Big-box logistics pay dividends

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Disaster Plans are standard operating procedure at major retailers, but last year's hurricane season has forced many to reinvent recovery and relief plans.

The most valuable asset business can contribute is expertise to re-establish stability and continuity, says Chris Deri, senior VP at Edelman.

Wal-Mart, an expert in logistics, can anticipate contingency plans, says Mr. Deri, an expert in Corporate Social Responsibility. "All those things were needed in Katrina, and Wal-Mart was able to offer that expertise to government, people and institutions," Mr. Deri says.

That expertise will be seen again.

"We have been working closely with the public and private sector ... for the steady flow of merchandise to the most affected areas," says Jason Jackson, director of emergency management for Wal-Mart. "For example, during a large-scale disaster in Texas, we will provide a full-time staff member in the Texas State Operations Center to assist onsite."

Home Depot's assistance efforts have been brought together under a plan called "Rebuilding Hope & Homes." Its goal is to assist communities in moving from recovery to rebuilding as quickly as possible, says Kevin Martinez, director of community affairs and president of Home Depot Foundation. The home-building supply store calls its efforts to assist rebuilding in Pass Christian, Miss., "embedded philanthropy." It worked with nonprofit partners and MTV's "Alternate Spring Break," the network's initiative to enlist the efforts of college students, to help the town as it rebuilds. The project is ongoing.