHARF was based on The Insperity Fund, an employee benevolence program within Insperity that has been in place for over 14 years. The Insperity Fund provides assistance to Insperity employees going through an unforeseen, uncontrollable crisis. Insperity knew it was important to help not only our colleagues but our community as well. We used our experience with our corporate program to expand our reach to contribute to our community in its greatest time of need.
Our management team quickly met to discuss the need within the community. They identified assets and available resources to combine and provide aid to those affected. Conversations were initiated with two Insperity client companies, the Lake Houston Chamber of Commerce and Humble Area Assistance Ministries. Insperity’s Director of Community Involvement met with their leaders to discuss options and identify the major needs in our area. From those discussions, LHARF was formed. Social media platforms were leveraged to inform citizens in our area about the fund. This allowed us to reach a broad audience, including those in need and those who desired to help their neighbors. Employees within Insperity were notified and given the ability to use Insperity’s matching gift program to double their impact, dollar for dollar. Insperity’s board of directors agreed to donate $2 million toward the relief efforts in the Lake Houston area.
Through LHARF we have been able to provide monetary assistance to small businesses and families in the Lake Houston area who desperately needed it. Fundraisers were planned throughout the community at local businesses to support LHARF. Funds were also requested from the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund created by the City of Houston. With strong leaders advocating for our community, we were granted an additional $300,000 for LHARF. We also were able to provide a supportive community for those affected. The committee that reviewed applications and worked with those affected consisted of benevolence administrators from local congregations and organizations all over the community. These administrators brought not only expertise but also compassion to those suffering. Bringing local leaders together helped to pull our community together in a unique and beneficial way.
LHARF was created for the immediate need after Harvey. During the process, Insperity, the Lake Houston Chamber, and Humble Area Assistance Ministries realized that a long-term solution was required to fulfill the continuing needs of the community. Our entities worked together to broaden the partnership and create a plan focusing on future business needs. LHARF was able to set aside $111,000 to be donated to a newly created, long-term Business Recovery Grant program through the chamber, giving the program its initial funding. After discussions, The Rebuild Texas Fund agreed to match up to $150,000 of community-raised dollars. A relationship with LiftFund was also created during this time, which allowed access to zero-interest loans for small business owners. Overall, through our partnership, we were able to expand the number of assistance opportunities both short and long term for our small business owners.
While active, LHARF assisted 398 applicants. Thirty-eight of these applicants were small businesses owners within our community who had been affected by the floods. Over $1.6 million was raised and distributed to the community. At this time, 93% of the businesses helped by the fund reopened less than a year after Hurricane Harvey.
Pretty Little Things Boutique owner Nikole Davis states, “I am so grateful for the Lake Houston Area Relief Fund. After my business took on over five feet of water during Hurricane Harvey, I was very unsure of how we would get back on our feet. The funds helped us open up a temporary location, while the business was being rebuilt. We were able to continue with our business and generate an income to replace all that we lost. I am forever grateful for the Lake Houston Area Relief Fund, and Insperity’s involvement in making our community the best it can be.”
Those who served on the committee and administrators for the fund were able to see the true impact on a daily basis. Robin Pangi, Grants Manager for Humble Area Assistance Ministries, took on the roles of administrator and manager of the grants given through LHARF. Through her interactions, she was able to see the impression the program had made on those in our community.
She states, “I think some of the most impactful interactions were with people who have previously given their time or donated goods/money to Humble Area Assistance Ministries and who truly never thought they would be on the other side of the table. I had more than one person come in with tears of gratitude saying, ‘I volunteered here six months ago. I’ve never had to ask for help before and never thought I’d be in this position but I’m so grateful that the Lake Houston Area Relief Fund was here.’ I think the “neighbors helping neighbors” feel of the relief fund made it more comfortable for people to ask for the help that they needed. The other memorable moments came when people either couldn’t access a computer or couldn’t navigate the system and we invited them to come to Humble Area Assistance Ministries so we could scan and submit applications for them. The look of relief on their faces when someone could solve at least one of the hundreds of problems they were facing by taking care of their paperwork was really emotional and extremely humbling.”
