Disaster Response Planning in the Private Sector and the Role of Operations Research
Organizations in the private sector such as The Home Depot (THD), Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, and Waffle House have become actively involved in the disaster response operations in their communities. With the objective of becoming effective first responders, these companies have integrated a disaster response planning process to their business operations. We introduce the disaster response planning process implemented by THD after their experience with Hurricane Andrew. We describe in detail the components of this process, each of which requires different decisions to be made at different levels of the organization. We discuss how operations research methodologies could be used to assist decision makers in the disaster response setting, and we propose an optimization model for each of two of the decisions commonly found in a disaster response planning process: advance purchasing and inventory allocation. In addition to these exact methods, we suggest a scenario-based approach, which is more intuitive and allows to incorporate objectives that are harder to model, such as the relative value of the supplies.
KeywordsTransportation Sponge Dispatch Broom
The authors gratefully acknowledge The Home Depot personnel for sharing generously their time, experience, and process documentation for writing of the case on which this chapter is based. Support for this work was provided by the Georgia Institute of Technology Focused Research Program on Humanitarian Response, the Harold R. and Mary Anne Nash Endowment, and National Science Foundation Grant SBE-0624269. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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