United Rentals establishes hurricane response center, donates to Red Cross

United Rentals has established a 24-hour emergency response center dedicated to deploying resources to the regions devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

The bilingual emergency response team, based at the company’s Shelton, Conn., customer service facility, “was fully activated within 24 hours of the hurricane’s first hit in the Gulf Region,” said Ernie Delle Donne, vice president of national accounts and government sales for United Rentals. Employees from branches as far away as Chicago and Toronto have arrived in Shelton to staff telephones and arrange the distribution of disaster recovery equipment and contractor supplies. In the first 48 hours of the hurricane’s aftermath, the center fielded more than 1,100 calls related to Katrina, Delle Donne said.

“There’s a lot we can do as a company to help with the logistics of the relief and recovery efforts,” Delle Donne said. “Right now, our priority is to respond to every need as completely and rapidly as possible.”

United Rentals also announced Sept. 6 that it would contribute up to $100,000 in financial support to the relief effort for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. The donation will be made to the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina Fund and will consist of an initial corporate donation of $25,000 and a dollar-for-dollar match of employee contributions up to an additional $75,000.

“The Red Cross has emphasized that funds are desperately needed for basic food, water, clothing and shelter in the wake of the hurricane’s devastation,” said Wayland Hicks, chief executive of United Rentals. “We feel that this pledge is the best way for us to help make a difference on both a corporate and an individual level.”

The company will also accept customer contributions to the Red Cross fund at its rental locations throughout North America.

–Jonathan Menard