RoofViews

In Your Community

Hurricane Ian Relief Efforts: Coming Together to Protect What Matters Most

By GAF Roof Views

August 29, 2019

GAF Team in front of roofing materials to support community members impacted by hurricane Ian.

Hurricane Ian was the deadliest to strike Florida since the famously catastrophic 1935 Labor Day hurricane. With wind speeds that reached 150 mph, the 2022 hurricane left a trail of profound devastation—and the people caught in that trail are now fighting to rebound and rebuild. Leveraging the combined expertise and resources of GAF and Standard Logistics to assist affected locals, GAF is proud to be part of the efforts to provide relief to those who need it most.

GAF made initial preparations to support employees and their families in anticipation of Hurricane Ian's forecasted direct hit on Tampa, FL — one of their plant locations. This was done using valuable experience gained following Hurricane Florence in 2018, which had severely affected another GAF plant location — Burgaw, NC. Once it became clear that Tampa had been spared the worst, GAF quickly pivoted to determine how they could apply support and provisions to their best use. This preparedness and fast pivot meant that GAF's emergency Hurricane Ian relief provisions were among the first to reach the devastated Punta Gorda, FL community. One resident shared, "What you guys did has already had a huge impact. People thought they were coming for a hot meal and received ways to rebuild along with basic necessities that they haven't had or known when they would. It was huge — there were A LOT of tears. YOU and your company made it happen and gave people hope."

GAF Team members with supplies

Team members Hunter Johnson and Matthew Humphries standing with supplies that were sourced to support community members impacted by the storm

Fueled by Collaboration and Dedication

Community and service are priorities for GAF. In the wake of Hurricane Ian, this commitment could not be more relevant. Over the past month, GAF has made deliveries of Hurricane Ian relief items to impacted areas, assembling dedicated teams to gather everything from non-perishable foods and personal items such as clothing and toiletries to power generators and water pumps.

With 20 years of purchasing sourcing and procurement under his belt, Andrew McKeown, Director of Operational Procurement, understands the importance of being proactive and moving fast. The members of his team had all hands on deck to purchase and assemble relief supply deliveries as quickly as possible. Also, using their 2018 experience with Hurricane Florence, the team had the foresight to start collecting high-demand items before the hurricane hit. Not surprisingly, that forethought paid off: "I went and checked availability of the same generators and water pumps a week later, after the hurricane, and they were sold out," he explains.

Andrew emphasizes the importance of his team. "If it wasn't for other people stepping up, and other people taking on roles they don't normally take, this never would have happened. It happens with a team. That's the only way this happened. The teamwork allows us to help the people who really need it."

Jumping into Action

When disaster strikes, there's little time to plan. With GAF's Tuscaloosa facility serving as the hub, the team worked together to pinpoint locations in need for rapid deployment, coordinating with Standard Logistics to make it all happen. With remarkable speed, Standard Logistics got trucks loaded and dispatched. Harvey Brown, Area Manager for the Southeast, remarks, "The drivers are warriors with those quick turnarounds."

In these circumstances, the best-laid plans can change at any minute. The ability to adjust on the fly has been key to combating delays and last-minute changes. At the last minute, the right trucks sometimes weren't available, or the deliveries took longer than expected. Despite these unexpected challenges, the team found purpose and motivation in overcoming them. Brian Thrasher, a Supply Chain Manager at the Tuscaloosa plant adds, "It was constantly changing so we had to be flexible. To be able to pull this off with short notice and get supplies turned around as quickly as we did — I was proud of our team."

Of the Tuscaloosa workers, Andrew says, "Some of this stuff showed up in their warehouse and they worked over the weekend to break it down into three or four truckloads." The drivers maxed-out on their driving hours and stayed to help unload.

Tim Rink, GAF Territory Manager for Southwest Florida adds, "Everyone's working together, no matter who or what you are." Justin Miller, Steep Slope Territory Manager for the region made the first critical contact with the Charlotte Community Foundation. His quick-thinking and creativity played a major part in helping the team distribute relief supplies efficiently to the locations hit hardest by the storm.

