Special Report — Retailers Helping Communities Rebound After Hurricane Ian’s Devastation
By Chris Jensen
After Hurricane Ian laid a devastating path of destruction across large sections of Florida and other Southeastern states, hardware and home improvement retailers have sprung into action to help their communities rebound.
Some areas such as Sanibel Island and Fort Myers Beach face a long, difficult recovery process. At least 130 people had been reported killed by the hurricane with recovery efforts still underway, making it the deadliest storm in the state of Florida since 1935.
Wind and storm surge damages in Florida from Hurricane Ian are estimated between $28 billion and $47 billion dollars, according to a Sept. 29 estimate from CoreLogic.
Financial donations to the Red Cross help provide shelter, meals, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance during disasters. Click here to support disaster relief efforts from Hurricane Ian and make a donation to the American Red Cross.
Century Club retailer Bailey’s General Store, which has been selling hardware and grocery items on Sanibel Island since 1899, posted the following on Facebook on October 4: “Our staff and family are safe. We sustained severe damage at Bailey’s. We will rebuild and reopen. Stay tuned for more updates.”
Steve Henry, president of House-Hasson Hardware, said that due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian in Florida and South Carolina, it will mean already busy dealers will become even busier meeting the reconstruction and repair needs of homeowners and businesses.
“Hardware stores and lumberyards are where homeowners and businesses will need to restore what they own and how they make their livings,” he said. “When there is extraordinary demand, as there will be in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, independent dealers respond. That means they’ll be even busier. Supplying the demand is the challenge, and we’re prepared to meet the needs of dealers and their customers.”
Do it Best’s warehouse in Lexington, S.C., has been very active sending trucks to
storm-impacted Do it Best members in need of supplies to rebuild their communities.
Here are reports on storm activity from home improvement retailers:
- Taylor’s Do it Center and Pleasants Hardware prepared their communities for Ian as it became a tropical storm.
- Williams Hardware, a Do it Best member in Fort Myers celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, reopened on October 2 even with power not yet fully restored to serve customers (cash only).
- Another Do it Best member in Fort Myers, Tropical Hardware, ordered extra water, sandbags and other emergency items ahead of the hurricane.
- When Jeremy Peterson opened a second location for Family Hardware in south Fort Myers on August 2, he had no idea the store would serve as a much-needed source of supply for customers to help them prepare for the storm and then deal with the aftermath. He has used the store’s Facebook page to keep customers informed when shipments of batteries, sandbags, lanterns, ratchet straps and earth anchors arrive. Click here to read more.
- Ace Hardware stores making sure shelves remain stocked with storm supplies
- Sunshine Ace Hardware continues to receive truckloads of supplies, including generators, chainsaws, bottled water and other post-storm essentials. All eight Sunshine Ace Hardware stores in Southwest Florida have reopened and are fully stocked. Click here to watch Sunshine’s We Are Here to Help video.
- On October 5, Sunshine Ace posted the following on Facebook: “Our teams have been working tirelessly and around the clock since Hurricane Ian hit SWFL. We had all stores open and operating the next day helping our neighbors get what they need. Our truck drivers and receivers have been busy stocking our stores with new products daily to keep all of our stores stocked with generators, air conditioners, chainsaws, tarp, batteries, water and all the essentials for our community. We are here to help you—come see us today at your local Sunshine Ace Hardware!”
- On October 3, Sunshine Ace posted the following on Facebook: “Our teams are busy taking care of one another while we are taking care of all our customers. Our crew are out in the field gathering food to feed our Port Charlotte teams hearty lunches as fuel to keep them going. They’ve been working tirelessly nonstop since Hurricane Ian hit our communities hard. Food for the soul!”
- All Hagan Ace Hardware locations were closed September 29, then all but one reopened the next day with a fresh supply of STIHL chainsaws and other materials for storm clean. Jacob Hagan rented a truck and drove to Orlando so that six of their stores would have STIHL products on hand to help customers.
- Lowe’s announced it would commit $2 million to support relief efforts across the state.
- The Home Depot Foundation is committing up to $1 million to support immediate disaster relief and long-term recovery efforts in communities impacted by Hurricane Ian.
Alongside nonprofit partners and Team Depot, The Home Depot’s associate volunteer force, the Foundation is providing immediate assistance to communities in need by distributing water and relief supplies, delivering meals, providing shelter and removing debris in the impacted areas as soon as the storm clears.
The Foundation also shipped more than 1,800 disaster relief kits to Florida to be distributed by Convoy of Hope and other nonprofit partners. The kits, which include garbage bags, paper towels, cleaners, hand sanitizer, scour pads, gloves and N95 masks, will be distributed to people in need and those cleaning up after the storm.
With more than 100 Home Depot stores forced to close as Hurricane Ian made landfall, technology teams were moved into position outside of the strike zone to help them reopen for customers as quickly as possible.
The Homer Fund, Home Depot’s employee assistance fund, is providing immediate financial support to impacted associates in need of safe housing, food and clothing while displaced. To date, The Homer Fund has granted more than $1.1 million to support associates impacted by natural disasters in 2022.