WILKESBORO, N.C. — While emergency management teams up and down the east coast brace for heavy storms, the Lowe’s Disaster Command Center in Wilkesboro is working around the clock to stock their stores with emergency supplies.
About 200 people are working with the Command Center to coordinate truckloads of products that will be needed before and after the storm.
“We’ve already shipped out over 600 truckloads in this area. Our key focus is Upper Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and New York,” explained Director of Network Flow Mike Winesette. About 100 trucks are on standby, filled with product and ready to move after highways are re-opened in certain areas.
Winesette said they are loading up supplies big and small.
“Generators, water supplies, shop vacs, water, batteries, flashlights, any kind of emergency product,” said Winesette.
Rik Absher is the Command Center Supervisor. He’s got a close eye on his AccuWeather maps, pinpointing more than 300 Lowe’s stores in the path of flooding, snowfall or both.
“This storm is going to be slow and dropping a lot of moisture. We’re already getting reports of flooding downtown Atlantic City. We also monitor power companies and their reports to gauge the number of outages,” explained Absher.
Absher says Lowe’s stores all have backup generators so that even if power is out in a community, their stores can remain open and operating.
“But no plan is always perfect. We’re constantly refining it,” he pointed out.
Absher knows each of the stores he’s monitoring represents a community, some of which will be torn apart in the coming days.
“In the long term,” he said, “We’ll be looking at how many roofs need to be replaced. For houses with heavy flooding they’ll need to tear out the sheetrock and drywall.”
It’s impossible to ignore that in the middle of it all, there are all Lowe’s customers and employees who could lose everything.
“You hate hearing about the [Lowe's employees] who lose their house. But then…. they show up at work the next day, trying to take care of their communities.
In a matter of days, the Disaster Command Center will transition from organizing pre-storm survival supplies to post-storm cleanup supplies.