Harvey, Houston, and Hometown Heroes

Many of us have stories about the recent hurricane that flooded my old hometown, Houston. Here’s the one closest to my heart.

My sister, Susan, lives in Houston and is the Controller for a division of a large French geophysical services company. She and hundreds of others work in an office on the west side of Houston.

Susan has lived in her house for decades with nothing close to a flood from any storm. This time was different. Her house was flooded last weekend. After the first six inches of water entered her house, and it was clear that more was on its way, she and her family decamped to a neighbor’s two story home. They rode out the worst of the terrifying storm there, with few communications and no electricity.

Susan returned home on Monday, finding that the water had receded and mindful that damage from mold can be worse on a house than the water. It is important to get anything wet out of the house as soon as possible, so she began tearing up the drenched floor boards and cutting away the soggy sheetrock. Because that’s who she is.

Now here’s the good part …

Susan’s boss Larry, the Group Manager, appeared and announced that he wasn’t going back to the office until the work was done at her house. He delivered this message to her and to his boss. Then, for three days, they worked side by side: demolishing the wet materials, and hauling them out to the curb for pick up.

Wow. What a boss. 

But there’s more….

During the storm, one of the cooks from their cafeteria was stranded on the top of her flooded SUV with her children. They were rescued. Larry then picked them up and took them to his home where they are now staying. I nominate Larry as boss of the year. A hero.

But even more…

Susan and Larry spent late last week at the cook’s house, tearing up the floors, cutting away the sheetrock, and pulling demolished, wet materials to the curb. Then they moved on and have worked at two more homes.

And now the last good part – so far …

The homes of nineteen people in Susan’s department were flooded. They are all helping each other clean up their homes. Some had flood insurance, some didn’t. Because they work in finance, they have very specific deadlines to meet each month at work. This month is no different. And guess what – the books will close on time, and the other essential work will get done because they are all helping each other do exactly what is urgent and important each day. 

As Susan said, “It doesn’t matter that I’m tired. They helped me, and I will help them.”

This is caring about the success of your colleagues. This is doing the right thing, at the right time.

My new heroes? Not only only Larry, but also Susan and their colleagues. Would that all of us lived and worked this way.


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