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HOUSTON -- Partners of regional supermarket chain HEB here performed "Herculean efforts" to reopen stores after Hurricane Rita hit the east Texas Gulf region over the weekend, said the retailer's Houston Division president, Scott McClelland, yesterday.
After being forced to close 66 of its Houston Division stores in advance of Hurricane Rita, and despite the obstacles of power outages, historic traffic jams, and staffing shortages due to mandatory hurricane evacuations, HEB was the first major grocery chain in the greater Houston area to open more than 38 stores in less than 24 hours.
By end of day Monday, HEB had reopened all but eight of its stores, which remain without power, the company said in a statement. Those stores are located primarily in Jefferson, Chambers, Liberty, and Jasper counties, which are among the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Rita.
HEB said it has been working with utility officials to bring these stores back online as soon as possible.
HEB also released a "Hurricane Rita Response Timeline," which details the methodical steps the chain took from the time Hurricane Rita made landfall to the present.
"Our HEB partners performed Herculean efforts to reopen our stores in record speed in order to serve our customers in this time of need," said McClelland. "As we continue to work on opening stores without power, we are diligently working to ship relief supplies to all accessible areas throughout east Texas."
HEB customers across Texas are being given the opportunity to help the victims of Hurricane Rita by adding a $1, $3, or $5 donation to their grocery bills. Contributions will be given to the Texas chapters of the American Red Cross. The HEB Hurricane Katrina Customer Checkstand Donation Campaign raised more than $250,000 for the relief effort.
In addition to these efforts, HEB said it is in contact with Second Harvest Food Banks, the American Red Cross, and FEMA to support relief efforts throughout East Texas.