Disaster Response & Recovery
When disasters occur, Walmart focuses on (1) the well-being of associates and their families; (2) recovering store and club operations swiftly and safely for the benefit of our customers; and (3) supporting impacted communities. Our response is coordinated centrally through our EOC but includes associates from a broad array of teams and on-the-ground associates in impacted areas.
Activating Walmart's EOC
Every day, our EOC fields calls and reports of incidents at Walmart's stores, clubs, and facilities around the world. In FY2023, the EOC logged more than 118,000 phone calls and recorded more than 11,000 incidents reported via Walmart's Emergency App. EOC team members assess and triage each situation, provide guidance, and coordinate support from the EOC facility at Walmart's Home Office.
When a disaster is larger in scale, we activate an expanded team of decision makers, responders, and resources in our Emergency Support Functions (ESFs).7 Associates from teams including People, Supply Chain, Operations, Facilities, and Walmart.org convene with the EOC team and work together to ensure open communications and a comprehensive and consistent response from the company.
In addition to activating Walmart's EOC at our home office in northwest Arkansas, Walmart EOC team members are often deployed to local and state EOC locations when disasters strike. The team embeds onsite with local emergency managers, government responders, and other organizations to facilitate communication between the Walmart EOC and local entities on the latest forecast and event impact information, coordination of response and recovery efforts, priorities, and support needs. Walmart first deployed one of its EOC team members into a state EOC during Hurricane Ike in 2008, and that practice continues—as it did when Walmart EOC responders embedded with the Florida EOC for more than a week when Hurricane Ian struck Florida and the Carolinas in September 2022.
After each event, the Global Emergency Management team conducts after-action reviews to identify lessons for continuous improvement. Valuable information and recommendations from after-action reviews are incorporated into our future disaster preparedness and response plans.
Establishing the Well-Being of Our Associates
Our Global Emergency Management team works with our Facilities and People teams to check on the well-being of our associates and their families and to connect them to resources they may need in the wake of a disaster.
Through OneWalmart.com, our associate-facing website, we provide recommendations and best practices for what to do before, during, and after a natural disaster or when a store experiences a security threat or other business disruption. Resources and personal and work preparedness plans and kits are available for download. Walmart provides evacuation assistance for those forced to leave their homes due to mandatory evacuation, as well as opportunities to work in nearby stores and clubs should their location temporarily close.
Real-time updates on weather and other potential business disruptions are shared with associates by email, OneWalmart.com, and through an associate hotline. The Associate Emergency Information Line provides return-to-work information and the ability for associates to request assistance. Information on this line is automatically updated and tailored to the caller’s work location.
Following a disaster, we also conduct associate wellness checks, directly reaching out to associates in the most impacted areas to assess their well-being and connect them to resources. In situations where multiple Walmart locations are impacted, this outreach could include thousands of associates, as it did following Hurricane Ian in 2022.
Maintaining & Resuming Operations for the Customer
In the case that one of our stores, clubs, or other facilities is impacted by a disaster situation, we aim to restore our facility operations swiftly and safely for the benefit of the customers who rely on Walmart for products and services.
Once we identify stores or clubs that are at risk of being impacted by a disaster, Walmart deploys teams and supplies ahead of the event to prepare for potential impacts. For example, ahead of storms, we prepare for potential power outages by staging mobile generators near facilities in the path of the storm so that we can restore power as soon as it is safe to do so. Mobile generators kept stores, clubs, and distribution centers powered for more than 8,300 hours while grid electricity was unavailable in 2022, helping to make our facilities available to customers when they needed food, pharmaceuticals, and other necessary items.
Other recovery activities include:
- Publishing on Walmart's website which stores are open, closed, or have modified hours or services
- Assessing properties and buildings for water damage, flooding, roof damage, or other issues, and deploying restoration technicians and experts who aim to restore our facilities to operational status
- Assessing the safety and viability of transportation routes to facilities in the impacted area so that we can resume deliveries of products to stores and clubs, and rerouting if necessary
- Connecting facilities to generator power
- Designating fuel lines for associates and first responders to be able to fuel vehicles and generators