How should big box chain retailers deal with disaster response?
With a seemingly never-ending series of hurricanes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes and other natural disasters, federal authorities can quickly become overwhelmed. Reactions to Hurricane Ida again show how large retailers often help fill the void.
Home Depot engaged more than 250 associates from merchandising, operations and supply chain teams to move truckloads of generators, water, tarps, batteries and flashlights to stores in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Ahead of disaster season, the Home Depot Foundation and nonprofit partners strategically positioned emergency supplies in warehouses nationwide for quick deployment to disaster-prone areas. The Home Depot Foundation committed nearly $5 million to disaster response in 2021.
The Homer Fund, Home Depot’s employee assistance program, processes emergency grants for associates affected by Hurricane Ida. In 2020, the fund gave over $16 million to associates.
Lowe’s has committed more than $2 million to help those impacted by Hurricane Ida and is hosting “bucket brigade” events to distribute free cleanup supplies to residents. Said Marvin Ellison, Lowe’s chairman and CEO, in a statement, “In addition, we are assisting our associates in the hurricane’s path by helping with evacuation expenses, deploying emergency response teams and doubling our company match through our Employee Relief Fund.”
Walmart has created a “Hurricane Ida Facility Status” section on its news page that assesses the status of its facilities for associates and customers, including a map providing real-time updates on store closings. Since 2016, Walmart, Sam’s Club and the Walmart Foundation have provided more than $108 million for disaster preparedness, response and relief efforts supporting communities around the globe.
Disaster relief is projected to be a more regular need due to climate change.
According to a report by reinsurance company Munich Re that came out in January, a record number of hurricanes, wildfires and floods exacerbated by climate change caused insured losses of $210 billion last year. Damages totaled $95 billion in the U.S. — nearly double losses in 2019 — due to a record number of Atlantic hurricanes and the largest wildfires on record in California amid the hottest year globally on record.
- The Home Depot Activates Disaster Response Team As Hurricane Ida Approaches – Home Depot
- Lowe’s And Associates Prepare To Step Up After Hurricane Ida – Lowe’s
- Hurricane Ida Facility Status – Walmart
- Serving communities – Walmart
- Disaster Preparedness & Response – Target
- Ida forces Walmart to close over 100 locations in storm’s path – Fox Business
- Is there a ‘right way’ for retailers to help in times of disaster? – RetailWire
- Record hurricane season and major wildfires – The natural disaster figures for 2020 – Target blog
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What should be the first, second and third priorities in how big box retailers respond to natural disasters? Will retailers be able to keep up with the escalating rate of disasters?