August 2018

Hurricane Harvey: A look back

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Almost a year ago today, Texas Children’s faced one of the worst weather disasters in U.S. history – Hurricane Harvey. The storm dumped more than 50 inches of rain across the Greater Houston area, submerging parts of the city under record-setting flood waters. The storm lasted a solid week as it made landfall twice, once as a Category 4 storm and then again as a Category 3 hurricane. Sadly, some lives were lost in the storm. And others were forever altered.

As I look back on that harrowing time, I remain thankful that Texas Children’s weathered the storm without significant damage, and I am so proud of our one amazing team for its commitment to keeping our organization and people strong. Because of our resilience, we were able to help our existing patients and families, and many more who came to us by way of other health care organizations that did not fare as well during Harvey.

Our employees worked tirelessly at patients’ bedsides and calmed families worried about the storm raging outside. Their colleagues set up more than 700 employee cots and connected them with available hotel rooms to make brief moments of rest as comfortable as possible. And team members accustomed to sitting behind desks and behind computers got behind the serving line and dished up hot meals to weary co-workers.

Texas Children’s leaders ran a 24-hour planning command center monitoring weather updates and ensuring essential employee information was constantly communicated. Their decisions and timing on when to bring in employees, when to send them home and when to close and open our flood gates were impeccable, especially in light of the unpredictability of the storm.

Our decades of preparedness and vigilance paid off and didn’t stop once the storm passed. During Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath, we continued to act compassionately, supporting our colleagues on the long road to recovery, a journey that, for many, is ongoing today.

Through employee donations and funding from the Texas Hospital Association, our Employee Financial Assistance Fund administered by the Employee Assistance Program provided more than half a million dollars in cash grants and nearly $75,000 in gift cards to 672 employees affected by the storm. Texas Children’s also established a Harvey My Day Donation Program to provide a way for team members to give as many as 24 hours of their own Harvey-related paid time off to colleagues. In total, employees donated more than 2,500 hours of disaster paid time off to help colleagues attend to their affairs after the storm.

To commemorate the courage, resilience and generous spirit of our people, we have created a special website that takes a look back at the lessons we learned from the storm and the diligent recovery efforts of some of our families. As we prepare for another season, let’s keep them in our prayers and always remember the strength and sturdiness of our one amazing team.

Click here to visit Texas Children’s Hurricane Harvey website

Mark H. Wallace