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					                                     anatomy of
compassion
                                                                                                By: Darcy Rhyno




                                                          The business response to Hurricane Igor

                                                            On Tuesday, September 21, Hurricane Igor
                                                            assaulted Newfoundland with 140 km per hour
                                                            winds and torrential rain. It destroyed buildings
                                                            and vehicles, washed out roads and bridges
                                                            and stranded thousands without power on the
                                                            Burin and Bonavista peninsulas. The next day
                                                            Kevin Jacobs, manager of the Clarenville Co-op,
                                                            had an idea. “I left for my dinner hour at twelve,”
                                                            he recalls. “There was a radio report on. CBC
                                                            had hired a boat to go to Hickman’s Harbour to
                                                            do a story. I turned around in my truck and went
                                                            back to the marina. I asked them if they would
                                                            allow me to put milk, bread and eggs on their
                                                            boat. The guy said he couldn’t do it because
                                                            they were in a hurry.”




                                                                                                                  Paul Daly photo, pauldaly.net




62 | Atlantic Business Magazine | January/February 2011
A W A             R D S              2010 Award Winners

The Newfoundland and Labrador           Exporter of the Year
Export & Innovation Awards
celebrate the achievements
and unique contributions of
businesses, organizations and
individuals in the areas of export
and innovation.

Congratulations to this
year’s winners, Ocean Choice
                .,
International L.P Dynamic Air
Shelters Ltd., and Memorial
University’s Distance Education        Innovation in Business
and Learning Technologies.




                                      Distinction in Innovation




                                                         www.gov.nl.ca
                                                          The Canadian Armed Forces were a key contributor to
                                                          Hurricane Igor recovery efforts. They rebuilt bridges and
                                                          roads and delivered supplies to the hardest hit and
                                                          isolated communities. Photo: Dept. of National Defense




                                                             Undaunted, Jacobs looked for another way to act on
                                                          his idea of shipping supplies to the communities cut off
                                                          by the 230 mm of rain Igor had dropped in six hours.
                                                          “There was another guy in a boat. I asked him if I could
                                                          hire him. He said yes. We had to go back to the store to
                                                          get merchandise. I asked my assistant manager to call
                                                          our vendors to raise money to get supplies. In a matter
                                                          of a half hour, we raised $3,000.” In the meantime, the
                                                          CBC employee Kevin had met on the dock tracked him
                                                          down. “He called his boss, and his boss said to him,
                                                          ‘Food first, story second.’ That was two boats we loaded
                                                          to Hickman’s Harbour.”
                                                             So began a week-long impromptu relief effort led by
                                                          Jacobs and his staff at the Co-op. Jacobs himself made
                                                          public pleas via the media, contacted major Co-op ven-
                                                          dors and challenged local businesses to match his own
                                                          generosity. One of the first calls he made was to Melissa
                                                          Churchill, the lone employee over at Clarenville’s Budget
                                                          Rent a Car outlet; he needed a cube van to haul all the
                                                          supplies. Melissa landed Kevin an initial two-day rental
                                                          donation that turned into a ten-day give worth about a
                                                          thousand dollars.
                                                             “Why wouldn’t I?” says Churchill of her decision to
                                                          contact head office in Nova Scotia for permission to help
                                                          out. “The devastation was unbelievable. You needed
                                                          transportation to get the food to people. No access to




64 | Atlantic Business Magazine | January/February 2011
Paul Daly photo, pauldaly.net



