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Walmart opens the doors to its emergency operation center

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BENTONVILLE, AR (KTVI) - The Walmart Emergency Operations Center is located deep inside their home office in Bentonville, Arkansas.  The EOC has its origins in the company’s response following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Over the years it has been activated for numerous disasters, some natural and some man-made.

Inside the EOC, they bring together an all star cast of experts in operations, transportation, merchandising and logistics.

EOC Senior Manager, Lucas McDonald is a trained meteorologist so he is keenly aware of what Mother Nature can dish-out.  “We bring together resources here to make sure we have the proper response for our associates, operations and communities,” says McDonald.

Walmart was widely praised for their response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 which included coordinating and distributing 1500 truckloads of free merchandise and food.

One of the most challenging events they have faced was the deadly Joplin tornado.  Not only did many of the EOC workers have relatives in or near the storm’s path, they were also dealing with their own tornado threat in Arkansas.  “We had human resources managers on conference calls while they were in their closets,” says McDonald.

Before, during and after an event, the EOC not only coordinates with their local stores.  They also monitor social media very closely to see what their customers are talking about the things they may want or need.  Based on what they see, they can make quick adjustments to what products they ship into a disaster zone.