Photo by Debra K. Rubin
Flood-damaged Home Depot megastore could stay closed until Sept. 3

While many contractors and homeowners have flocked to big-box home improvement stores for critical supplies in Hurricane Irene-hit states, extensive flooding at one of Atlanta-based Home Depot's largest U.S. stores, in Union, N.J., will keep it closed until at least Sept. 3.

The store has been shuttered since Aug. 28, when Irene swept across New Jersey.

A Home Depot spokesman declined to discuss the extent of damage to the roughly 217,000 sq-ft "superstore" or say when it would reopen. A security guard at the store site said the store could reopen on Sept. 3. Water had completely filled the store's parking lot, forcing nearby road closures. The spokesman said, however, that only four of the chain's 400 stores in the hurricane-affected region remain closed.

A spokeswoman for Lowe's Cos., Mooresville, N.C., confirmed that six stores in New Jersey, New York and North Carolina stayed closed Aug. 27-28, and that one in Hackettstown, N.J. remains shuttered.

Lowe's shipped more than 1,000 extra truckloads of flashlights, batteries and generators to East Coast stores, says the spokeswoman. The chain activated a "natural-disaster price suspension plan" and did not raise the cost of emergency goods in affected areas, she adds.

In the wake of Hurricane Irene, Lowe's announced Aug. 31 a $1-million pledge to disaster relief and rebuilding efforts in communities affected by the storm. The chain had previously announced donations totaling $2 million to rebuilding efforts in communities affected by natural disasters this past spring.

Home Depot also announced $2 million in contributions to rebuilding and relief efforts in midwest and southeast states affectd by natural disasters this year.