       communities, roads washed out for days,            “We’re grocery people. People
       weeks. I saw people boated into the commu-         would call them on the phone
       nity for medical reasons. Helicopters bringing     crying.” The Salvation Army
       people into the hospital. It (the van) was to      called Kevin to ask if he could get
       help people out, is what it was.”                  supplies to communities they
          When Kevin contacted the Coke bottling          couldn’t reach. “While I was on
       plant in St. John’s for a donation of 1,500 bot-   the phone with the Salvation
       tles of water, Neil Sullivan, area sales manager   Army,” says Jacobs, “a guy
       for Coca Cola Refreshments, had a similar re-      walked in my office from
       sponse. “It was a great opportunity to help        Bonaventure. This is the area I
       our customer and the consumer as well,” says       wanted to get to. They were
       Sullivan who oversees a staff of 23. “It’s good    organizing a boat from the
       to be able to give back to the community when      community to come to Clarenville
       people are in an unfortunate situation. I was in   for goods. I was looking for a
       Halifax back in 2001 in Hurricane Juan. No         boat, but it was already coming
       power for a week. I’ve been there, done it.”       towards me. In an hour and a half,
          At the request of the Red Cross, Bert Bown      we had that boat loaded.”
       at Co-op Atlantic’s Gander Distribution Cen-          Kevin and his staff did the best they could to
       tre donated 665 cases of bottled water for a       cope with the extra work and the stress until
       total of 31,920 litres. Co-op Atlantic assigned    others like the Red Cross and the Canadian
       staff to follow tractor-trailers loaded with re-   military could take over. Inside a week, they
       lief supplies up the Bonavista Peninsula until     raised $43,000, of which $17,000 paid for the
       roads became impassable. At these critical lo-     purchase of the goods shipped to the
       cations, staff and volunteers carried supplies     communities cut off by the storm. The rest went
       by hand to smaller trucks waiting on the other     to the Red Cross.
       side. Kevin Jacobs went along on some of              As the Red Cross rolled out its emergency
       these trips to make sure the supplies got          response, more businesses found ways to assist.
       through. At one location, he says, “I saw these    Dan Bedell, director of public affairs (Atlantic)
       four ladies and some of my staff lugging eggs      for the Canadian Red Cross says that with the
       across the ditch.”                                 help of Kent Building Supplies, they trucked
          So successful were Kevin and his Clarenville    $4,000 worth of drywall, lumber, plywood,
       Co-op staff at organizing their own relief         flooring, insulation, doors, windows and
       effort and getting the word out, their             roofing shingles to Catalina on the Bonavista       In less than an hour, Kevin Jacobs (top),
       office became the clearing house for the           peninsula. “A second truck was an 18-wheeler        manager of the Clarenville Co-op, was able to
                                                                                                              fill two boats with emergencies supplies for
       Hurricane Igor response. Kevin says ex-pat         flatbed,” says Bedell, “delivering about $10,000    towns whose roads and bridges had been
       Newfoundlanders working for oil companies          worth of materials donated and purchased            destroyed by Hurricane Igor. Over the next few
                                                                                                              days, the co-op raised $43,000 to help hurri-
       in western Canada donated cash they had            through Kent, but delivered by EastCan              cane victims, ferrying food and other supplies
       gathered around their offices. “Everybody was      Transport of Mount Pearl, which donated the         by boat to stranded coastal communities.
                                                                                                              Bottom photos courtesy Rayanne Brennan.
       calling in, trying to donate money. This was       services of its truck and driver.” To pay for the
       emotional for my staff,” Jacobs explains.          supplies, Kent topped up the cash donated at

                                                                                                                       Online extras: atlanticbusinessmagazine.com | 65
                                                               checkouts in stores across Atlantic Canada with a                                             table, most of the work was done. The amount was
                                                               corporate donation of its own. When the supplies                                              relatively small.”
                                                               arrived in Catalina, several faith groups organized                                              In total, Igor caused $200-million in flood and
                                                               volunteer tradespeople to carry out repairs.                                                  wind damage. The Red Cross alone raised over
                                                                  Rhonda Kenney, regional director for                                                       $700,000 in individual and corporate donations and
                                                               Newfoundland and Labrador with the Canadian                                                   in-kind contributions of services and materials. The
                                                               Red Cross adds, “We are working with many                                                     Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is
                                                               corporate supporters including Walmart, Irving,                                               providing further relief. These are only numbers,
                                                               Esso and Newfoundland Power to help ease the                                                  however, and don’t come close to telling the human
                                                               financial burden on people.”                                                                  story of disaster relief. It seems in times of crisis,
                                                                  Though it wasn’t for lack of desire, not all                                               businesses are more than just businesses. They are
                                                                             businesses were in a position to                                                also the people who own and work for them, people
                                                                             respond to Igor. While Central Dairies                                          with personal histories and human relationships like
                                                                             and Scotsburn Dairy Group donated                                               Melissa Churchill at Budget Rent a Car who comes
                                                                             small amounts of milk immediately,                                              from a family of 10 and remembers, “We had to
                                                                             Harry Burden, executive director of                                             work together to make it work.”
                                                                             the Dairy Farmers of Newfoundland                                                  And people like Kevin Jacobs at the Clarenville
                                                                             reports that farmers themselves were                                            Co-op, the only employer he’s ever known. “When
                                                                             victims of Igor. “When the highway                                              my father used to bring out the last few loads of
                                                                             was down, all the milk made on the                                              wood,” Jacobs recalls of his childhood, “he’d give it
                                                                             west coast had to be shipped to Nova                                            to someone. If you grow your own vegetables, you
                                                                             Scotia. That was a big loss to                                                  give away some potatoes, cabbage or turnip. Years
                                                                             producers. We ended up dumping                                                  ago, if someone had a moose, they’d give away a
                                                                             about 10,000 litres of milk. If it had                                          piece.” Hurricane Igor changed Jacobs forever. “I’m
                                                                             gone on one more day, it could have                                             getting ready to get involved in a charity. I got it in
In less than 24 hours, Hurricane Igor
                                                                             been tens of thousands of litres.” A                                            my head to go to Africa. There’s this old saying,
caused $200-million in flood and wind                          week after the hurricane, DFNL managed to hold a                                              wake up and smell the roses. I guess in this
damage, washing out roads and bridges,
destroying homes, vehicles and power                           board meeting. “We decided to offer some milk to                                              adventure, I’ve kinda woken up to what life is all
lines. Photos: Dept. of National Defense                       the relief organizations. By the time we came to the                                          about.” | ABM




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66 | Atlantic Business Magazine | January/February 2011

				
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