As a Texas-based company with thousands of employees in San Antonio and Austin, we at Rackspace have been watching the unfolding disaster in our state with a heavy heart. And I’m proud to see that our Rackers have been responding with a helping hand.
While only the outer bands of Hurricane Harvey grazed our headquarters in San Antonio over the weekend, widespread flooding has occurred in nearby communities. And the storm and its aftermath have affected many of our Rackers who have relatives and friends in Houston, Corpus Christi and other hard-hit parts of the state.
Like many others across Texas, Louisiana and beyond, we’re doing what we can to help, with our employee-led community affairs group, Rack Gives Back, coordinating efforts across the company.
Here are some of the ways we’re encouraging our employees to pitch in:
- A significant need is blood donations. We recently hosted several blood drives on site at our headquarters, and have donated more than 150 units of blood from those initiatives alone. We’ve also asked our employees to contact the Red Cross and South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, both of which have donation sites listed online.
- We always look to the Red Cross as an expert in first response to disaster recovery — and we’re proud to have that organization as a customer of Rackspace. Our employees are among the most active volunteers in South Texas, and get paid time off for those activities. We’ve encouraged them to register as Red Cross volunteers, and to make monetary donations.
- The San Antonio Food Bank is working hard to support local and statewide needs following the storm. Rackspace has worked closely with the food bank for years: While we’re far from the largest employer in San Antonio, we’re proud to be the largest contributor to its Thanksgiving Food Drive, which is its biggest annual event. In coordination with the food bank, we’ve asked our employees to volunteer for specific shifts where the need is greatest at its headquarters, and we’ve encouraged employees to make monetary donations using this link.
- We’re fielding volunteer requests from other local organizations, including an animal shelter in Seguin, Tex., which has asked for volunteers to help rebuild fences and clear debris, and the Texas Diaper Bank in San Antonio, where some of our employees are heading this weekend to sort through donations and package them for distribution.
- We also have 24 remote employees that live in FEMA-designated disaster areas. Our security and employee relations teams are working to ensure their safety and the safety of their families.
- Many of our employees are leading their own volunteer initiatives, including by helping relatives and friends begin the heartbreaking, back-aching work of clearing mud and debris from their flooded homes, cutting out wet drywall and carpeting, etc.
Recovery from Hurricane Harvey will take many months. And our Rackers will be helping that effort over the long haul, just as they did after Hurricane Katrina. Rackspace, in collaboration with local governments and aid organizations, housed thousands of Katrina refugees in parts of our new San Antonio headquarters, in a refurbished shopping mall.
Led by our founder, Graham Weston, Rackers back then erected what the Denver Post called “the Hilton of hurricane shelters,” with curtained areas for families, toilets, showers and dining facilities — and networked computers that evacuees could use to find loved ones scattered across the country. While most of those refugees returned to their homes, mainly in the New Orleans area, some relocated permanently to the neighborhoods around our headquarters. Their Saints jerseys and music and cuisine enliven our community — and some of them came to work for Rackspace.
As the new CEO of Rackspace, I find that tradition deeply inspiring. I’m proud that it lives on today in the efforts of our Rackers, as well as those of our customers.