Stepping Up After Hurricane Harvey

Huge hurricane between Florida and Cuba. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

Retailers are an integral part of our communities, so when a natural disaster hits, they have a unique position to provide immediate relief by donating the goods and services they provide each and every day. Behind every local business is a team of people who live and work in the community and have a strong feeling of obligation to help in any way they can.

For this very reason, many retailers across Texas and the Gulf Coast are stepping up to give back following the terrible destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey. Initial estimates put the total damage, lost wages, and disrupted business as high as $75 billion — which could be the most expensive natural disaster in the history of the United States. Together as an industry, retail has the power to make a significant impact in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

In addition to donations, retailers also feel a sense of responsibility to be there for the public in times of need. This means staying open until dangerous weather is imminent and reopening as soon as possible. Often times, stores rely on the staffing industry when hurricanes and other weather related events disrupt operations. Many businesses will try to schedule extra staff to assist customers, keep checkout lines manageable, and keep shelves stocked with necessities such as home repair supplies and basic food, clothing, and toiletries.

Retailers Continue to Help Houston

Heavy rainfall continues throughout the region and floodwaters in many areas have yet to recede, displacing thousands of people unable to return to their homes. As shelters fill up, local retailers are jumping to help. One business owner in Houston saw an opportunity to transform his two furniture stores into temporary shelters. Jim McIngvale, known locally as “Mattress Mack,” invited hundreds into his stores and deployed trucks to find others in need of shelter and food.

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Bigger names like Home Depot and Bass Pro Shops are contributing both monetary and in-kind donations to help with the relief efforts. Home Depot sent truckloads of supplies to its Texas stores for home repairs, while Bass Pro Shops donated over 80 boats needed to transport first responders, volunteers, and survivors around flooded areas.

Walmart’s “emergency operations center” in Bentonville, Ark., sent more than 1,000 emergency trucks to the Houston area as the hurricane hit. The company also shipped extra supplies to local stores where residents are seeking shelter.

There have been some mishaps, but for the most part the retail industry is doing its part to give back. As residents steadily return to their routines and businesses re-open, retailers will need to plan accordingly to ensure a stress-free store experience. The recovery process will be long and arduous, but stores are pledging to reopen as soon as possible so that Houston can start to rebuild.

Now, all eyes are on Irma, currently a category five hurricane heading towards Florida. We’re watching to see how this storm will challenge the industry yet again.

MORE: Enhancing the Back-to-School Shopping Experience with Staffing Adjustments

Stefan Midford

Stefan Midford
Stefan Midford is president and CEO of Natural Insight and has more than 30 years of experience in information technology, operations and workforce management.

Stefan Midford
Stefan Midford is president and CEO of Natural Insight and has more than 30 years of experience in information technology, operations and workforce management.

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