Dear Coca-Cola UNITED Family, I have good news to share.
Our Panama City Coca-Cola facility is open for business!
As of this week, over 90% of our teammates are back at work, and our offices and restrooms are open for use. While our warehouse is functional, it will be some time before it is fully restored, so customer orders will continue to be prepared in Montgomery and shipped overnight to Panama City for the foreseeable future…thanks to our Montgomery Team!
However, the fact that we are able to operate to any degree, less than four weeks after Hurricane Michael made a direct hit on Panama City, is nothing short of amazing – and a credit to our Facility and Operations teams. These colleagues not only prepared well in advance of the storm, but they mobilized in an extraordinary way immediately following.
Of course, not everything is the way it was before Hurricane Michael. Unfortunately, quite the contrary. Associates, customers and the community at large are still struggling with the aftermath of the hurricane, and it will be a long while until things reach a state of normalcy. We are continuing to provide support and outreach, and I ask that you please continue to keep everyone concerned in your prayers.
Let me share with you some important facts:
- More than 3,000 Coca-Cola UNITED associates from Central and East Regions were located in the path of Hurricane Michael.
- Miraculously, there were no injuries or fatalities to our team.
- Associates in Panama City, Sylvester, Bainbridge, Dothan, Valdosta, Tallahassee and Valparaiso had loss of, or damage to, their homes.
- Although Panama City sales center had the most damage and was inoperable the past month, Sylvester and Bainbridge facilities also sustained damage.
- Damage to our fleet was minimal.
Now let me tell you some of what our UNITED team has done, beginning just 24 hours after the storm:
Our Facilities team mobilized immediately and sent support for cleanup and repair to all facilities impacted.
In Panama City, our teams brought trailers to the site of our sales center, which included men’s and women’s bathrooms with showers, as well as offices for associates to work.
Along with access to fuel and cash advances, new clothes, food and life essentials were provided to our associates and their families, including extended payroll continuity.
Access to counseling and a covered, common gathering place provided respite and fellowship for our teammates and their families, helping to comfort body and soul.
- Assistance was provided for grant application to both the Coca-Cola UNITED and The Coca-Cola Company Employee Relief Funds.
- Volunteers came to help with cleanup.
“Buddies,” as we have come to affectionately call our associate volunteers, were in full force from across UNITED, helping their teammates with personal needs, as well as supporting service to our customers and communities. A special thanks goes out to our Valparaiso team for servicing parts of the Panama City territory while we were restoring operations.
Finally, I continue to be moved by the generosity of our associates, family members, business partners, friends and colleagues throughout the Coca‑Cola System who have donated to our Employee Relief Fund to help our associates get back on their feet. I can’t tell you how much this means to our associates whose lives were impacted by Hurricane Michael.
The road to recovery for many will be long and difficult but the human spirit is ferocious, and when combined with the support and generosity of so many friends and colleagues like you, we will persevere.
Thank you for being part of our UNITED team. We are UNITED in the way we serve and support one another and our communities.
President & CEO