When a boat captain was unable to make deliveries to island communities in Florida, it was local connections that helped the team get in touch with local law enforcement and the Red Cross to make the deliveries happen. That dedication extended to an array of partners including Costco, area churches, long-time partner Good360, and many others — even competitors: "We even had a competitor call saying what we're doing is nothing short of amazing. Now that's pretty cool to hear," Tim says.

Cape Coral law enforcement steps in to help coordinate the delivery of supplies to island counties.

What's Next

Ideally there would never be a need for disaster supplies, but we know that more storms are a certainty and being prepared is key. By building on the recent experience gained from Hurricane Ian relief efforts, GAF is already working to improve the procurement and distribution of supplies, so that — next time — even more supplies can be delivered even faster. That's why, just as he nurtures relationships with roofing suppliers, Andrew McKeown is now working to develop relationships with the companies that supply hurricane relief items. Next time, he says, "I won't have to make all these calls and find out who to talk to and explain what I'm trying to do. We don't have time for that."

He's also working on creating an inventory of high-demand items, so there will be no need to source them when a future disaster strikes, helping people get on with the most important work more quickly: helping to rebuild lives. Brian reflects on what it means to give back. "Everyone in Tuscaloosa remembers what happened here about 11 years ago, when a very large tornado came through our town. There were a lot of deaths, a lot of destruction. Being on the receiving end of a storm like this when people are driving by and giving you water… you understand the urgency and the need. And the thankfulness. Having been on the receiving end, the clean-up end, you're thankful for everything people send."

Bringing our Values to Life

When Harvey joined GAF this past spring, he had never heard of GAF. What he has come to appreciate even more through this experience is GAF's commitment to protecting what matters most: "You hear all the talk, you've heard it all before but here, you hear it — and you see it. We're living it."

What's been made clear is that everyone is all in and no one person can claim credit. "It happens with a team," says Andrew. None of this is possible without the team mentality. For Tim, it's all about taking care of people and keeping that perspective. "I've always been a giving person, but the impact of what GAF has given us to help people is amazing."

Looking Ahead

With the final shipments delivered, thoughts are already percolating on how to prepare for the next disaster. "We already have the relationship. What I'd like to see is maybe have things like generators and water pumps already stored away. We lucked-out getting in front of the power curve, but we might not be so lucky next time," Andrew says.

Harvey also reinforces the need to take care of each other in times like these. "We need to ensure team members in affected areas are also safe and have the resources they need." Preparedness plans should also think beyond the aftermath and consider the long-term impacts that communities face. The team has proven we not only have the capability but a strong desire to support and help renew our communities as they continue to navigate the enduring effects of both this storm and those storms we will face in the future.

Thank you to Harvey Brown, Andrew McKeown, Tim Rink, and Brian Thrasher for taking time out from the active relief efforts to share their perspectives, and to the entire team who continue to make a tremendous impact for our communities.

Learn more about GAF's commitment to the communities where they live and work at gaf.com/communitymatters.

About the Author

More homes and businesses in the U.S. are protected by a GAF roof than by any other product. We are the leading roofing manufacturer in North America, with plants strategically located across the U.S. As a Standard Industries company, GAF is part of the largest roofing and waterproofing business in the world.

Related Articles

GAF worker applies StreetBond®, a solar-reflective pavement coating, to an asphalt court.
In Your Community

