Walmart jumps into the eye of the disaster storm
Walmart plans to leverage its juggernaut status — and coast-to-coast footprint — to help U.S. communities better prepare for crises.
Driving the news: The company held its first disaster preparedness summit yesterday, during which roughly 150 emergency management professionals at the state and federal level, nonprofits and other corporate entities convened at Walmart's home office in Bentonville to talk about collaboration.
- Yes, and: The Walmart Foundation announced an investment of $3 million to four organizations that help Gulf Coast communities prepare for and mitigate disasters.
Why it matters: Globally, climate change is leading to more frequent and severe extreme weather events. From wildfires to flooding to tornados, Walmart's 5,300 U.S. stores and the communities where they're located are increasingly at risk, the company said.
- Last year, Walmart's U.S. stores navigated 4,000 weather-related events, twice as many as in 2020, chief sustainability officer Kathleen McLaughlin said.
Threat level: Disasters can have long-term economic and social impacts, especially on communities that are home to traditionally marginalized populations, the company said.
What to watch: McLaughlin said Walmart will be looking at its emergency management initiatives through a diversity, equity and inclusion lens.
What they're saying: Reese May, chief strategy officer for the Saint Bernard Project, one of the groups receiving money from the Walmart Foundation, noted that socioeconomically disadvantaged people in the Gulf region live in low-lying areas prone to flooding because that's what they can afford.
- Another grant recipient, Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management, plans to work with 10 vulnerable, underserved or marginalized communities in Louisiana and Mississippi to develop disaster recovery and mitigation plans.
- The group's CEO Chauncia Willis, said: "The only way to fix a broken system is to replace it with a better system."
Flashback: Walmart and the Walmart Foundation formally developed their community emergency response team after the 2005 devastation of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast.
Editor's note: Reporter Worth Sparkman is a Walmart shareholder.
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