Louisiana community stood together through disaster
On February 23, multiple tornados hit Louisiana, leaving a swath of destruction across the state. Among the hardest hit areas was Convent, near Marathon Petroleum Corporation’s (MPC’s) refinery in Garyville, Louisiana. The 140-mile winds of a tornado struck a mobile home/RV park, taking two lives and injuring about 40 others. Nearly all of the 160 mobile homes were destroyed, leaving about 300 individuals homeless.
As reports on the damage and loss began filtering in, members of the refinery’s Human Resources team took action. “We immediately reached out to our corporate charitable organization to secure special funds for relief efforts,” notes Aspen Murphy, MPC community relations representative. “Gary Heminger, our president and CEO, approved $85,000 for distribution to area emergency response, civic and health and human services organizations,” she adds. “Recipients included the American Red Cross; St. John United Way; St. James and St. John sheriffs’ offices; St. James and St. John parish presidents’ offices; and the New Wine Development Corporation. The refinery also provided golf carts to transport people around the mobile home/RV park to search for belongings, due to inaccessibility of larger vehicles.
Although among those hit hardest, Convent residents were not the only victims of the massive storm. “About 30 employees and contractors were impacted, with damage ranging from roofs torn off to complete destruction of their homes,” explains Murphy. “We set up an employee-assistance line and sent out notices asking those affected to get in touch, so MPC could lend a hand.”
The refinery’s employee/contractor assistance ranged from providing generators, tarps, flashlights and batteries to temporary housing and corporate-approved, interest-free loans. “We also heard about efforts by our Chief Refining Inspector Dennis Badeaux and Maintenance Supervisor Kerry Schexnayder to help feed our neighbors and partnered with them – feeding 400 meals to local residents,” says Murphy.
“Under such unfortunate circumstances, the last thing we want our employees to do is worry about where they’re going to sleep at night,” she adds. “We have a responsibility to help people in need, and it’s a privilege to do so. We’re happy to help.”