GAF Partners with the Orlando Magic to Revamp a Sports Court

A newly renovated basketball court at Chambers Park Community Center in Kissimmee, Florida, is a slam dunk for local children and families. GAF is proud to have partnered with the Orlando Magic, AdventHealth, and the city of Kissimmee to make this community's hoop dreams come true.The Chambers Park Community Center is a focal point of the Kissimmee community. The facility offers after-school programs, community events, and camps. It also features a popular neighborhood playground and basketball court where friends and families gather.The collaborative work involved in upgrading the sports court—which reopened on January 10, 2024—is just one example of how the GAF Community Matters program supports and celebrates neighborhoods nationwide.Renovating the Court's Coating and DesignThe inspiration for this project came from wanting to enhance the quality of life for the residents of Kissimmee and provide a safe, vibrant place for families to play outdoors. GAF understands the importance of building resilient communities, so the company donated cutting-edge materials and covered the cost of installation labor to ensure the Chambers Park Community Center's new sports court was a perfect outdoor place to play. To make the asphalt court as safe and durable as possible, GAF used StreetBond® solar-reflective, durable pavement coating with Invisible Shade™. The product can help reduce pavement surface temperatures by an average of 10°F while also helping to protect the pavement from premature degradation due to heat and UV rays.In areas where heat collects, also known as "urban heat islands," there tend to be few trees and minimal shady vegetation, so blacktops and hard surfaces—including parking lots, roadways, concrete recreation areas, and roofs—absorb and release heat well into the evening. Over time, these excess temperatures may contribute to heat-related health effects and negatively impact quality of life for local area residents. This wasn't the first time GAF deployed pioneering cooling strategies to enhance a community's experience. As part of the GAF Cool Community project in Pacoima, California, StreetBond® was used to help diminish urban heat island effects. GAF quickly completed the work in Kissimmee and the facility was opened to the public shortly afterward. The sports court's vibrant design uses custom-made colors inspired by the blue retro logo honoring the Orlando Magic's 35th anniversary court.Celebrating the Court's OpeningCurrent and former Orlando Magic players and Kissimmee's Mayor celebrated the court's unveiling. Team mascot STUFF the Magic Dragon joined the festivities to the crowd's delight.Sixty youth from the Chambers Park Community Center after-school program also attended the court's reopening. The students were thrilled to join in a fast-paced basketball skills clinic. The newly launched court was their chance to meet their sports heroes up close, take photos with them, and enjoy their new playground.Investing in Communities of the FutureThe Chambers Park Community Center's sports court is an important gathering space where youth and their families can safely play, build relationships, and develop their skills.With this project, the GAF Community Matters initiative continues its longstanding partnership in neighborhoods across the country. GAF is committed to making a positive difference by offering roofing expertise, resources, and products to help build more resilient communities.Providing safe, high-quality sports courts where residents can gather helps build resilient communities while promoting active, healthy lifestyles—and GAF is proud to play a role. To learn other ways GAF supports communities across the country, visit www.gaf.com/communitymatters.

By Authors Wendy Helfenbaum

May 28, 2024

Aerial shot of roofers repairing homes in the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha community.
In Your Community

Helping the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha Tribe Protect What Matters Most

