Industry Companies React, Prepare To Recover After Hurricane Florence
Hurricane Florence made landfall on the North Carolina coast late last week causing an estimated $17 to $22 billion in lost economic output and property damage, and those costs could rise in the coming weeks making the storm one of the top 10 costliest in U.S. history.
Industry companies across the Carolinas temporarily interrupted operations last week in preparation for the storm. Among them was Bridgeport, Connecticut-based Prime Line, which has a facility in South Carolina. The company had halted its 24-hour rush service but resumed it today with the first shipments going out on Wednesday.
Tim O’Boyle, president of JournalBooks/Timeplanner Calendars (PPAI 110769) in Charlotte, North Carolina, reports that although several team members experienced minor flooding and power outages at their homes, all are all safe and unharmed. The facility was not affected and is fully operational. “We are very fortunate the brunt of this storm skirted us,” he says, “but many of the surrounding counties and parts of North Carolina and South Carolina were devastated, and our neighbors have suffered great losses.”
Joe Ausband, principal of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina distributor Identify Yourself, was on his way to a trade show in Arizona and made it as far as Charlotte before changing his mind and returning home to prepare for the storm. He closed the business for three days to give employees time to get their homes ready and allow time to secure his facility and move all computers and critical equipment off the floor. “Being on a sandbar has its advantages,” he says, “but this storm made us very nervous and we are so thankful that Florence spared us. We are praying and gathering supplies for our friends in southeastern North Carolina and wish them a speedy recovery.”
Renee Jones, MAS+, CEO of distributor A Creative Touch, Inc., lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, where the storm was predicted to make landfall. She evacuated ahead of the storm and has not yet returned home because the roads are impassable, electricity is out, there is a dust-to- dawn curfew, stores are closed, and more flooding is expected. Jones knows that her office did not sustain any damage, but a tree fell on her house and is now in her driveway. “I am doing the best I can to work remotely and deal with any orders,” she says. She’s lived in Wilmington for about 15 years, so hurricane preparation has always been part of her plan. Still, she thought she’d be back to work by now and is most concerned about shipments of orders that cannot be delivered. “I’m personally trying to do business as normal—but it is difficult.”
Daniel Jenne, southeast regional sales manager at Hauppauge, New York-based supplier Tekweld, lives in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, just south of Myrtle Beach. He says his region received heavy rain and isolated tornadoes following landfall, but not the catastrophic weather that was anticipated. However, his neighbors to the north along the North Carolina coast and areas inland such as Lumberton and Fayetteville, weren't so lucky. “There is mass flooding and wind damage and you can bet there will be some of our industry colleagues out of business for a few days or weeks,” he says. As a result, Jenne, who serves on the board of the Virginia Association of Promotional Products, is asking for donations to the Promotional Products Disaster Recover Fund (PPDRF), a nonprofit foundation organized by PPAI and the Regional Association Council that’s committed to helping promotional products businesses in federally declared disaster areas get back to business. “Please consider donating any amount to PPDRF,” he urges. “You never know—you may need the funds later and we are here to help.”
Industry companies in the designated federally declared disaster areas may apply for funds here.
To contribute to the fund, donate online here or mail checks to 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.
In Summer 2017 the Houston area suffered massive flooding following the impact of Hurricane Harvey. Industry companies and professionals in the area went to work immediately after the storm 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.