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September 12, 2014

The Home Depot works hard to prepare stores for hurricane season. But what happens when a store is actually hit? In August, Tropical Storm Iselle arrived in Hawaii’s Big Island, striking Home Depot’s store in Hilo and affecting thousands of residents in the area.

Preparation is Key

Home Depot store #8453 received notice of a tropical cyclone headed its way a few days before the storm. Equipped with a bleak weather forecast and a tailored disaster preparedness guide, District Manager Keoni Queypo, Store Manager Lehua Paishon and their associates got to work.

“Our disaster playbook told us the exact steps we needed to take to prepare the store for the event,” said Keoni. This included strategically staging large freight containers outside to protect merchandise from falling trees, stacking supply barriers in front of windows and securing products down throughout the store.

With the storm en route, Home Depot remained open so customers could shop for necessary supplies. “Our regional merchandising manager expedited merchandise to certain areas of the country. We identified what we needed—water, chainsaws and generators—and by the next day these big, bulky commodity supplies were on their way to Hawaii,” recalled Keoni.

Store break rooms were transformed into associate shelters with television broadcasts of the storm, food, charging stations for phones and areas to rest.

Assessing the Aftermath

Although the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm prior to hitting land, the damage was immense. Electrical lines were down all over the city—leaving more than 8,000 homes without power and scores of residents without running water.

While there were no associate injuries or products reported damaged, 40 of the associates’ homes had been affected. Days following the storm, associates descended upon their coworkers’ damaged properties to help clear debris.

“We have guidelines for the roles and responsibilities of associates for hurricanes, but what they actually did was beyond the playbook. Witnessing the help they offered was amazing,” said Keoni. Many associates went out of their way to lend a hand by opening their homes to coworkers in need.

Amidst the chaos in the city of Hilo, Home Depot extended help past the storefront and into the community. Partnering up with Team Rubicon and the Red Cross, Team Depot volunteers provided disaster relief to residents in impacted areas.

Hilo is continuing to recover from Tropical Storm Iselle, and Home Depot is there to help. Learn more about how our merchandising, operations and on the ground associates work together to prepare for and respond to hurricanes across the country.