Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday at almost Category Five strength, with winds gusting to 155 mph and storm surges of up to 14 feet, making it one of the strongest landfalls the U.S. has ever seen. Although it has weakened since coming ashore, the storm is expected to remain at tropical storm strength as it moves through Georgia and the Carolinas. Millions of Americans and hundreds of promotional products businesses in its path have been affected by wind damage, flooding and power outages.

Speaking to PPB Newslink before the storm made landfall, Tom Perrin with American Solutions for Business in Tallahassee, Florida, noted, “We’re waiting on landfall and the severity of the storm surge and wind. Downed trees and power outages will be the major issues.”

Logistics companies are expecting service delays and disruptions in affected areas. FedEx and UPS have both posted alerts warning that shipments to and from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina may be impacted by Hurricane Michael and its effects.

News reports have made clear the devastation of the hurricane on the Florida Panhandle, and the its impact on the communities on its inland path will become more clear in the days ahead. Business is as normal at supplier Fresh Beginnings in Valdosta, Georgia, which reported heavy rain but no real disruptions to their operations, while Prime Line’s South Carolina facility, which took several precautions last month as Hurricane Florence approached, is operating normally as well.

Industry businesses that are evacuating, or are experiencing delays or disruptions due to the hurricane, can share their status with PPAI through the Association’s Emergency Closures Form. The form helps businesses in the storm’s path share updates on their situation and inform customers of alternate ways to contact them or check orders during or after the hurricane. To see the list of businesses that have reported a delay or closure, click here.

If the impact of Hurricane Michael results in a federal disaster declaration, PPAI, in conjunction with the Regional Association Council (RAC), will offer disaster relief to assist promotional products industry members seriously affected in the form of the Promotional Products Disaster Recovery Foundation (PPDRF) Business Recovery Fund. To apply for funds, please click here.

Financial contributions to support the program are being collected now and should be directed to the Promotional Products Business Recovery Fund, care of PPAI RAC, 3125 Skyway Circle North, Irving, Texas 75038. This fund is a 501(c)(3) organization and all contributions will be tax deductible. A tax-deductible receipt will be mailed to each donor. Or, donate online here.

Unfortunately, this is not the first hurricane that industry professionals and coastal communities across the U.S. have had to recover from, and a body of experience and expertise has grown as a result. When the Houston area suffered massive flooding following the impact of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, industry companies and professionals in the area went to work immediately afterwards to help their communities recover. Read some of the critical lessons industry pro and storm clean-up volunteer Kim Reinecker learned during the massive process.