The Louisiana coast has seen several severe weather events in the last decade, which has made it difficult for many people to rebuild their homes and prepare for future storms. This was the case for the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha tribe, a small community accessible only by boat.The group Rebuilding Together New Orleans recognized the impact a joint effort could have on the region. Together with the GAF Community Matters initiative, and roofing contractor Sunbelt Roofs, the group collaborated with the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha tribe to replace five hurricane-damaged roofs in the tribe's coastal Louisiana homeland.Sowing ResilienceThe week-long roof rebuilding initiative was part of the GAF Community Matters commitment to repair or replace 500 roofs throughout the Gulf region. The goal was to further strengthen and empower the resilience of the families, shelters, and livelihoods of the coastal Atakapa Ishak Chawasha tribe.The Timberline HDZ® RoofCycle™ Series Shingle, which is made with recycled material, was used to protect these homes.Adapting Environmentally"We are stewards of the environment," said Rosina Philippe, a tribal elder of the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha tribe, as she spoke with GAF during the week-long rebuilding initiative. Over a millennium, the tribe has resided in the region, finding all it needs to feed and sustain itself from the environment.However, man-made conditions have significantly impacted the tribe's way of life. The once-forested coastal region is now a salt marsh area, devoid of fresh water and trees, due to levees along the Mississippi River and canals cut through the coastal landscape.These changes have made it "more of a challenge to find the food and plants and medicines that we depend on for our livelihood. But we have been finding them, propagating them, and sharing them with other tribes," said Philippe. "Our way is to accept the natural processes, not change them."Fortifying against Unpredictable WeatherIn addition to the tribe's changing landscape, "what we're dealing with is the unpredictability of the weather," said Philippe. Climate change can cause dramatic temperature swings, which can impact everything from the life cycle of the tribe's crops to the protection of its homes.Situated at the southeasternmost lands of Plaquemines Parish, fingerlike marshland trails out into the Gulf. The homes in the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha community are built on stilts along these watery paths and are accessible only by boat. These homes are often the first line of impact with hurricanes that rip through the Gulf of Mexico.Hurricane Ida—the fifth most expensive hurricane in US history—dealt the water-based community a devastating blow. For nearly two years, the hurricane's impact on tribal homes compounded with each subsequent storm because there wasn't an opportunity to repair its damage.Partnering for StrengthFortunately, through collaborative efforts between the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha, Rebuilding Together New Orleans, GAF, and Sunbelt Roofs, the opportunity to build tribal community resilience through new roofs became available. Bringing in roofing materials and roofers by boat, the Sunbelt Roofs team removed the storm- and hurricane-damaged roofs, repaired roof decking as needed, and installed new GAF roofing systems on the five homes.The roofing materials installed are designed to protect against volatile weather like hurricanes. To provide long-lasting protection against leaks and wind-driven rain, Sunbelt Roofs installed StormGuard® Film-Surfaced Leak Barrier and FeltBuster® Synthetic Roofing Felt. To help prevent shingle blow-off due to high-speed winds, Sunbelt Roofs installed Pro-Start® Starter Strip Shingles.The Timberline HDZ® RoofCycle™ Series shingles that were installed have Dura Grip™ Adhesive, which provides advanced protection from shingle blow-off and wind-driven water creating leaks or water damage.Building Communities TogetherThe initiative with the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha tribe is part of a comprehensive $25 million GAF commitment through 2025 to leverage roofing expertise, resources, and products to help support and empower resilient communities' fundamental needs. Through grants, in-kind donations, and hands-on support, GAF Community Matters is partnering with area organizations that know their communities' needs best.In the Gulf region, GAF partnered with organizations such as Rebuilding Together New Orleans, SBP, Good360, Habitat for Humanity, and Team Rubicon to rebuild or repair 500 Gulf region roofs, train a skilled workforce, and empower communities hard-hit by severe weather.Moving ForwardDespite the challenges of climate change and the changes in their physical landscape, Philippe said, "We still live a rich life here." As the environment changes, the tribe adapts, a demonstration of its resiliency. "These are the new norms that we are having to learn and document and chronicle, this is the information we'll have to pass onto our future generations so that they can continue to inhabit this area," she explained.To learn more about the resiliency work at GAF or to get involved, explore the GAF Community Matters initiative. Special thanks to the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha tribe, a member of the First People's Conservation Council of Louisiana.

By Authors Annie Crawford

April 16, 2024

GAF volunteers gather in front of the Ennis, TX plant to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness.
In Your Community

