Lowe’s has a longstanding commitment to assist local communities impacted by natural disasters. In recent years, we expanded our disaster-relief efforts by partnering with the First Response Team of America to provide help when it’s needed most – in the first few hours and days after a disaster.
This year, the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation awarded a $500,000 grant to the First Response Team, a nonprofit organization dedicated to working alongside local agencies to help save lives following natural disasters.
Established in 2007 by Tad Agoglia, the First Response Team uses a fleet of highly specialized trucks and equipment to deliver immediate assistance after a disaster, when communities often must fend for themselves because the resources necessary for rescue and recovery are damaged, inaccessible or unavailable. The team has responded to dozens of disasters with support services that include opening roadways, performing water rescues, providing temporary power solutions and assisting critical service providers. In 2012, Tropical Storm Debby dumped heavy rain across Florida and flooded many homes and businesses. The First Response Team performed water rescues and helped north Florida communities pump out floodwaters. With the help of Lowe’s Heroes, the team cleaned out waterlogged homes and helped local residents recover important papers and cherished memories.
In the wake of Hurricane Isaac, the team completed more than 40 projects in Louisiana and assisted local homeowners with the help of Lowe’s Heroes. The team cleared roads, built temporary dams to protect against potential levee breaches and restored power to a hospital and an American Red Cross shelter that housed many families and 50 elderly residents from a nearby nursing home.
Just a month later, a tornado ripped through Elmira, N.Y., downing hundreds of trees and blocking roads. The city was not equipped to move debris of this magnitude quickly. With the support of Lowe’s Heroes, the First Response Team coordinated with the county, city and parks department and worked around the clock to remove debris. They cleared 12 blocks of roads each day, loading 18 dump trucks per hour with the team’s specialized grapple truck.
Anticipating where and when the next disaster may strike is critical to the work the First Response Team does. The team was among the first responders to help after Hurricane Sandy made landfall because it had positioned its equipment at fire stations in Long Island 24 hours before the storm hit. The team worked day and night with firefighters and municipalities to clear roads to enable emergency responders to access communities and begin recovery operations. As the storm subsided, the team powered up the Northport town hall to ensure residents had a place to go to find out how to receive help, and spent the next few weeks going neighborhood to neighborhood to assist people in need.