Robin’s statement speaks not only to the financial assistance, but the emotional support provided through the fund. Corinn Price, Director of Community Involvement with Insperity, sums up the need that was in our community. “So many people were being told ’No.’ They were being told ’No’ by FEMA. They were being told ‘No’ by SBA. They were being told no all the way around … we really felt like we needed to do something and create an entity that said, ‘Yes.’”
In mid-August 2017, JetBlue’s Emergency Response and Business Continuity Team (BCER) began planning for the airline’s initial operational response to Hurricane Harvey. This team, whose focus is to serve as the central command center and is responsible for planning, response, and recovery efforts of major operational interruptions, was preparing for how the hurricane would impact crewmembers, customers, and the community upon landfall in Houston. No one anticipated how this initial groundwork would escalate into the most active Hurricane response for JetBlue to date; the results spanned Hurricane Harvey and followed with Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean. The initial plan was to respond based on anticipated scenarios and consider the severity of the situation. However, as the storms intensified, disaster response planning shifted into a large-scale outreach to support impacted crewmembers and customers, as well as local government officials for Houston, Florida, Puerto Rico, and various Caribbean islands.
Prior to Hurricane Maria, JetBlue had been tracking and responding to other storms for weeks in Houston and Florida. Hurricane Maria posed a unique challenge as it was moving very slowly across Puerto Rico and areas of the Caribbean. The impact was extreme with loss of power and limited communications. Within seven days of the storm, JetBlue deployed their Care and Emergency Response Department (CARE)-trained crewmembers as first responders to assess and report the damage. An alliance of internal stakeholders was created for response. As the largest airline in Puerto Rico and more than 500 crewmembers who call the island home, JetBlue’s priority was to make a serious commitment to the island’s immediate relief and long-term recovery. Honoring the common reference to Puerto Rico’s 100x35 mile size, JetBlue launched #100x35JetBlue with 100 days and beyond of relief in at least 35 ways of caring for Puerto Rico and impacted areas in the Caribbean.
As the intensity of Hurricane Maria began to unfold, JetBlue’s CEO, Robin Hayes, communicated to senior team members the importance of planning a proactive approach. The storm’s impact was uncertain. An internal command center was set up next to JetBlue’s System Operations Center to track the storm. A group of 100 leaders met multiple times daily, with status updates from each department. A smaller committee was formed to determine immediate response, which included crewmember and community wellness, first responder activation, operational infrastructure, government outreach, and charitable partner engagement. External partnerships included collaboration with the New York State Governor and New York City Mayor‘s office, Puerto Rico Tourism and Hotels, the Red Cross, Americares, Team Rubicon, Global Giving, Atlas Cargo, World Kitchen, and Mass General Hospital. The #100x35JetBlue response engaged community organizations committed well beyond the first 100 days. This strategy included first response, and recovery/rebuild efforts to support residents and the economy.
The #100x35 initiative included airlift with in-kind support, relief pricing with reduced fares, fundraising drives for on-the-ground charities, emergency response deployment, catering to unmet needs such as free meals and family services, and a planning strategy to help rebuild. Support included helping to replenish vegetation and the ecosystem, donating supplies requested by Puerto Rican organizations and government entities, partnering with community leaders and influencers, and offering advertising space to promote tourism. JetBlue launched a $1 million consumer-facing fundraising campaign (with company match up to $500,000) in partnership with GlobalGiving, an organization dedicated to distributing funds to non-profits on the ground in hurricane-affected areas. A payroll deduction donation was included for crewmembers to benefit the JetBlue Crewmember Crisis Fund.
In Florida, in Texas, and throughout the Caribbean network, JetBlue assisted local communities with first responders and relief flights. A special Red Cross charter carrying critical life-saving supplies from Atlanta to San Juan was part of several humanitarian missions. JetBlue’s Care Team was deployed for months to support operations recovery. Crewmembers were able to visit a makeshift Care Supply Center daily, where thousands picked up water, food, generators, and emergency relief supplies. Although service was limited in flights to Puerto Rico, we operated extra sections to and from the mainland for crewmembers and customers seeking relief. Special cargo-only JetBlue flights were scheduled to send supplies from family members on the mainland. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria truly hit home for JetBlue, with thousands of crewmembers and customers impacted from Houston to Florida and into the Caribbean. We rose to the challenge because it was the right thing to do as a company.
When Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi saw the devastation brought to his home by Hurricane Maria, he wanted to do something to raise awareness for the urgent situation on the island so he called JetBlue. JetBlue hosted Luis and some of the biggest names in entertainment and sports on a relief flight carrying 18,000 pounds of food and supplies from Fort Lauderdale to San Juan that was distributed throughout Puerto Rico. Luis Fonsi, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Ricky Martin, Chayanne, Nicky Jam, Pudge Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Carlos Arroyo, and Ray Allen not only delivered much-needed supplies, but helped use their wide public platform to help spread the word about the situation in Puerto Rico and encourage more people to join fundraising efforts. Upon arrival in San Juan, the group held a press conference with the Governor and First Lady of Puerto Rico before heading off to various relief activities.
Since Hurricane Maria made landfall, we have continued to serve those in Puerto Rico by donating $1 million in supplies, airlifting more than 3,000 customers from San Juan and Aguadilla as of September 27, 2017, and transporting more than 100,000 pounds of supplies to the island. JetBlue continues to support hurricane-impacted areas across the Caribbean, South Florida, and Texas. JetBlue donated close to $1 million in corporate philanthropy from the company, customers, and crewmembers to various charities on the ground. The JetBlue Crewmember Crisis Fund awarded $2.2 million in grants to employees affected by the hurricane. Over 124 Care Team members were deployed for a total of 4,110 hours to provide hands-on crewmember assistance. Close to 22,000 crewmember calls via electronic system to the emergency family assistance center were answered in the 60 days that followed the hurricanes. Additionally, 75,000 meals were packed by crewmembers to distribute to the impacted islands.
In May 2018, JetBlue marked the return of its full flight schedule in Puerto Rico by celebrating with customers, crewmembers, and partners at San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. JetBlue’s return of capacity, which coincides with its 16th anniversary of service in San Juan, came six months earlier than originally planned, given the improved demand for travel to Puerto Rico as the island continues to recover from Hurricane Maria and welcomes new visitors. To support the increase in service, JetBlue has hired 50 new crewmembers for its San Juan operation, with the new crewmembers joining the airline just in time for the summer peak season. Along with JetBlue’s nearly 500 crewmembers based in Puerto Rico, they will support JetBlue’s up to 48 daily flights between Puerto Rico and 13 cities in the United States and the Caribbean.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria brought unprecedented damage to the regions they affected. Despite JetBlue having an established disaster relief playbook, the varying nature of these perfect storms required an unorthodox recovery approach targeting the public, private, and government sectors. To this day, JetBlue adapts its disaster relief playbook to effectively deploy support to its employees, customers, and communities in the wake of a natural disaster. The 100x35JetBlue initiative continues to provide lasting impact through the JetBlue Foundation’s pledge of $100,000 worth of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education grants in Puerto Rico.
Months after Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island of Puerto Rico, more than half of the island remained without electricity, and many residents still lacked access to safe water. Residents resorted to collecting runoff water and water from contaminated waterways. Even those with running water weren’t safe because water treatment plants were not operational.
In response, several groups, including Operation Blessing International, a Kohler Co. partner, and the American Federation of Teachers, launched Operation Agua to provide safe drinking water to families across Puerto Rico.
The project’s goal was to purchase and distribute 100,000 KOHLER Clarity water filters for households and classrooms, and 50 large-capacity clean-water devices to community-based groups to provide stable and reliable sources of safe water. Operation Blessing has achieved its goal, ordering 100,000 KOHLER Clarity water filters to aid relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
In addition to fulfilling our responsibility to improve the lives of global populations and connect to one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (#6 – Access to Clean Water and Sanitation), we recognized our opportunity as a leading plumbing products manufacturer to serve a broader population beyond our traditional consumers.
If Kohler is to make an impact on such global issues as providing clean, safe water and sanitation, it will be through partnerships with like-minded organizations and alignment with larger efforts. KOHLER Clarity filters are an example of a compelling idea — a portable, sustainable water filter — that is only achievable by working across sectors to identify a need, develop a solution and deliver to those who would benefit most.
Partnering with organizations like Operation Blessing allows Kohler to deliver the technologies we develop to the areas that need them the most.
Kohler’s facility in Sheridan, Arkansas, can build 1,200 Clarity filters per week. But, when the team got the call asking for 5,000 per week for Puerto Rico, they didn't hesitate to commit.
