Early last week Hurricane Sandy struck communities along the East Coast, impacting the lives of people from Florida to Maine. Thousands of homes and businesses were flooded and many of them totally destroyed with millions of people left without power, heat, gasoline, food and clothing. Many people have perished and countless others are struggling to survive the harsh effects of the aftermath of the storm.
With people struggling to return to normalcy in the storm’s aftermath, we’ve seen nothing but compassion from some of the nation’s biggest companies as they rush to the aid of people in need. And retailers have been a huge part of the response—even while they work to address the impact the storm had on their employees and stores.
Gap Inc. donated $750,000 dollars for food and water and $250,000 in clothing for those most affected. Also heeding the call, Target, Macy’s, Home Depot and Kohl’s have each donated $1 million dollars to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy Relief, and continue to come together to help their neighbors and rebuild communities.
Walmart CEO Bill Simon personally answered an early morning call a few days ago from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and as a result of that call sent five tractor trailers packed with supplies ranging from generators and clothing to cleaning supplies and toys to the most affected areas in New York City and New Jersey. Sears and Kmart are also working together to send more than 100 truckloads of water, batteries and other supplies to those in need.
When it comes to how retailers are staying in tune and in touch with their customers, many companies are sending personalized emails alerting them to information about where to go to get help, updates on shipping schedules, and links to where they can make donations. While businesses themselves are up and running, retailers understand the need to be a part of the bigger effort to rebuild communities, especially communities in need. To show their support many companies have waived shipping fees and are prioritizing to customers in affected areas. Some retailers have even waived membership fees and are offering specific product discounts.
While the recovery process is underway for much of the East Coast, Hurricane Sandy also serves as a call-to-action for retailers to revisit or develop disaster preparedness plans. Our Loss Prevention community has a current list of government resources for the industry to assist with recovery efforts. There are a number of resources available that retailers can utilize to learn more about disaster preparedness and recovery efforts, such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection Business Resumption messaging for how ports will operate, and FEMA’s resource center dedicated to the Hurricane Sandy relief effort. Also, if you’re a retailer that has been affected by the storm and are in need of aid, SBA and FEMA are also offering federal assistance providing loans and other items related to disaster recovery.