Tyson, Walmart, other Northwest Arkansas businesses help flood victims

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 889 views 

Soybean fields are submerged near the Webbers Fall bridge on Interstate 40 as Arkansas flood waters raced toward Van Buren and Fort Smith.

Several Northwest Arkansas businesses have stepped up to help their neighbors in the Fort Smith and Van Buren areas in the midst of devastating flooding of the Arkansas River.

Tyson Foods has a processing facility in Fort Smith, which has not been impacted by the rising flood waters. On Tuesday (May 28) the meat giant said it’s donating about 64,000 pounds of protein – two truckloads – to benefit people in flooded areas around Fort Smith. Tyson Foods has also volunteered to unload and distribute product to the receiving agencies at the River Valley Regional Food Bank. The company said disaster-relief teams will continue to assess operations and deploy additional resources as needed in the impacted areas. This meat product is being delivered to the Fort Smith area beginning Thursday.

Walmart, Sam’s Club and Walmart.org also announced a broader relief effort of $150,000 in cash and product donations for recent flood victims in Arkansas and surrounding states. This comes on top of the earlier commitments in March and early May bringing the total to $500,000 for flood and tornado victims and communities impacted across the Midwest and South. Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas. Missouri, Nebraska. Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas have all faced floods and tornadoes this spring and will share in the Walmart gifts. Walmart said it is working with local officials and government entities to help meet the needs of those impacted.

“The ongoing impact of tornadoes and historic floods continues to affect our associates, our customers and communities across the Midwest and South. Our local stores and distribution centers, as well as the nonprofits, first responders, local officials and government organizations continue to work hard to meet the needs of the affected communities we serve, and we are so grateful for their combined efforts,” said Julie Gehrki, vice president, philanthropy at Walmart.

Gehrki said the company and its foundation support efforts to help communities build resiliency and respond more quickly and effectively when disaster strikes.

Lowell-based Central Research Inc. is teaming up with Propak Logistics of Fort Smith to collect donated supplies for flood victims in the Fort Smith metro. CRI is hosting a flood relief drive hoping to get Northwest Arkansas residents and businesses to donate non-perishable food items, bottled water, heavy duty garbage bags, bleach, disinfectant soap, first aid supplies, hand sanitizer, towels, scrub brushes, sponges, mops, insect repellent, shovels, axes and toiletries. Items can be dropped off between 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Friday (May 31) at the former Marvin’s IGA grocery store located at 203 N. Bloomington in Lowell.

“What is happening in the River Valley is devastating. As neighbors to those communities, we wanted to find a way to offer some relief to residents,” said Scott Dillard, president and CEO of Central Research Inc. “I’m very proud to see our team step up to organize this drive and appreciate the willingness of Propak to quickly help us find a way to deliver the items to residents impacted by the historic flood.”

Propak Logistics will transport the donated items down to Fort Smith where they will be distributed through the United Way.

Siloam Springs-based Simmons Foods operates two plants in the Fort Smith metro, one of which is located near the Arkansas River in Van Buren. The company said all shifts were running as scheduled, but the situation is fluid as more rain is expected into Thursday.

Simmons said employees impacted from the flooding in the area who could not make it to work Tuesday (May 28) have excused absences which do qualify them for holiday pay on Memorial Day. The company usually withholds holiday pay incentives when a worker has an unexcused absence immediately following the holiday.

“We urge all team members to be aware of road conditions and follow all safety precautions issued by local officials when traveling to and from work. A cross-functional team including Operations, Safety, Human Resources, Communications, and Chaplain Services is communicating regularly to share information, assess operations and provide assistance to team members,” Simmons noted on its website.

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