Road to Recovery
After Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, Maintenance Supply Headquarters focused on helping customers recover from the storm’s aftermath.
In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Gulf Coast, causing widespread destruction, record rainfall, and catastrophic flooding in Houston. The storm ties with 2005’s Hurricane Katrina as the costliest tropical cyclone on record at over $125 billion of damage.
For Maintenance Supply Headquarters, a distributor of maintenance, repair and operations products for the apartment industry, the storm hit too close to home at its Houston headquarters.
When learning of the approaching hurricane, Maintenance Supply Headquarters teams immediately got to work to prepare for the impending destruction and mitigate potential damage. For Maintenance Supply Headquarters, the number one priority is the safety of its people and then the continuity of daily business for all other service markets around the country. As such, the company moved its essential technical operations from its corporate headquarters in Houston to a backup disaster recovery location, a process it tests several times throughout the year to ensure the servers transfer completely and correctly. Lowe’s, Maintenance Supply Headquarters’ parent company, also deployed resources from its Emergency Command Center in North Carolina ahead of the storm.
Other than severe damage to one Lowe’s location in Aransas Pass, Texas, which had a collapsed roof and three inches of rain inside the store, the company was thankful that a majority of its 90 stores and for Maintenance Supply Headquarters, its three branch locations in Texas were not hit with any significant damage.
While teams worked around the clock to get the Aransas Pass store back up and running, the rest of the company could devote its time to helping customers who weren’t as lucky to have avoided Hurricane Harvey’s widespread destruction and flooding.
“Our leadership team held a meeting with our sales and project support reps to see what we could do to help our customers, since we knew that the impacted communities would need cleaning supplies, batteries, trash bags and other various essentials quickly,” said Phil Denton, Vice President for Project Support at Maintenance Supply Headquarters. “Our reps went out into the field to walk these damaged communities and helped establish what they would initially need to get cleaned up from the storm, as well as help them established a recovery plan to help get units move-in ready.”
The city’s widespread devastation, including massive flooding, posed challenges to recovery efforts, and Maintenance Supply Headquarters could only act as quickly as the water receded throughout the area.
“Waterlogged roads were our biggest enemy against getting deliveries out to our customers. We put in extra hours on the road, even did Saturday deliveries, and worked with our communities to keep their shops open late so that we could get them their supplies,” said Denton.
While developers were trying to rebuild, multifamily occupancy throughout the city began increasing as residents looking for a new home moved to open units.
“Some of our customers only lost sporadic units, others lost entire first-levels and some even lost everything. In order for many folks in the city to start over, they had to completely gut everything,” said Denton. “As of 2019, two years after Hurricane Harvey, there are still properties that are just now being renovated or demolished, so the aftermath has been a long road to recovery for several of our customers.”
Still, more than 1,000 Lowe's aassociates served on storm relief teams. These teams left stores in other areas to serve at impacted stores in Texas, including 140 associates from New Orleans, many of whom had been affected by Hurricane Katrina. While Lowe’s pays these associates for their expenses and labor, they volunteer for the assignment.
Lowe's own associates, too, many of whom were dealing with the aftermath of damage to their personal property, also received recovery assistance from the company through its Employee Relief Fund, which provides support to associates and their immediate family members who have suffered a significant, unforeseen financial hardship.
“We continue to learn, with each disaster, how to help our communities become more resilient,” said a Lowe’s representative. “Each storm is its own training ground because each is different, so we’ve learned to quickly adapt in the aftermath of each storm to the specific needs of the impacted community.”