By Ben Aubuchon —
Over the past 115 years, since the Aubuchon Company was founded, we seen our fair share of natural disasters. In 1992, our Montpelier, Vt., store experienced the same level of flooding. Then in 2011, we experienced Hurricane Irene, which created another round of havoc throughout Vermont. Lessons learned during those prior events have helped many Vermont towns prepare a more proactive response during the recent storm, but there was only so much local residents and businesses could do to ready themselves for what was to come. The devastation forced hundreds of people to evacuate and destroyed homes, businesses and farms. The intense rain cratered roads, triggered mudslides and flooded downtowns, leaving layers of mud, rubble and extensive property damage. Rescue teams from over a half-dozen other states brought fresh personnel and equipment into central Vermont in response to the state of emergency.
Our own past experience with floods did not make us immune to the most recent natural disaster. Eight of our Vermont locations were affected including Barre, Montpelier, Ludlow, Hardwick, South Royalton, Windsor, Jeffersonville and Lyndonville. As of July 18, all of the mentioned stores excluding Montpelier have reopened and are once again serving their local communities. Each store is actively combating different levels of water damage. Our Montpelier store has undoubtedly been hit the worst. The full extent of the damage and possible reopen dates are currently unknown.
Justin Bicknell, director of sales and operations for the Aubuchon Company’s Northwestern Region, has been in the action since day one of the catastrophe. “We have been heavily engaged and involved in trying to get the water out of the store. Our primary focus right now is on removing water, mud and all manners of trash,” stated Bicknell. Next steps will be decided upon once the hardware store starts looking like a hardware store again.
We are extremely grateful to report that all of our team members, including our two small-town celebrity store cats, Almond and Joy, are healthy and safe!
As an effort to support our local Vermont communities, we have officially launched a Vermont Flood Recovery Roundup Campaign in 19 of our local stores. This campaign began July 17 and runs through July 31. Customers are able to donate their change by rounding up their purchase to the nearest dollar or they can choose to donate any dollar amount, regardless of their payment method. Our new point-of-sale technology has greatly improved our fundraising abilities. Immediately during the flood, we were able to get the ball rolling on this meaningful campaign.
The Aubuchon Foundation will be matching (up to $2,500) the amount raised at each store. All of the proceeds will benefit the VT Flood Response & Recovery Fund set up by the Vermont Community Foundation. Contributions to the fund will support emergency needs, families, farms, main street businesses and communities that were affected across the state and will play an important role as the Foundation works with local nonprofits, state government, relief organizations and other partners to help put Vermont back together. “Despite the enormity of this crisis, it’s inspiring to see Vermonters rallying to help each other,” said Scott Finn, president and CEO of Vermont Public.
Grants from the Aubuchon Company’s Moran Fund are available for any employee and their family impacted by the flooding. Inspired by M.Marcus Moran Jr.’s unwavering commitment to people, we created The Moran Fund in 2015 as a non-profit employee relief fund designed to directly support Aubuchon Company employees and their families in times of need. The fund is supported by contributions from fellow employees with the company matching each contribution dollar-for-dollar and funding the operating costs. As of December 2021, there have been 132 Moran Fund grants for a total of $271,000 in support provided to employees in times of need. Here at the Aubuchon Company, we take care of each other.
We have seen a lot since 1908, and together we have always endured. We want you to know that we will be here for the cleanup, we will be here for the rebuild and we will be here to serve our Vermont communities. Vermonters will persevere and the Aubuchon Company will be here to help.