Optical Companies Begin Assessing Effects of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

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NEW YORK—This year’s hurricane season started on June 1 and is not reported to be ending until Nov. 30, and so far Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria have caused major devastation across the Americas. As VMail previously reported, much of the optical industry rallied in support of those who have been affected raising money, providing on-the-ground help and donating frames to those in need. Now, as Hurricane Maria leaves thousands devastated in Puerto Rico, the optical industry is looking to send aid there as well.

Costa has launched an outreach effort and influencer campaign called #OneCoast, as part of its multi-step hurricane relief plan. The mission of #OneCoast is to bring relief to Costa’s coastal family and friends affected by natural disasters, the company stated.

Through #OneCoast, Costa will raise money for the Red Cross hurricane relief fund, as well as a new fund, called Worldwide Anglers Relief Fund (WARF). WARF was developed by Costa’s longtime partners at the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) with the goal of providing support to anglers and their communities in the wake of these types of disasters.

The #OneCoast campaign includes different elements including a limited edition t-shirt, featured on Costa’s web store which will be worn by many celebrity influencers and fishing pros across the country. All proceeds from the sale of the T-shirt will be donated to the Red Cross and WARF. Learn more or buy a t-shirt here.

A VSP spokeswoman also told VMail, that the company continues to “reach out to VSP network doctors in Puerto Rico to evaluate the support needed for local eye doctors and to ensure patients have access to eyecare.” In the meantime, she added, if doctors are aware of patients who are VSP members with eyecare needs or who have lost or damaged their glasses as a result of the hurricane, they should inform the patients to contact VSP directly at (800) 877-7195, even if the patients are not currently eligible for benefits.

Luxottica Retail, which has 45 retail stores in Puerto Rico, is in the process of developing a relief plan for those affected by Hurricane Maria, across all their brands. As of Sept. 26, the company had been in touch with their licensed operators and could confirm that though their 19 Pearle Vision locations were still closed, everyone was confirmed to be safe.

On Sept. 26, Luxottica North America also launched the Natural Disaster Guardian Angel Fund, a GoFundMe account for natural disasters including Jose and Maria. “As Luxottica did for Harvey and Irma, the company will match employee donations for those who were impacted,” a spokesperson told VMail. “In addition, we’re planning to support our wholesale customers in Puerto Rico through special commercial terms and support packages as we did with Harvey and Irma.”

Essilor of America’s MGM Optical Laboratory is also located in Puerto Rico and employs more than 60 people. “Communication has been very difficult due to the lack of power and poor cellular service,” a spokesperson for the company stated. “Of the Essilor employees we have been in contact with, we can report all are safe at this time.”

Essilor is working to send 46 generators—enough to provide power for all employees and their families—and a pallet of water to the island. “The damages caused by this hurricane are unprecedented, and the recovery process will be difficult,” the company stated. “As always, we are committed to our employees and their well-being and will do everything possible to ensure they are taken care of.”

The CooperVision Puerto Rico management team and key employees were on site as of last Friday, gathering information on the entire team and assessing and repairing what appears to be minimal damage to the Juana Diaz facility. “We will begin gradually restoring packaging and production operations this week,” a CooperVision spokeswoman said.

National Vision Inc. also is in the midst of assessing the status of its associates and facilities in Puerto Rico, according to a spokeswoman. “The safety of our associates and optometrists is our priority,” the spokeswoman told VMail in an email note. “Due to the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, our Vista Optical location in Puerto Rico is currently closed and we continue to assess the needs of our associates and the community to determine the most appropriate response,” she added.

The island has been left without power indefinitely and communication has been difficult for many as the hurricane was expected to weaken to a tropical storm by Sept. 26. Vision Monday and VMail will continue to monitor the relief activities and status of impacted offices, retailers, labs and suppliers as details become available. Please send any related information to vmeditor@jobson.com.