Retail News Breaks
Walgreens' hurricane recovery effort is under way
November 1st, 2012
DEERFIELD, Ill. – The Hurricane Sandy recovery effort has begun at Walgreen Co., which reported that it's continuing to reopen stores impacted by the devastating storm.
The nation's largest drug chain said that about 750 stores were closed at the height of the hurricane on Monday night, but that number had fallen to 530 as of noon Tuesday, with more locations reopening by the hour.
About 1,400 Walgreens stores are in the area hit by the storm, according to the company. The retailer said that stores still closed are primarily due to evacuations, power outages and staff transportation issues.
Approximately 300 stores were without power as of midday Tuesday. Ten stores sustained light to moderate damage, but that figure may rise as access is gained to more locations for assessing any damage, the company noted.
Walgreens reported that it expects closed stores to resume normal hours most rapidly in Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. However, the company said, more severe infrastructure issues may cause longer delays in West Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York City.
Ahead of storm, more than 180 electric generators were stationed for deployment based on need and expected length of power outage, according to Walgreens, which added that a number of stores have their own generating capacity permanently on location.
Supplies of dry ice were also obtained in advance to ensure proper refrigeration of medications that need it, the company said. Late last week, the retailer started delivering extra merchandise to locations in the path of the storm. Items most in demand included perishable and nonperishable food items, bottled water, flashlights, batteries and magazines.
Walgreens said Hurricane Sandy also disrupted some supply facilities. A distribution center at Windsor, Conn., was without electric utility power for several hours and relied on emergency generators to continue partial operation. Full power was restored Tuesday morning, and the facility expected to resume normal operation later in the day.
Another distribution center in Bethlehem, Pa., had lost power as well, while a smaller distribution facility in Nazareth, Pa., experienced roof damage and flooding. Walgreens said that in areas where distribution centers were affected by the hurricane, it can shift to alternate centers to supply medications, water and other essentials, and third-party suppliers also can fill gaps in distribution.
A Maspeth, N.Y., distribution facility that serves Duane Reade stores has full power and is working to assist staff trying to get to work in the absence of mass transit service, according to Walgreens. Road and bridge closures are causing problems for delivery trucks in the New York metropolitan area, the company said.
Walgreens said it's communicating with staff via the company intranet, its security operations center, conference calls and individual calls. No employees have reported injuries, but many experienced personal property damage from flooding and other weather-related issues, the company said.
The retailer added that it's in contact with the American Red Cross to offer aid to first responders and local communities hit by the storm, and the company expects to field requests in the coming days from relief agencies, charitable organizations and emergency management services.
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