(Corrects final paragraph to show Dow Chemical, not DuPont,
reopened facilities in Massachusetts, Connecticut)
* Saks, Macy's hope to open in NYC on Wednesday
* Home Depot reopens 33 stores
* Wal-Mart says holiday plans are intact
* With airports closed, drugmakers seek other ways to ship
By Phil Wahba and Jessica Wohl
NEW YORK/CHICAGO, Oct 30 After Hurricane Sandy
bashed the East Coast with wind, flooding and a blizzard,
companies scrambled on Tuesday to assess the damage, figure out
how to get staff back on the job, and get customers what they
needed from fresh water to roofing supplies, Wi-Fi and power for
With the holiday season quickly approaching, retailers in
particular hurried to get back to business.
At Home Depot, one of the biggest challenges during the
height of the storm was constantly rerouting trucks filled with
supplies as local officials ordered roads closed, said Doug
Spiron, Emergency Response Captain at the No. 1 home improvement
chain's command center.
A total of 441 stores faced at least tropical storm strength
winds during the storm, with 18 facing hurricane force winds. At
the peak on Monday, 44 Home Depot stores were closed.
"The biggest challenge that we faced was the sheer size of
this," Spiron said.
One new strategy that helped Home Depot move goods to stores
quickly was paying drivers to stay with trucks at distribution
centers during the storm so they could immediately begin
deliveries when the storm passed, Spiron said. By late Tuesday
afternoon, the number of Home Depot stores closed had dropped to
Wal-Mart Stores Inc had 267 stores closed as of late
Monday night. By Tuesday afternoon that was down to 80 stores in
"Customers were buying bread and water faster than we could
literally replenish it, but we've been able to start putting a
dent in that" by working with local suppliers, said Henry
Jordan, senior vice president of the Eastern Seaboard division
for Walmart U.S.
The world's largest retailer said none of its facilities had
been seriously damaged, and there was no disruption to holiday
"I think the lesson is that the East Coast needs to prepare
for hurricanes just like the Gulf Coast needs to because, you
know, that's an area that prior to Irene was not an issue," said
Mark Cooper, Wal-Mart's senior director of Global Emergency
Luxury department store Saks Inc said on Tuesday
that it had reopened three stores in Maryland, Virginia and
The retailer's flagship store on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue,
which generates about 20 percent of the company's sales, and
five other stores in New Jersey and Connecticut were due to
reopen on Wednesday, said spokeswoman Julia Bentley.
Macy's Inc said its Herald Square flagship store in
Manhattan and others in the city and in parts of New Jersey were
closed on Tuesday.
"The determining factor is if the store and shopping center
have electricity, and if associates are able to get to work,"
Macy's spokesman Jim Sluzewski said, adding that the company had
195 stores closed all or part of the day on Monday, about a
quarter of its locations.
DESPERATELY SEEKING COFFEE
New Yorkers searching for a cup of coffee had more luck with
small chains or delicatessens and, in some cases, Dunkin' Donuts
On the Upper West Side of Manhattan, two Starbucks stores on
Broadway six blocks apart were closed. A window sign read:
"Blame the weatherman, not us. Sorry but we are closed to
inclement weather. We look forward to seeing you soon."
French Roast at 85th Street and Broadway had a long line of
customers waiting for a place in the bistro-style eatery. A
nearby Dunkin' Donuts was closed.
Dunkin' Donuts franchisees are responsible for making
decisions to open their restaurants, a spokesman said, adding
that the stores at Rockefeller Center and Penn Station were
Sue Chen, who owns three Dunkin' Donut stores on Long Island
where almost a million homes and businesses were without power,
had power at two of her stores.
"I have to thank my manager," Chen said on Tuesday from
behind the counter at her store in Sea Cliff, where she was
helping five employees keep up with demand. "Last night, at 2
o'clock, 3 o'clock, he came here and started to make the
bagels." Chen said workers at the store live nearby, so the
manager told them to come in.
About 250 Starbucks stores from Virginia to Maine were
closed, said spokeswoman Haley Drage. "All of our New York metro
stores are closed," she said, adding that the company was
assessing when it could safely reopen the stores.
"We're trying to ensure partner safety. We don't want
partners traveling if it's not safe," she said, noting that
authorities in many localities had urged residents to limit
LATE NIGHT BLUES
Some large media companies in New York struggled with power
outages at their offices on Tuesday.
Viacom's offices for its Comedy Central, TV Land
and Spike TV networks in Lower Manhattan near the Hudson River
had no electricity or phone service on Tuesday and employees
stayed home, a spokesman said.
Comedy Central's hit late night shows "The Daily Show with
Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report", which have Manhattan
studios, canceled tapings on Monday and Tuesday.
Media companies in Midtown Manhattan, above power outages,
At HBO, which is owned by Time Warner Inc, a
spokesman said the New York-based shows "Girls" and "Boardwalk
Empire" had already wrapped production so they were unaffected
by the storm. New York staff who had electricity were working
from home on Tuesday "doing what needs to be done to keep the
network running," he said.
A spokeswoman for NBC Universal, which is
headquartered at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, said news operations had
been working around the clock, and its Chief Executive Steve
Burke was in the office on Monday and Tuesday. She said most
employees had been working from home, but they would start
trickling back to the office in the next few days.
Staff at news magazine "The Week" hauled their own computers
and servers down five flights of stairs on Tuesday morning to
set up a temporary office in a hotel conference room across the
street so they could meet their printing deadline.
U.S. telephone companies struggled to provide services on
Tuesday as flooding, power outages and even snow crippled their
networks. The Federal Communications Commission estimated that
about 25 percent of wireless broadcast towers were out on
Tuesday and that outages could worsen before getting better.
Verizon Communications spent the day trying to pump
water from central offices that house critical equipment for
home phone, Internet and television services.
DRUGMAKERS SEEK ALTERNATIVES
Drugmakers, heavily concentrated in New York and New Jersey,
were laid low by the storm. Novartis AG said all of
its offices in the area were closed on Tuesday, as did insulin
maker Novo Nordisk.
GlaxoSmithKline Plc said it had implemented a
continuity plan to ensure medicines would be distributed,
especially given the numerous airport closures. The company also
said there was sufficient inventory in the supply chain to avoid
Relatively high amounts of pharmaceuticals move by air,
since drugs are light and high-value items, meaning companies
like GSK have to arrange road transportation when air
transportation is unavailable.
BASF, the world's largest chemical company, said its East
Coast facilities had sustained minor damage in the storm.
None of chemical maker DuPont's facilities, many of
which are in the direct path of Hurricane Sandy in Delaware and
New Jersey, were seriously damaged, according to spokeswoman
Tara Stewart. Dow Chemical Co said it has already
reopened one facility in Connecticut and one in Massachusetts.
(Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York and Jessica Wohl in
Chicago; Additional reporting by Martinne Geller, Lynn Adler,
Alison Frankel, Eileen Daspin, Liana Baker, Jennifer Saba,
Sinead Carew and Ernest Scheyder in New York, Lisa Beartlein in
Los Angeles, Brad Dorfman in Chicago, Toni Clarke in Boston, Ben
Hirschler in London and Allison Martell in Toronto; Writing by
Ben Berkowitz and Patricia Kranz; Editing by Matthew Lewis,
David Gregorio and Alden Bentley)