Pharmacies Working to Meet Natural Disaster Challenges


Pharmacies closed by Hurricane Florence are working to re-open as customers are being directed to open stores in or near the affected areas, and some pharmacies are going even further to assist staff and customers as they recover from the storm’s impact.

Pharmacies closed by Hurricane Florence are working to re-open amid loss of power or other weather-related events. Meanwhile, customers are being directed to open stores in or near the affected areas, and some pharmacies are going even further to assist staff and customers as they recover from the storm’s impact.

In a prepared statement, Walmart officials said the company’s first priority is the safety of its team members and customers. Throughout the storm, Walgreens has conducted wellness checks on all field and store team members in impacted areas, and the company is making disaster support services available those employees who have been displaced or in need of additional resources.

Additionally, in North Carolina and South Carolina, Walgreens has donated $200,000 to the American Red Cross for hurricane relief efforts. The company also donated nonperishable food items to help support emergency shelters in the region.

“Our hearts go out to those who have been impacted by Hurricane Florence, and we’re working to do our part to help support these communities during this difficult time. We are thankful to our team members who continue to work diligently to restore pharmacy services and operations in the region as quickly as possible,” said Richard Ashworth, Walgreens president of operations, in a prepared statement. “Walgreens has a long history of being there for our communities in times of need and we will continue to support our customers and team members.”

Large pharmacy chains, including CVS and Walgreens, are keeping customers updated about the status of stores in the impacted areas through technological means.

CVS, which operates MinuteClinic services inside some stores, is maintaining and updating anonline list of locationsthat remain closed, due to the hurricane. The company is encouraging customers to visit alternate stores that can serve their prescription and emergency needs, such as first aid supplies, bottled water, and flashlights.

Walgreens is providingupdates on store locationsacross its social media platforms and mobile app, as well as an online store locator. The Walgreens Emergency Operations Center in its Deerfield, Illinois support office is working with field leaders in the impacted areas to restore pharmacy services at stores in the region as quickly as possible, company officials said.

According to its prepared statement, Walgreens is working to deploy mobile power generators to locations without power, and as store operations begin to resume, many site in North Carolina and South Carolina are providing charging stations for customers to charge cell phones or medical devices at no cost. In the event of stores that are unable to reopen in a timely manner, Walgreens also has mobile pharmacies that can be deployed to those locations.

Patients can also access an interactive map,Rx Open, to find pharmacies, including independent stores, that are open for business. The program is hosted by the nonprofit group Healthcare Ready, which focuses on health care system resiliency and meeting patient needs during disasters, in a partnership with Google. In addition to helping customers identify available pharmacies, the tool can direct patients and first-responders to vital medications

Ahead of the storm, CVS Health reached out to pharmacy customers through text messaging and emails to remind them to refill prescriptions in advance. The company also activated a process, through its pharmacy benefit manager CVS Caremark, that allowed it to provide 1-time emergency refills of a 10-day supply of medication for plan members in impacted areas.

According to CVS officials in a prepared statement, CVS Health has a long history of providing aid in times of disasters, helping communities prepare and recover by donating emergency supplies, such as food, water, and home and personal products. In the last 10 years, CVS Health and the CVS Health Foundation have donated more than $11 million in cash and in-kind donations in response to disaster events.

Regional chain Food Lion, which offers an in-house pharmacy in many of its stores, is also stepping up to support disaster relief initiatives. In a prepared statement, the North Carolina-based company said it is accepting customer donations at its registers to raise funds for the ARC disaster relief efforts.

“Our associates and customers in areas impacted by Hurricane Florence know they can count on Food Lion to be there before, during and after the storm, and we’ve heard from many of our customers across our operating area that they want to join with us to support our neighbors and communities in areas impacted by the storm,” said Meg Ham, Food Lion president, said in a prepared statement. “We know our customers share our commitment to the communities we serve, and together, we will continue to support the American Red Cross’ disaster recovery efforts.”

Click to read Prepareness is Key to Medication Safety During a Natural Disaster.


  1. Walgreens to Donate $200,000 to American Red Cross to Aid Communities Impacted by Hurricane Florence; Company Quickly Restoring Services and Operations to Meet the Need for Prescriptions and Other Essentials [news release]. Deerfield, IL; September 18, 2018: Walgreens website. Accessed September 18, 2018.
  2. CVS Pharmacy Store Status—Hurricane Florence. CVS Health website. Updated September 18, 2018. Accessed September 18, 2018.
  3. In Support of Hurricane Florence Disaster Relief Efforts, Food Lion Invites Customers to Make In-store Donations to American Red Cross [news release]. Salisbury, NC; September 14, 2018: Food Lion website. Accessed September 18, 2018.
  4. Healthcare Ready partners with Google [news release]. Washington, DC; February 12, 2018: Healthcare Ready website. Accessed September 18, 2018.

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