United Rentals establishes hurricane response center, donates to Red Cross

United Rentals announced Sept. 6 it has established a 24-hour emergency response center dedicated to deploying resources to regions devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The company is also contributing $25,000 plus up to $75,000 in a match of employee donations to the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina Fund.

Telephone calls to United Rentals branches affected by the hurricane are automatically rerouted to the emergency center, which is also accepting direct, toll-free calls. “Right now, our priority is to respond to every need as completely and rapidly as possible,” said Ernie Delle Donne, vice president of national accounts and government sales for United Rentals. “Our branch teams are working around the clock to fulfill requests from FEMA, municipal, state and federal response crews, utilities and private citizens. Locations that are in and near Katrina’s path, but were spared a direct hit, are sending equipment, supplies and manpower to the branches most affected.”

A bilingual response team at the company’s Shelton, Conn., customer service facility, was activated within 24 hours of Katrina’s landfall, Delle Donne said. United Rentals employees from as far away as Chicago and Toronto have traveled to Shelton to staff phones and arrange distribution of disaster recovery equipment contractor supplies. The center received more than 1,100 hurricane-related calls in the first 48 hours after Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Delle Donne said.

United Rentals is also accepting customer contributions to the Red Cross fund at its 730 North American locations.