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Home Improvement Retailers Help Communities Cope with Natural Disasters

Morgan Scarborough, third-generation owner of Scarborough Lumber Ace Hardware in California, worked as a volunteer firefighter to save homes from the wildfires.
Morgan Scarborough, third-generation owner of Scarborough Lumber Ace Hardware in California, worked as a volunteer firefighter to save homes from the wildfires.»

On August 10, hurricane-force winds of over 100 mph ripped across Iowa during a fast-moving windstorm called a derecho, leaving a wide swath of devastation behind. An estimated 14 million acres of crops were damaged, silos and other buildings were leveled and more than 400,000 Iowans lost power.

Iowa towns that bore the brunt of the storm include Charlotte, DeWitt, Knoxville, Marshalltown, Monticello, Newton and Tipton. With stores in all those communities, Century Club retailer Spahn & Rose worked to ensure that residents and business would have ready access to the materials they needed to repair and rebuild. “The storms were a one-two punch,” says Spahn & Rose CEO Dave Davis. “With COVID-19, as a company, we changed how we do business to keep our customers and employees safe. Now, with the storms, we had another challenge to rise to.”

In the West, wildfires continue to devastate communities in California, Oregon and Washington. More than 17,000 firefighters were still battling 23 major wildfires just in California, where 31 people have been killed and 4 million acres have burned this year. In Oregon, nearly one million acres have burned with 10 fatalities. Washington has seen over 600,000 acres leveled by the raging fires.

Scarborough Lumber Ace Hardware was forced to temporarily close its seven stores on August 20 as the CZU Lightning Fire began to bear down on the northern California towns they serve. “Our family and many team members have been directly impacted by this dire situation and we want to ensure their safety and the safety of their families,” the store posted on its Facebook page.

Scarborough Lumber was founded in 1957 by a World War II Prisoner of War, Gene Scarborough, on the principle of giving back to the community. It is now operated by the third generation of the family, who are finding new ways to serve the community in these difficult times.

Owner Morgan Scarborough rejoined the Ben Lomand volunteer fire brigade and worked on the front lines each day trying to protect and save as many homes as possible. They were able to save about 40 homes. “Our community will rebuild and we will be here to help in any way we can,” Scarborough posted on the store’s Facebook page.

In the Gulf Coast region, a series of storms have left a path of destruction. Hurricane Laura made landfall as a Cat 4 storm with 150 mph winds on August 27, causing widespread devastation across Louisiana and into Arkansas. Lake Charles, La., was hit especially hard.

Stine Home + Yard gave out buckets of essential supplies to customers impacted by Hurricane Laura.
Stine Home + Yard gave out buckets of essential supplies to customers impacted by Hurricane Laura.»

At Stine Home + Yard, which has 10 stores in Louisiana (including Lake Charles) and one in Mississippi, they handed out five-gallon buckets filled with essential supplies as well as bottled water and diapers. Some of Stine’s Louisiana stores were still working with a limited crew and online shopping and curbside delivery service were suspended to ensure enough manpower to operate their physical locations.

Hurricane Sally touched down in Gulf Shores, Ala., as a Cat 2 storm on September 16, causing widespread wind damage and storm surge flooding exacerbated by 20 inches of rainfall that affected an area between Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla. Damage is estimated to exceed $7 billion.

Paris Ace Hardware was able to keep its Gulf Shores store open to help residents clean up after the hurricane, while only closing its Orange Beach store for one day. They kept customers updated with Facebook posts so they would know when shipments of batteries, generators, chain saws, tarps, flashlights, roof cap nails, charcoal, wet/dry vacuums, fans and gas cans would be arriving. They returned to normal hours four days after the storm hit and were still doing a brisk business in Stihl chain saws a week after Sally touched down.

From L to R: Ben Canady, general manager of Holmes Building Materials; Roy Jones, Do it Best territory sales manager; Emily Sparks, American Red Cross regional philanthropy officer; and Red Cross Board Member Regi Mullins.
From L to R: Ben Canady, general manager of Holmes Building Materials; Roy Jones, Do it Best territory sales manager; Emily Sparks, American Red Cross regional philanthropy officer; and Red Cross Board Member Regi Mullins. »

As communities along the Gulf Shore continue to recover from Hurricane Sally, they faced more destruction as Hurricane Delta hit the southwestern Louisiana coast as a Cat 2 storm on October 9, leaving more than 600,000 people without power. With storm surges up to 11 feet, 100 mph winds and up to 15 inches of rainfall, this latest storm is stretching already thin resources. The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has already produced 25 named storms and has set a record for most storms to make landfall in the continental U.S.

The Do it Best Foundation announced the awarding of two $10,000 grants to American Red Cross chapters in Louisiana and Oregon. These donations will help provide food, shelter, recovery planning and more to those whose lives have been upended by natural disasters in each region.

“These gifts are a representation of our commitment to our communities,” said Rich Lynch, president of the Do it Best Foundation. “We’re proud to partner with the American Red Cross and their recovery efforts in areas hard-hit by hurricanes and wildfires.”

Mark Hester, general manager of the Do it Best distribution center in Woodburn, Ore., presented a grant to Dianne Mekkers, American Red Cross emergency management liaison lead. In Louisiana, a grant was presented to Emily Sparks, American Red Cross regional philanthropy officer, and Board Member Regi Mullins by Holmes Building Materials General Manager Ben Canady, representing Do it Best member-owners, and Roy Jones, a Do it Best territory sales manager.

Dianne Mekkers, American Red Cross emergency management liaison lead (left); and Mark Hester (right), general manager of the Do it Best distribution center in Woodburn, Ore.
Dianne Mekkers, American Red Cross emergency management liaison lead (left); and Mark Hester (right), general manager of the Do it Best distribution center in Woodburn, Ore.»

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