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In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s widespread destruction in September 2017, the Company’s top priority was to assist our Puerto Rico associates in need. JCPenney worked to confirm the well-being of all employees, and quickly delivered containers of much-needed supplies for associates, including water and non-perishable food items, personal hygiene and cleaning products, batteries, generators and more. We also ensured all 1,300 associates were paid in cash immediately following the storm, and have continued paying associates who are unable to travel to work.
Status of Stores
After ensuring associates’ immediate needs were met, the Company began assessing damage at all stores across the island. In the months since the storm, JCPenney has re-opened four of its seven stores in Puerto Rico, including our Caguas, Mayagüez, Ponce and San Juan locations. Two additional stores will re-open later this year, with Hatillo slated to open this spring and Carolina planned to open late summer.
After much consideration, we have chosen not to rebuild our store in Humacao. Taking actions that directly impact our valued associates and loyal customers is difficult, but we will go to great lengths to assist associates in identifying job opportunities at other JCPenney stores – whether they are in Puerto Rico or have already relocated to the mainland. A large majority of Humacao associates have been commuting to work at other JCPenney stores, and will have the opportunity to permanently transfer to those locations.
Those who are unable to stay with the Company will have the opportunity to be paid and receive benefits for an additional 60 days. Plus, the Company is also offering relocation assistance to impacted Puerto Rico associates who choose to transfer to a mainland JCPenney store location.
JCPenney teamed up with the Ricky Martin Foundation to provide $20,000 in assistance to the resilient people and town of Loíza, Puerto Rico – a community devastated by Hurricanes Irma and María. Our San Juan location hosted an exciting shopping event for 20 Loíza families identified by the Foundation. Each family was transported to the store on Jan. 19 to receive a $500 JCPenney gift card to use toward the purchase of clothes, shoes, home items or other merchandise. The Ricky Martin Foundation also directed $10,000 of the JCPenney contributions to the Loiza community to help in rebuilding the municipality.
The Company continued its support of Puerto Rico by hosting a holiday relief station at the 2017 Nickelodeon HALO Awards, where attendees were able to pack boxes of relief supplies, benefitting the Y kids and families in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The boxes included water, batteries, flashlights, backpacks, kids’ pajamas and socks and underwear, along with comfort items such as teddy bears and activity pads.