Winter Storm Goliath, a massive system named by forecasters that caused numerous tornadoes and historic flooding along major rivers, impacting more than seven states throughout the South and Midwest during the past week and resulting in many deaths, is unprecedented. To help those in the equipment rental industry, their families and communities that have been severely impacted by these devastating disasters, the ARA Foundation took the extraordinary step on Dec. 30 of donating $10,000 to the American Red Cross for first-responder assistance.
“The news reports this past week have been horrific,” says Andy Cooke, CERP, manager of Cooke Rentals in Cornelius, N.C., who serves as the chair of the ARA Foundation board of trustees. “That massive storm system caused tornadoes and torrential rain to rip through the South and Midwest, resulting in loss of life and record-breaking flooding. This devastation is impacting thousands and will have major consequences for some time to come. I felt the ARA Foundation had to act to help our industry peers, their families and their communities deal with this crisis.”
The ARA Foundation has been monitoring this storm system since it started Dec. 23, says Jenni Swanson, ARA Foundation director of development. “As part of the ARA Foundation’s disaster relief and recovery programs, we monitor weather-related disasters very closely and are in regular contact with our state association presidents in the affected areas to see who in the industry has been impacted and to reiterate that our disaster programs are available to them,” she says.
“We have seen the huge toll this massive storm system has had on so many across the U.S.,” she says. “Tornadoes have hit New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri. Record flooding is occurring in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana and Illinois. This is just the start. This flooding, which is predicted to be the worst on record along the Mississippi River, is affecting river towns and will start to cause massive flooding along all tributary rivers that feed into it. This is occurring during the winter, resulting in not just floodwaters, but frozen floodwaters that will make cleanup nearly impossible. It will only get worse once the tributary rivers start to flood. Forecasters expect that the flooding could continue through mid-January.”
“Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures,” says Christine Wehrman, ARA Foundation executive director and American Rental Association (ARA) CEO. “The severity of this storm system comes at a difficult time of year, weather-wise, when assistance is even more critical to saving lives. The flooding is occurring on already-saturated ground, which means flooding can extend into the spring months. The tornado damage is severe. Recovery in all areas that have been impacted will be a long-term undertaking and require considerable support and assistance. The ARA Foundation is proud to be able to contribute in this way on behalf of the equipment rental industry.”