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Hy-Vee Springs into Action After Tornado Strikes in Iowa

Grocer's disaster fleet aids community about 40 miles from HQ
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Hy-Vee response fleet
Hy-Vee assembled a team of staff and volunteers to provide water to victims of the Greenfield, Iowa tornado that leveled parts of town on May 21.

Hy-Vee is used to hitting the road when disaster strikes, dispatching its fleet of response vehicles to provide critical supplies and support. This week, the retailer didn’t have to log a lot of miles to get to victims of a devastating tornado that struck – and largely decimated – the town of Greenfield, Iowa, about 43 miles southwest of Hy-Vee’s headquarters in West Des Moines.

“When it comes to responding to a major event with our disaster relief fleet, this and our response to deadly tornadoes in Winterset, Iowa, were the closest disasters to our corporate office,” Tina Pothoff, SVP of communications for Hy-Vee, Inc. told Progressive Grocer. Winterset, also fairly close to the Des Moines metro area, was hit by a tornado in 2022.

The EF-3 storm in Greenfield resulted in at least four deaths and dozens of injuries, in addition to the destruction of several residences and buildings. Immediately after the tornado tore through the area, Hy-Vee readied its fleet, and its convoy and crew were on the ground handing out water, food and other essentials to residents and responders at a special staging site. 

Hy-Vee created its expansive disaster fleet in August 2020, when an extreme wind event called a derecho wreaked havoc in communities across Iowa. In the ensuing years, Hy-Vee has provided relief to areas around the country affected by natural disasters and other situations through its mobile command center and vehicles equipped to provide power, communications and supplies including large-scale meals, drinking water and commonly needed medications.  

Employee-owned Hy-Vee operates more than 570 business units across eight Midwestern states, with sales of more than $13 billion annually. The West Des Moines, Iowa-based company has a team of more than 75,000 employees and is No. 38 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2024 list of top food and consumables retailers in North America.  

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