AKRON (Sept. 9, 2005) – Bridgestone/Firestone and Goodyear continue to seek information on missing employees in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and assess the amount of damage Hurricane Katrina inflicted on their captive retail stores in the stricken area.
Bridgestone/Firestone said as of Sept. 8 six of its nine Firestone Tire & Service Centers in Mississippi had reopened, but all 12 stores in Louisiana remained closed as the firm was still trying to determine which if any could be salvaged.
As of Sept. 8 BFS was still trying to ascertain the whereabouts of 10 company store employees still missing.
“They have no phone service, and they may be moving from shelter to shelter,” a BFS spokeswoman said.
Nashville, Tenn.-based BFS has been doing everything it can to ensure the safety of its employees in the area. A Louisiana district manager has opened his house to three complete families, including pets, left homeless in the hurricane. The assistant district manager also is housing some company employees, the spokeswoman said.
“The situation is horrible beyond belief,” she said. “But when you see the kindness that people are capable of in a situation like this, it's also very heartening.”
At last report, Goodyear still had 12 retail stores in the region that had not reopened; some of the stores' status is still unknown because the firm hasn't been able to get in to assess the condition, a spokesman said.
The firm has accounted for most of the retail store employees, although it is attempting to get more detailed information, the spokesman said.
“Most of our Goodyear associates in the area are accounted for,” the spokesman said, “although we continue to strive for more information. This is our major effort, and we're finding that many of them are starting to show up at other Goodyear outlets in other areas.”
The Akron tire maker has found only one Wingfoot commercial tire center that sustained some damage, the spokesman said.
“While we're still having difficulty assessing damage on some of the properties, it's obviously very uncertain how much business these outlets would have anyway, since the people have been moved out of the area,” he said.
The company is considering the option of establishing temporary service sites—in addition to its existing sites—to aid emergency vehicles working in the stricken areas, he added. “We'll likely put some mobile tire service trucks into action such as our Just Tires 'Tire Valet' service from Chicago,” he said.