Stories from the Storms: Harvey Makes Heroes at Phillips 66 in Houston
Hurricane Harvey struck Houston on Friday, August 25, and for days afterward, much of the city was underwater.
Below, read about how the Bon Appétit team at Phillips 66 pulled together, and then about how our Florida and Georgia teams made it through Irma. Because as President Michael Bauccio writes, we do whatever it takes to take care of our communities.
HARVEY MAKES HEROES AT PHILLIPS 66 IN HOUSTON
In Houston, the Bon Appétit team at Phillips 66 was looking forward to a party for their first anniversary when Harvey struck. The campus closed at noon that Friday, with the storm expected to hit at 7:30 p.m. General Manager Azher Kantawala and the other managers cleaned out the walk-ins for what they knew would be at least a four-day break. They distributed the milk and other perishables to their team, who’d been working while grocery shelves all over town were being emptied. Everyone exchanged emergency contact information, and the managers set up a text tree.
As the storm raged and the waters were rising, Catering Cold Prep Cook Rachel Leday was frantically texting Executive Chef Greg Lowry and Catering Manager Heather Herlong for help. “I was trying to stay focused. I said, ‘Rachel you can’t swim, get out of here!’ as the water was getting higher,” recalls Rachel. “I thought ‘But if you don’t have nothing else, you will have your job,’ so I grabbed my work pants, two shirts, my Bible, and my back scratcher, out of all things!”
Using the Zello app, Heather had summoned the Cajun Navy, and boats were on their way to Rachel when Rachel managed to start her truck and roar through the deep water to safety. She and three other members of the 35-person team suffered severe damage to their homes and possessions.
Phillips 66 did not reopen until September 5. Everyone came back to work — even the four affected employees. Although the campus itself suffered no damage, the flooded streets around it made the commute tortuous. It took everyone two to three hours to get to work and then to get home that week.
Just two weeks later, they managed to have that anniversary party. Azher, Greg, Heather, Operations Manager Dylan Nguyen, and Sous Chef Matt Lovelace gave Rachel, Salad Bar Cook Sharell Turner, Barista Sharita Davis, and Grill Cook Fredrick Cox each a special Hero award for inspiring the rest of the team with their commitment.
“They’ve been through a lot, but they still came to work with a smile and determination,” said Azher. “That takes a strong work ethic. I am really proud of them, but what I am really proud of is how we all got closer as a team from depending on each other. We have a new respect for each other, and for the company, because of how Bon Appétit supported us.”