When we first caught wind of Irma, the category 5 hurricane was expected to put Hurricane Andrew to shame and Floridians immediately sprang into action. From stocking up on groceries and gas, to searching for the first flight to ANYWHERE, we were determined to weather this storm.
Despite our determination, we were met with several challenges – from empty aisles at the grocery store to hours-long lines at the gas stations to $1,000 flights to reach a safe haven.
It’s during these challenging times that people – and organizations – show their true colors. While some companies saw an opportunity to make a buck off of our plight, others rose to the occasion and showed their humanity by cutting us a break.
Call it ethics or call it a brilliant PR strategy (or a combination of the two), the following companies deserve kudos for their response during this stormy time.
In the days leading up to the storm, plenty of airlines were accused of price gouging, charging nearly 10 times that of a normal ticket due to high demand.
One airline, however, passed my human decency test with flying colors by announcing that it was capping ticket prices at $99 for direct flights and $159 for connecting flights.
JetBlue’s decision not only helped relieve stress for thousands of refugees, but it also put the company in the PR limelight. News of JetBlue’s decision graced the pages of Time, The Washington Post and Business Insider, to name a few.
With an estimated 6.3 million people ordered to evacuate Florida prior to the hurricane, that left quite a few people scrambling to find accommodations.
To help some evacuees find shelter, home-sharing site Airbnb developed a list of people who were willing to host those displaced by Hurricane Irma – and encouraged them to do so free of charge. Additionally, Airbnb decided to waive all service charges as well as state and local taxes.
As a result, Airbnb housed plenty of people in need while receiving praise from major media outlets including USA Today, Fortune and Fox News.
After a major evacuation was in order, plenty of Floridians packed up their cars and hit the road, hoping to flee from the storm’s path. During this mass exodus, gas was quite the hot commodity.
One company decided to take the high road and offer Floridians the extra juice they needed to get by. Tesla decided to extend the battery life of its Floridian cars, giving drivers an extra 30-40 miles of driving distance so they could get out of town before Irma hit.
This decision was the driving force behind some positive headlines in Forbes, The Washington Post and Business Insider.
Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile
When natural disasters strike, there’s nothing more important than being able to contact our loved ones. Our phones become our lifelines and being able to call and text suddenly becomes more than a luxury, but a necessity.
Several companies went above the call of duty during this stressful time. Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile all waived overage charges for calls, texts and data for its customers in light of the impending hurricane.
These companies truly walked the talk, and were spotlighted in The Miami Herald, ABC and Fox News.
Uber and Lyft
As risks of storm surge increased, one company vowed not to surge prices during this time.
In preparation for the storm, Uber announced that they would cap prices for rides in South Florida as locals sought refuge. In addition, Uber and Lyft decided to offer free rides to shelters near Tampa as the Hurricane came closer to making its descent.
Uber and Lyft were recognized by Bloomberg and Biz Journals for helping locals ride out the storm by taking them safely to shelter.
By lending a hand, these companies helped Florida weather the storm and ease the blow. It’s no wonder they all made headlines. Because after all, wouldn’t we all rather read about humanity than hatred?