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When Disaster Strikes, Having a Plan is Paramount

Posted: September 29, 2017
Disaster Relief

No one wants a crisis. It’s human nature to want to avoid catastrophe at all costs. And when disaster strikes, there is really no way to completely circumvent the repercussions. We at Hillebrand learned firsthand the importance of having a plan in place before an unexpected catastrophe hits. In the face of Hurricane Harvey, as our Houston-based company can’t emphasize enough – preparation is paramount.

Natural disasters, emergencies and crises are unexpected and unavoidable circumstances, but having an outlined plan in the event of an emergency can help your company communicate with employees and customers, and get back to “business as usual,” quickly and efficiently. We were fortunate enough that our building did not withstand any damage during the storm. Not all our employees and partners were as lucky. Our priority in the event of a crisis of this magnitude is the safety of our employees, partners and neighbors. But eventually, business must resume, even if it is to happen in stages, and our disaster plan helped us communicate with and support employees and customers, and resume business to some capacity rather quickly.

Our disaster plan is an in-depth, detailed business continuity plan, with the main goal of keeping the business running for our customers, in the face of adversity. One part of our disaster plan is implementing a color code system that indicates to our employees how a natural disaster or crisis is impacting our business, so everyone is aware of our company’s needs and expectations.

When Harvey hit, we went to CODE RED (complete closure) for three days during the worst of the storm.  Harvey was an unusual storm since it stalled over the Houston area for four days and dumped over four feet of rain on the city. When management felt the imminent danger had subsided, we were able to change that status to CODE YELLOW (open for business with employees who can safely work from home and at the office), and our disaster plan helped us get there. Hillebrand employees based in other locations throughout the U.S. rose to the occasion to pull up as much slack as possible to serve our customers’ needs.

Since power was out throughout most of the metro Houston area, we could not depend on, or in some cases even access, email to use as our communication channel with customers, partners, and employees. One example of an emergency plan that we had in place was an emergency hotline, as a backup to email. With Harvey, we quickly saw this small measure pay off.  We also placed an emergency message ribbon on our website to communicate with those who still had internet access. Both the emergency hotline and website message were updated throughout the day, as needed. This allowed Hillebrand to keep employees, partners and customers up-to-date on the company status. Having a backup communication plan in place was the saving grace that allowed Hillebrand to dramatically minimize service interruption to our customers in the face of such difficult circumstances.

We’ve been extremely humbled by the outpouring of support for Houston by our friends, family, customers and partners, such as Sierra Nevada Brewing, EGC Group, Heineken USA, Miller Coors, Ball Corporation, Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Constellation Brand, to name a few. It will take the city months, if not over a year, to restore, rebuild and recover from the devastation caused by Harvey.  But with the help from across the globe, and an undeniable spirit to overcome adversity, Houston is pulling up its bootstraps and moving forward.

If you’re interested in helping support Harvey relief, here are some local organizations you can donate to:

Salvation Army

Houston Flood Relief Fund

City of Houston – Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund

Catholic Charities – Houston (100% raised goes to victims)

Thank you!

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