During the horrific earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan last week, many companies have gone out of their way to help survivors reconnect with their families. AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint are all providing free calls and texts to Japan, and massively influential companies, like Google and Apple, are also doing their part to raise awareness.
An Apple Store employee—and Japanese citizen caught in the middle of the quake—wrote an inspiring letter to Kevin Rose (of Digg fame) describing how his Apple Store became a sort of make-shift refugee camp during the disaster.
Even after the quake struck, the store remained opened, and served as a hotspot for survivors to charge their devices and contact family members using the computers. Employees even stayed after hours to fix devices and teach people how to receive news on their iPhones.
You know how in disaster movies, people on the street gather around electronic shops that have TVs in the display windows so they can stay informed with what is going on? In this digital age, that’s what the Tokyo Apple stores became. Staff brought out surge protectors and extension cords with 10s of iOS device adapters so people could charge their phones & pads and contact their loved ones. Even after we finally had to close 10pm, crowds of people huddled in front of our stores to use the wifi into the night, as it was still the only way to get access to the outside world.
Apple allowed staff to sleep at the store, which had a stockpile of food and beverages, and paid for hotel rooms, transportation, and food for employees who were left stranded elsewhere. Apple, and many other companies, have ceased being faceless businesses throughout this disaster, and have made considerable effort—on a personal level—to help in any way that they can.