Here in The Carolinas (North and South), we are used to hurricanes. Most people know what to do when a warning comes through. Even though Fayetteville is around 1.5 hours from the beach, these massive storms cause a lot of flooding and damage to buildings, roads, bridges, and power lines. When Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016, the town had no water for several days. Plus, we lost power for two days, which was nothing compared to many other areas which went without electricity for one or two weeks.
Preparing for Florence’s arrival
We were told by the authorities that Hurricane Florence was different. It was going to be a slow-moving one, which meant we had time to prepare but also, when the hurricane hit, it would drop a massive amount of rain over the state. The advice was to stay at home and wait it out. In preparation, I went to the supermarket to stock up on supplies. When I arrived, bread and water were already running low on the shelves. You had to queue an hour in a Walmart isle for a case of water, which was being rationed to one per customer. At home we filled up bath tubs to be used to flush toilets in case we lost water supply, got flashlights ready, candles, ice packs in coolers and took all the other precautions you are advised to take in such circumstances. Then we waited… When the hurricane hit, the relentless noise of rain on the roof was maddening!
Production shut down
MANN+HUMMEL shut down operations on Thursday – two days before the storm was due. This gave all employees time to prepare and, as the schools were cancelled too, the opportunity to look after kids at home. That weekend the hurricane passed over the area. On Monday, the factories in Dillon and Fayetteville partially opened, even though both buildings had suffered some flood and electrical damage. In these situations, we have a telephone hotline that employees can call. We were advising everyone to come into work – but only if it was safe to do so.
Dealing with the aftermath
It soon became clear that some of our colleagues had been badly affected by Hurricane Florence. Many of them live in Lumberton, a town equidistant from Dillon and Fayetteville, so people commute to both factories. The Human Resources team in USA got together to help our colleagues.
We asked for anyone who was affected by the storm to let us know what they needed. We mainly got requests for cleaning supplies to help clear up flood damage, but people also wanted diapers, food, toiletries, clothes, and blankets.
Sara Longardner sent out an appeal by email and soon donations from near and far – Portage in Michigan, Dunlap in Tennessee and Raleigh in North Carolina to name just three – came in to our collection center, the Distribution Center in Gastonia. I am pleased to say everyone got what they needed. We even had a little food left over, which was then donated to our charity partner, Urban Ministry, to distribute to others in the local community affected by the storm.
Thanks for your support
Overall we helped 34 employees, which means 34 families of all sizes got the support they needed. Things are getting back to normal, but I know there are still two employees staying with relatives while their houses are being renovated. Thanks to everyone who donated, to the employees I have already mentioned, to Kaitlin Nunnery, Charles Valliant and his team for organizing donations at their locations – and to all the MANN+HUMMEL employees who gathered, packed and shipped supplies. True FILTER values shining through!