Situational Responses

Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey

12 Years of progress in relief efforts

Hurricane Katrina (2005)

     Hurricane Katrina's force of destruction may have been seen across the world but the Southern United States felt it. The storm that barreled through the Atlantic reaching wind speeds up to 175+mph making it the 3rd strongest and by far the largest hurricane to ever hit the United States. This storm affected over 15 million people in different ways, costed the U.S. an estimated $125 Billion and killed an estimated 2k people. This storm was the mother of all storms in 2005. For weeks prior to landfall, people were evacuating, boarding up houses and businesses, and fearing for their lives. As people all over the world watched, Walmart was already sending needed supplies to the South before they even needed it.

     The relief reactions by the government (FEMA) was a lesson learned by all and will be the building blocks for generations to come. With organizations such as American Red Cross, The United Way and corporations like Walmart, the resources that would become so direly needed were ready to be given out when the opportunity was given. In Brookhaven, Mississippi, for example, where Wal-Mart operates a vast distribution center, the company had 45 trucks full of goods loaded and ready for delivery a week before landfall in Louisiana, in attempt to help the people stuck in its path survive in hopes of being rescued afterwards. FEMA turned Walmart away. Three days before landfall, FEMA turned us away again. When landfall finally occurred, nobody truly imagined the destruction that would bring. People across Louisiana fled to the Louisiana Superdome in hopes of being safe but Katrina showed her full strength by tearing the structure apart.

     When Walmart was finally given the opportunity to get its trucks into New Orleans, they did so whole heartedly and ready to help. The following quotes are from an article dated September 6, 2005 via Washington Post writers Michael Barbaro and Justin Gillis.
     ~ “as New Orleans filled with water, Wal-Mart chief executive H. Lee Scott Jr. called an emergency meeting of his top lieutenants and warned them he did not want a "measured response" to the hurricane.”
     ~ "Wal-Mart's response to Katrina -- an unrivaled $20 million in cash donations, 100 truckloads of free merchandise, food for 100,000 meals and the promise of a job for every one of its displaced workers -- has turned the chain into an unexpected lifeline for much of the Southeast and earned it near-universal praise at a time when the company is struggling to burnish its image."
     ~ "Wal-Mart has raised the ante for every company in the country," said Adam Hanft, chief executive of Hanft Unlimited Inc., a New York branding and marketing firm. "This is going to change the face of corporate giving.”
     ~ Cliff Brumfield, executive vice president of the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, said he was impressed with Wal-Mart's preparations. "They were ready before FEMA was," he said.

"We can't do any more than our own part. We are not the federal government.
There is a portion we can do, and we can do it darn well.”
- Former Walmart CEO H. Lee Scott Jr.

Hurricane Harvey (2017)

     Twelve years have passed now and the United States is facing not just one but three incoming hurricanes to the southern United States. With Harvey, Irma, and Maria spiraling towards the U.S., Walmart once again activated its E.O.C. to handle Walmarts relief efforts in the regions about to be impacted. On August 25th, 2017, Hurricane Harvey became a Category 4 Hurricane, officially becoming the first Category 4 Hurricane to hit Texas since Hurricane Carla in 1961 and the first major hurricane to make landfall since 2005. Scientists and Weathermen were predicting a substantial amount of rain to come with it but nobody could predict it would drop up to 60 inches of rain in some places. Walmart had trucks already on route to the affected areas days before, during, and after the hurricane made landfall.

     This time FEMA was more prepared for this hurricane and allowed others to be involved in setting up the shelters while people were evacuating. The following quotes are from CEO Doug McMillion and the Blog:

"Had the chance to speak with Texas Governor Greg Abbott this morning as he works to help the people of south Texas. We've sent 795 emergency truckloads to #HurricaneHarvey communities, and more than 1,700 are on the way. We’ve been able to reopen 10 of our locations thanks to teamwork across many areas of the company. I want to give a shout out to our associates in Texas as they help others and to our associates working in our emergency operations center. Thank you all for making a difference!"

- Facebook post via Current CEO Doug McMillion

In addition to water, Walmart has donated nearly $1 million in diapers, wipes, infant formula and baby food – as well as more than $10,000 in kayaks. We’re proud to work with organizations such as the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Convoy of Hope to help those in need. (

According to the NOAA National Hurricane Center, these are the Costliest Tropical Cyclones(estimated). Pay attention to numbers 2, 3, and 5 as they were one after another in Atlantic Hurricane Season of 2017.
Hurricane Katrina(2005)     $125 Billion
Hurricane Harvey(2017)     $125 Billion
Hurricane Maria(2017)       $90 Billion
Hurricane Sandy(2012)      $65 Billion
Hurricane Irma(2017)         $50 Billion

Relevant Information

NOAA National Hurricane Center: Costliest Tropical Cyclones Table Updated

April 2018

The NOAA National Hurricane Center released its updated version of the Costliest Cyclone Table. See where the hurricanes you remember are ranked...

Washington Post: Walmart at the forefront of Hurricane Relief

September 5, 2005

Read the full article by Washington Post writers Michael Barbaro and Justin Gillis...

Walmart Blog: The Latest on Hurricane Harvey Support and Response

August 28, 2017

Read the full article from Walmart about Hurricane Harvey Support and Response