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Phillips 66 employee balances work — and duty to aid tornado-hit hometown

When disaster struck his hometown, Travis Preas felt compelled to respond.

A  tornado had devastated the Texas Panhandle town of Perryton in June, killing three, injuring 100 and damaging or destroying over 430 homes and businesses. But Preas, an operations training specialist at the Phillips 66 Borger Refinery, also had company duties.

‘I needed to do more’

“I was torn between my responsibilities at the refinery but also the call to serve my community,” said Preas, who was a close friend with one of the victims. “My heart screamed that I couldn’t sit idle and needed to do more.”

Preas took time off from work and quickly assumed co-leadership of the Perryton volunteer organizations active in disaster group, working long hours to coordinate the activities of dozens of volunteer agencies. He also assisted in data collection and established processes for distributing funds raised by the local United Way.

He said his 15 years of experience in a variety of roles at Phillips 66 gave him the skills needed to effectively serve his hometown.

“As a community, we moved from an initial reaction of emotion to a more thoughtful and logical response,” said Preas, who was recognized by the American Red Cross for his efforts. “What are the next steps we can take to achieve our goals, stay organized, help others network and make meaningful connections?”

Preas said he met more people during the disaster response than he did in the last 13 years of living in Perryton. After hearing stories from many residents through an interpreter, he now wants learn Spanish.

Commitment to disaster support runs deep 

Phillips 66 also answered the call for help. In addition to operating the neighboring Borger Refinery, the company maintains a midstream office just outside Perryton.

The company donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross toward relief efforts as well as $25,000 to Operation BBQ Relief to hand out meals. Employees delivered food, water, vehicles and trailers and covered shifts of other employees tending to family, friends and neighbors. The Borger Refinery organized a fundraising challenge to support relief efforts. 

Phillips 66 has donated more than $12 million toward disaster relief efforts since 2020, including after Hurricanes Laura and Ida in Louisiana, which struck near Gulf Coast refineries. The company secured hard-to-find items such as generators, carbon monoxide detectors and A/C units to loan to employees. It also offers financial hardship and insurance claims assistance to employees impacted by a disaster.  

Behind these stories, it’s the people like Preas who stand out.

Said Tim Roberts, executive vice president of Midstream and Chemicals, “When it comes to supporting our employees and emergency response and when things get tough, our employees always step up.”