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CASE STUDY: Retail Chain Evacuates During Hurricane


Retail Chain Evacuates During Hurricane


Hurricane Katrina; New Orleans, LA (2005) - Category 3 Hurricane (at landfall) that caused the levees to break, flooding the city and forcing mass evacuations.  Over 1800 people lost their lives.

At the time of the storm a major office supply chain operated over 50 stores and a major warehouse in New Orleans.  

They also were responsible for hundreds of employees that lived and had families in the region.


A calling-tree system was used for employees to check-in on other employees.

There was no over-arching plan to respond or recover from such a major disruption.


90% of their stores were directly impacted by the hurricane.

Many employees were unaccounted for.

Some were found living in cars.

Others stood in-line to get into the Super Dome, a last minute shelter.

Some paychecks were never cashed.

Company representatives re-entered 4 weeks after the hurricane's landfall to discover mass looting at their abandoned facilities.

They negotiated with the local police department by asking that if the police stopped the looters, the police could keep whatever was left.

The majority of their inventory was written-off as a complete loss.

Employees were eventually paid for 4 weeks as a result of the company's business interruption insurance.  Some were provided transfers to other stores to maintain their employment.


The quality and effectiveness of employee care after a disaster plays a major part in determining the survivability and viability of your organization.


Mike McKenna

About the author

Mike McKenna is the founder and president of TEAM Solutions. He helps public and private sector leaders improve their outcomes before, during and after a planned event or unplanned crisis.

Please contact Mike via the Contact page.

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