Hurricane Dorian is hurtling toward the southeastern United States, but the residents caught in the path of the hurricane aren’t the only ones bracing for the storm. Home improvement giants Home Depot and Lowe’s have also prepped for the hurricane, with the help of their emergency command centers.
The two largest home improvement retailers in the world have set up command centers to coordinate relief during disasters and ensure that their stores are stocked with the right products to help communities both batten down the hatches and bounce back.
The home improvement business has a complicated tie to natural disasters. On the one hand, inclement weather and dangerous circumstances can put a stop to construction or renovation projects. On the other, people looking to repair their properties in the wake of a disaster will flock to their local home improvement retailers.
“The rebuilding effort will obviously require a fair amount of goods that Home Depot and Lowe’s sell,” Seth Basham, the managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities, previously told Business Insider.
But different types of disasters require different responses, which is where the home improvement retailers’ emergency command centers come in. Business Insider spoke with both Lowe’s and Home Depot about their respective centers.
During disasters, Lowe’s command center swells
A Lowe’s spokesperson told Business Insider that the company has around 140 stores in the path of the storm, and that its distribution facilities in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina are expediting emergency supplies to those locations.
During a disaster, the staff at Lowe’s’ emergency command center swells to about 100 employees, who are tasked with ensuring that all stores are staffed and stocked with critical supplies before, during, and after disasters. This year, Lowe’s’ headquarters prepared for the hurricane season by filling 20,000 buckets with cleanup supplies like gloves, bleach, and trash bags, to be distributed “based on community needs,” according to a spokesperson.
“After hurricanes, specially trained Lowe’s associates voluntarily leave their stores and homes to serve on associate relief teams,” the spokesperson told Business Insider in a statement. “They provide additional customer support and give fellow associates a chance to focus on their families.”
At the moment, around 300 Lowe’s associates are ready to deploy to stores affected by Hurricane Dorian.
“This week, Lowe’s has shipped more than 1,400 truckloads of supplies to the region,” a Lowe’s spokesperson told Business Insider in a statement. “Lowe’s continues to roll in additional supplies by the hour and is moving trucks 24 hours a day, with store night crews receiving truckloads around the clock. We’re continuing to ship product to Florida and sending additional truckloads to coastal markets in Georgia and the Carolinas.”
Home Depot works with Aid organizations to coordinate its response to disasters
Home Depot currently has 150 stores in the storm’s trajectory. Its command center is staffed by 200 employees who work in the company’s supply chains, operations, merchandising, and human resources departments.
“We also have space for our transportation vendors so we can closely partner and make quick decisions,” a Home Depot spokesperson told Business Insider in a statement.
The center ensures that necessary supplies are shipped to affected areas after — and, if possible, before — natural disasters.
“Our focus with an approaching hurricane is to get the right products into our stores and quickly as we can,” a Home Depot spokesperson told Business Insider. “We prioritize the most in-demand items like generators, gas cans, batteries, water and plywood.”
Home Depot has teamed up with operations like American Red Cross, Team Rubicon, Convoy of Hope, Operation Blessing, and All Hands and Hearts to coordinate its efforts. The Home Depot Foundation also previously prepped for hurricane season by prestocking “the warehouses of various nonprofit partners with emergency supplies to ensure they are prepared to activate to impacted communities quickly,” according to a statement.
“Whenever a storm is approaching, our hope is that any damage and impact to communities is minimal, but we’re prepared and ready to respond before and after a storm strikes to support our communities and our associates,” Hector Padilla, president of Home Depot’s southern division, said in a statement.
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