August 26, 2011 by USA Post
They have deployed hundreds of trucks carrying everything from wood to Pop-Tarts to stores in the path of the storm. All this is possible because these traders have become a hurricane preparation of science – that government agencies have begun to adopt emergency.
Hurricane Center Home Depot Command in Atlanta, for example, about 100 partners have been trying to anticipate how their stores Irene affect east coast from the Carolinas to New York.
At times like this, the Command Center is a lot like mission control at NASA during the shuttle launch, says Russ Householder, the emergency response company captain.
“We have every major news on the big screens up front,” he says. “We are also monitoring our store sales, so you can better stay in tune with what’s happening in our stores and are also connected live one-on-one with district managers in the affected areas.”
District managers have focused on a list of items for sale, homeowner, he says, including generators, chainsaws, water and tarps.
Householder says that supplies are arriving at stores due to a process that began months ago, at the beginning of hurricane season.
“We take storm products, both before and after the strike of the products, the containers are on stage and have in our distribution centers, really ready for a driver to get out and collect and bring to our stores,” says.
The system has a stress test a few days ago, when Irene struck Puerto Rico, causing widespread blackouts. Householder says that Home Depot stores came to the emergency generators.
“All the shops open until the day after the storm came through,” he says. “We opened on time and we were there, ready and waiting for our customers.”
Walmart stores in Puerto Rico also reopened quickly after going through Irene.
Mark Cooper is director of Wal-Mart emergency management. Prior to his current job, he was the head of emergency management for the state of Louisiana. However, in 2005, was an emergency worker from Los Angeles who was sent to New Orleans as a first responder after Hurricane Katrina.
“We were there a week after the levees broke, and actually it was a Walmart I went to get supplies for me after arriving in Louisiana,” says Cooper.
It was one of the few shops still operating, he says.
Walmart is able to anticipate increases in demand in emergency situations by using a large historical database of sales of each store, as well as sophisticated forecasting techniques, says Cooper.
He says that with Irene on the road, the system helps to assign things like batteries, ready to eat foods and cleaning supplies to areas in the path of the storm.
Wal-Mart also has the advantage of having a staff meteorologist, says Cooper.
“When forecasts go, it’s good to have around the house that you can evaluate that information to provide real-time information to our associates, not only here at headquarters, but someone in the field,” he says.
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