Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, the comics and games industries are mobilizing to determine the extent of the damage to specialty market retailers in those regions, and provide aid to what is believed to be more than 50 affected hobby shops.
Perhaps the most striking aftereffect of the storm is that a complete evacuation has been ordered for the city of New Orleans. Areas of all four states have also experienced, or are still experiencing, extreme flooding, in addition to the widespread damage caused by hurricane-force winds. Combined, these factors are expected to result in the United States' worst natural disaster since the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.
"In times of crisis, one hopes to be surrounded by people who can react quickly and compassionately," said Diamond President and CEO Steve Geppi. "As evidenced by the multiple hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004, the terrorist attacks of 2001 and other similar circumstances, the comics and games communities have always made it a priority to rally around peers whose lives and businesses are impacted by these catastrophes. I have every confidence that our industry's generosity will once again be on display in the weeks and months to come."
The following is a breakdown of support announced by Diamond, Alliance and vendors as of press time, as well as general information that may be of use to retailers in the disaster area.
Diamond & Alliance Support
Diamond and Alliance will work with affected retailers on a case-by-case basis to help them recover and resume operations, with potential support including: holding of shipments, canceling of orders, working with suppliers to provide free goods, extending payment terms, etc.
It has been determined that approximately 32 Diamond customers and 22 Alliance customers are located in areas seriously impacted by the hurricane, and the fate of many of those shops is still undetermined. As of this writing at least two stores - Jaks in Biloxi, MS and Hub Hobby Shop in New Orleans, LA - are described as "total losses."
"So far we've only managed to track down a small number of stores in the affected areas, and are working to reach the others," said Diamond Director of Customer Service and Inside Sales Eric Beck. "We're asking that all retailers who were hit by the hurricane, or who have information about stores in the storm zone, to contact us as soon as possible so we can assess their situations and get them some help."
- DC Comics: "We are extremely concerned about the safety of these comics retailers and their families, and DC will do everything it can to assist them both today and when they're ready to get back on their feet," said DC Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing Stephanie Fierman. "For now, affected retailers will receive their DC items at no charge. We will be announcing a comprehensive set of actions next week, after consulting with our customers."
- Other Vendors: A number of other industry publishers are finalizing the details of their relief packages, with details to be announced soon. Refer to upcoming issues of Diamond Daily for more information as it becomes available.
Retailers in the states of Louisiana and Mississippi should note that UPS has indefinitely suspended deliveries to the ZIP codes indicated below:
State and Affected ZIP Codes
Louisiana: 70000-70100 , 70452, 70456, 70458, 70459, 70461, 70469
Mississippi: 39426, 39452, 39456, 39457, 39463, 39466, 39470, 39501-39507, 39520-39522, 39525, 39529-39535, 39540, 39552-39558, 39560-39577, 39581, 39595
Additionally, UPS has announced that its services, including scheduled pickup, delivery and On-Call Pickup Services are delayed or may be suspended in the affected areas, including Alabama and Florida. Local conditions will also continue to affect scheduled hours at UPS Customer Centers.
How to Help:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is urging those who wish to support the countless millions affected by Katrina to do so by donating to selected agencies, an approved list of which is now available. They include:
Cash Donations Agency Phone Number(s)
American Red Cross
800-HELP-NOW (English), 800-257-7575 (Spanish)
America’s Second Harvest
Cash Donations and Volunteer Services Agency Phone Number(s)
Adventist Community Services
Catholic Charities, USA
Christian Disaster Response
Christian Reformed World Relief Committee
Church World Service
Convoy of Hope
Corporation for National and Community Service Disaster Relief Fund
Lutheran Disaster Response
Mennonite Disaster Response
Nazarene Disaster Response
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
Southern Baptist Convention – Disaster Relief
800-462-8657, ext. 6440
United Methodist Committee on Relief