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9/23/2005
02:14 PM
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HP Evacuates 8,000 Houston Employees, Helps Threatened Businesses

The company began evacuating employees based in the Houston area on Wednesday and set up disaster-recovery centers for customers of its business-continuity services.

Hewlett-Packard has put in motion emergency plans to aid both employees and customers affected by Hurricane Rita.

HP this week moved to evacuate about 8,000 employees in the Houston area, and has been working with a variety of customers through its business-continuity services group.

The company began evacuating employees based in the Houston area on Wednesday, and by late Thursday only a couple of hundred workers remained, who have since been relocated, says Jim Dupree, director of delivery excellence for the Americas technology services group at HP.

Each affected employee has been assigned a personal case worker who will assist the employee in working with HP's human-resources department in accessing potential compensation and other resources available to aid in the evacuation process and potential recovery needs, he says. In some cases, the company has been able to assist the departing employees in finding temporary housing.

HP already has helped a limited number of employees who lived in the New Orleans area who were adversely affected by Hurricane Katrina by loaning them vehicles that were part of the company's regular fleet.

HP declined to say how many companies in the area expected to be affected by Hurricane Rita are customers of its business-continuity services group, but Belinda Wilson, executive director of the group, says those customers having seen the destruction associated with Katrina "have not been shy about declaring an emergency or putting us on alert."

The business-continuity services group operates about 70 recovery centers, with Atlanta serving as the primary site for the Hurricane Katrina and Rita efforts.

In one case, an oil and gas company with six divisions in New Orleans and Houston had originally made an emergency declaration with Hurricane Katrina, and set up recovery infrastructure in Houston. With the approach of Hurricane Rita, that recovery effort has now been moved to a HP mobile-recovery center.

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