Bridge Over Troubled Waters

More than 1,500 Conoco Inc. volunteers concluded their "Weekend of Caring" damage control efforts yesterday by helping residents dig out of the city's worst floods in 50 years. Employee volunteers who participated were given a day off with pay June 15, but disaster relief activities extended through the weekend.

"I realize now that I didn't have a real idea regarding the scope of the damage until I actually walked in the homes of flood victims," said Gary Edwards, Conoco's senior executive vice president of corporate strategy and development. "The flood waters not only resulted in physical damage to property, but more importantly, emotional damage due to the loss of everything from beds, mattresses, and family heirlooms, to loss of a normal day's routine. Their lives are anything but normal -- they walk on flood-drenched carpeting, breathe in a moldy stench, and look out of the window at heaps of ruined belongings."

Approximately 650 Conoco volunteers donated 16 hours of their time to aid residents in the northeastern Houston neighborhood hardest hit by Hurricane Allison. Of the 330 homes in the 12-block radius, 130 residents -- primarily elderly or disabled -- requested flood cleanup assistance. An average of four hours was spent cleaning each home. Approximately 4,000 boxed-lunches were also provided for homeowners and residents.

Conoco estimates the total "Weekend of Caring" contribution to be $150,000 in supplies and food, $140,000 in labor expenses had the work been contracted to skilled workers. "The problem of flood cleanup in Houston is unbelievable -- giving money isn't enough, people need manpower to restore their lives," Edwards said.

Earlier this week, Conoco contributed $100,000 to the American Red Cross and initiated an employee matching gift program for flood relief.
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