**Update: Friday, September 5th**
We are well on our way to recovery! A huge public thank you to everyone who has helped us get to this point so we can help meet the needs of our communities. There’s more to be done and we are up for the challenge!
- Our Baton Rouge store is up and running – moving off generator and onto city power. This store will be open from 10am to 6pm daily until the city curfew is lifted.
- Our Arabella Station store (New Orleans) opened for a while on Thursday. We do have city power back there as well. Hours are not defined at this time (team members are making their way back to town). We expect to be running normal operating hours in the next few days.
- Our Metairie store (New Orleans) also has their power back so they will open at 10AM Friday. Reduced hours for now but should be running normal operating hours in the next few days.
- Our store in Little Rock was also affected by now Tropical Depression Gustav. Lost power Wednesday but got it back last night. Team Members scrambled to save product and reset the store, which will open at 8am Friday.
**Update: Thursday, September 4th**
Hello Louisiana! Want to give you all an update as you plan to make your way back to your homes. We got the following scoop from our leadership team in the Southwest Region.
Last week with Hurricane Gustav headed for the Gulf, our emergency preparedness teams were in the New Orleans preparing for the storm. Just before our Team Members and their families evacuated from the city, we managed to empty our New Orleans stores of most perishables. These foods are extremely susceptible to spoilage during power outages and can cause serious health hazards during cleanup, so we have a leg up on getting opened by moving that stuff out. We also moved store-sized generators from elsewhere in the region to the New Orleans area so that we could be up and running as soon as possible and practical.
Because we had a generator in place, as of Wednesday we were able to open the Baton Rouge Whole Foods Market. Store hours are currently 10am to 6pm due to the curfew that is in effect from 8 pm to 8 am. Store hours will change after curfew is lifted. We still don’t have a full supply of perishables, but expect to be back to full staffing and products selection within the next few days. This is good news for the Baton Rouge citizens! Approximately 90 percent of Baton Rouge is still without power. The local power company announced a request for 10,000 technicians from various utility companies in 25 states to help restore the grid. We anticipate being very busy until the other grocery stores in the community can safely open their doors again.
The drivers from our Southwest Distribution Center in Austin were on the road with truckloads of ice and water for residents of Baton Rouge as soon as they were able to get into the city. We gave away 40 pallets of ice (two truckloads) and water to more than 500 people, with the ice being the most popular, by far.
As of Wednesday, more than 60 percent of New Orleans remained without power. Although he announced that citizens can start returning to their homes at midnight, Mayor Nagin reminded citizens that they should expect hardships for a while including no grocery stores, no gas stations, etc., and that some services will take days or weeks to be operational. There is plenty of gasoline but no way to pump it without power.
We hope to open our Uptown Arabella Station store by mid-day Thursday. Although we are still in the process of replenishing our perishable food products, we want to serve the community in whatever capacity we are able. Luckily, the store did not sustain damage and our non-perishable product was saved. Our Team Members are returning from wherever they found refuge, although transportation back into the city is still challenging. It is likely that our selection and hours will be limited over the next several days.
Finally, we hope to open our Metairie store on Friday IF the power to the area is restored by then. Again, we’ll have limited selection and hours for several days.
We are deeply thankful that the loss of life and damage were relatively minimal with Gustav, and that we can get back to serving our communities as soon as possible.