From Sandy to Maria, Irma and Harvey, David Tepper has had his share of experience with responding to devastating hurricanes.
If history is any indication, the Carolinas can expect a similarly significant response from the new owner of the Carolina Panthers as Hurricane Florence ravages the coast and brings torrential rain and wind farther inland.
In a statement Thursday evening, the Panthers and Tepper said they are engaging with local and state officials, as well charities of both states “to develop a plan to best assess the needs of the region and ensure we can effectively deploy resources to those most impacted.”
In short, expect this to be a carefully laid-out response that could vary in size and duration depending on the severity of the storm.
The Panthers are taking a multi-pronged approach to relief efforts that includes first making contacts with nonprofits, many of whom Tepper and the Panthers have worked with in the past. Part of that plan includes eventually making sure that monetary donations go where they are intended to. After the hurricane has passed, the team will engage with local partners on rebuilding and distributing essentials like food, water and clothing.
The Panthers will likely work with national nonprofits coordinating through local relief efforts, as Tepper and his hedge fund, Appaloosa Management, have done in the past.
In Miami and other affected areas last year, for instance, Tepper partnered with the national food bank Feeding America to donate $3 million in food and other goods after Hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey. The funds went directly to rebuilding local food distribution networks in Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas.
“Ensuring that food banks and pantries have access to food, clean water and resources in times of crisis is vital to helping these communities recover,” Tepper said in September 2017.
Through one of his nonprofits in 2013, Tepper donated a total of $1.2 million to 12,000 New Jersey residents affected by Hurricane Sandy, according to NJ.com. Included in that was $100 Target gift cards he gave to public housing residents, earning him the nickname “Santa Claus” from the executive director of the Hoboken Housing Authority.
In the Carolinas, as Florence continues to batter the region, the Panthers and Tepper will figure out how to respond, and where to focus their attention. Expect Tepper, often described as obsessed with numbers, to pore over data indicating which communities are hit the hardest, and where the need for emergency relief is greatest.
At least one nonprofit in the region says it’s already in talks with the team.
“The Panthers are working with United Way at the state level as they work to get assistance in the hands of those most in need immediately. We are in conversations with them locally about mid-to-long term recovery efforts and hope to have a more definitive plan soon,” said Bo Hussey, chief marketing and technology officer of United Way, in an email.
The United Way says it partners with the Salvation Army and Red Cross on providing shelter, food and water, recovery support and other basic needs to residents of the Carolinas affected by Hurricane Florence.
The team’s also reached out to the governors of both Carolinas.
“It’s crucial that our communities come together,” said Ford Porter, press secretary for N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper, in an email. “Gov. Cooper appreciates the many offers of support and assistance for North Carolina.”
Elsewhere in Charlotte, the Hornets are also stepping up to address relief efforts.
In a statement Friday, team owner Michael Jordan urged fans to donate to relief funds in response to the impact of Hurricane Florence. To facilitate the donations, the team set up a micro-site with links to verified local organizations focusing on hurricane relief and recovery.
“It’s truly devastating for me to see the damage that Hurricane Florence is doing to my beloved home state of North Carolina and to the surrounding areas,” Jordan said.
Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta