Major exhibitions services provider Fern, based in Cincinnati, has set up relief stations in eight cities to help get emergency supplies to those affected by Hurricane Harvey, which slammed South Texas over the weekend and is causing catastrophic flooding in Houston.
“We took and designated eight of our locations to be collection points to send supplies to Houston and South Texas," said Aaron Bludworth, president and CEO of Fern. “Our initial target is [Houston’s George R. Brown] Convention Center, which is being used as a shelter. If that needs to be transitioned, we’ll move it to another facility.
“The center just became a shelter yesterday, and they have an overwhelming crowd they’re trying to deal with,” Bludworth continued. “Now Dallas is setting up a major relief center [within its convention center].”
Fern has set up relief supply stations in Atlanta; Columbus, Ohio; Cincinnati; Indianapolis; Nashville; Louisville, Ky.; Kansas City; and Charlotte. Requested items include baby formula, hand sanitizer, towels, diapers, toothpaste, soap/shampoo, socks, pillows, blankets, sweatsuits, non-perishable food and bottled water.
To see a full list of participating locations, click here.
Although Fern doesn’t currently have a permanent presence in Houston, Bludworth said the company is a regular operator there for meetings and conventions.
“I’ve talked to friends and associates not related to the [conventions] business in Houston, and it’s pretty devastated there,” Bludworth said, adding that local CVBs have yet to make announcements of shows that have cancelled, or set a timeline for when convention facilities may be back online.
“We’re a little bit fortunate that August is a slow time of the year, but we’re very close to September and October, which are some of the busiest times of the year,” he said, adding that he is keeping an eye on New Orleans to see how hard that major meetings destination may be affected.
The federal government declared a state of emergency for Louisiana on Monday.