As parts of North Carolina and Florida continue digging out from the destruction from Hurricane Florence, Best Buy Co. Inc., said it is paying workers at three of its closed stores for their time doing volunteer work in the community.
 
More than 200 employees are affected at stores in Wilmington and Morehead City, both in North Carolina, and in Panama City, Fla., the company said. Other employees have been diverted to nearby stores to keep their paychecks coming.
 
The retailer’s decision to pay its hourly workers for community service was heralded by a contingent of Trump Administration cabinet members and elected officials who visited the Wilmington store in mid-October. Among the attendees were U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and three members of North Carolina’s Congressional delegation.
 
Richfield-based Best Buy, the nation’s largest consumer electronics company, first decided to offer some monetary support to displaced workers in Puerto Rico last year after Hurricane Maria struck the island, where the company has about 300 employees at stores and a distribution center.
 
The post-Florence pay was only for employees who volunteered to do clean-up. Those whose homes and lives were too disrupted by the storm to help others were taking paid vacation time, a spokesman said.
 
These workers were eligible for financial support from a foundation established by Best Buy founder Richard Schulze. Best Buy said it would match employee donations dollar-for-dollar, and was allowing workers to donate hours from their vacation banks to help colleagues dealing with flood damage.
 
A Best Buy spokesman said Thursday he didn’t have details on how much money had been raised or the time-off hours donated. The company also didn’t yet know the number of hours people had worked in the community.
 
Employees had volunteered with the Salvation Army as well as a group that fed power line workers who were restoring electricity to the North Carolina coast, according to the company.
 
The retailer aims to get the North Carolina stores back online in time for the Black Friday day-after Thanksgiving sale. It’s too soon to know when the Panama City location will open.

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