Hightower: Marathon flood response hits home

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, September 7, 2016

I’ve come to learn that rain is expected any day in Louisiana, but what happened from Aug. 8-14 was unprecedented.

While the areas around the Garyville refinery received approximately one foot of rain, areas towards Gonzales and Baton Rouge received between two and three feet of rain. Overall, 6.9 trillion gallons of rain soaked Southeast Louisiana, forcing areas well outside flood plains that had never before flooded to be suddenly underwater.

Unfortunately, it meant that many people with flooded homes had no flood insurance and needed additional assistance.

The tens of thousands of flooded homes statewide included a total of 84 MPC Garyville Refinery employees with water in their homes. Over 200 employees, more than 20 percent of the MPC Garyville Refinery’s workforce, received cleaning supplies to aid with cleanup of their home or the home of a family member.

MPC leaders jumped in quickly to help, first by assuring themselves that all 900-plus employees were safe, and then assessing the needs.

Over the course of the next ten days, employees distributed supplies to co-workers from a warehouse at the refinery and another remote distribution center set up in the Cabela’s parking lot in Gonzales. Our team procured temporary housing for 31 displaced employee families, located alternative arrangements for children’s day care, found storage solutions and set up a website to match donations of personal belongings, such as tools, clothes and furniture to the families that needed them.

Meanwhile, the company offered interest free loans to help begin their recovery process and paid personal absence days so employees could clean their homes.

More than 100 employees unaffected by the storm volunteered to help distribute supplies, rip out soggy drywall and help with cleaning up employees’ homes.

For the wider community, one of the refinery’s Operations teams coordinated an effort to cook and distribute over 700 meals in St. Amant, one of the hardest hit areas, and helped clean up the firehouse there.

In addition to the much-needed human resources, MPC made a corporate monetary donation to assist local agencies supporting the relief efforts.

Throughout it all, the refinery kept running seamlessly. Situations like this one bring out the best in our employees and our company. The Garyville refinery came together as family, and as a member of that family, I’m proud to wear our brand and support our surrounding communities.

Keith Hightower is the Human Resources Manager for Marathon Petroleum’s Garyville Refinery. He can be reached at thightower@marathonpetroleum.com.