Tyson Foods, Walmart Responding to Hurricane Florence, Flooding

Walmart and Tyson Foods are among the Northwest Arkansas companies leading in the response to help victims of Hurricane Florence and the flooding that continues to impact North Carolina and South Carolina.

Derek Burleson of Tyson Foods said teams from company plants started cooking hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken on Thursday, breaking a Tyson Foods’ first-day record at a natural disaster by providing food to 31,000 people. Tyson Foods will continue operating at its cook site on a Walmart parking lot in Fayetteville, N.C. through Sept. 29.

The four cook teams traveled from Clarksville, Ark.; Shelbyville, Tenn.; New Holland, Pa.; and Glen Allen, Va. Some of the Tyson Foods products are being provided to churches, nonprofits and other organizations who are directly benefiting those affected by the hurricane and flooding. Teams from Fort Bragg were heading into hard-to-reach areas in Humvees, providing Tyson Foods meals to flood victims.

Walmart, meanwhile, established a Hurricane Florence Response webpage where it announced on Monday that it would provide $5 million to match the $2.5 million donated by the company’s employees and customers for hurricane relief. Walmart today said it would provide $1.25 million to The Salvation Army.

“As our neighbors in the Carolinas continue to recover, we are proud to support organizations on the front line providing critical support,” said Julie Gehrki, vice president of programs for the Walmart Foundation. “Thanks to the generosity of our customers, we fully met our match. The funds from Walmart and Walmart customers will immediately assist communities with response and sheltering while investing in essential long-term recovery across the Carolinas.”

Feeding America received $1.1 million.

"Feeding America is incredibly grateful for Walmart's support of communities impacted by Hurricane Florence,” said Matt Knott, president of Feeding America. “Natural disasters devastate families and communities, and it's critical that we provide prompt assistance when they need it most.

 "With this donation we will be able to meet the increased need and help get even more food and supplies to communities in affected areas."

A New York City television station highlighted the generosity that occurred at a Walmart store in Garner, N.C., where the store’s manager led an effort to magnify a customer’s planned $50 donation to a shelter.

Earlier this week, KFSM, the Northwest Arkansas CBS affiliate, gave attention to the Tyson Foods work that’s occurring in North Carolina.

Walmart and Tyson Foods now have well-recognized histories of consistently providing relief after natural disasters.

In 2005, Walmart dispatched 2,450 truckloads of supplies to help victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita after those storms ravaged Louisiana and other areas of the Gulf Coast.

Walmart’s work after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 drew national praise for being impressive in both speed and volume. The Washington Post described Walmart as “being held up as a model for logistical efficiency and nimble disaster planning, which have allowed it to quickly deliver staples such as water, fuel and toilet paper to thousands of evacuees.”

Tyson Foods employees have helped after disasters for years, but the company first started using its Meals that Matter disaster relief semi-trailer after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012.

Workers at Tyson Foods facilities, including the company’s headquarters in Springdale, provided much-needed meal assistance to victims and volunteers after hurricanes Katrina, Ike, and Sandy; ice storms in Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky in 2009; the Joplin, Mo. and northern Alabama tornadoes in 2011; and other disasters across the U.S.