Katrina, a Category Four hurricane that made its second landfall near Grand Isle, Louisiana, Monday, hammered the Gulf Coast with winds of up to 150 mph and storm surges that caused deadly flooding, especially in the low-lying city of New Orleans, where much of the city remains underwater. At least 120 deaths have been confirmed in the storm’s wake, but officials expect that toll to rise.

As rescue efforts continue in the affected areas, national quick-service restaurant chains are scrambling to help their franchisees and assist in relief efforts for the population at large.

“Right now, our top priority is to reach out and find out how our franchisees are doing,” says Les Winograd, public relations coordinator for Subway. “We want to find out where they are, how they are doing, if they are open, what they need, and how we can assist them.”

Subway locations in outlying areas that were not as heavily affected by the storm are helping by providing food donations to victims, Winograd says. Internally, the chain is also collecting donations for its disaster relief fund, which will be used to help employees in need at the approximately 350 Subway locations in the region.

“Right now, our priority is helping people in our chain, but that’s not to say that’s where it stays,” Winograd says. The chain is currently trying to coordinate additional efforts to assist the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

McDonald’s is also working to ensure the safety of its team members in the region hardest hit by the storm, where 200 McDonald’s restaurants were still closed as of Thursday.

“What we’re trying to do first is to ensure the safety of all our employees, owners, operators and suppliers,” says William Whitman, director of media relations for McDonald’s. “Most of our other restaurants in the surrounding areas are up and running, and some of them are distributing food and water to those who need it.”

Burger King is in the process of delivering three truckloads of bottled water to victims in Baton Rouge and Houma, Louisiana.

“Our next wave of relief will be trucking in essentials, which include canned goods, diapers, charcoal, etcetera,” says Lauren Hammann, a spokeswoman for Burger King. “We have not yet determined the exact shipment quantities, but at this point, we do have three trucks reserved.”

The chain will plan additional assistance as more information about the region is made available, specifically concerning access routes to those in need.

“We will also make cash assistance available to our employees in the region depending on their situation,” Hammann says.

Quiznos Subs is using its toll-free Emergency Helpline to mobilize its relief efforts, according to a press release. Owners and team members in the areas hit by the hurricane can call 1-866-882-HELP (4357)to find out how they can contribute.

The Arby’s Foundation, on behalf of Arby’s roast beef restaurants worldwide, has pledged to donate
$100,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund to assist victims in the disaster.

“We must take care of our neighbors impacted by this devastation,” Doug Benham, President and CEO, Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc. and chairman of the Arby’s Foundation, says in a press release. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those impacted, and the countless volunteers bringing them comfort.”

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