Reinforcing consumer safety messages should be top of mind at all times for retail propane marketers, but these reminders become magnified in distressing situations.
As we went to press on our September print publication, Tropical Storm Harvey was pounding Texas with record-setting rainfall. Harvey made landfall Aug. 25 along the Texas Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane. But the rain that followed in the Houston area presented the biggest problem for residents in and around the nation’s fourth-largest city.
“The coast got damaged by high winds, but the flooding really was inland – central Texas and Houston,” says Jackie Mason of the Texas Propane Gas Association (TPGA) and the Propane Council of Texas (ProCOT).
The storm displaced tens of thousands of residents from their homes and into temporary shelters, as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott placed about 60 counties under a disaster declaration. TPGA informed members about the declaration, which also provided hours-of-service relief for the state’s commercial truck drivers.
Even as President Trump flew to Texas to survey some of the storm damage, the situation remained fluid, and the devastating outcomes might not be known until the weeks and months ahead.
Mason says marketers across the state have offered help to marketers affected – from setting tanks to making propane deliveries.
“[TPGA Executive Director] Bill Van Hoy called nearly every single marketer in the affected areas as of yesterday,” Mason told us Aug. 30. “The ones we could get ahold of luckily had minimal to no damage from Harvey. But there were a handful who did not answer the phone during business hours in affected areas, so they may be affected by the storm.”
The extent of the damage at propane customer locations remains unknown until floodwaters recede, Mason adds.
Propane industry leaders stressed safety messages for consumers to consider before, during and after a hurricane.
As Harvey approached Texas, ProCOT disseminated a press release outlining detailed steps to keep consumers and their families safe. The directives come from weather safety materials available to marketers on the Propane Education & Research Council’s (PERC) online product catalog. The free materials help consumers keep their families safe in all types of weather events, such as floods, thunderstorms, tornadoes, wildfires and winter storms. Certainly, this is something to keep in mind in the months ahead.
TPGA and ProCOT have also used social media to share information about Harvey. TPGA has tweeted from its Twitter handle, @txpropane1, while ProCOT is also present on Facebook (@PropaneCouncilOfTexas) and Twitter (@LPGCouncilofTX). Also, ProCOT’s consumer-focused Facebook page @ProudlyPropaneTexas has more than 4,200 likes and follows.
Meanwhile, PERC President and CEO Tucker Perkins went on camera to discuss important safety messages in the wake of Harvey.
“We talked to marketers who told us anything we can do to reinforce basic propane safety messages would be welcome, which is especially true in a catastrophe like this,” says Gregg Walker, director of communications at PERC.
Perkins shared how propane is playing a vital role in emergencies caused by Harvey. He also offered important safety tips for propane customers in areas impacted by the storm.
“We’re making more resources available to marketers about weather preparedness,” Walker adds.