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Still Rebuilding, Seven Years After Katrina
St Bernard Project

I had originally written a story about post-Katrina New Orleans to be posted on the anniversary of the storm. But, like everyone from the Crescent City, my plans were delayed by Isaac. Now that the most recent storm has passed, I think it is even more apropos to focus on people who refuse to let their city wash away.

I had never heard of the St. Bernard Project (SBP) before the day I arrived at a home full of UPSers hanging drywall and rolling paint. It was Global Volunteer Month five years after hurricane Katrina, and my first time back to New Orleans since the devastation. I remember how shocked I was to see neighborhoods still abandoned and houses still marked with spray paint from the search and rescue teams.

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UPSers Provide On-Demand Relief in Wake of Hurricane Isaac
Ray Waguespack, UPS LAT Coordinator, supports restoration operations in Gulf Coast

Tuesday night, August 28, exactly seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans and battered a broad swath of the Gulf Coast, Hurricane Isaac crawled ashore at roughly the same spot.

Ray Waguespack, UPS Logistics Action Team coordinator in Louisiana, began serious emergency management preparations as soon as Isaac rounded the Florida Keys as a tropical storm and headed north, gathering strength over warm Gulf of Mexico waters.

Coordinating with authorities, Ray oversaw preparatory efforts, he says, by “a whole handful of UPS drivers,” along with Tulane University volunteers for the American Red Cross of Southeast Louisiana, UPS Freight personnel, and other volunteers.

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On the Road (Literally) to the NCAA Final Four

Around mid-March every year, a chronic and widespread delirium spreads across the U.S.that often results in a substantial loss of productivity in the workplace – or so I’ve heard. The cause, of course, is the NCAA basketball tournament, which gets underway March 13.

The championship series will be especially exciting for me this year because UPS is playing a very important behind-the-scenes role in delivering the tournament to college basketball fans.

On March 16, the court flooring that will be used in the 2012 NCAA Final Four will begin a seven-city tour via UPS Freight.  The court, which was manufactured by Connor Sport Court, will stop at select college campuses and UPS facilities to generate excitement about the tournament before finally making its way to the Superdome in New Orleans on March 23, just in time for the national semifinals.

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Heisman Trophy Finalist Tyrann Mathieu Raised on UPS Values

It’s possible that one of the most famous 19-year-old college football players learned his best moves from his dad.

Just watch UPS driver Tyrone Mathieu, age 44, manuever a package car through the tricky streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans. And deliver a package with a bright smile, much the way his celebrated son, Tyrann, delivers the football to a ref when crossing the goal line after one of his astonishing punt returns.

Tyrone has run packages for UPS in New Orleans for 20 years. His son Tyrann, aka The Honey Badger, has run down receivers and outrun punt coverage the past two years for the Louisiana State University Bayou Bengals, the No. 1-ranked college football team in the nation. Tyrann has proven so talented as a cornerback and punt return specialist that he’s a finalist for the 2011 Heisman Trophy, awarded yearly to the best player in college football. This year’s ceremonies take place Saturday evening in New York  City.

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Haydel’s Bakery and UPS Deliver Traditional Mardi Gras Sweets to a Waiting World

Haydel’s BakeryThere’s an orchestrated beauty to the chaos that is Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Colorful beads rain down from second-story balconies, blaring brass bands float down Bourbon Street and masses of body-painted, parade-goers cheer and dance throughout the French Quarter.

A year’s worth of celebration is packed into the long weekend leading up to “Fat Tuesday,” the final day before Lent begins. The Haydel family knows the energy of that intense pace well. In the two months before Fat Tuesday, Haydel’s Bakery ships 60,000 freshly baked and sweetly iced Mardi Gras “king cakes” all over the world. It’s the business’s greatest moneymaker, but distributing its delicious product is no piece of cake.

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Convention Center Selects The UPS Store as its Logistics Provider

Earlier this month, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center celebrated the grand opening of its new, full-service The UPS Store location, becoming the first public entity in the country to own a franchise to operate a business center. As the fifth largest convention facility in the U.S., the convention center has had $49 billion in economic impact over its 25-year history.

The UPS Store will provide show management, attendees and exhibitors a full range of services under a nationally recognized brand that will be seamlessly integrated with the other services offered by the convention center.

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Hope, Help, Homes: Restoring St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana

UPS Global Volunteer Month five years after Katrina

Thanksgiving has always been a day for me to reflect on the good fortune in my life. I am often reminded on this holiday that the things I cherish the most are often those I did not seek or expect.

As we drove through the neighborhoods of New Orleans on the way to St. Bernard Parish last month, I was in awe of the resilience of the people in the city. Recovering from disaster requires resources like tools or money; but without belief, determination, or spirit most would find little success.

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Five Years Later – Remembering My Time in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina

Delayed due to Hurricane KatrinaWhen Katrina hit, like many people, I was deeply affected by what was going on there. Although I live in Atlanta and work at the UPS Corporate office, I felt like I needed to do something. So when I received an e-mail asking for volunteers to reopen the New Orleans package facility, I jumped at the opportunity. I left the day after Thanksgiving, about two months after the storm.

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Beyond Katrina: Saluting The Spirit of UPS People

In early October of 2005, I went to New Orleans, just five weeks after Hurricane Katrina, to document the stories of the UPSers who were working so hard to get their lives and UPS’s business up and running again. I witnessed many images that will stick with me….the mountainous piles of debris on every corner….the black hearses parked in a grassy median (apparently in an attempt to avoid the flooding), all lined up and pointing directly to the Superdome and its partially destroyed roof. And the images of UPSers faces … people hurting, struggling, but fighting to regain their lives. In the six days I spent in New Orleans, I learned a great deal about our company and our people. I hope the video that resulted from my trip, Beyond Katrina: Saluting The Spirit of UPS People, adequately captured the heart and soul of what makes UPS people great.

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Trip to New Orleans was Not so “Easy” – UPS Volunteers Help Move a Family Home

The UPS 2010 United Way campaign began earlier this month. I traveled to New Orleans this past weekend to support a special United Way volunteer event —  kicking off the New Orleans area campaign and helping a very special family return home.  

This year’s campaign is pretty exciting; within days UPS will reach $1 billion in contributions during a 28-year partnership with United Way. But, in true UPS fashion, the giving doesn’t stop with funding. UPS employees across the country volunteered 1.2 million hours in 2009 and are on track to do more of the same this year.

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