Walmart Braces for Storm, Offers Help for Associates
The world’s largest retailer is bracing for Sandy’s destruction with 900+ Walmart stores in the path of the storm.
The company has already closed several stores along the Atlantic coast. An “emergency operations center” has been set up at the Walmart Home Office where a team is monitoring the storm.
“Making sure that we are closing down and evacuating buildings that need to be and that we keep the clubs and stores open that we need to for those customers that still have needs,” said Lucas McDonald, emergency operations manager.
The center in Bentonville has about 70 employees coordinating response efforts, as well meteorologists who work closely with the National Weather Service.
“We are not forecasting, but we are taking that forecast and saying “This is what it means to our associates and our operators,’” McDonald said.
There is a separate center where associates call in looking for guidance and answers.
They offer help in English and Spanish.
“We’re really about making sure they are prepping before, during and after the storm,” said Elizabeth Carr, associate manager of the support center.
The center offers financial assistance for associates who evacuate their homes.
We give them funding to help with the needs of a hotel room, food and different things like that, so that if those associates are being displaced from their homes, we’re assuring that they are being helped,” Carr said.
No matter what kind natural disaster hits, the emergency operations center is ready.
“In this case it’s a hurricane, but whether it’s an earthquake or whatever, this is where we bring all the support in one spot to make sure we are meeting those needs pretty quickly,” McDonald said.
Officials said about 900 of Walmart stores, including Sam’s Clubs, could experience tropical storm force winds with 25 to 50 feeling the hurricane’s full force. The company is in contact with National Guard and emergency responders to provide help where it’s needed.