"When we talk about Clarity, we don't talk about if we get it done, we talk about how," said Plant Manager Mark Appling.
“At the end of my life, I want to be able to say I've made an impact on the world,” Laura Kohler, SVP - HR, Stewardship & Sustainability said to the team. “You are impacting lives every day. You are impacting this world.”
“The workers in Sheridan will likely never meet the folks in Puerto Rico, so on behalf of all the people who are avoiding water-borne disease and enjoying safe drinking water—I offer my deepest and most profound personal thanks,” said Bill Horan, Operation Blessing’s former President.
Clarity was designed to help the estimated 1.8 billion people globally who lack access to safe drinking water. The ceramic filtration system eliminates more than 99 percent of bacteria and protozoa to provide clean drinking water.Clarity is incredibly simple to use. The filter works on gravity alone; no electricity or water infrastructure is needed. The filter holds 11 liters (2.9 gallons) of dirty water that flows through a filter into a 12-liter (3.1-gallon) reservoir, where the clean water is stored to avoid re-contamination. Clarity provides up to 40 liters of clean water each day – enough for a small family.
Since Hurricane Maria hit the island, more than 75,000 KOHLER Clarity filters have been distributed so far in Puerto Rico through nonprofit partner Operation Blessing and numerous fundraising efforts including Operation Agua. Orders have been placed to fulfill the goal of providing 100,000 filters for Puerto Rico.
To address Puerto Rico’s power outages, Kohler’s global power business sent technicians and more than two tons of Kohler generators and service parts to the island. Technicians began with fire and police stations, hospitals, emergency facilities, pharmacies and wastewater treatment plants, repairing inoperable units and providing maintenance to units that have been constantly running since the hurricane hit.
Another Kohler partner, Water Mission, is using Kohler PRO9.0E generators to power water purification systems for the island. Because of our existing partnership with Water Mission, the humanitarian organization was able to get 28 rural community water systems up and running in Puerto Rico - powered by Kohler Power.
Since the first filters were delivered to schools in the fall, Operation Agua has provided clean drinking water for nearly 400,000 people.
Ruth Sanabra, an Arroyo, Puerto Rico resident said she dreams of the day when water returns. “We have rivers, but they are contaminated. We have wells, but they are contaminated. From day-to-day, there is no water. We have to look for water and carry it with buckets.”
“We have been almost three months without electricity or drinkable water for the students,” said Magaly Rosario Rivera, Principal at Manuel Cuevas Bacener School. “We asked the parents to bring water bottles, but our parents have few resources and the kids are without water to drink. For us the Clarity filters are fulfilling a great need. And we are so grateful.”
Hurricane Maria also left Puerto Rico residents dealing with widespread loss of power. So, when Kohler Generator Field Service Supervisor Wayne Hirschmann asked Service Application Specialist Troy Erickson to fly to Puerto Rico to help with generator service, Troy didn’t hesitate to agree.
"I asked Troy if he was willing to travel to Puerto Rico to help with generators," Wayne said. "When he said yes, I asked, 'Tomorrow?'"
When the two boarded the Kohler plane bound for Puerto Rico, they didn't know where they would be staying, exactly what they would be doing or when they would be coming home.
The two headed to the hurricane-devastated island armed with generator parts and their valuable expertise to help with the power-restoration relief efforts. In Puerto Rico, they spent time working with KOHLER generator distributor, AKM Industries, trying to understand the broader need in Puerto Rico.
Driving past residents waiting in line for 6-8 hours to fill up with their allotted $20 worth of gas, they saw concrete power poles crumbled on the side of the road and cars struggling to travel through deep flood water. Their days started at the AKM office, where distributor technicians prioritized the day's calls amidst a crowd of residents hoping to purchase generators.
The group recalled one gentleman who wanted to purchase a generator to power the ventilator his quadriplegic son depends on to breathe. His name was added to the growing waiting list for generators.
"This was the case with everyone we encountered," Wayne said. "Everyone had a desperate need for power."
The Kohler associates spent their days hopping in and out of AKM distributor vehicles, searching for a cellular signal to text back to Kohler with questions and climbing on rooftops to fix generators, only to come down and find a line had formed of others asking for help.
