Chapter 96. To Prepare or Not to Prepare for the Storm

Kris Hunt

In August 2005, I was working in the analytics group for a major home improvement retailer based in North Carolina, and my father and his wife lived in New Orleans. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Southeast, I was able to see and assess the devastation from a personal, professional, and analytical perspective. Conversations with my family, my firsthand experiences volunteering, and visits to the New Orleans area after the storm gave my work more meaning by attaching names and faces to the results. I would remember the sights, sounds, and smells when I was back in my cube analyzing the data to capture the enormous impact of Katrina on our business. In addition, I found myself wondering what we as a company and as analysts could do to be more prepared in the future.

Prior to the storm and immediately after the hurricane made landfall, the business trends were typical, and our emergency teams responded according to the protocols. We were analyzing which stores were affected and quantifying the lost sales by department. What was unique about Katrina was that the storm did not subside after it first made landfall in Florida. Instead, it gained strength in the Gulf and then hit New Orleans, and the storm surge caused the levees to fail. The amount of land, property, and people ...

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