Best Partnership Award Finalist Caterpillar Donates Disaster Equipment that Clears the Way for Help

October 29, 2012

A few years ago, I traveled to Port-Au-Prince with a group of companies to find ways for corporate resources to effectively support the Haiti earthquake's relief and recovery needs. We met with a number of nonprofits on the ground and facilitated many great partnerships. 

One thing that stood out to me during the trip was the massive amount of debris that severely hindered the recovery process.  Debris removal is an important first step in recovery. It is critically important for transportation, for rebuilding, and for the psychological boost that it gives people to see that progress is being made. 

I heard from a number of people in Haiti that a lot of the debris was cleared from major roads with the help of Caterpillar. The company donated heavy equipment and operators to remove debris from the roadways.

This firsthand experience of the importance of debris removal is why I am glad to see the partnership between Caterpillar and First Response Team America (FRTA) be chosen as a finalist for the Best Partnership category in the 2012 Citizens Awards.  This partnership helps people who have seen their worlds collapse before their eyes. Earlier this year, a tornado destroyed much of the town of West Liberty, Kentucky. FRTA was there to help the community almost immediately following the storm. Here is an excerpt of their work:

FRTA deployed in West Liberty, Kentucky, a small community of 3,349 people. West Liberty was struck by an EF3 tornado, which destroyed many homes, businesses, and the town’s power grid. FRTA arrived within four hours and used a donated Caterpillar generator to power a 32,000 square-foot grocery store and gas station. FRTA also cleared the vital roadways leading in and out of West Liberty; roads that would have been closed for days without FRTA’s fleet of Caterpillar equipment.

In response to that disaster, FRTA helped 14,237 people and saved the community $126,191 over the course of five days. The grocery store’s general manager praised the response. “Because of this generator, our company was able to receive four, 53-foot trailer loads of food, water, and supplies to donate to the churches, schools, and volunteer fire departments.”

This is an example of a company and a nonprofit working together to truly help people. I think it is definitely a worthy finalist in the Citizens Award. Remember to vote soon in this people's choice category, because voting ends November 2.