September 9, 2005 spout

MS Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts

The following is an internal email published here with permission:

From: Lisa Brummel
Sent: Friday, September 09, 2005 1:54 PM
To: Microsoft
Subject: Update: Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts

While the effects of Hurricane Katrina will be felt in the Gulf Coast for months and years to come, the contributions and volunteer efforts of thousands of Microsoft employees worldwide over the last week and a half have made a real difference in peoples’ lives. Fortunately, all of our employees in the region are safely accounted for.

I want to thank everyone who has been responding to requests by relief agencies for cash donations to meet the most immediate needs of evacuees. To date, a total of $9 million in cash, technology assistance and support has been donated by Microsoft and by employees. This includes $2 million from Microsoft for relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts, $5 million in technology assistance and support, and U.S. employee contributions totaling more than $1 million, which will be matched by the company.

In the hours and days following the hurricane, hundreds of Microsoft employees have used their creativity and initiative to help speed relief, often doing what we do best – using technology to solve problems and help improve people’s lives. These efforts by our employees are what make Microsoft a special place to work. I wish I could mention everyone by name, but since that’s not possible, let me share a few examples that will give you an idea of the great work people are doing.

  • Jim Carroll, a database architect from Birmingham, Alabama, and a half-dozen other Microsoft engineers from California, Florida, Alabama and Texas, worked virtually nonstop for four days to develop, an online tool being used by the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas, and by relief agencies to help evacuees find family members separated by the crisis. Since the site went live on Sept. 5, information about tens of thousands of evacuees has been registered on the site, and it’s being updated continuously with information from relief centers across the affected region.
  • Murali Krishnan, a group program manager in MSN, led an effort of about 100 Microsoft employees to build a secure Web site hosted by MSN to accept donations for the Red Cross. Krishnan’s team built the site – – in just 20 hours, unheard-of speed for a project of this magnitude. The MSN Web site has already generated more than $3 million in donations for the Red Cross.
  • Dawn Gagnon, a mobility solutions specialist in Houston, arranged for the delivery of Microsoft Smartphones to 30 doctors at the main Red Cross medical triage site in Baton Rouge, and 150 Texas National Guard command post leaders being deployed to Louisiana to help with relief efforts. With land lines and switching stations down throughout Louisiana, the Smartphones were a top priority of the Texas National Guard to keep command leaders in touch. A makeshift assembly line of friends, family and neighbors at Dawn’s house worked for 12 hours to activate and charge the phones and make up waterproof bags that included car chargers and extra batteries.
  • John Morello, a senior Microsoft consultant in south Louisiana, saw the need for an e-mail system that volunteers could use to help evacuees connect with people they’d been separated from. The Microsoft Hotmail team created the accounts in under four hours, and this has already helped reunite dozens of families. Suresh Babu, group program manager at Hotmail, then orchestrated a cross-team effort to help tens of thousands of evacuees set up and use free Hotmail e-mail accounts to let friends and family know they’re OK, check in with employers, contact their insurance companies, even keep in touch with other victims of the hurricane.
  • Todd Ellison, a technical account manager in the Houston office working to assist local officials in relief efforts, walked into a wholesale computer parts distributor and asked if they would donate two laptop computers needed by the chief information officers of the City of Houston and Harris County, Texas. Five minutes later, Todd was out the door with two new machines.
  • Bill Steele, an Indiana-based Microsoft developer evangelist and private pilot, has been using his own twin-engine plane to shuttle food and supplies to areas of need. Flying out of Baton Rouge, Bill has delivered 17,500 MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), mostly to the lower part of Mississippi.
  • Steve Lough, an account manager in our federal sales office, led a team of senior Microsoft technologists working in partnership with Intel, Cisco and SBC at the Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C. to help create a communications infrastructure for relief shelters, establish computer kiosks for evacuees and Red Cross workers, and dispense financial assistance broadly. Microsoft also worked with the Red Cross to establish a solid core data infrastructure to meet the huge increase in demand on the agency’s IT system.
  • Blacks at Microsoft (BAM) is allocating funds to assist displaced students at historically black schools affected by the disaster, including Xavier University, Dillard University and Southern University of New Orleans.
  • In Redmond, a group of employees is putting together 200 boxes of sanitation and first-aid kits – about a ton of supplies. They’ll be shipped to the Microsoft office in Houston where Microsoft employees will pick them up and take them to a local airport, where four private planes are at the ready to fly the supplies to Baton Rouge. From there, they’ll be picked up by local charities and dispersed to those in need;
  • The folks at Bungie Studios, a Microsoft subsidiary that developed the Halo games for the Xbox, used the Web to sell more than $100,000 Fight the Flood” charity T-shirts online. The proceeds will go to the Red Cross, as will royalties earned from other Bungie Store products sold in September.

In addition, three of Microsoft’s Across America trucks, fully equipped with communications systems and advanced technology, are on their way to Red Cross relief operation centers in the Gulf Region to provide vital coordination capabilities.

Groove is being used by the Red Cross and the Army Corps of Engineers as a collaboration tool to enable communications for multiple partners in the relief effort, and Groove has employees helping on site at the Red Cross.

Our sales force is letting business customers affected by the hurricane know that we’re waiving software licensing fees for up to six months, and making premier support consultants available to help them get their IT systems back up and running.

The speed of these response efforts has been just incredible. I want to acknowledge Ron Markezich, our CIO; Jennifer Heard, GM of the South Central District, as well as Cathy MacCaul, Linda Testa and the Community Affairs team, for coordinating our efforts to support relief organizations, government agencies, educational institutions and customers.

I’m very proud of my company right now.