Staving Off the Storm
Lowe's hurricane preparations and prevention strategies paid off during Harvey.
Hurricane Harvey holds the record for rainfall during a single storm. The Category 4 Hurricane, which hit Houston and the Gulf Coast during the summer of 2017, dumped 51 inches in parts of Texas and 27 trillion gallons of water throughout the state.
As the storm was approaching, Lowe’s Emergency Command Center in North Carolina snapped into action to get critically needed supplies to areas that would be impacted.
The Emergency Command Center, which was created in 1989 in the wake of Hurricane Hugo, helps Lowe’s plan and react to ensure that it has the right products and emergency supplies in the right places to support the needs of its customers and communities. “We’re able to identify products most likely to be in high demand as residents get ready for the storm and then recover,” says a representative from Lowe’s.
As Harvey approached, the Emergency Command Center sent thousands of trucks with supplies, such as flashlights, batteries, plywood, trash bags, electrical cords, gas cans, charcoal grills and tarps, to Texas. The company also kept an updated store closings list on its newsroom during the storm but opened stores as quickly as possible to help customers begin cleaning up.
Lowe’s worked with the Texas Department of Transportation, FEMA and Homeland Security to map detours around flooded areas to keep product flow constant to stores before and after the storm.
Most of Lowe’s 90 stores in the impacted area reopened very quickly following Hurricane Harvey. Some stores that were closed began receiving product on August 29 in anticipation of opening in the next few days as waters receded in Houston and evacuation orders were lifted. A Lowe’s store in Aransas Pass, Texas experienced damage, but its team worked around the clock to get the store reopened for customers.
In addition to customers, Lowe’s prioritizes taking care of its own associates when disaster hits. Lowe’s Employee Relief Fund provides support to associates and their immediate family members who have suffered a significant, unforeseen financial hardship. Associates who suffered damage to their homes and property applied for assistance through this fund.
Since the program’s inception in 1999, the Lowe’s Employee Relief Fund has contributed $29 million in assistance to more than 26,000 employees and their immediate family members. Lowe’s matches each contribution dollar-for-dollar.
Lowe’s associates also helped in the recovery. More than 1,000 Lowe’s associates served on storm relief teams. In fact, 140 associates from New Orleans, many affected by Hurricane Katrina, supported the Houston area and served on storm relief teams following Harvey. “These teams left stores in other areas to serve at impacted stores,” said a Lowe’s representative.
While Lowe’s pays these associates for their expenses and labor, they volunteer for the assignment. “They provide additional personnel to help customers recovering from the hurricane and give local associates time to focus on their families and personal needs,” said the Lowe’s representative.
Thirty years after Hurricane Hugo, Lowe’s continues to learn how to help its communities become more resilient. “Each storm is its own training ground because each is different, so we’ve learned to quickly adapt in the aftermath of each storm to the specific needs of the impacted community,” says the Lowe’s representative.
For Lowe’s preparation is not just about being ready as a company, it’s also about helping prepare its customers for future storms.
“We continue to focus on helping build the hurricane awareness of customers through hurricane product endcaps and the in-store product expertise of our associates, many of whom have been through previous storms,” says the Lowe’s representative