Several organizations have been helping people in Hurricane Florence’s path prepare for the storm—and netting positive PR in the process.
U-Haul recently announced that it’s providing 30 days of free storage at 94 locations across North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. The company is also offering its U-Box containers for people to store their belongings inside the storage lockers.
“People are preparing to leave their homes, creating an immediate need for secure locations where evacuees can bring the possessions they wish to protect,” said Doug Weston, U-Haul Company of Western North Carolina president. “As a member of these communities, we are in a position to help by providing this service to our friends who are in harm’s way.”
U-Haul also listed the locations offering the services, along with their addresses, phone numbers and website information, for people to access if they need help.
“Hurricane Florence is rapidly approaching the coastline and we wanted to preemptively offer disaster relief for those who stand to be impacted by the storm,” [U-Haul’s company of costal South Carolina president Elijah Mack] said in a statement to HuffPost. “With more than 300 miles of coastline in the path of the storm, it’s important for [companies] like U-Haul to do what they can.”
Mack said U-Haul has been inspecting its facilities over the last week to make sure they are “clean, dry and secure.”
Other companies are jumping on the chance to offer aid to those in need.
Airbnb is helping its hosts provide free lodging for those who must evacuate, and Lowe’s has a team identifying and stocking the items that people require to prepare for and recover from the hurricane.
Airbnb has activated its “Open Homes” program, which calls on hosts to offer free accommodations to those escaping the storm. Hosts in the Carolinas and Georgia have already begun offering free housing to aid workers and evacuees. Those in need of emergency housing can find an Airbnb listing here.
Lowe’s has so far closed 15 stores, most of them on the North Carolina coast, according to a company spokeswoman. While the Mooresville, North Carolina-based retailer’s corporate headquarters is not in Florence’s path, many of its stores and customers are.
The home improvement chain activated its Emergency Command Center over the weekend in preparation for Florence, the spokeswoman says. The Center, staffed by roughly two-dozen employees, monitors the storm and communicates with stores to find out what products customers need for preparation and recovery efforts. Earlier in the week, customers were looking for prep products including bottled water, generators and plywood, but now Lowe’s is stocking “recovery” products like bleach, gloves, buckets, storage totes, mops and brooms.
Anheuser-Busch announced this week that its Fort Collins, Colorado, brewery stopped beer production and is now canning water for those affected by Hurricane Florence. The brewery joins the Cartersville, Georgia, location in the company’s relief efforts.
The facility, 2351 Busch Drive, instead launched its new emergency canned water production program that was promised during a Super Bowl commercial in February. The Budweiser parent company partners with the Red Cross nationally to provide clean drinking water for disaster relief areas.
“We will be there when America needs us,” said Anheuser-Busch CEO Michel Doukeris, while toasting the brewery’s new capabilities at a news conference. “We have the ability to reach all of the communities in need.”
Several organizations in the travel industry, specifically hotels and airlines, are removing fees and loosening rules to help those affected.
“We are seeing a major increase and demand and doing our best to accommodate guests and employees that are being impacted along the coast,” Maggie Giddens, managing director of external at G6 Hospitality, the parent company of Motel 6, said Tuesday. “Right now, we are already expecting limited availability in the Carolinas after a mandatory evacuation was signaled in areas of South Carolina where we have multiple locations.”
Some hotels are also offering special rates. Visit Abingdon in Virginia is posting discounts on its Twitter account. Bristol Virginia/Tennessee is also offering assistance.
Other hotels, including InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International and Hyatt, are waiving cancellation fees and relaxing pet policies—or urging the hotels within areas affected by the hurricane do so.
While the storm is not expected to make landfall until the end of the week, Delta, United, and Southwest have already said they will waive change fees or fare differences, but it’s American Airlines that is expecting the biggest hit, as the Charlotte Douglas Airport, directly in Florence’s expected path, is the airline’s second-largest hub.
So far, American Airlines flights have not been canceled due to the storm, but it is bracing for the worst and letting travelers potentially affected by the storm change their travel dates without paying change fees, normally around $200 plus a difference in fare, as per CNBC. American Airlines is also letting travelers in the Caribbean change tickets ahead of Tropical Storm Isaac.
What do you think of these CSR efforts and crisis responses, PR Daily readers?