Devastating wildfires in California and historic floods in West Virginia have resulted in loss of life, destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands to seek shelter elsewhere.
To help those in the equipment rental industry, their families and communities that have been severely impacted by these disasters, the ARA Foundation has donated $6,000 to the American Red Cross for first-responder relief efforts — $3,000 for the wildfires in California and $3,000 for the floods in West Virginia.
“A primary initiative of the ARA Foundation is disaster relief. The ARA Foundation board of trustees recognizes the seriousness of the loss of human life and the devastation of lives and property,” said Christine Wehrman, ARA Foundation executive director.
“They also wanted to show support for the notable efforts of American Rental Association (ARA) members and their staff members who are personally contributing to the firefighters and communities throughout California, in terms of equipment, personnel and fortitude to fight or recover from these fires,” Wehrman said. “In addition, the donation for relief measures to flood victims in West Virginia will help support the American Red Cross and those impacted, which is critical to recovery measures, just as is the support and assistance being given by ARA members and their staff in the region.”
Ron Holbert, owner of JoRonCo Rentals in Bakersfield, Calif., who serves as the ARA of California president, knows all too well the destruction caused by the wildfires.
“The Erskine Fire in Kern County is about a 45-minute drive from our location. I have lived in this area all of my life. I have never seen anything like this,” Holbert said. “From our rental operation, we can see the smoke plumes. The last report is that, as a result of the fire, two people have died, more than 43,000 acres have been consumed, residents of 2,500 homes have had to evacuate and more than 250 homes have been destroyed, which doesn’t even count all of the outbuildings up there. I know people who have been impacted. Some people have lost everything.”
Holbert has erected tenting for the more than 200 electric company crew members who are trying to restore power to some of the affected communities and has helped set up an American Red Cross check-in station. He thinks the ARA Foundation donation to the American Red Cross “is great. This gift will be very welcomed. There is going to be a lot of long-term help that is needed in that area,” he said.
“When I went to the fire camp, I saw national companies and the mom-and-pop-rental operations helping out. We are all bending over backwards to do everything we can,” he said.
This donation is “proof that the ARA Foundation is staying current on the most pressing needs around the country and is focused on assisting wherever needed,” said Elizabeth Wilson, CERP, president of All Occasions Event Rental in Cincinnati, who serves as trustee-at-large on the ARA Foundation board.
“We have two natural disasters happening on both sides of the country that have caused loss of life and property. Many in the industry who live in these areas have stepped up to assist however they can, and their continued efforts are needed. The ARA Foundation wants to support their efforts,” Wilson said.
“I feel it’s a privilege and an honor that those in the industry entrust us on the ARA Foundation board of trustees with their donations. They expect that we will allocate these funds prudently. There is no question that both of these donations are very worthy and important. They demonstrate how the ARA Foundation is ready to lend support where it is needed,” she said.