Retailers Brace for Hurricane Florence

Love’s Travel Stops and other stores have ordered extra food and fuel in order to better serve communities in the path of the storm.
September 13, 2018

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – All eyes are on Hurricane Florence as it hurls toward the U.S. Eastern seaboard, and everyone is preparing for what has been dubbed “the storm of a lifetime.

Yesterday, Love’s Travel Stops opened its newest location earlier than expected to help people who are in the path of the hurricane and need fuel and staples. Team members at the new, 10,000-square-foot facility in Bastian, Virginia, are working around the clock to assist members of the community. The company increased fuel and food deliveries at this and other Love’s locations in advance of the hurricane.

The new facility is the 11th Love’s location in Virginia and features an Arby’s restaurant, gourmet coffee, Fresh to Go options, electronics and more. Professional drivers also can take advantage of 51 truck parking spots, seven showers and laundry facilities. The location brings 65 new jobs to the county.

Other grocery providers along the East Coast are stocking up on much-needed goods to help consumers get through the hurricane. According to a report in Fooddive, grocery stores often play a key role in delivering food and water to emergency responders and evacuees and helping neighborhoods return to normal after a natural disaster.

“One of the things that we have to deal with as emergency managers is meeting all the needs of survivors,” said David Merrick, director of the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program at Florida State University. “At the top of that list is always going to be water, shelter and food.”

Food Lion is providing additional shipments of water, batteries and other items to its stores in potentially affected areas to ensure product availability. Customers who stock up in anticipation a hurricane typically choose basic essentials, such as bread, ice, canned meat, water, charcoal and batteries.

Target, which operates 130 stores that could be hit by Hurricane Florence, said it has identified its 1,500 most in-demand items during a storm period and has shipped extra provisions.

Retailers have much to consider before a natural disaster strikes. According to Doug Baker, vice president of industry relations for the Food Marketing Institute, stores need to identify a crisis management leader and consider how to pay employees during the event. Some larger chains may need to bring employees in from another area to help storm-impacted stores get up and running again once recovery begins. It is also important for stores to work with state officials.

Following a natural disaster, retailers should conduct damage assessments, check in with employees, develop plans to reopen stores, coordinate with key vendors to restock shelves and safely dispose of any damaged or spoiled food.

NACS has many resources to assist retailers in disaster preparedness, relief and recovery, including several Convenience Matters podcasts. In addition, our coverage of the aftermath of 2017 hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria recently won a writing award from Association Media & Publishing. In our articles, we discussed how the convenience industry aided its communities in times of disaster.