A convoy of Walmart trucks waited to enter New Orleans in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina.
-- "Forecasters don't expect Hurricane Irene to make landfall until Saturday. But for nearly a week now, big-box retailers like Walmart and Home Depot have been getting ready.
They've deployed hundreds of trucks carrying everything from plywood to Pop-Tarts to stores in the storm's path. It's all possible because these retailers have turned hurricane preparation into a science — one that government emergency agencies have begun to embrace.
At Home Depot's Hurricane Command Center in Atlanta, for example, about 100 associates have been trying to anticipate how Irene will affect its East Coast stores from the Carolinas to New York. At times like this, the Command Center looks much like NASA Mission Control during a shuttle launch, says Russ Householder, the company's emergency-response captain.
Walmart is able to anticipate surges in demand during emergencies by using a huge historical database of sales from each store as well as sophisticated predictive techniques, says Mike Cooper, Walmart's head of emergency management.
He says that with Irene on the way, that system is helping them allocate things like batteries, ready-to-eat foods and cleaning supplies to areas in the storm's path. Walmart also has the advantage of having a staff meteorologist, Cooper says."
HT: Don Boudreaux