The overwhelming message Kohler associates received was one of gratitude and conviction to rebuild. Both Wayne and Troy recalled hearing the phrase "return to normalcy" over and over, noting small signs of communities getting back to ordinary daily life – like families enjoying birthday parties and residents jogging along the beach.
The passion shown by our associates following the hurricanes in 2017 has led to the development of the first of what will become the Kohler Relief Fleet. This vehicle, a showering trailer, was launched in summer 2018. The primary objective of the fleet is to provide services like safe, clean water, sanitation, and emergency power in disaster relief areas.
The shower trailer will provide showers to volunteers and first responders in disaster relief situations. Operation Blessing will take over the trailer in August 2018 and will deploy it to disaster affected areas as they see fit.
Helping Puerto Rico demonstrates how Lockheed Martin defends when disaster strikes. Military products are often the first line of protection and relief during and after an emergency. They enable responders to clear debris, locate missing people, build temporary shelters and provide food, water and medicine to citizens. By innovating mulit-use solutions with relief capabilities, we provide technology to enable quick disaster responses to efficiently and effectively meet citizens’ immediate needs and rebuild communities.
Following Hurricane Maria, Lockheed Martin started recovery efforts while still in the midst of crisis management, and the first topic of our recovery meeting was how we could use Lockheed Martin assets, like a plane, to get needed supplies to Puerto Rico. Airports weren’t open at that point, and the team knew it would take time in addition to government approvals to participate in a relief mission. We worked with colleagues across the states and in Puerto Rico to develop and execute a strategy to deliver much-needed supplies to Aguadilla, where one of our facilities is based. Using pre-positioned generators and satellite phones, we worked with our folks on the ground to confirm what was needed and how we could deliver it safely and effectively.
When approvals came in for the LM-100J flight, the team wasted no time. Global Supply Chain had already purchased supplies that arrived in Marietta, Georgia, and a truck from Hanover, Maryland, hit the road to deliver nearly 80 pallets of additional supplies.
Corporate Security, working closely with Corporate Air, arranged a reconnaissance mission to the island. Corporate Air dispatchers resolutely figured out the logistics to fly the corporate jet to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, on October 3.
The team met with the Aguadilla site manager and Security to assess the needs of the employees and the facility. They also brought nearly 2,000 pounds of supplies for the 141 employees and their families, which included food, water-purification tablets, solar-powered lanterns, radios, phone chargers, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, sanitary wipes and backpacks.
On a taxiway littered with nails and debris, the exhausted team left the same day after delivering the supplies to the site, amazed at what they had seen and full of information to bring back to team waiting on the mainland.
Once they returned, the reconnaissance team confirmed the needs, while the cross-business area recovery team worked to secure approvals on the only viable option to deliver a substantial amount of supplies to the island – the LM-100J - Lockheed Martin’s new commercial freighter.
Do what’s right. Respect others. Perform with excellence. These are our corporate values and were exemplified by our relief efforts to Puerto Rico. When our plane took to the sky bound for the island, those on the mainland U.S. knew that while it took a big effort, it would only fulfill a small need for colleagues, their families and the community. But this was a start, and we would continue to find ways to support the island.
With approvals to fly more than once and enough supplies to fill two aircraft, the flight team scheduled the LM-100J to make the three-hour flight on October 6 and again on October 8. The flights carried more 80,000 pounds of supplies ranging from gas cans to baby formula and generators to batteries.
Our second flight to Aguadilla carried supplies that were primarily donated by employees in addition to deeply discounted items purchased from Home Depot and Coca Cola. FedEx helped move all the material to the distribution locations.
Our internal communications team also tracked and shared the progress of these flights corporate-wide so that colleagues could see the impact of their efforts to help our folks in Puerto Rico. Communicators also highlighted other relief efforts throughout the enterprise to help Puerto Rico through donations, fundraising and volunteering.
Colleagues across business areas also teamed up with a number of organizations to support Puerto Rico, including Unidos PA’ PR, a non-profit set up by the government of Puerto Rico with support from the American Red Cross, and the Salvation Army to collect donations to provide relief during the crisis on the island.
We also set up an employee match program with the Red Cross directed toward Hurricane Maria support, thereby engaging all employees who could not be directly involved in the relief efforts.