How GAF Team Members Are Making an Impact in Ennis, Texas

Ennis, Texas, might be best known for hosting the National Polka Festival every year, but it's also home to many GAF professionals who support the community.GAF has been part of the Ennis community for over 45 years, where its footprint has grown to include a research and development center and two manufacturing plants. In addition to the work GAF employees complete onsite, many have used their connections to champion local organizations' efforts. GAF knows how important it is to build resilient, thriving communities, and its continued commitments in Ennis offer proof of what's possible.The GAF Ennis Facility's Tradition of Giving BackWith over 260 employees at the Ennis facility, it has a significant impact on the surrounding area. Many team members have worked there for 30 to 40 years, or more, and are lifelong residents of the city. One of the plants manufactures fiberglass mat rolls, a critical component used in roofing materials, while the other plant manufactures shingles. The shingle plant recently expanded to include recycled asphalt briquettes, which will be used in manufacturing recycled asphalt shingles to divert 300,000 tons of waste from landfills.David Tuttle, Senior Director of Residential Operations at GAF, joined the community in 2004 and in 2012 set out to help his friends and neighbors flourish with increased community engagement. He first joined the board of the Ellis County Children's Advocacy Center and has since expanded his service to other organizations, including two local United Way chapters, and the Ennis Boys and Girls Club.Tuttle's work started a legacy of community leadership. For instance, Joe Glanton, the GAF plant's community engagement ambassador, is now President of the Board of Directors of Greater Ennis United Way. Other GAF associates quickly followed suit, demonstrating their commitment to the community by working on local projects as well as joining the board of the Ennis Boys and Girls Club.Today, the tradition of giving back still runs strong. Many local groups and charitable organizations continue to benefit, and the community keeps growing stronger.GAF Ennis Facility's Community ImpactProviding justice, hope, and healingTuttle was instrumental in setting an example for community engagement. After joining the board of the Ellis County Children's Advocacy Center more than a decade ago, he eventually served as Board President. The nonprofit responds to child abuse and sexual assault reports, providing advocacy, forensic interviews, and mental health services to those affected."Our charge is to provide justice, hope, and healing for every child," Tuttle explains. After serving two years as Board President, and two as Past President, his 12-year tenure on the board is ending, but Tuttle has been working to bring other GAF team members into the organization and maintain support for Ennis's youngest residents.Stepping upGAF team member, Angela Adams, who is also an Ennis Boys and Girls Club board member, serves as a mentor through the Mentors Care program. After a Mentors Care representative was invited to speak at the Ennis plant, three of her colleagues signed up to volunteer as mentors. "I was so impressed by the number of employees who showed up to listen to what Mentors Care had to say," Adams notes.Mentors Care matches struggling high school students with mentors who serve as positive role models to help students manage their day-to-day challenges. The nonprofit recently reported that 100% of seniors in the program graduated, 92% of mentored students achieved a 90% school attendance rate, and 89% of students advanced to the next grade level.Unique solutions for unique challengesMatt Neal, GAF engineering manager, serves as Board President of Runnin' Free Ranch, which serves area veterans, at-risk youth, and individuals with special needs through counseling with horses. The organization is working to change the lives of Ennis residents who face unique challenges.A local US Navy veteran who participates in the program wrote that he was "a prisoner of rage and unending bitterness" after he departed from serving. Though he doubted a horse could help him, he eventually realized that "our therapy sessions have comprised of laughter, tears, frustration, and a release of tension that I've never experienced before."Making a direct impact when it's needed mostJoe Glanton has been involved in the evolution of many community organizations, including serving as a board-level leader for the Ennis CARES organization. Founded during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ennis CARES was developed to help community members with non-emergency needs, including food, health care, and other services. Glanton notes that "it's a natural extension of our work to be as supportive and active as possible with organizations that have a direct impact on protecting what matters most."Ennis CARES will soon break ground on a new community center and "combat multiplier" for local charities, opening space to house a food bank and provide services such as health care for women and seniors.Disaster ResponseRandy Brumley, GAF mat plant Production Process Manager, met Team Rubicon—a disaster response organization—when they visited the Ennis plant. He instantly decided to become a greyshirt volunteer alongside several other team members.Brumley wrote about his first operation, where he responded to Houston neighborhoods affected by Hurricane Harvey. "Team Rubicon is a diamond class organization held together by volunteers—veterans and civilians—and respect at its core," he explains. "For anyone who has the chance, I would say: Step into the arenal!" Brumley has been a part of the Ennis community, and a GAF employee for over 40 years, and also serves as a member of the Ennis Boys and Girls Club.Becoming Part of the CommunityTuttle shares that he and his teammates appreciate that GAF affords them the flexibility and opportunity to give back to their communities. "It's exciting that GAF provides the support and encouragement to go and serve," he says. "We owe it to our communities; we're really blessed and privileged with our jobs and careers and the benefit to go volunteer. Everyone has the ability to go and find a place to serve."With a total of 34 manufacturing locations spread throughout 26 communities across the US, GAF and its team members are well positioned to change lives and help build resiliency nationwide. Curious to learn more about joining the GAF team? Explore the available career options and opportunities to get involved.

By Authors Karen L Edwards

April 09, 2024

Don't miss another GAF RoofViews post!

Subscribe now