Home Depot and Lowe’s are mobilizing relief efforts to help Florida employees and customers affected by Hurricane Idalia.
The home improvement retailers’ plans include having employees from other areas of the state handle store operations and ensuring hurricane-related products are in stock and distributed into the community.
Both retailers told FOX Business that they are in the process of ensuring their employees are safe and have the supplies they need to recover.
Idalia made landfall early Wednesday morning in Florida’s Big Bend region as a Category 3 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center. It caused a dangerous storm surge along the Gulf coast of the Sunshine State with damaging winds moving inland.
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The Home Depot Foundation, alongside Team Depot, Home Depot’s associate volunteer force, has long supported communities with natural disaster preparedness as well as short- and long-term recovery efforts in the wake of a storm.
Lowe’s also has an emergency command center that prepares and responds to natural disasters. Taylor Evans, the director of Lowe’s command center operations, said the team has been preparing for hurricane season since November.
Evans said response teams from other areas of Florida will start to come in Thursday to help run the stores “while the associates that may be impacted can spend time with their family and can handle things in their own house.”
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Evans said the company plans to reopen its stores when it is safe for associates and customers to be out on the road, which is “very fluid by location.”
After ensuring employees are safe, Lowe’s said it will turn its attention to ensuring that there are enough storm-related products like generators and clean-up supplies stocked at stores.
“Every market is different. We’re making sure we’ve got the right products in the right places based on the impacts that they’re receiving. Do we need wind-related support? Do we need flood-related support?” he said.
To help, the company has merchandising associates already out in the field identifying what products are needed most in certain areas.
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Home Depot spokesperson Beth Marlowe said the company began stocking hurricane-related products in its “distribution centers months ahead of hurricane season.”
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Home Depot also opened a command center so its “merchandise and operations teams can be in constant contact with our stores and suppliers on the Gulf Coast and the other areas impacted by the storm,” according to Marlowe.
Numerous people from its merchandising, operations and supply chain teams are responsible for moving truckloads of products to stores.
As of Wednesday, more than 150 trucks have been sent to the area with emergency relief products, including generators, water, tarps, plywood, batteries and flashlights, Marlowe added.
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The companies are also leveraging nonprofit partners and associate volunteers to help deliver more supplies to families.
For instance, Lowe’s said it will deploy its bucket brigade in the coming days. Following the aftermath of a natural disaster, store associates will pass out buckets filled with essential storm relief supplies such as scrub brushes, bleach, work gloves and water to community members. The buckets are usually prepared ahead of time, so they can be deployed immediately after a storm hits.
Meanwhile, the Home Depot Foundation plans to work with its national nonprofit partners including Team Rubicon, World Central Kitchen, Convoy of Hope, Operation Blessing and the American Red Cross to provide resources and emergency supplies where they are needed, according to Marlowe.
Teams are staged nearby in both Florida and Georgia, and will move in to help when it has been deemed safe, she added.