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Houston Area Staffing Firms Check on Employees, Close Offices Amid Hurricane Harvey

August 29, 2017 / Staffing Industry Analysts/ – Hurricane Harvey impact continues as staffing agency offices closed with business grinding to a halt amid flooding of streets and homes.

Employees were safe, said Rick Burnett, VP/regional manager at Burnett Staffing Specialists, which is based in Houston, but offices were closed as flooded roads made getting around, especially downtown, difficult.

“Right now, everybody is just trying to help everybody out and protect,” Burnett said. One executive was evacuated by boat.

Burnett said the hurricane will probably wipe out a week’s worth of revenue. Company offices are closed today but may open on Wednesday. Many businesses are closed. Burnett said he knows of one person who found a grocery store that was open, but it was a 2½-hour wait just to get inside.

At the Houston-based Willis Group, the company’s headquarter facilities remain intact and operational but most of its staff cannot reach the office because of flooding, Kip Wright said yesterday in a statement on behalf of the company’s owners. Wright is president and CEO at Genuent, the group’s primary operating company and a provider of IT staffing.

“As the national press coverage shows, the impact to Houston and the surrounding metropolis is devastating,” Wright said. “The flooding is significant, and the speed and path of the storm only contributing to the situation.”

Business development and recruitment teams are working remotely to coordinate with clients and ensure the safety of consultants, according to Wright. Colleagues nationwide are also working to support the Houston team in addition to their own regional needs. Members of Willis Group’s staff in Houston are also volunteering and assisting others as part of ongoing rescue efforts.

Kelly Services (NASD: KELYA) reported its management team continues to check on the safety of employees, both full-time and contract. All full-time employees are confirmed to be safe.

“We have heard from many of our contract employees and expect to receive additional updates as the week progresses,” according to the company. “Our clients, suppliers, and their businesses have been impacted as well, and Kelly teams are checking in with these colleagues too.”

Kelly’s Houston-area offices are closed and, and the headquarters in Michigan and offices in other parts of Texas are working to provide assistance to contact employees, process payroll, etc. Houston-area offices will reopen once it’s safe to do so. The company also has disaster recovery teams in place as part of its business continuity process. It has also created a relief fund for its employees to make tax deductible donations to support their colleagues in need.

Houston-based iSymphony Inc., a cloud-based VMS/MSP, is also leveraging infrastructure in other states and pulling in outside resources as needed, President Keith Patel said. But all client operations located in the Houston and surrounding areas remain closed and will likely remain so through the rest of the week.

“The unprecedented storm has displaced a tremendous amount of people,” Patel said. “Prior to the storms hitting Houston, some of our team members relocated outside of Houston. The team members who remained in Houston, luckily, have been able to manage through the rising water level and support each other as they can. Team members who have been less affected have chosen to go out and volunteer to assist their neighbors in need.”

Other businesses were affected as well. ExxonMobile, for example, shut down the majority of its operations at its Baytown refinery, the second-largest refinery in the US. NASA’s Johnson Space Center was closed as well.

What will happen after the storm is another question, and plans are being made. The area will need workers, including skilled laborers and general laborers to handle clean-up and rebuild. And the US Department of Labor today announced an initial $10 million in grant funding to help Texas assess its workforce needs and assist with cleanup, demolition, repair, renovation and reconstruction activities. The funds are being made available to affected counties to supplement state and local response and recovery efforts.