Katrina Update: 28 Family Dollar Stores Remain Closed; Kroger Relief Efforts to Exceed $6 Million

MATTHEWS, N.C. and CINCINNATI -- Several food retailers provided updates yesterday regarding post-Hurricane Katrina operations and relief efforts.

Matthews, N.C.-based dollar store retailer Family Dollar Stores, Inc. said that 28 of the 50-60 stores that were closed as a result of Hurricane Katrina remain closed. While the company said it is still too early to quantify the extent of any losses related to Hurricane Katrina, its preliminary inspections suggest that 15 of the remaining closed stores have significant damage and may be closed permanently or relocated.

"Our target customer was disproportionately impacted by Hurricane Katrina, and we are focused on providing basic necessities through our store network as soon as possible," said Family Dollar chairman and c.e.o. Howard Levine in a statement. "In addition, our company and our associates have donated approximately $250,000 in cash and merchandise to local and national non-profit agencies supporting Katrina relief efforts."

Levine said the company has actively kept in touch with its employees to make sure that they were safe and to assist in job placement. Additionally Family Dollar has continued salary and benefits for displaced or missing employees; has assisted some displaced associates with temporary living expenses; and is providing relocation assistance to those employees who have decided to relocate permanently.

"Katrina will have a lasting effect on the region and its residents. Through the Family Dollar store network and the hard work of our associates, we will continue to support the rebuilding of the region and the creation of a new life for our customers and our displaced associates," Levine said.

Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. said it expects to provide more than $6 million for hurricane relief efforts, thanks to chain's consumer outreach efforts that began Sept. 1, when Kroger began accepting customer donations at all of the company's 3,300+ supermarkets, multi-department stores, and convenience stores.

The company's charitable foundations have pledged to match associates' donations up to a total of $500,000.

The funds will be forwarded directly to the American Red Cross for hurricane relief efforts.

In addition, Kroger last week made available up to $1.5 million in aid, based upon local needs. Kroger division presidents in Memphis and Houston reached out to the governors of Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee to offer assistance as those states work to feed and shelter many thousands of evacuees displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

As a part of the chain's relief assistance, Kroger's Southwest division in Texas has provided $50,000 to the Houston Katrina Relief Fund and donated $250,000 in gift cards to be distributed to evacuees currently living in Dallas and Houston. Kroger pharmacists are assisting people displaced by the storm and have donated more than $180,000 in prescription medicines to victims in Texas and Louisiana.

With the help of Kroger manufacturing plants and vendor partners, the company delivered 30 truckloads of food, water, and other products to feed residents at the Houston Astrodome, and donated $50,000 to the North Texas Food Bank in Dallas. Kroger operates 215 stores in Texas and Louisiana.

While Kroger stores in Mississippi suffered only minor damage and loss of power in the storm, the company's Delta division, based in Memphis, mobilized quickly to reopen those stores and begin sending truckloads of water, food, and other products to coastal communities battered by Katrina. The division has donated 55 truckloads of product to shelters and food bank operations in the affected region.

Kroger reached out with donations of $50,000 to governmental relief funds established by Mississippi and Arkansas to assist rebuilding efforts and evacuees. Additional donations of $50,000 were provided to similar organizations created by Jackson, Mississippi, and Memphis. Earlier this week, the company donated $200,000 in school supplies to local school districts in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee that have enrolled children displaced by Katrina. Kroger operates 189 stores in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

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