Major corporations around Minnesota with locations in south Texas have temporarily shuttered many of those operations as Harvey continued to wreak havoc on Houston and surrounding areas.
Richfield-based Best Buy and Minneapolis-based Target each closed about 30 stores in that region over the weekend. Those stores remained closed on Monday and it was unclear how soon they would reopen as heavy downpours were expected to continue in the coming days and many roads are unpassable.
“We’re certainly monitoring the situation,” said Best Buy spokesman Jeff Shelman. “But the safety of our store employees and our customers is more important than reopening.”
Target said it would reopen locations as quickly as possible when it was safe to do so.
“As always, we evaluate our store locations and teams to strike the right balance of providing for the community and staying safe for our team members,” Target said in a statement.
Before the storm hit, Target sent extra batteries, flashlights, cleaning supplies and other non-perishable foods to stores in the impacted area. But the flooded roads are hampering its ability to replenish some stores and so the company is holding products at its distribution facilities until the roads clear.
Meanwhile, Ecolab, 3M, Pentair, and C.H. Robinson are among companies that closed their south Texas locations.
“As a global logistics firm, many of our customers’ supply-chain operations - both into and out of the Houston area - have been greatly impacted,” said Dan Ryan, vice president of C.H. Robinson. “We have extensive contingency plans in place to ensure our C.H. Robinson network helps our customers and contract carriers navigate the situation. All of our employees in the region have checked in at this time; some have been required to evacuate but are safe with friends and relatives.”
Freight has been relocated or paused, and shippers are being helped to navigate the closed port, said Mac Pinkerton, another Robinson vice president.
Ecolab employs about 3,400 people at a number of offices, manufacturing facilities and labs in Houston, Sugar Land, Freeport, Fresno, Corpus Christi, and Victoria. “We have some associates who have lost everything,” Ecolab spokeswoman Mesa Denny said. “I think it will be a tough couple of weeks for our crew down there.”
Pentair, which makes pumps and water filtration equipment and has 400 employees in the region, closed three locations in South Texas this weekend.
The Pentair Foundation donated $25,000 to the Red Cross and is expected to lend its pumps and filtration equipment to affected residents.
3M Co. shuttered its anti-corrosion electronics factory in Angleton, and its shingle testing facility in Stafford. 3M has about 50 employees between the two sites, “and as far as we know they are all in good shape,” said 3M spokeswoman Donna Fleming Runyon.
Both 3M and Ecolab said they are in the process of determining what type of aid to send to the beleaguered region. Both firms are known for sending truckloads of hand sanitizers, cleaning, medical and other supplies into disaster zones.
Late Monday, 3M announced it is immediately donating $125,000 in cash to the Texas-based agencies responding to community emergencies. It is also creating an employee-match program in which 3M will match funds and donate up to $250,000 to the American Red Cross. Separately, Fleming Runyon said 3M is preparing to donate 3M products to those in the disaster zone. More details about products will be available in the next few days.
Includes reporting by Dee DePass and Patrick Kennedy.