Winter Storm Uri decorated Texas and Louisiana like a winter wonderland; however, the record-breaking low temperatures left residents in nightmarish conditions without electricity and potable water. Millions of residents were under boil water notices after the freezing temperatures damaged water infrastructure and the risk contamination grew from a drop in water pressure. As crews worked to restore power grids and water systems, our team at Hancock Whitney developed a plan to help ensure our own associates and neighbors had access to clean drinking water.
While the cold and ice were a drastic change from Hancock Whitney’s usual storm relief efforts following hurricanes, our commitment to providing the resources our neighbors so desperately needed remained our priority.
When roads were finally deemed safe for travel, our associates, with the help of local vendors, worked to secure and deliver over 1400 cases of water.
Houston Regional President Larry Stephens describes the teamwork as impressive. “In a little over 24 hours beginning midday Thursday, the bank organized and delivered 860 cases of water to Houston. We were able to support our associates in need and work directly with our community partners, to have the water distributed to the public,” said Stephens.
Once on site, associates at our Northwest Financial Center in Houston distributed more 300 cases of water to neighbors and earmarked the remaining cases to BakerRipley, Kids’ Meals and the Little Elm Police Department, northwest of Dallas, TX to support their community relief efforts.
Associates help load cases of water into vans for Kids’ Meals to distribute throughout the Houston area.
Dallas Regional President Chris Mosteller shared his experience with the distribution efforts. “It’s humbling to be a part of an organization like Hancock Whitney that goes out of their way to help our communities in need. We had the opportunity to provide over 13,000 bottles of water to the Little Elm Police Department to aid their efforts in helping the community,” said Mosteller.
Regional President Chris Mosteller delivers water to the Little Elm Police Department northwest of Dallas.
In addition to the donation of water, our associates also donated their weekend volunteering with BakerRipley, joining U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia, Texas State Representative Armando Walle and Texas State Senator Carol Alvarado to hand out water to the community.
“The BakerRipley East Aldine Campus is grateful for our partner Hancock Whitney who provided much needed water to the East Aldine neighbors who had been affected by the winter storm,” said Jo Hawkins, community developer at BakerRipley. “Without this support and the volunteers, many of our neighbors would be without clean water due to the severity of the storm. We appreciate the support and look forward to partnering again soon.”
Associates volunteer with BakerRipley and join state and national leaders to hand out water to Texas residents.
Stephens also described how the Texas team stepped up to help others - putting on hold their own storm impacts. “We had 18 Houston associates volunteer between Friday and Saturday, almost all of whom were dealing with no running water in their homes. Additionally, about half of the 18 had broken pipes from the freeze with many having water damage inside their homes. Their willingness to help others while they remained vulnerable is a great example of the ‘Texas Strong’ motto we proudly display on our shirts,” said Stephens.
Our team also ensured areas in Louisiana had access to clean water, donating more than 300 cases to the Natchitoches Fire Department to distribute to residents impacted during last week’s freezing rain, ice, sleet and snowstorms.
Mike Sesvold, fire chief of Natchitoches FD6, extended appreciation to everyone at Hancock Whitney for the act of kindness. “Helen Keller once said, ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.’ In times like this we are reminded of the power of partnership and what we can accomplish when we work together. The generosity of Hancock Whitney and their creative ideas of their associates proved to be valuable to our local community," said Sesvold. “In a time we needed it most they stepped up and offered assistance. We gratefully accepted their gift and immediately partnered to make sure the community would get the much need resources as soon as possible. Our local citizens were so happy to get help and we saw many smiles come through our parking lot.”
Natchitoches associates deliver cases of water to their local fire department for distribution.
North Louisiana Market President Rhonda Jones volunteered her time delivering water to the Natchitoches Fire Department and recalled how in just six months their North Louisiana community was impacted by two major weather events. “Both times, Hancock Whitney has been there to provide the much needed support to our community and to our employees,” said Jones. “Within hours, plans are in place to provide whatever is needed most, including water, ice, gas, and food. It’s truly a pleasure to work for an organization that cares so much."