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As our country continues reeling from two devastating hurricanes, Americans from all walks of life are extending their hands and their prayers to help those in need. The business community is right there with them, offering assistance and resources to employees, customers, and anyone we can reach who was impacted. For years, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center has helped marshal support and coordinate private sector recovery efforts following disasters. This time is no different.
Before Hurricanes Harvey and Irma made landfall, the Foundation began activating its resources and reaching out to local leaders on the ground in at-risk areas. We set up our 24-hour Disaster Help Desk to field questions and supply information to area business leaders. Along with our federation of state and local chambers, we alerted local businesses to the dangers and explained what they could do to brace for impact.
After the storms hit, we kicked into high gear—touching base with FEMA’s Private Sector Division to plan how we could assist the federal government. We hosted a disaster coordination call following each storm with companies willing to lend a hand, then provided the government with information regarding the supplies and expertise companies were offering. We also spoke up about local business needs we became aware of.
Hundreds of companies ranging from Walmart to Royal Caribbean to Boeing have donated money to relief efforts. Airbnb offered free stays for evacuees and emergency personnel, Comcast opened nearly 10,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots so that people could stay connected, and Caterpillar provided portable generators to power relief efforts and trucks to rescue the stranded. Countless other companies large and small have provided help, and many continue to do so. We profile additional examples on our corporate aid tracker at uschamberfoundation.org.
There is a long road to recovery ahead for the millions impacted by these storms. For many residents, their power is still out, their homes are underwater, and they need to focus on their families before they can return to work. Many local businesses are dealing with the same problems. For some, it remains impossible to open up shop or resume operations. Business leaders seeking information can contact our Disaster Help Desk at 1-888-MY-BIZ-HELP. As recovery efforts proceed, those affected can count on the support of the business community over the weeks and months to come.