When the word came out that so many Cooper/T. Smith families had been devastated by the horrendous flooding near Baton Rouge in August, there was never a doubt as to what our response would be.
“It was phenomenal, how quickly we responded, but that’s who we are”, said Terri Doherty. “We were going to do whatever we could to help take care of those people and their communities”. Terri, Accounts Payable Manager for Cooper/T. Smith corporate office and a 22-year team member, remembers her initial thoughts: “We had heard about the flooding on the news but, still, we were going in pretty much blind. There were safety concerns. But we had to go. We had to help. It’s said that “in giving you receive”. Well, we received a lot that day."
For Ricky Mundy, not helping was not an option. “When they asked if I would deliver the supplies to Darrow to help our CTS family, I told them ‘you called the right guy’”. Ricky, Regional Director of Loss Control and a 12-year team member, immediately went to work. “I felt very blessed for the opportunity to help our CTS family and was amazed at the volume of supplies donated by our employees and vendors. It seemed like every time we were ready to shut the door, someone else would show up with more to load”. They left at 0300 the next morning for Darrow.
“You gotta go, Tadd” was the response Tadd Willcutt heard from his wife when he told her about the Louisiana flooding and Cooper/T. Smith’s plans to help. Tadd, retired Vice President of Crescent Towing-Mobile and a team member for 37 years, had seen it before. “The Cooper companies stepped up, as they always do. It’s automatic. Not many companies respond the way the Cooper companies respond. Whether it’s for employees, community or customers, they are always there. I’ve always been proud to say I work for Cooper/T. Smith”.
Tina Adams remembers the experience as “humbling and chaotic”. “Unfortunately, flooding happens a lot more these days. We first went to the Red Cross in Gonzales. Half the office one day, half the next, to do what we could to help out. It was humbling, people everywhere, sleeping on cots, kids running around, chaotic”. Tina, Office Administrator for Crescent Towing-New Orleans and a 21-year team member, continued, “We unloaded trucks, separated donated clothing, anything we could do to help. A few days later, when the CTS Service Day was announced we were very excited and appreciative to jump back in. It was pretty phenomenal. All levels of personnel from top to bottom. Well organized. Pretty awesome and it reinforced our love of the company. It’s a good feeling. ”
Pictures can’t describe the tragedy, according to Gerald Ramos. “I remember the smells. I can still taste them”. Gerald, Server/Coach at Felix’s Fish Camp Grill and a team member since 2012, was displaced during Hurricane Katrina and relocated to Alabama. “It’s fulfilling to me to know you work with people who really care, really respond when tragedy strikes. It’s in our culture and it gives me a strong foundation in my life.”
Pratt Monk knows adversity first hand. He road out Hurricane Katrina on his boat at the Dog River Marina. “I woke up and everything was gone. The marina was torn up. I couldn’t get to shore for a full day because I wasn’t about to get in the water. “ Pratt, a machinist with Cooper-Wilkins Welding and 10-year team member, jumped at the opportunity to help. “When I heard we were sending volunteers over, I had to go and do what I could do.” The home his team was assigned had been sandbagged by the owner. “The sandbags didn’t work with 3-4 feet of water coming in, it was a mess. We tore out flooring, carpet, sheetrock and dragged it to the street. Everyone got down in the mud, from top management down. It was like family and we felt good about what we’d done. The owners were relieved. It was a good thing.”
For Robin Rogers, the response was not unexpected. “You don’t find many companies like Cooper/T. Smith so I knew there would be a good turnout. It was impressive.” Robin, Office Manager for Cooper Consolidated-Upper St. Rose and a 38-year team member, was once flooded out herself so she knew what to do. “Our team’s house was very big and had already been gutted. The owner was very distraught. This was a dirty flood vs. a clean flood. Dirty floods have bacteria, muck and mud, mold so we gave it a deep, deep cleaning. We’re a team, a family, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
“We help because we care,” said Terri Doherty. “It’s who we are at Cooper/T. Smith and it spills over into our everyday lives. We set the bar high and see positive results.”