After Hurricane Harvey dropped 33 trillion gallons of water on Texas, HCSS, a construction software company located in Sugar Land and known for its 24/7 instant customer support, was one of the first companies to mobilize and implement plans to assist residents to clean out flood damaged materials from their homes and raise funds to help employees rebuild.
“We prepared as much as possible to continue business operations, but we never anticipated receiving nearly 50 inches of rainfall within a couple of days and 20 of our employees’ homes flooded by Harvey,” comments Mike Rydin, HCSS founder and CEO. With most of greater Houston underwater, most employees were not able to get to the office, so employees worked remotely. “We fielded over 800 support calls from our homes during and immediately following the hurricane. One of our support team members took calls from his in-laws’ dining room, but we were able to continue to meet the customer’s needs.”
In addition to those with flooded homes, nearly 10 percent of HCSS employees were evacuated to other locations. Michael Bordelon, HCSS’s vice president of research and development, evacuated to Dallas during the hurricane and noticed that there were plenty of supplies for immediate needs, but there was an evident lacking of materials for home post-flood cleaning and drying efforts before rebuilding could begin.
Bordelon, along with another HCSS employee also evacuated to Dallas, filled up a 26-ft rented truck with cleaning supplies before heading back to Houston. “HCSS donated $22,000 in hard dollars to help buy the bleach, generators, shovels, box fans, brooms, crowbars and other supplies needed for home restoration efforts,” says Bordelon. “We are very appreciative to The Home Depot for working with us on the cost of the materials.”
HCSS also partnered with Strake Jesuit College Preparatory School in Houston to organize student, HCSS employee and community member volunteers to go out into Fort Bend County to clear flood-damaged carpet, padding, drywall, insulation, and furniture and dry and sanitize the structure in preparation for rebuilding. Over the Labor Day Holiday weekend, more than 600 volunteers in groups of 10-20 cleared out over 100 homes in Fort Bend County.
“We were focused on taking care of our employees and the community as a whole, so we paid our employees for the week. It gave those who received flooding time to address the damage, and those fortunate enough not to get flooded were encouraged to volunteer within the community,” says Tom Webb, HCSS vice president of strategy and volunteer command center manager.
The HCSS-Strake Jesuit volunteer program continues today. HCSS will also be housing a 60-person volunteer group from Ohio in their offices for the next four to six weeks and will serve as that group’s volunteer headquarters. Local citizens who want to volunteer or companies who want to donate materials can find more information at HCSS.com/Harvey.
HCSS Customers Give Back
Through the generosity of customers, HCSS also started a Harvey Relief fund. “We have some of the best and most generous customers,” comments Webb. “They called to ask us how they could help our employees. Some customers wanted to donate money and others supplies. We even had one customer, Ed Bell Construction Company of Dallas, send a truckload of respirator masks and other supplies when we put out an urgent call for supplies no longer available in Houston to continue home clearing efforts.”
HCSS has established a GoFundMe page so customers, employees and community members can donate to the HCSS Harvey Relief Fund. To date, the site has raised over $120,000 for Harvey relief. “The money we raise will go directly to affected HCSS employees and their families to help cover the costs of temporary housing, repairs and other emergency items. Any additional funds collected will be used to support the local community,” explains Webb. “A committee is being formed to oversee fund distribution to ensure they are used as intended.”