Lesson of Nature: Hurricane Harvey's Impact

Oct 5, 2018 10:05 AM ET

In 2017, it became painfully evident that climate change isn’t just coming, it’s already here. People and communities all over the world were reminded in the most brutal ways that the forces of nature, though necessary to life on Earth, can also be devastating. Multiple hurricanes of unprecedented power, earthquakes, fires and mudslides and other devastating events created chaos and crisis all over the world. However, times of crisis can be when the most inspiring human moments arise – when humanity shines brightest.

In August, Harvey, a category 4 hurricane, devastated the eastern coast of Texas and southern Louisiana where NRG has significant physical operations and thousands of employees. As the storm unfolded, it became clear that the warnings from local officials were coming true. Rain was delivered in feet, not inches; bayous and retention ponds were breeched or threatening to fail. Local authorities became overwhelmed and entire communities along the Gulf were struggling to cope. Even though our business continuity plan was deployed well in advance of the storm, the scale and scope of Harvey demanded real-time improvising and inspired our employees to step up and demonstrate exemplary leadership. 

Nature’s story was also a people story

Even as some battled leaks and flooding in their own homes, our people worked remotely or traveled to where they were safe to work, to ensure business continuity – some of them moving furniture and valued belongings out of harm’s way between conference calls. Some employees were deployed out of town altogether to ensure that payroll and other employee support services were not interrupted by the storm’s impact. Many of our employees rescued others by car and boat – and helped to muck-out the homes of their colleagues to set them on the road to recovery. Beyond the financial and in-kind support NRG offered, hundreds of employees from around the country donated cash and goods to assist their affected colleagues and communities to support the work of many relief organizations. Cash donations to qualified organizations were triple-matched by NRG’s PositiveNRG corporate philanthropy program.

Within days of the storm making landfall, our Reliant customer care center implemented a policy of no disconnects and no late fees so our customers could focus on what was important – their safety. Our emergency response team kept track of every employee and their reported impacts during the storm, and set up a 24/7 hotline to ensure that employees could talk directly to an NRG colleague for help if they needed assistance.

Our people came together to help in many ways and from many locations – whether at our offices in downtown Houston, at NRG Center which hosted evacuees, at a command center in Rockport, TX or at several generation plants. In all these places, we came together to support our communities and employees who were impacted. 

Download and read our full 2017 Sustainability Report here.