October 23/30, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 10
By Lindsay Baillie
Over a month has passed since hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastatingly tore through Houston and parts of Florida, respectively. It is often said that natural disasters such as these bring entire communities together. People spring into action, sometimes forgetting about their own troubles to help those in greater need.
Mohawk Industries employees Jannelle Wilson, operating manager in Houston, and Julio Reyes, regional operations manager in Florida, as well as their respective teams are prime examples of those who willingly helped others before themselves.
A few days before Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Wilson and her entire facility initiated a response team and distributed emergency contact numbers for every employee. In addition, the team covered up materials and equipment to make sure the building was secure.
“Our main responsibility was making sure the people were going to be OK,” Wilson explained. “We offered everyone an evacuation route. We offered up the water we had at the facility in gallons to make sure their families were taken care of.”
During the first day Harvey it, Wilson recalled one employee was not responsive and actually lost some material items. However, she later heard from him after he found safety at a family members house not too far from his residency. The following day brought more rain and Wilson heard from two other employees whose homes were impacted.
“The third day of the storm, I did identify that everyone was secure. The city of Houston decided to relieve some of the levies and my home was directly impacted. I had some water in my master bedroom which led to a bathroom, but I have insurance so I wasn’t too concerned with what was going on in my home. My biggest worry was making sure everyone else was secure.”
Despite facing destruction in her own home and being landlocked for a couple of days, Wilson traveled to the Mohawk facility after the hurricane to assess any damages. Luckily, the materials and equipment were fine. Wilson, who has been the operating manager in Houston for only eight months, explained Hurricane Harvey brought all of the employees at her facility together as a family. Once the hurricane ended the facility even opened its doors to the community.
“We had received some water from the corporate division, but a lot of the team came together and decided this was the time to reach out to the community,” Wilson explained. “We opened our doors and were able to help a couple of organizations. Despite our own losses we still managed to come together and help those who needed it more.”
The team collected pet supplies, hygiene products, clothes, shoes, toiletries, etc. “We had people coming to gather supplies for an elderly group, a kids group, etc.,” Wilson added. “It was pretty awesome to watch in the wake of the storm everyone coming together to help other people and put our own needs aside.”
A helping hand in Florida
Reyes and the facilities he manages in Florida began preparing for Hurricane Irma days before it hit the state. In fact, the facilities have hurricane manuals with the updated names of the storms, emergency contact numbers for the employees as well as the contact information for local authorities, certain vendors and utility companies. This manual is something that is updated every year around hurricane season.
“When Irma got close to us I reached out to my superiors up in corporate and started having regular calls,” Reyes recalled. “We made the decision to close a couple of days before the hurricane’s arrival to Florida so we could prep the building and give employees time to prep their own homes.”
After the hurricane hit Reyes reached out to employees to make sure they were all safe. He explained that the areas he is responsible for received a lot of wind and faced power outages, downed gas lines and fallen trees but hardly any flooding. The facilities Reyes manages also saw little damage. While they did experience outages with their computers, the facilities were running on backup and able to manage.
“Our No. 1 focus was our employees,” Reyes said. “A lot people in South Florida lost power and lost food in their refrigerators. We talked with Mohawk’s human resources department to get those employees some help.”