Building Communities Abram Olmstead  | October 11, 2017

These Companies Went Above and Beyond In the Wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria

Businesses are often a powerful force for positive change in the communities they serve, in good times and in trying times alike. In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, countless companies big and small quickly pooled manpower and resources, responding in full force to help those impacted by the storms.

From donating desperately-needed supplies and funds, to pitching in with hands-on debris clean-up, to offering up space as emergency shelter and beyond, businesses heeded the call to help thousands of individuals displaced and otherwise affected by the devastating massive recent hurricanes and the floods they precipitated.

In recognition of the inspiring assistance many enterprises offered in response to these record-breaking natural disasters, here’s a brief roundup of companies that truly rose to the occasion:

Bright Idea: LuminAID Brings Light to Survivors Who Lost Power
Hurricane Harvey hit home hard for LuminAID founder Andrea Sreshta — quite literally. The young entrepreneur and architect’s parents’ home in Houston, Texas, was inundated with floodwater in the aftermath of the Category 4 storm.

“I was in total shock … My parents’ house was flooded,” Sreshta told CNBC. “Luckily, they had a different place to go that was higher up.”

But many other Houstonians weren’t so lucky, with scores in the city and beyond left in the dark, without electricity and light for days on end. That’s where this enterprising hometown hero stepped in — to help people out of the devastation and darkness in her home city.

In fact, Sreshta’s business was built for dark times like these. In 2011, she founded LuminAID with fellow architect Anna Stork to “give light, get light and help make light available for all,” natural disaster survivors across the world among them.

Last month, after Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc, realizing her entrepreneurial purpose closer to home than she ever imagined she would, Sreshta authorized the shipment of 1,500 LuminAID inflatable, solar-powered lanterns to the Greater Houston area.

Sreshta also gave the green light for the shipment of 2,500 LuminAID solar lanterns to victims of Hurricane Irma in Florida, with thousands more emergency lights pledged to Hurricane Maria survivors in Puerto Rico as well.

Sustainably designed LuminAID lanterns, specifically created to aid natural disaster survivors and relief workers, give off light for more than 30 hours on a single solar charge.

“LuminAID’s core technology — solar lights that pack flat for ease of distribution — was created to address both the need in an emergency and to make it easier for aid workers to distribute supplies on the ground,” Sreshta said.

Her Mark Cuban-backed startup, which made a successful splash on Shark Tank tank in 2015, also sent its newest product, the PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger, to the Cajun Navy, a Louisiana-based charitable organization providing emergency assistance to individuals impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Joining LuminAID’s disaster response efforts, Toyota pledged to match the company’s solar lantern and phone charger donations in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

To sponsor the shipment of a LuminAID solar lantern to someone impacted by Hurricane Harvey, Irma or Maria, or to help send one to an individual affected by the recent earthquakes in Mexico, click here.

Bass Pro Shops Donates Rescue Boats and Emergency Supplies
Shortly after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, Bass Pro Shops eagerly joined relief efforts, working closely with police, fire and rescue teams on the ground in Houston to actively support rescue operations.

The Springfield, Missouri-based hunting, fishing, camping and outdoor recreation retailer provided more than 80 Tracker boats to local, state and federal government agencies and rescue organizations in the widely flooded city, as well as in other impacted communities in Texas.

Bass Pro Shops, which has seven retail locations and seven boating center locations in the Lone Star State, also donated several truckloads of disaster relief supplies, valued at $40,000 total. The donations supported the American Red Cross and Convoy of Hope, the latter of which is a humanitarian organization also headquartered in Springfield, Missouri.

“The company remains in close contact with the governor’s office, first responders and associates on the ground to monitor response efforts and assess ongoing needs,” the corporation announced in a statement. “Bass Pro Shops encourages all customers and community members who want to support relief efforts to donate directly to the American Red Cross.”

Some of the supplies the company donated to citizens in need and disaster relief workers included easily portable, protein-rich nonperishable foods, such as peanuts and beef jerky. Additionally, employees of Bass Pro Shops impacted by hurricane Harvey are eligible for assistance through the Bass Pro Cares Fund, which furnishes financial support for essential living expenses “in times of devastating need.”

Click here to donate to the Bass Pro Cares Fund.

PetSmart Pitches In to Feed and Shelter Displaced Pets

On the heels of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, PetSmart rushed to the aid of four-legged furry friends impacted by the storms in various regions across Texas and Florida. In addition to pledging a total of $3 million in grant funding to recovery and relief efforts to assist pets and pet owners in need, the company’s PetSmart Charities philanthropic arm coordinated deliveries of several truckloads of critically needed pet food and pet supplies as part of its Buy A Bag, Give A Meal program to communities deeply impacted by the hurricanes.

