Despite the somewhat sidelong view in this Washington Post article about Wal-Mart, I personally am not surprised. Despite efforts of labor unions, lefties and people who just don't like big business Wal-Mart continues to grow. Some may ask why and for one answer just look at what they do when the excrement hits the oscillating wind-making device.
It would be cynically easy to think that Wal-Mart's reaction in the Katrina aftermath is simply a matter of PR to overcome their bad press they have received in recent years. However, such a mindset belies the long term activities of the company. If you go to Charleston, South Carolina, you will find a city that loves Wal-Mart, not because of its low prices or vast selection, but because in 1989, Hurricane Hugo blew through town. Literally hours after Hugo was gone, Wal-Mart trucks were pulling into town with relief supplies--faster in many respects than the government. I was part of the crew of Wal-mart employees who spent weeks living in the stores, with no running water and not only fixed up the store in order to provide goods and services, often at or below cost for most items but also free food and water. We also spent hours each day in the community, cutting up trees, cleaning up neighborhoods and just helping out. To this day, the city of Charleston and surrounding communities continue to thank Wal-Mart by shopping there and no one would forget what the company did.
The same will be said in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Sam Walton was a southern gentlemen as well as a savvy businessman, he believed in helping those who needed it realizing that such efforts are both humanly moral and good business. Wal-Mart can move with speed, react to changning needs and do so without the red tape of the government or the bickering and blame games of the politicians. While the company gets good PR, my guess is that everyone from Lee Scott on down to the lowliest hourly worker would be happy with a Thank You and nothing else.
This is why Wal-Mart is the biggest company in America--because it embodies the basics of America. It offers assistance for no other reason than that someone needs help and they can provide it.
For all the unions and Wal-Mart haters out there, unless and until you can find another organization who can provide this kind of aid and assistance, I suggest you shut up and thank Wal-Mart for it efforts, after all--if not for Wal-Mart in the Gulf Coast, there could be a lot more misery going around.