Home Depot donates to Gustav relief efforts

Home Depot has donated $300,000 to help American Red Cross efforts to pre-empt potential damage from Hurricane Gustav, as well as help provide relief to people affected by the storm.

Though Hurricane Gustav weakened and changed direction before it hit New Orleans, the lead-up to the storm caused one of the largest mass evacuations in U.S. history -- around two million people left Louisiana prior to Gustav’s landfall. Still, damage along Gulf coast from Texas to Louisiana has been estimated at more than $4 billion.

Other areas, including Florida and the Outer Banks of North Carolina, could be subject to damage as Tropical Storms Hanna, Ike and Josephine near the southeastern shores of the United States.

While the Home Depot Foundation donated funds to the Red Cross for disaster preparation and relief, the Homer Fund, a charity for Home Depot associates in need of emergency financial assistance, donated $500,000 to 650 associates and their families within the first 48 hours of Gustav’s landfall. According to the retailer, company volunteers activated the Homer Fund call center over the Labor Day weekend to respond to impacted associates’ needs.

In addition, Home Depot brought in relief workers to help staff the stores in the affected areas -- the company has coordinated the transport and lodging for nearly 400 relief associates so far.

Home Depot closed 31 stores in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas in accordance with mandatory evacuations as a result of Hurricane Gustav. More than half of those stores have reopened as of Tuesday.