Ultimately, Lockheed Martin donated $1.6 million in support of 2017 hurricane relief efforts.
On September 20, 2017, the fifth-strongest storm to ever hit the United States struck Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria left 100 percent of the island without power, damaged or destroyed 80 percent of homes, and knocked out 85 percent of the cell towers on the island. Medtronic, a global leader in medical technology, services and solutions, would be facing not just an operational crisis as the 2nd largest private employer on the island with multiple facilities, but a humanitarian response to care for the thousands of impacted employees, their families and communities.
As the storm approached, Medtronic developed a dedicated response effort to account for the wellbeing of all employees, mitigate business impact, partner with the community to provide short-term and long-term support, and keep our many interested stakeholder groups informed with the latest humanitarian and operational information.
Part of the Medtronic Mission—written in 1960—is to recognize the personal worth of employees and to maintain good citizenship as a company. When disasters occur around the world, Medtronic supports relief efforts through business and philanthropic response. The imminent threat Hurricane Maria posed prompted development of an immediate disaster response program to minimize employee and facility impact.
It was clear that humanitarian aid would be needed, and rapid response would be critical. Medtronic launched business continuity plans which included the following steps:
- Business teams partnered with Medtronic Global Command Center, their dedicated emergency response hub for tracking global events, security and employee whereabouts.
- Identified list of key internal and external stakeholders that would require activation, communication and outreach (global employees, customers, regulatory bodies, suppliers, investors, media).
- Business assets—such as satellite phones and generators—were procured and distributed in the event of power outage.
With a presence in Puerto Rico since 1974, Medtronic has 5,000 employees in five locations in Ponce, Villalba, Catano, Juncos, and Humacao. All four Medtronic business groups have some degree of manufacturing on the island. For this response effort, the safety and well-being of our employees on the island was the top priority, and colleagues around the world were ready to help.
A cross-functional team—led by two Medtronic executives and comprised of business leadership, communications, government affairs, facilities, HR, supply chain, manufacturing operations, and philanthropy—was quickly appointed and temporarily reassigned at operational headquarters to provide full-time support. A dedicated “war room” was reserved and all communications were routed through the group to ensure accurate and consistent sharing across various stakeholder groups.
In Puerto Rico, island and site leaders were in regular contact with the Medtronic Global Command Center. Medtronic leaders worked with government officials, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Puerto Rico Governor, to streamline humanitarian and operational recovery. Staff traveled to the island to support colleagues based there, providing immediate and long-term rebuilding efforts and capturing stories to share progress. Medtronic elevated its partnership with disaster relief NGOs through the Medtronic Foundation to coordinate onsite response. All island employees were frequently updated and engaged.
Medtronic established a four-pillar response framework: People First (humanitarian); Prioritize Recovery Efforts (manage operations to meet commitments); Streamline Communications (drive informed decisions and minimize confusion); Resume Operations (restore full production, shipping).
Examples of activation included:
Provided Humanitarian Aid:
- Daily/weekly delivery of critical aid supplies and 125+ personnel via 70 flights and 40 ocean containers
- Created an “oasis” at each of our sites with on-site showers, laundry, childcare, hot meals, dry goods, drinking water (2 million bottles), 1,290 generators and 40,000 gallons of gas, on-site medical services, and cash advances.
- Prepared and delivered 10,000 care packages containing insect repellent (mosquito Bourne-disease control) and nebulizers to six hard -hit communities.
- Supported broader community via transportation of a 500-lb. water pipe from the U.S. mainland to Villalba, enabling power generation for the entire city (full story in impact section).
- Increased financial donations to disaster relief NGOs
- Promoted employee volunteering
Ensured Employee Well-Being:
- CEO, Omar Ishrak, and business leaders conducted personal onsite visits to employees at multiple locations.
- Sent daily Emergency Notification System push messages to employee cell phones.
- Hand-delivered announcements to local radio stations to be read on-air for employees.
- Launched internal effort to raise funds for employee assistance.
- Hired 40 drivers to go door-to-door, seeking employees who had not responded.
Provided Frequent Business Updates (Internal/External):
- Created internal global website and sent regular all-staff emails from executives to inform global employees.
- Created weekly Puerto Rico Update newsletter with twenty stories produced, many with video.
