Business Responds to Recent International Disasters

In August and September this year, communities across the world experienced devastation. From mudslides and subsequent flooding in Sierra Leone, widespread flooding across Southern Asia, catastrophic hurricanes that swept across the Caribbean and United States, the earthquake that struck Mexico and the surge in fleeing refugees in response to the ongoing Rohingya crisis. During such major disasters, business has an important role to play.

Business in the Community have pulled together contributions from member businesses to showcase what they are doing to help with the response efforts of recent events. We will continue to regularly update this page as more actions are shared with us.

Mudslides in Sierra Leone

In August, Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown experienced a devastating mudslide and flooding, claiming the lives of more than 500 people. As part of Unilever’s pre-positioning strategy with Direct Relief - a global humanitarian relief organisation and their partner for the Vaseline Healing Project - Unilever Family Emergency Kits were dispatched to Freetown. These kits contained Unilever soap, body wash, shampoo and deodorant, and have been stored across two Emergency Response sites – one in California and one in Malaysia.

Southern Asia Floods

Following the widespread floods in Nepal, India and Bangladesh in August and September which affected more than 41 million people, The IHG Foundation made a community donation to CARE International UK to support with emergency relief efforts.Through their Colleague Assistance Fund, IHG also assisted colleagues from seven hotels in Saudi Arabia, India and Qatar, whose families were impacted by the flooding.

Hurricanes in Mainland United States

Just three days after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and just before it made its way up to Louisiana, The UPS Foundation announced a sum of more than USD 1 million to support recovery efforts in both states. The pledge included cash grants, transportation and technical expertise. In addition, The UPS Foundation set aside USD 500,000 in cash grants and in-kind assistance towards longer term recovery needs. Altogether, USD 2 million has been pledged by The UPS Foundation and additional USD 1 million in UPS Foundation grants, employee contributions to the United Way Hurricane Fund and ongoing humanitarian logistics shipments. Moreover, in partnership with UNICEF USA, volunteers sourced, packed and delivered school supplies for more than 400 classrooms in Houston public schools.

To meet the medication and medical supply needs in the wake of Harvey, Walgreens Boots Alliance pharmacists set up on-site pharmacy operations at several shelters and collaborated closely with hospitals in affected areas, filling needed prescriptions so patients could be discharged. USD 200,000 was donated to the American Red Cross for Texas and over USD 10.8 million was generated in consumer fundraising. When Irma hit Florida and Puerto Rico, Walgreens Boots Alliance donated a further USD 200,000 to the American Red Cross, generated over USD 3.4 million in consumer fundraising and donated food, water and hygiene supplies to shelters. Then, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Walgreens committed to a USD 250,000 donation to the American Red Cross for relief efforts and set up a customer donation initiative across 8000 sites.

Through its employee matched funding campaign, The Cisco Foundation agreed to match up to USD 1 million and USD 10,000 per employee to the Texas Hurricane Harvey fund. The Foundation also committed a USD 250,000 grant to the American Red Cross to further support their relief efforts. Members of Cisco TacOps and the Disaster Incident Response Team were also in Texas ready to respond to requests from agencies for communications support.

In addition to their regular annual assistance to the American Red Cross Disaster Responder Program, The IHG Foundation made a grant of USD 150,000 to the American Red Cross, supported over 100 colleagues through the IHG Colleague Assistance Fund and also made up to USD 100,000 available for loyalty point and cash donations matching.

As with Hurricane Harvey, The Citi Foundation donated USD 1 million to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Irma relief and recovery efforts. Their colleagues and clients also showed their support, donating USD 500,000 to the American Red Cross‎ bringing the total generated to USD 2.5 million for the two storms.

Hurricanes in the Caribbean and US Islands

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, British Airways, in collaboration with Airlink, supported Team Rubicon to fly out to Antigua and carry out assessments. Airlink connects airlines such as British Airways with official non-profit organisations, such as Team Rubicon to allow them to mobilise in rapid onset disasters around the world. In addition, British Airways worked to bring those affected by the disasters out, sending out additional aircraft to evacuate customers impacted.

Citi also supported Team Rubicon's mission of bringing the skills and experiences of military veterans together with first responders to deploy emergency response teams to communities impacted by these devastating storms.

In response to a call from the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development, BT sent their Emergency Response Team to support the humanitarian relief efforts in the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos Islands, following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. BT set up satellite communications and WI FI solutions on the islands. Their security team also provided technical support and expertise from their media and broadcast teams.

To better assess the damage caused by Irma, The UPS Foundation partnered with American Red Cross and CyPhy Works on a drone pilot program. By the time Maria hit, UPS Airlines flew air freighters onto Puerto Rico, delivering Meals Ready to Eat and other supplies including pallets of water and emergency supply kits, reaching tens of thousands of disaster affected people. UPS Airlines also lent out its air freight planes to deliver tarps, hygiene kits, mosquito nets and shelter tool kits to Cuba. Several humanitarian cargo flights were flown to Puerto Rico for FEMA, CDC and non-profit partners. In addition, a UPS logistics responder travelled between Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands helping to bring food, clothing and shelter via barge, speed boat, prop plane and by foot.

Diageo, whose main rum production is in the US Virgin Islands, committed USD 1,250,000 to support relief and recovery efforts on the US Virgin Islands.

The IHG Foundation made a donation to the British Red Cross to support the emergency relief efforts, provided supplemental funding to the American Red Cross regular annual agreement for its Disaster Responder Program and lastly, supported colleagues impacted in their hotels in Puerto Rico.

Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar

Following the autumn 2017 military operations in Rakhine, Myanmar, The IKEA Foundation granted Save the Children EUR 1 million to help Rohingya children who have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh.

Earthquake in Mexico

In the wake of the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico in September, The UPS Foundation pledged USD 150,000 in funding and in-kind support, including transportation of relief items, to among others the Mexican Red Cross and United Way of Mexico. It also provided logistical support to CENACED – the lead organisation in Mexico for the UN Connecting Business Initiative. In addition, the UPS Foundation transported tarps from Panama to Mexico City.

Unilever, through its existing partnership with Direct Relief on the Vaseline Healing Project, had 4,000 Family Emergency Kits pre-positioned at a warehouse in California. These kits, which contained Unilever soap, body wash, shampoo and deodorant, were provided to people impacted by the earthquake.

Through its Colleague Assistance Fund, IHG supported colleagues from 30 IHG hotels heavily impacted by the earthquake and made a donation to the Mexican Red Cross to support their emergency relief efforts.