With hurricane season around the corner, the Home Depot in Poughkeepsie recently held a hurricane preparedness workshop. The workshop was intended to prepare residents for potential hurricanes in the upcoming months. The event was free and included hurricane kits as well as appearances from SPCA, Red Cross, and FEMA.
Home Depot mainly held hurricane workshops due to the damage done by Hurricane Sandy, which struck the East Coast in late October. A great amount of people were left without power for multiple days, but the store tried it’s best to aid customers. Helen, a store manager, stated that there were customers lined up looking for generators but the store was out of stock. However, the names and numbers of customers were taken down so they could be contacted when a shipment of generators arrived. Home Depot has 7 stock facilities along the East Coast ready to distribute merchandise in these situations. She claimed that a truck stocked with generators drove through the storm in order to reach the Poughkeepsie store. “We were the only Home Depot in the area that had generators… people were coming from Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut just to buy one,” said Helen, “within 24 hours, over 200 generators were sold.”
Home Depot’s increased sales would suggest that residents of Poughkeepsie were greatly impacted; however, that is not the case. Erica, a store employee stated that she was not affected by the hurricane but she knew people that were. The people that were affected did not seem to lose much, “I didn’t lose power but I didn’t have TV reception for 6-8 hours.” said Tod, another employee. John, a customer shopping for paint, also said that he was not affected by the hurricane. He also stated that he did not prepare for the 2013 hurricane season, “I’m not worried of a bigger hurricane coming, so I don’t think I need to prepare.”
Helen stressed that mold is a serious issue as well, “flooding is also a concern with hurricanes. Customers were having many problems with mold following Hurricane Irene and we expect the same with Sandy.” Flooding is common during a hurricane which tends to lead to mold growth. She claimed that many people do not address mold growth right away, underestimating the health concerns that mold can cause. Information on mold was also available at the hurricane workshops, such as pamphlets including everything you need to know about mold and air quality.
Jorge, another store employee, mentioned that the store does not close its doors in a storm, “Managers have stayed overnight, as well as other employees. If customers need something during a storm in the middle of the night, they know they can come here.” Home Depot also has a program known as Team Depot. Employees of Home Depot volunteer to help serve people within the community, especially after disasters like Hurricane Sandy. Team Depot combines its expertise with nonprofit organizations in order to get the job done. “Not only do we volunteer, we also donate tools and equipment. If they need something like shovels or plywood, we give it to them.” said Jorge.
Hurricane preparedness and awareness is not the only impact the Poughkeepsie store has made in this area. In February of 2012, the Poughkeepsie store held a fire safety event following the tragic death of a student in a house fire. Over 100 smoke alarms were handed out to off-campus students, parents, and other locals.
Regarding other conditions Home Depot is concerned about, Helen stated that they are looking ahead towards winter, “Corporate is predicting a very severe, snowy winter.”