In-kind donations of pet supplies included items such as food and water bowls, kitty litter, pet beds, collars and leashes, all trucked into neighborhoods hit particularly hard by Harvey and Irma, with help from animal welfare agency Rescue Bank. In Texas, emergency pet supply truckloads arrived at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in Houston and Dallas.

Among additional emergency PetSmart Charities donations were 2,500 animal crates used to temporarily shelter and transport displaced pets during rescue efforts.

“Our thoughts are with all of the people and pets who have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey,” Dr. David Haworth, president of PetSmart Charities, said in a statement. “We’re committed to supporting everyone we can who has been impacted by this disaster, including pets and pet parents staying in evacuation centers and shelters in Houston and Dallas who may not have access to the pet food and essentials they need.”

To donate to help provide emergency relief for victims of natural disasters through PetSmart Charities, click here.

Hubbell Power Systems Sends In Emergency Kit-Equipped ‘Storm Soldiers’
Sometimes it’s the small things, like heartwarming care packages, that make the biggest difference in difficult times. Such was the intention behind 1,000 emergency supply “storm kit” packages Hubbell Power Systems donated to Houston-area electric utility linemen who worked hard to restore power to the region in Hurricane Harvey’s wake. The company’s team of “Storm Soldiers,” working alongside it’s Hubbell Emergency Action Team (H.E.A.T.), personally handed out the thoughtful kits on the frontlines of recovery efforts.

“It has a t-shirt, a little hand towel, bottled water, crackers and protein bars, and a handwritten note thanking them for what they’re doing, and that we hope they stay safe while they’re restoring the power,” Hubbell Power Systems spokesperson Crystal Mistretta said of the special care packages. “Because those linemen will work three days straight without taking a break to get the power back on … It’s not uncommon for that group to work around the clock to get shipments and orders processed so that we can get the product to the affected areas.”

The Aiken, South Carolina-based power company, which provides transmission, distribution, substation and telecommunication products to several U.S. electric utility entities, also rushed sorely-needed utility products to affected areas of Texas and Florida following the destructive hurricanes that ripped through them.

On top of shipping care packages to electricity workers who toiled day and night in hurricane-ravaged regions, Hubbell Power Systems shipped 900,000 pounds of its products to utilities affected by Hurricane Harvey and 460,000 pounds of products to utilities impacted by Hurricane Irma.

JetBlue Wings in Emergency Relief to Puerto Rico and Beyond
In addition to continuing to support hurricane-impacted areas in South Florida and Texas, JetBlue Airways Corporation is doubling down on its commitment to assist Hurricane Maria Survivors in Puerto Rico.

On Sept. 28, the company — the largest airline in Puerto Rico — unveiled a sweeping, 35-point program to support short- and long-term recovery efforts on the tropical island. The initiative, targeted to support not only community members impacted by the hurricane’s destruction, but JetBlue crewmembers and customers as well, is being rolled out over the next 100-plus days.

“The heartbreaking and devastating situation in Puerto Rico compels us to take action,” JetBlue president and CEO Robin Hayes said in a statement. “Using our strengths as an airline, our partnerships and our mission of inspiring humanity, we aim to make a positive impact on this island we call home. We know 100 days is just the start, but we hope it’s a start that will make a meaningful difference.”

The far-reaching initiative encompasses not only relief efforts but also reduced flight fares from the island, disaster recovery awareness and fundraising pushes, airlift support systems and more. Ahead of this latest Hurricane Maria response program, JetBlue donated $1 million in much-needed disaster recovery supplies and more than 100,000 aid-related items to Puerto Rico.

“We’ve been sending relief supplies to Puerto Rico since the first day flights were allowed onto the island following Hurricane Maria,” said Icema Gibbs, JetBlue’s director of corporate social responsibility. “The amount of donated supplies has far exceeded our expectations and has surpassed the capacities of our commercial Airbus A320 fleet.”

The airline’s dedication to providing extensive hurricane relief on the Caribbean island — and in the continental U.S. — underscores its commitment to leveraging its strengths as a business to rise up as a force for good in the community.

“We are committed to making a meaningful difference,” JetBlue’s Hurricane Maria relief website reads, “working side by side with our crewmembers and customers, to help repair the island of Puerto Rico and beyond.”

Click here to see how other companies are assisting natural disaster recovery efforts in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, and click here to donate to the Red Cross.