A Community United: Businesses band together to assist the local community

Published 12:03 am Saturday, January 8, 2022

Editor’s Note: This story was sent to L’OBSERVATEUR in the Port of South Louisiana’s Port Log for Fall 2021. Read the full Fall 2021 issue here.

BY MISTY MILIOTO

Before, during and after Hurricane Ida—one of the most damaging hurricanes to ever make landfall in Louisiana—businesses and organizations throughout the River Parishes banded together to support the community with vital resources.

As gas and supplies dwindled, Greenfield Louisiana stepped in to distribute both, while companies such as Marathon Petroleum Corporation, Magnolia Petroleum Company, Dow Louisiana, Valero and CRC Global Solutions paired with the Port of South Louisiana to provide meals, supplies and funding for St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes.

“Following Hurricane Ida’s Category 4 landfall on Aug. 29, it has taken a collective effort to support ongoing restoration and recovery efforts,” says Taryn Rogers, Valero’s manager of community relations and governmental affairs. “Valero stood ready to support our employees, community partners and our neighbors in Louisiana.”

Once it was safe to do so, Valero jumped into action by deploying its own post-hurricane relief teams to assist employees with food, fuel and supplies, as well as equipment and labor to help with home repairs and debris cleanup efforts.

Within one week of landfall, Valero provided employees with 9,400 meals, 35,000 gallons of fuel, 700 gas cans, 60 pallets of water or sports drinks, 200 chainsaws, 200 residential generators and 300 extension cords. The company also helped to repair 156 homes. 

“Not only did Valero respond to its employees, but the company also immediately responded to its neighbors and other members of the local community,” Rogers says.

To aid in the community, Valero worked closely with St. Charles Parish President Matthew Jewell and his team in the St. Charles Parish Emergency Operations Center. Immediately after the storm, Valero coordinated and distributed nearly 5,000 meals to community members in St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes, including the St. Charles Parish community distribution center, the St. Charles Parish Fire Department, the St. Charles Sheriff’s office, the St. John the Baptist Parish community distribution center, the St. Charles Parish School System and the employees of the Army National Guard who were responding in St. Charles Parish.

“We responded to the immediate needs of our Community Advisory Panel members and other fence-line neighbors by delivering ice, water, blue tarps and other supplies to homes,” Rogers adds.

Valero also provided monetary donations to The American Red Cross in the amount of $250,000 for urgent needs such as shelter, cleaning supplies and other necessities to those displaced from their homes. Convoy of Hope also received $200,000 for distribution of hygiene kits, and Second Harvest Food Bank received $50,000 for meals.

“In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, we contributed a total of 600 Valero fuel cards to St. Charles Parish Hospital workers, St. Charles Parish firemen and St. Charles Parish EOC/staff members,” Rogers says. “In addition, we provided several tents and other equipment to organizations holding community distributions throughout St. Charles Parish.”

Valero also made in-kind donations of items such as baby wipes to community centers like the one that United Way St. Charles held at the Valero River Parishes Community College. And on Oct. 5, Valero supplied volunteers from both its St. Charles and Meraux refineries to unload an 18-wheeler full of supplies. Volunteers organized the supplies under the distribution tents and handed them out to community members in need.

“It’s vitally important to protect our employees and the communities where we work and live,” Rogers says. “Valero considers our employees our greatest asset. So in times like these, we want to support them. In terms of the community, it’s important for us to keep a close relationship with our neighbors and St. Charles parish local government. We all share the common goal of making our parish a great place to work and live.”

Meanwhile, Greenfield Louisiana supported the community by providing 20,000 gallons of gas and more than 4,000 hot meals.

“At Greenfield, when the crisis hit, we knew our role in the community would be to provide food and fuel to those in need as quickly as possible,” says Cal Williams, chief operations officer at Greenfield. “We called all over the region to find available fuel and water and get it to the community as fast as possible.”

Williams also credits Louisiana’s vibrant community for its support in helping recovery efforts.

“The community turned to our emergency response teams for safety and shelter; our medical professionals for healthcare; our newsrooms for information; our policymakers for leadership; our non-profits for aid recovery; our pastors for faith; and our neighbors, friends and family for emotional support,” he says. “We all pulled together in this time of darkness to light the community.”