On Aug. 3 at 8:08 p.m., my girl-friend and I were in our living room watching television when suddenly it felt like someone had grabbed the sofa from behind us and was trying to tip it over. All of the furniture began likewise pitching back and forth and the loose objects across our apartment—desk lamps, phones, radios—all began to shake rhythmically as the shockwaves from an earthquake pulsed through our building. Although the epicenter was 42 miles north of our home in San Francisco (and almost 6 miles underground), the 4.4-magnitude earthquake was still quite a shaker to us, and was the first seismic activity that we had experienced in the Bay Area since relocating here 16 months ago.
Thankfully, neither we nor anyone in the area suffered loss of life or sustained any serious damage. But many who are subjected to the devastating power of natural disasters are not as lucky. As we pass the one-year anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita disasters, PROSALES finds it suitable to again pay homage to the heroes in our industry—both sung and unsung—who helped to turn the tide on what became tragedies of national proportions.
Pro dealers, specialty suppliers, and the vendor community stepped in immediately in the wake of the storms with huge cash donations, truckloads of food and supplies, and plenty of materials and manpower for the rebuilding effort that is still ongoing in the region. Assistance came from as far away as Bar Harbor, Maine, where Granville Lumber helped to sponsor a hurricane relief walk/run that raised $2,403.83 for the American Red Cross, to California, where Monterey-based Hayward Lumber's locations discounted building materials for a kit home that was constructed by Habitat for Humanity and then shipped to a displaced family in Mississippi. In Indiana, employees from Frank Miller Lumber in Union City and Salem raised $2,402.85—a figure matched by company owners—to assist lumberyards in the Gulf region affected by the hurricanes.
On the vendor side, Nashville, Tenn.–based Louisiana-Pacific responded quickly on Sept. 1, 2005, with a contribution of $500,000 to the American Red Cross and a donation of 1.5 million board feet of OSB for rebuilding efforts. Darien, Conn.–based Ring's End partnered with Fordham Marble to donate portions of marble counter sales to the Red Cross and the Bush-Clinton Relief Fund.
The continuing work of many in our industry serves to remind us that, indeed, the rebuilding efforts across the Gulf region are far from over. As mentioned by NLBMDA in the May issue of PROSALES, Ridgefield, Mass.–based Ridgefield Supply Co. store manager Margaret Price Sims and IT manager Mike Sonderman have launched From Builders for Rebuilders (www.frombuildersforrebuilders.com), an organization devoted to collecting new and used power tools, hand tools, and long-handle tools at independent lumberyards throughout the country and redistributing them to the people rebuilding their homes and communities. On July 12, 84 Lumber donated more than $1 million to fund construction of 10 homes and provide lumber packages for an additional 20 homes being built by the New Orleans affiliate of Habitat for Humanity. 84 is also funding the construction of an additional 20 homes in Gulfport and Biloxi, Miss., in conjunction with the Harrison County affiliate of Habitat for Humanity.
Of course, hundreds of dealers across the country have contributed and continue to contribute to the rebuilding and relief efforts that are slowly rejuvenating and revitalizing areas affected by last year's hurricanes. Those efforts—and the efforts that almost always follow any local or national tragedy—are a testament to the spirit, courage, and vitality of residential construction supply. When the going gets tough, this industry pulls together and pulls the fallen back up. In a way, I suppose that is what rebuilding is all about, and certainly no one can argue that rebuilding will always be a daily part of what we do.