Culturati Member Companies Join Forces in Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

by Anne Hebert, Culturati Planning Team Member

As Texas reeled from devastation and flooding of Hurricane Harvey, the state’s big heart and personality quickly came to the rescue. Individuals, companies and organizations — including many Culturati member companies — responded immediately, demonstrating a neighbor-helping-neighbor attitude at every level of recovery.

Some of the state’s most beloved and well-known brands were among the first on the ground, providing critical disaster relief and supplies, while others have stepped up with long-term financial support.

San Antonio-based H-E-B Grocery Company orchestrated a massive disaster response, with incredible logistics churning behind the scenes to reopen stores as quickly as possible across southeast Texas and the Houston area. The company sent a convoy of its Emergency Response Team of more than 100 employees in more than 15 vehicles, including Disaster Response Units (DRUs), two H-E-B Mobile Kitchens, water and fuel tankers and trailers to deliver relief supplies and services to the communities affected by Hurricane Harvey.

H-E-B CEO Charles Butt signed a personal check for $5 million and had it delivered to J.J. Watt on Wednesday for his Foundation’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. An article on the Houston Texans’ website states the donation “brings Watt’s hurricane relief fund just shy of $27 million.”

Houston’s “Mattress Mack” received national press and praise when he immediately opened the doors of his Gallery Furniture stores to those who needed shelter and a place to sleep, for as long as they needed.

Katy-based Academy Sports + Outdoors become a command center for more than 700 first responders, Army and FEMA workers in the Houston area to support the rescue effort. Not only has Academy offered its offices for those volunteers to sleep, shower, eat and work, but the company has given more than $1.5 million worth of supplies to the rescue effort, including air mattresses, cots, boats and much more.

Many of Culturati’s company members are stepping up to support short- and long-term relief efforts, as well.

Google fulfilled its $1 million matching campaign in under 24 hours, raising funds from Google users and staff for Red Cross efforts in Texas and other affected areas. Its staff donated $250,000 to the American Red Cross, which the company matched dollar for dollar, and Google also made a corporate contribution of $250,000. Google also launched the Harvey Crisis Map to include important information on shelters, road closures and weather.

HomeAway is helping connect travelers to available properties through its Temporary Housing page. HomeAway has waived all service fees associated with booking these properties. The company is also teaming up with its employees for relief efforts, and in addition to its own pledged donations to specific organizations, will match, two to one, all employee donations to their chosen hurricane relief organization.

National Instruments donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross.

Seton Healthcare Family received evacuee transfer patients from DeTar Hospital Navarro in Victoria, and Dell Children’s Neonatal ICU (NICU) and Pediatric ICU transport teams delivered seven babies from Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi to the Level 4 NICU at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin.

The Entrepreneurs Foundation together with the Austin Community Foundation, United Way, Capital Factory, the MFI Foundation and Live Oak Ventures have launched a boutique rebuilding fund. They are currently raising seven figures in match pledges so that donors can have ever dollar immediately matched. They’ll focus on rebuilding (homes, businesses, community assets and community organizations) in areas either overlooked or too large to assess and fund neighborhood projects. RetailMeNot, Sailpoint, Spredfast CEO Rod Favoron and several others have already pledged matching dollars.

Capital Factory hosted a blood drive and has offered free co-working space to any displaced entrepreneurs seeking refuge in Austin.

Silicon Labs is donating $50,000 to the American Red Cross for disaster relief and will match contributions up to $2,000 per employee.

uShip, Panacea Collection and Autumn Rich & Company partnered in filling up a 26-foot trailer with donated essential supplies and taking it to Refugio, Texas.

Many other Austin-based organizations are talking the talk when it comes to helping those in need.

St. David’s HealthCare received approximately 20 patient transfers from hospitals in impacted areas. As part of these efforts, St. David’s HealthCare sent its neonatal transport team to Houston to evacuate several critically ill infants and transport them to St. David’s Medical Center’s NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) for care. Additionally, approximately 400 members of St. David’s HealthCare’s leadership team filled 500 backpacks with toiletries (toothbrushes, tooth paste, etc.) — as well as coloring books, crayons, puzzles, and new or gently used books — to donate to children in shelters.

YETI Coolers pledged to donate 100% of sales from its online and flagship stores on Sept. 1 directly to relief funds for the Gulf Coast region, and overwhelming customer response resulted in a donation of more than $1.8M.

The Rebuild Texas Fund, announced by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, set a $100 million goal for long-term recovery.

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation announced the launch of the Rebuild Texas Fund, with the goal of raising over $100 million for the long-term recovery of communities affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Austin-made app Zello proved crucial to Hurricane Harvey rescuers by providing a crucial communication link between citizen rescuers and Houston residents stranded by rising floodwaters. Channels earmarked “Texas Search and Rescue,” or “Cajun Navy SE” became popular with boat owners who used the app to find people in need of rescue.

Parsable’s Will Roman gathered a group of friends, bought a boat and a used engine and rescued Houstonians from rising waters. His godfathers Eugene Sepulveda and Steven Tomlinson staked the initial launch, immediately joined by lots of Will’s friends.

Texas Humor has raised tens of thousands of dollars and delivered truckloads of supplies in South Texas. They are partnering with Mattress Mack to raise even more.

Keller Williams decided to turn its convention, Mega Camp, scheduled in Austin next week to Mega Relief, a weeklong event focused on providing immediate aid to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Through its disaster relief charity KW Cares, Keller Williams sent five semi trucks and three U-Haul vehicles filled with supplies, along with more than 60 local Keller Williams associates to volunteer in Houston, and hopes to raise $20 million for relief efforts. The charity supports agents and their clients who have been displaced by disasters. The company decided to turn its convention, Mega Camp, scheduled in Austin next week to Mega Relief, a weeklong event focused on providing immediate aid to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

SolarWinds will commit $75,000 and 1,000 employee volunteer hours for Hurricane Harvey relief. In addition, the company will match U.S. employee donations to these organizations over the next 30 days on a $2 for every $1 basis.

Creative Mornings is maintaining a document of ways to help within and outside of Austin, and Austin’s Mayor Steve Adler has also put out the call to help.

CultureMap Austin rounded up a growing list of coffee shops, bars, breweries, restaurants, local artists, and Texas-based brands donating portions of their profits to the cause.

It’s going to be a long haul for thousands of people affected by Harvey, but the spirit of the Lone Star State is shining brightly.

Do you know of a company, individual or organization that’s doing great things to help? Please share in the comments.