"The inside story of what it took to keep a Texas grocery chain running in the chaos of Hurricane Harvey"
September 11, 2017
Two things you do are these:
Folks are volunteering to do it because they want to be part of the process. The last hurricane we had, Hurricane Ike in 2008, when it was all over, we asked folks: What can we do to thank you? They said: Can you make a pin that can we put onto our badge to commemorate that we were part of this? I said, I think we can make a pin. . . .
All rules are off when you have a hurricane. In 2005, my first hurricane was Hurricane Rita in Beaumont, Tex. FEMA closed the city; they wanted everybody to leave and they wouldn't let anybody in. I had 70 stores without power. I needed to get my perishable product out because it starts to rot. FEMA wouldn't meet with me. So, after two days, I got three busses and filled them with people and I typed up a letter that said, "To whom it may concern, these people are authorized by me to clean out the H-E-B stores and get them ready for business." I got a Cadillac Escalade and put a flashing blue light on top. The police stopped them and said, "You can't come in." They handed them the letter from me on my letterhead and the policeman read it and said, "I guess you can come in." We kind of coined the phrase fake it 'til you make it. That's the way we go about handling natural disasters. We'll do whatever it takes.
After other disasters I read similar stories about Wal-Mart and Waffle House. I would expect the number of companies acting in such ways to only grow. If a business can be there for its customers when they need it most, it can build a heck of a lot of goodwill real damn quick.