United Rentals Inc. has moved quickly to establish a 24-hour emergency response center dedicated to deploying resources in the regions devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the company announced. Telephone calls to United Rentals branches in the affected areas are automatically rerouted to the center, which also accepts direct, toll-free calls.
The bilingual emergency response team, based at the company’s Shelton, Conn., customer service facility, “was fully activated within 24 hours of the hurricane’s first hit in the Gulf Region,” said Ernie Delle Donne, vice president—national accounts and government sales for United Rentals. Employees from branches as far away as Chicago and Toronto have arrived in Shelton to staff the telephones and arrange the distribution of disaster recovery equipment and contractor supplies. In the first 48 hours of the hurricane’s aftermath, the center fielded more than 1,100 calls directly related to Katrina, Delle Donne said.
“There’s a lot we can do as a company to help with the logistics of the relief and recovery efforts,” Delle Donne continued. “Right now, our priority is to respond to every need as completely and rapidly as possible. Our branch teams are working around the clock to fulfill requests from FEMA, municipal, state and federal response crews, utilities and private citizens. We have a tremendous support network among our branches. Locations that are in and near Katrina’s path, but were spared a direct hit, are sending equipment, supplies and manpower to the branches most affected.”
United Rentals will also contribute up to $100,000 in financial support to the relief effort for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. The donation will be made to the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina Fund.
United Rental’s pledge will consist of an initial corporate donation of $25,000 and the company’s dollar-for-dollar match of employee contributions up to an additional $75,000.
Wayland Hicks, chief executive officer of United Rentals said, “The Red Cross has emphasized that funds are desperately needed for basic food, water, clothing and shelter in the wake of the hurricane’s devastation. We feel this pledge is the best way for us to help make a difference on both a corporate and an individual level.”
United Rentals has more than 730 rental locations throughout North America, including eleven branches in Alabama, four in Mississippi and eight in Louisiana. The company’s regional contractor supplies distribution center in Atlanta, Ga., will also aid in the deployment efforts.