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Flood aid.

Bill Green watched the news coverage of the flooding in the Midwest along with the rest of the country. The surreal images of rooftops poking out of the water and people row boating to and fro touched him as they did everyone. The difference is, he did something to help.

Green, the manager of security services for Rosemount, Inc., in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, was puzzling over a way to assist the flood victims when he came across a newspaper article about a volunteer group from Minneapolis. Inspired by the group's efforts, he approached senior management and suggested taking up a collection of food and dry goods from the company's 4,000 Minnesota employees. He also wanted to send a small group from his staff to Des Moines, Iowa, which had been devastated, to take part in the clean up. The executives wholeheartedly agreed.

The week-long collection brought in hundreds of cartons of food and dry goods. "The response was phenomenal," recalls Green. "People were bringing in bags of groceries." Some employees even went to their local grocers and asked for donations.

When the food drive was finished, the cartons were loaded onto a twenty-two foot truck supplied by the company. Eleven people from Green's department, which includes security, the mailroom, transportation services, and the switchboard, loaded into three other company-provided vehicles. The trip was made on company time, lunches were donated by the company's canteen, and T-shirts and caps were prepared by the company's promotional materials supplier.

The group made the trek to Iowa on July 30, the day the area got its drinking water back. Green says the scenery was still grim. Homes with piles of ruined possessions in the yards lined the streets, and the Salvation Army, where they dropped off the cartons and $800 in cash, was overridden with destitute people.

After unloading the truck, the crew went to a mini-storage warehouse lot for its first work assignment--to clean out approximately twenty units. "I think they had had about eighteen or twenty feet of water at this place," says Green. "Everything from tax records and clothing and furniture to a vintage 1957 Chevrolet had gone completely underwater."

The dirty work had to be done by hand. The crew members dragged soaked, rotting papers, boxes, and clothes out onto the driveway where they were picked up by a truck and taken to a dumpster. Boxes of paper, which would have weighed twenty-five pounds dry, gained seventy-five pounds of water weight, the smell of mildew was overpowering, and the temperature reached 90 |degrees~ F. "It wasn't fun work. There was a lot of mud and stench and slime," recalls Green. "You would try to pick something up and go sliding across the floor. You had to laugh. That was about the best thing you could do."

Green and company completed the job in three hours. Since they didn't need to be back on the road for another two-and-half, they called the United Way and asked for a new assignment. This time they were sent to a warehouse that stored fireplace grates. The metal grates had been drowned in about fifteen feet of water and were rusting. The warehouse employees taught the crew how to wash the grates, dry them, and spray paint them.

At about 6:00 p.m. the exhausted crew headed home. Holiday Inn supplied them with two hotel rooms in a nearby town so they could take showers and change. They got back to the office at about 11:30 p.m. Green says the trip made them feel good, even though they know they only scratched the surface of a massive clean-up job.

Green organized the excursion not only to help the Midwesterners but also to build a spirit of fellowship in his newly integrated department. People who were not used to working with one another were suddenly part of the same team, and as manager he wanted to foster a cooperative attitude. Although only eleven volunteers from his staff of twenty-five could attend, he thinks the effort was successful. The team--made up of six women and five men--worked hard and quickly. "There was lots of enthusiasm," says Green. "People needed help, and it really inspired the whole group."
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Security Spotlight; Rosemount Inc.'s flood aid team
Author:Arbetter, Lisa
Publication:Security Management
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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