Little did the Austin Powder team know when they arrived in Acapulco for the XXXV International Mining Convention that they would soon face one of the biggest challenges of their lives. On Tuesday night, October 24, 2023, Category 5 Hurricane Otis made landfall in Acapulco with winds over 265 kilometers (165 miles) per hour and left major devastation in its path. The entire infrastructure of the city was devastated. With no signal to communicate, no safe roof, no water, and no electricity, the challenge began.
The emergency plan was organized from the Austin Corporate Office in Cleveland. The first step was to find the whereabouts of the attendees and then help them return to their city of origin. A team in Mexico monitored and followed up on what happened minute by minute, and lines of action were designed to establish order within the prevailing chaos; there was no communication by any means, so there was no information on how our people were doing back in Acapulco. On their side, the Austin team in Acapulco made its own emergency plan. First, they located all the participants. They had to wait a while for the water level to recede before crossing the city and bringing back several employees staying in remote hotels.
That was a unique day, difficult but full of support, respect, and fellowship that made this team more integrated. Everyone was looking out for each other, always willing to help. The Power of Family is in our DNA.
The Austin team members, exhausted but overjoyed to have survived the ordeal, returned to work without taking any days off. Through the General Director’s office, a plan to provide relief to the victims of the hurricane was coordinated. The Austin Family donated food supplies, organizing a human chain to load the truck with groceries. The truck departed and successfully delivered the much-needed provisions to the families affected by the hurricane.
Ignacio Rigou, Director of Latin America, was one of the stranded employees and celebrates the courage shown throughout the traumatic events. He says, “I am deeply proud of how we handled ourselves during this serious crisis, and it leads me to delve into the great values that we have in Austin and that we saw reflected in every attitude and decision we made together.
Safety: The saying, “We take care of ourselves and also the one next to us,” has never been better expressed than it was through this trial. Each one is looking for the other to be well. Many times, being very brave because it is not easy in extreme danger to think about the other.
Respect: The respect generated at all levels was incredible! We care for our women (very special mention for them, brave, accompanying, always smart, the best), respecting each other and all the people who need help (we have many stories).
The Power of Family: Unique, thrilling to infinity. We are a big family. We saw it reflected in every decision, always thinking of everyone, all 25 of us, without neglecting anyone. The hurricane had just passed, and being in a different hotel in a critical situation, I always knew that the team would be looking for us. Nothing could be closer to feeling like family than that.”
John Rathbun, President & CEO, expresses his gratitude for all involved and exclaims, “I think we can all feel proud to be part of such a company and a culture that results from the behaviors and beliefs of those before us and our efforts and passions that we live today. Ignacio clearly expresses that these aren’t just words but tangible behaviors that are found not just when convenient but when truly needed. He shares that these were on full display these last few days, and the team in Mexico demonstrated our values through actions and genuine care for each other.”
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