#TeamBayer joins forces: “We can make it together”
Devastating floods in Germany and parts of the Netherlands and Belgium have severely affected many people – including colleagues at Bayer. Volunteers describe devastating and dramatic conditions, but also an extraordinary wave of support and solidarity. We talked to some of them.
Jorg Luft has seen a lot of things. Since 1982, he has worked at Bayer – 38 years at the production site in Huerth-Knapsack, only a few kilometers from Erftstadt, a German town southwest of Cologne where he lives in the Kierdorf neighborhood with his family. But the events of the past few days have left their mark, even on him. “I have employees who have lost all their belongings, cars have been swept away, houses have become uninhabitable. I cannot even put into words what happened here.” Like many other Bayer employees, Luft was directly affected by the floods – even though the water only entered his basement. And he is one of uncountable #TeamBayer volunteers who have rolled up their sleeves and started to remove all the damage from the disaster and to support others.
This huge wave of support for the affected areas has also left Jorg Luft speechless. “It is amazing to see how people are sticking together, in our neighborhood and here at the site. Even a colleague from Blessem who lost everything he had himself offered help. It’s incredible.”
Erftstadt-Blessem is one of the communities most severely affected by the flood. The situation is still critical. Given that it’s only about 13 kilometers away from the Knapsack production site. Bayer’s crop protection production facilities got off lightly. “But the infrastructure including rails and approach roads around the site has been damaged, significantly affecting our supply with raw materials,” explains Frank Zurmuehlen, Head of the Bayer sites in Knapsack and Frankfurt. The production line PSM2 had to be stopped but is now back in operation, and the site manager is confident, that the damage will be repaired quickly. Also, the Bayer plant in Wuppertal has been affected by the flood, however, the situation has eased significantly.
Volunteers in all affected areas
Stories like these currently provide hope and confidence to people who are deeply in need and desperate. Daniela Bachmann, Global Manager Employee Engagement at Bayer, and Janine Becker from HR Solutions/Retirement & Consulting, have helped in Leverkusen-Opladen, for example, by pumping water out of basements, carrying away destroyed furniture and simply listening. In other affected areas such as Hagen, Wuppertal, Euskirchen, Stolberg or in the severely hit Ahr valley, many employees offered their help. Where possible, Bayer provides those volunteers with protective equipment like gloves or masks, for example at the site in Bergkamen.
“I was really shocked to see what it looked like in Opladen three days after the flooding,” recalls Daniela Bachmann. She lives there herself but was luckier than the family of four whose house she helped clean. “The willingness to help is really overwhelming. It’s important to support each other for the time to come, as the real scale of the disaster only becomes visible now.”
Nils Killat, HR Senior Specialist in the Global Data Foundation Team, was very fortunate not to be affected himself. Since Thursday, he has lent a hand in Leverkusen-Opladen wherever possible: “When I heard all the sirens from the emergency vehicles, it was impossible for me to continue simply working at home.” He not only helped at many private households in and around Leverkusen, but also supported clean-up efforts in childcare centers, retirement homes, youth centers and other locations together with friends, family and neighbors. “Good organization is important right now to make sure that the many volunteers are available in the right number and with the required equipment at the place where they are needed,” he stresses. Together with other volunteers, they coordinate themselves via chat groups to source important equipment such as power generators and construction dryers from all over Germany.
“From sheer desperation to maximum gratefulness”
Svenja Huber has had similar experiences. She’s the captain of the Bayer 04 national league handball team, which turned its team event in Leverkusen into a relief campaign at short notice. Just like the handball players, many other Bayer sports teams are getting involved, for instance by offering emergency shelter. “What we’ve experienced in Leverkusen ranges from sheer desperation to maximum gratefulness. We’ve helped people in despair carrying what’s left of their belongings out of their yards and houses. But we were also able to experience that you can achieve a lot if you stand together. We are grateful as #TeamBayer to be able to contribute.”
Bayer donates 600,000 euros for flood victims
After the flood disaster in Germany, Bayer donates 600,000 euros as emergency aid for the victims. The funds are intended for the German Red Cross (DRK) and two foundations in Leverkusen and Wuppertal.
In addition, together with the German Red Cross, Bayer has launched a program for employees in which the company matches donations of up to 100,000 euros.
"As a company that has always been based in western Germany, we feel responsible and want to help," says Dr. Monika Lessl, Vice President Corporate Research & Development and Social Innovation and Director of the Bayer Foundation.