September 28, 2005 – After two strong hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast within a month of each other, many digital camera manufacturers are stepping up and footing some of Mother Nature’s bill. Hurricane Katrina hit the New Orleans area on August 29, causing a call for donations from relief agencies such as the Red Cross. Hurricane Rita hit the Texas-Louisiana border September 24, increasing the need for support. Canon was the first digital camera manufacturer to answer the call.
Canon’s September 1 press release announced a donation of one million dollars in addition to a program it launched to match donations from its employees. "We have all seen and been deeply affected by the unimaginable impact of Katrina," said Yoroku Adachi, president and CEO of Canon USA, Inc. "I know I speak for all Canon employees when I say our prayers are with the families of those who lost loved ones in this tragic disaster."
Kodak followed suit with a September 2 press release, which announced a $500,000 donation that was presented to the company’s local Rochester, NY Red Cross chapter at a telethon. The company is also looking for other ways to help.
"As recovery efforts continue, we are looking at the best ways our products and services can assist efforts in the region," said Charles S. Brown, executive vice president and CEO of Kodak. The company also donated to the 2001 World Trade Center and 2004 tsunami relief efforts.
HP has already explored ways to use its products in these situations and has donated products, services, and money. HP’s Houston hub has provided computer systems for onsite medical staff, computer access for evacuees, use of its surplus buildings, photo ID and badge equipment for staff and volunteers, and employee volunteers to help the more than 100,000 evacuees that relocated to Houston. HP donated $1 million and then matched another million dollars from its employees for a total contribution of $3 million.
Sony CEO and corporate chairman Sir Howard Stringer referred to the hurricanes as a "terrible tragedy" and announced a donation of $500,000, as well as a matching program for its employees’ contributions.
"It is our responsibility to respond with generosity," Stringer said. "The devastation and human suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina is almost incomprehensible. It reminds us once again of our human frailty, and also our strength and resilience when we band together in times like these."
Nikon stated that six of its employees were directly affected by the hurricanes. "The employees and their families are now safe, and Nikon is working with them to help rebuild their lives," the Sept. 16 press release stated. The company contributed $50,000 to the relief effort and set up a matching program for its employees’ donations. Nikon’s Professional Services division is also providing free camera equipment repairs for photographers working in New Orleans.
Casio has also aided the efforts. A press agent for the company said that "Casio did make a monetary donation to the relief efforts, but they do not wish to disclose any other information."
All of these digital camera manufacturers’ contributions add up to more than $5 million, not counting matching programs and undisclosed donations.