In this instance, they're donating cash and relying on their network of suppliers and passing along that assistance to the Red Cross and other organizations.
But I'd think that with Wal-Mart's physical proximity to many of the affected areas, simply opening up a portion of their parking lots, breaking out the propane grills/food, medicines, water, and other basics would be infinitely more effective than awaiting delivery/presence by other responders. In essence, the food/water/medicine/supplies have already been distributed across the region, without further need to truck/airlift them in. And everyone generally knows where their local Wal-Mart is. Staten Island would be out of luck, though, as there isn't one on the island.
Of course, I can imagine the word of "free/give-aways" would spread like wildfire. It would be interesting whether they could avoid riots and mass-thefts that seem to hit them from time to time even during non-emergency times. Ah, well. Nobody's perfect.
One would think that in a situation involving widespread (but hardly utter, complete) damage to properties, services, infrastructure, the goal would be to (1) pass along helpful info to those having troubles (ie, shelters/water), (2) pass along impact reports on affected areas to avoid/help, and (3) provide coverage that gives a fair sense of what's working/not. This sky-is-falling approach ends up contributing little to nothing, to those communities who are most in need of vital information.
REALITY_ NYC crime falls by one third in wake of superstorm Sandy - U.S. News
Crime in NYC dropped by 1/3. Murder and rape dropped by 86% and 44%, respectively.
The results reported covered the 5 day period from Monday to Friday.
This is fairly typical for NYC after major problems, IMO. It is a counter-intuitive result,
but people do rise to the occasion.