- Produced daily operations status report on all aspects of recovery for global leadership, detailing employee status, operations recovery, community support, and government relations.
- Provided media and investor updates on employee and operations recovery; kept commercial teams, customers informed, suppliers and regulatory bodies informed.
The ultimate success factor was that all 5,000 Medtronic employees in Puerto Rico were accounted for, received humanitarian aid, and returned to work. In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Medtronic provided free meals to its employees and paid their wages even while production was offline. The company set up “oasis” sites for employees and their families at each facility, bringing in more than two million bottles of water, as well as thousands of boxes of food. The sites provided free gasoline, generators, on-site showers, laundromats and child care, along with a variety of other services such as medical care, ability to withdraw $500 dollars per day from pop-up Credit Unions, and assistance with FEMA applications.
"When we need food, they provide food," said Juncos, Puerto Rico mayor Alfredo Alejandro Carrion. "When we need water, they provide water. They are giving so much. We have been working hand-in-hand with Medtronic and the company has been such a good citizen for this town."
On November 11, 2017 Medtronic announced that non-GAAP revenue impact from the storm was $55-65M, far less than the $250M estimated on Oct. 6 and largely driven by the resilience of employees and strength of our recovery efforts. Our employees in Puerto Rico made countless selfless contributions, despite extensive impact to their personal lives, coming to work every day to ensure customers and patients worldwide received our products. We were fully operational within approximately 6 weeks, compared to other healthcare companies that continue to face production challenges. To date, Medtronic has donated $12M toward Puerto Rico disaster relief, including company giving, employee donations, and Medtronic Foundation contributions.
Company co-founder Earl Bakken established Medtronic’s first Puerto Rican plant in Villalba in the mid-1970’s. Today, Medtronic is Villalba’s largest employer. After the hurricane, government leaders had planned to use the nearby Toro Negro hydroelectric plant for power but the plant did not work due to a pipeline problem. Medtronic was already providing relief on the ground when Mayor Hernandez-Ortiz called on the company to help restore power to the city. Medtronic arranged a charter to fly a section of the broken pipeline to Puerto Rico, then arranged ground transportation to Villalba. Medtronic’s intervention cut the delivery time from 3 weeks, to 2 days. The 92-year-old plant now provides water to half of Villalba’s 25,000 citizens and electricity to a third, including a local hospital, schools and the police station.
“I personally refer to Medtronic as Villalba’s heart,” said Mayor Hernandez-Ortiz. "Medtronic is a great neighbor. An important neighbor. It has been for a long time and I want, I hope that Medtronic stays in Villalba for a long time.”
Shell Oil Company has a major corporate and operations presence in Southeast Texas with close to 11,000 local employees. About 1,000 staff were personally affected by Hurricane Harvey, from completely flooded homes to forced evacuations to power outages.
The community response was swift and comprehensive, focused on helping Houston and other parts of Southeast Texas recover, rebuild, and become more resilient in the face of future disasters.
The goal was to help the community recover. Shell has been through massive storms along the Gulf Coast before. The level of experience was such that former Shell Oil President Marvin Odum was named by the mayor of Houston as the city’s Chief Recovery Officer after the storm. In the past, Shell also applied lessons learned to support the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s creation of Quick Recovery Guides for local chambers and businesses.
Shell leveraged this knowledge of where the post-disaster need is greatest, who can help most efficiently, and how to marshal its own volunteer resources, to quickly share their expertise, funds, and manpower to address the region’s needs.
As Shell supported the broader community, Shell also was very instrumental in assisting its own affected employees. Through these measures, Shell was able to make a significant difference in lives of those affected by the storm and increase the community’s resiliency.
Shell's social responsibility is fundamental to its business and license to operate. Responding in a disaster – especially of this proportion – was both instinctual and strategic, arising from its core values.
Shell’s success is intertwined with its community’s success. Shell knew that by helping the community recover quickly, they would enable its businesses to return to providing needed fuel, and that by helping its own employees Shell would free up other resources to assist the broader community. Shell knew that by contributing its resources – including funds and volunteers – Shell would continue to leverage its strength in the community and its employees’ sense of pride to be part of Shell. What Shell didn’t realize was that many of its affected employees would then turn around and volunteer to help other employees as well as their neighbors. They were proud of their company, but Shell was even more proud of them.
