Oct. 30, 2012 at 4:23 PM ET
NEW YORK/CHICAGO — After Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast, companies scrambled on Tuesday to assess the damage and figure out how to staff up as soon as possible.
Transportation hubs in New York and Washington were closed due to Sandy, one of the biggest storms to ever hit the country. The storm bashed the coast for hours with high winds and waves that caused widespread flooding, then Sandy dropped just below hurricane status before making landfall on Monday night in New Jersey.
With the holiday season quickly approaching, retailers in particular hurried to get back to business.
Luxury department store Saks said it would reopen on Tuesday three of the stores that it had to close because of Sandy, including stores in greater Washington and Philadelphia.
The retailer's flagship on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, which generates about 20 percent of company sales, along with five other stores in New Jersey and Connecticut, are set to reopen on Wednesday, a spokeswoman said.
Saks said it would not be coordinating transportation for employees.
"In the NYC store, many associates live nearby, and we can operate the store with lower staffing levels if needed," a representative said.
Similarly, Macy's said its iconic Herald Square flagship store in Manhattan, and others in the city and in parts of New Jersey, would stay closed on Tuesday. Others in the East will open through the course of the day.
"The determining factor is if the store and shopping center have electricity, and if associates are able to get to work," a Macy's spokesman said, adding that the company had 195 stores closed all or part of the day Monday, about a quarter of its footprint.
Wal-Mart Stores had 267 stores closed as of late Monday night due to the storm. By Tuesday afternoon, that was down to 80 stores in 10 states.
The world's largest retailer said none of its facilities had been seriously damaged and there was no disruption of holiday planning.
The Wal-Mart emergency operations center in Bentonville, Ark., was running at full speed. Along with the meteorologist on staff, there were people working on issues such as logistics, emergency merchandise and fuel for generators.
"I think the lesson is that the East Coast needs to prepare for hurricanes just like the Gulf Coast needs to because, you know, that's an area that prior to Irene was not an issue," said Mark Cooper, Wal-Mart's senior director of global emergency management.
Ikea, which has nine stores from Maryland to Connecticut, hopes to reopen all but the store in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn on Wednesday. Nevertheless, the decision 10 years ago to elevate the Red Hook store above the parking lot was fortuitous, said spokesman Joseph Roth. "Certainly there is water along the esplanade, the whole waterfront area there, but the store itself appears to have weathered it relatively fine."
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