The founder and CEO of a Baton Rouge-based fast-food chain says experience with disasters served the company well after a tornado ravaged Moore, Okla.
Todd Graves, of Raising Cane’s, said the chain has about 50 employees in Moore. The restaurant was about a thousand feet from the tornado’s path.
Graves told The Advocate of Baton Rouge that the company quickly filled a familiar role: trying to keep relief workers and residents fed so they could get back to the hard work of recovery.
Raising Cane’s has had to cope with hurricanes since the days it began growing from a single chicken finger restaurant near LSU to a regional fast-food chain.
Graves said tornadoes are a relatively new experience for Raising Cane’s, but its six-member disaster response team – in place for years to deal with hurricanes – is able to move quickly to provide the satellite phones and generators and coordinate the task of feeding first responders.
Graves added that the company’s area director over the Moore location is from Lafayette and no stranger to dealing with weather-related disasters.
“We’ve had a lot of experience with this,” he said.
The homes of five Raising Cane’s employees were destroyed in the tornado.
One of them, Kristen Parish, 18, has worked at the Moore location since October.
“I couldn’t recognize my neighborhood,” Parish said of her family’s return after waiting out the tornado in a friend’s storm cellar. Her mother’s car was stuck in a tree. “The only way I could tell it was my house was because of the driveway,” she said. “It was awful. It looked apocalyptic.”
Parish said the help and support from neighbors, coworkers and aid organizations is humbling and “means everything to us.”
Raising Cane’s is donating $20,000 to the American Red Cross for its efforts in the tornado-stricken areas of north Texas and Oklahoma and by Friday had collected $11,000 in public donations at its roughly 150 restaurants nationwide.
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