Senior leadership was involved in an immediate and ongoing basis. At the request of the City of Houston, Shell loaned a senior executive to support the recovery effort, and loaned three floors of office space rent free to the city for six months.
Shell also contributed more than $2 million in recovery/rebuilding funds, primarily donated to existing organizations that Shell knew from experience would be able to use the funds quickly. This included $1 million to the American Red Cross and $250,000 to the local United Way.
Shell also mobilized its own employee volunteers. A core group of 300 employees contributed over 2,000 extra volunteer hours and many others participated even though they or family members were dealing with their own impacts. Employees assisted at shelters, supported call centers, volunteered at the Houston Food Bank, and provided personal support to communities across our eight-county region.
In addition to the leadership actions described above, Shell contributed to the city’s recovery by giving from all parts of its organization. Many of its response efforts were rooted in Shell’s expertise in crisis response and health and safety, such as providing its Incident Command site as a Red Cross shelter for 200-500 people for three months and loaning portable six-inch pumps from its Deer Park Manufacturing Complex (which helped to save several hundred homes in a nearby neighborhood). Also, Leaders at Shell’s Louisiana operations assembled hundreds of personal protection equipment packages – including safety glasses, work gloves, face respirators and coveralls – to send to Texas so that their fellow employees personally impacted by the storm could safely work on flooded homes.
Shell found an unexpected way to apply its energy expertise to the recovery effort. Shell partnered with Feeding Texas to provide a Shell-owned food truck, (previously developed to demonstrate sustainable energy technologies) to distribute approximately 3,700 hot meals at 15 locations; the food truck was later donated to the Houston Food Bank.
Shell’s employees did more than don yellow Shell-logo shirts and volunteer; they also raised $4.6 million in donations through the employee disaster match program.
And Shell supported its affected employees through their recovery with extensive (and as far as Shell know, unequaled) benefits that included short-term salary continuance until they were ready to return to work, a temporary living supplement (note that flood insurance does not include this), company funding for home remediation services, and interest free loans.
Beyond the immediate response, Shell focused on resiliency through its ongoing support of the mayor’s recovery initiative, which has worked to identify longer-term flooding solutions, and through its sponsorship of and involvement in a post-disaster tour of affected Texas communities organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
Shell’s contributions helped lessen the impact of Harvey on the community and its own employees, and are continuing to help make the community more resilient.
“In the community, Shell staff have helped out so many in need that people are flagging down anybody wearing the company pecten symbol to say thank you,” Shell CEO Ben van Beurden wrote in a LinkedIn article on the storm.
The community impact of its immediate response actions is difficult to quantify beyond the numbers of those who were sheltered at its facility or who benefited from the Deer Park water pumps. The $1 million donated to the Red Cross was one of the largest donations received by the organization, and helped address the immediate emergency needs of 575,000 households severely affected by Harvey; the additional $1 million in donations supported efforts by United Way, the Mayor’s Hurricane Relief Fund, and other area nonprofits.
Beyond funding, the most lasting impact was created by its six-month support of the city’s recovery program, which has driven such initiatives as home repurchasing programs, updated building standards, and waterway improvements that will make the city more resilient to future flood events.
Of the 1,000 Shell employees affected, nearly all benefitted from one or more of the employee recovery benefits Shell put in place. In particular, hiring professionals to provide cleanout was a step above and beyond what other employers offered. This assured that safety measures (one of Shell’s key values) were in place, and helped to expedite getting employees back into their homes.
Shell’s support for hurricane recovery continues.
Based on learnings from the hurricane tour, Shell redirected $25,000 in 2018 literacy funding to support four damaged Corpus Christi schools that also took in students from harder-hit neighboring districts.
Shell’s Heroes of Houston multi-media campaign recognized local Harvey heroes who went above and beyond in their efforts to support the community.
The donated food truck will become part of the food bank’s emergency response in a disaster. Meanwhile, it is being used to serve hot meals in summer to children in areas without access to other summer meal programs. The organization notes that the “generous donation… will definitely help us impact child hunger and nutrition.”
Shell’s Harvey response builds on its previous experience and learnings will continue to shape future plans. Most important takeaway is the importance of long-term resilience and Shell will incorporate that focus in its social investment strategy.