American Rental Association members step up to assist communities impacted by natural disaster
MOLINE, Ill.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–During the evening hours of Dec. 10 and into Dec. 11, parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee were hit with the deadliest U.S. outbreak of tornadoes in a decade. The storm spawned at least 20 tornadoes, according to The Weather Channel. The path of destruction left at least 74 people dead in Kentucky, six in Illinois, four in Tennessee, two in Arkansas and two in Missouri. As of Dec. 14, the total death toll of 88 exceeds the 76 deaths caused by tornadoes in the U.S. in all of 2020.
Several towns across the region were left in ruins like Mayfield, Ky., which took a direct hit from an EF-4 tornado with wind speeds between 166 and 200 mph. Two and a half hours away, Bowling Green, Ky., was hit by at least two tornadoes — one being an EF-3 with winds between 136 and 165 mph.
Jordan Clarke — an ARA Insurance preferred agent and vice president of Charles M. Moore Insurance Agency — lives in Bowling Green where more than a dozen people were killed by the storm.
Clarke reported to the American Rental Association (ARA) that rental business E-Z Rent It in Bowling Green was leveled, and another building was severely impacted.
“It [the tornado] hit several residential areas and the main business thoroughfare that had a lot of commercial businesses,” said Clarke.
“Our downtown area was OK. It jumped around. It hit one area of our community that had a lot of apartments and single-family homes, skipped an area of town and then hit the business district and then hit another residential area. It bounced around and was very random. On one side of the street, the houses were destroyed. On the other side, the houses were OK. It has been very heartbreaking to see this, especially this time of year,” he said.
In Mayfield, Hutson, a John Deere dealership was hit by a tornado.
“John Deere has been in communications with Josh Waggener, resident and CEO of Hutson, since the storm hit, offering our full support,” said Jennifer Hartmann, director, public relations, John Deere.
“Through the deployment of our Enterprise Disaster Support Program, we have partnered with Hutson to provide financial assistance to strengthen community disaster response. Despite their own losses, the Hutson team has stepped up by using equipment from its store to assist with the urgent rescue efforts at the candle factory located next door to the dealership,” Hartmann said.
Sunbelt Rentals, Fort Mill, S.C., has mobilized both team members and equipment into several of the affected areas. In Edwardsville, Ill., parts of the community were damaged after an EF-3 tornado tore through the area. An Amazon warehouse partially collapsed, killing six people.
“We have team members in the Edwardsville area providing temporary structures, debris removal, lighting and temperature control to a distribution warehouse that sustained heavy structural damage,” said Walter Hoehn, emergency response and strategic customer support manager, Sunbelt Rentals.
“In Mayfield, our Emergency Response Team is engaging in site-by-site coordination with local entities to determine the best course for restoration and recovery,” Hoehn said.
Caterpillar, Deerfield, Ill., released a statement from the Caterpillar Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Caterpillar.
“Caterpillar and Cat® dealers are assisting relief efforts by providing equipment and generators to assist in rescue and cleanup. To date, this includes power to waste water treatment plants, water stations and healthcare facilities, and portable generators to support community members impacted by the disaster,” the statement said.
The ARA Foundation is offering Disaster Relief Grants to rental operations and their employees who have been severely impacted by the recent tornado outbreak. The relief grants are designed to help rental businesses rebuild and rental employees experiencing financial hardship following a natural disaster.
“It’s the mission of The ARA Foundation to provide opportunities and assistance for those in the equipment and event rental industry and the communities where they live and work. To help people repair and recover their businesses and homes, The ARA Foundation is pleased to offer financial assistance through business and employee grants,” says Marcy Wright, ARA Foundation executive director.
As Clarke’s community and numerous others move from recovery efforts to rebuilding, he said, “it is really amazing when you see a disaster like this happen, everyone pulls together. It gives you a good sense that people are good and that everyone wants to help. Everyone wants to know what to do. It has been amazing to see the outpouring of support from people from all over the place.”
Photos of E-Z Rent It in Bowling Green, KY. Photos courtesy of Jordan Clarke.
About ARA: (www.ARArental.org) The American Rental Association, Moline, Ill., is an international trade association for owners of equipment and event rental businesses and the manufacturers and suppliers of construction/industrial, general tool and event rental equipment. ARA members, which include more than 11,000 rental businesses and more than 1,000 manufacturers and suppliers, are located in every U.S. state, every Canadian province and more than 40 countries worldwide. Founded in 1955, ARA is the source for information, advocacy, education, networking and marketplace opportunities for the equipment and event rental industry throughout the world.
ARA Contact: Debby Schaller (email@example.com); 800.334.2177, ext. 275