Initial reports from chain drug retailers with stores in the path of Hurricane Irene indicate relatively modest damage.

Hurricane Irene, chain drug retailers, CVS/pharmacy, Walgreens, Kerr Drug, Rite Aid, Kinney Drugs, Jim Wuest, CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, American Red Cross, Diane Eliezer, hurricane, drug stores, pharmacy, John Schultz

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Inside This Issue - News

Storm does little damage to chains

September 12th, 2011

NEW YORK – Initial reports from chain drug retailers with stores in the path of Hurricane Irene indicate relatively modest damage.

Cost estimates were unavailable at presstime.

At CVS/pharmacy, the tally was five drug stores shuttered, including three in New Jersey, which saw widespread flooding for several days after Irene unleashed her wrath. Extensive flooding also forced Walgreen Co. to close a store in that state.

A CVS spokesman said significant water damage also was responsible for the “indefinite closing” of two CVS/pharmacy stores, in Margaretville, N.Y., and West Lebanon, N.H.
“The Margaretville store had to be torn down because of structural damage. We are setting up alternate locations in these towns in order to continue taking care of the pharmacy needs of local customers,” the CVS spokesman added.

The CVS Caremark Charitable Trust and CVS/pharmacy have provided more than $100,000 in disaster relief to communities impacted by the hurricane through a $75,000 donation to the American Red Cross to support relief efforts and $30,000 in water, ice and other supplies distributed directly to the affected areas.

At Walgreens, a spokeswoman said all employees had been accounted for and that although many had damage to their homes or cars, there were no serious injuries.

“In the wake of the storm, dozens of stores without power remained open to serve customers with employees using note pads and calculators [to assist customers],” she explained, adding that Walgreens was working with local shelters in New Jersey and Virginia to supply water, food, sanitizers, and hygiene and first aid needs.

At Rite Aid Corp., some stores were temporarily closed, mostly because of power outages or locally mandated evacuations.

“Our teams worked hard to reopen stores and resume serving customers as quickly as possible,” spokeswoman Ashley Flower said. A “handful” of stores operated on generators where power had not been restored. She said reports indicated minimal store damage.

“We’re hearing stories of how our associates banded together to serve their communities in their time of need by offering limited and concierge services when power was out, helping to fill emergency prescriptions and even setting up roadside tables with merchandise customers needed,” she added.

When the hurricane struck North Carolina, most Kerr Drug stores east of I-95 were closed on the Sunday of the storm, either because of curfews or impassable roads.

“At most, we probably had 13 or 14 stores closed or open on limited hours. In one case [Nashville, N.C.] we were the only retailer open,” director of marketing Diane Eliezer said.

“Most were back in business by Monday,” she noted. “Our associates in coastal areas have weathered many hurricanes and are very professional during these crises.”

Jim Wuest, vice president of marketing at Kinney Drugs, which operates stores in northern New York and Vermont, a handful of units — mostly in Vermont — experienced minor flood damage and lost power.