As residents of Texas’s Gulf Coast try to recover from the fury of Hurricane Ike, the home improvement community is rallying to bring much-needed supplies to the millions who are still without power and who face a huge cleanup job ahead.
The 600-mile-wide Category 2 hurricane hit the greater Houston area early on Sept. 13, killing at least five people, destroying countless homes and knocking out power to millions of area residents. More than 2 million people remained without power on Sept. 15, and fallen trees and debris littered the streets of Houston, America’s fourth largest city.
Particularly hard-hit was Galveston, a barrier island about 50 miles south of Houston, where many homes and businesses were still under water, and there was no electricity, running water, sewage or telephone service.
HCN spoke to Jerry Lightfoot, owner of four hardware stores in the Galveston area (in Vidor, Lumberton, Vienna and Kirbyville). On the morning of Sept. 15, people were lined up outside his Vidor store -- which was missing some roof panels and had sustained warehouse damage -- and he was still letting them in just a few at a time.
“This is pure devastation. I’ve got a coastal home, and I don’t know whether or not it’s there anymore,” said Lightfoot, who buys from both Orgill and Handy Harware. “Handy just made a delivery, and by the end of today, we will have sold more than 400 generators and distributed four semi-loads of supplies from Orgill’s distribution center in Kilgore.”
At press time, Home Depot had reopened 47 of 53 stores that had temporarily shut down in Houston, Galveston and Beaumont and had more than 300 truckloads of product moving into those communities “to help meet customer needs,” spokesman Craig Fishel told Home Channel News.
The Atlanta-based home improvement retailer also announced it is donating $1 million to recovery and rebuilding efforts in response to Hurricane Ike through the Home Depot Foundation. The money will be used as follows: $200,000 to the American Red Cross for immediate recovery aid for Houston and the communities along the Gulf Coast; $100,000 in cleanup materials for locally organized community volunteer efforts, including the activation of Team Depot, the company’s associate volunteer program; and $7