The Time to Act is Right Now

S140LCV Delivery to Biloxi, MS
Assistance from Doosan Infracore arriving in Biloxi, MS in response to Hurricane Katrina. Photo courtesy of Construction Equipment Guide.
Providing relief to the residents of Biloxi, MS
Doosan Infracore equipment providing relief to Biloxi, MS residents after Hurricane Katrina. Photo courtesy of TECHNOMEDIAXP.

The images from Haiti are often too difficult to look at and the statistics are too difficult to comprehend. How does one fathom an earthquake with a 7.0 ML rating on the Richter scale that originated perhaps five or six miles underground? How does one grasp the sheer number of casualties? While it’s too early to count the deceased, it has been said that at least 100,000 people of Haiti will have lost their lives in Tuesday’s earthquake. Many think the number will be much larger, since 3 million people (approximately one third of Haiti’s population) have been affected.

While it is disturbing to see some of the footage and difficult to get a feel for the severity there is one thing that is abundantly clear to me – the mission is critical and the time to act is right now. Lives are on the line!

As always, many individuals will reach into their wallets to provide some much needed assistance to charitable organizations on the ground in Haiti. The American Red Cross reported that as of 8am this morning (January 14), people have donated $3 million to their relief efforts by texting ‘Haiti’ to 90999. The donations came $10 at a time and will be added to the donor’s phone bills. The Red Cross fund will continue to grow as well as funds by various other charitable organizations due to your generous support.

According to a report on CNN, many companies and organizations have stepped to the forefront to help rescue and relief efforts in Haiti. These organizations are worth noting:

Abbott Laboratories
Bank of America
Western Union
The New York Yankees

While the list is preliminary and many organizations are probably putting plans into place to assist with funding and materials, I can’t help but think that there should be a construction equipment manufacturer or two included. Given the state of our economy, it is clear that inventory is available.

I know all of the arguments and questions for not providing equipment and supplies. The list is lengthy, and includes some of the following:

Who do we reach out to?
How do we secure our property and ensure it’s not destroyed?
Who is going to head this up, given that we have limited personnel?

I also know all of the rewards of stepping forward, having led an effort to provide equipment to support the needs of residents living in Biloxi, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.

While it was difficult to get upper management to fully understand the benefits initially and while it was difficult to find the right group of volunteers (people who knew how to operate the equipment who would not charge the residents for their help) and while it was also difficult to get consignment agreements in order and coordinate the logistics — it certainly was worth every bit of effort.

By partnering with a group of volunteers from around the country (mostly from the Western part of the United States affiliated with Burning Man), Doosan Infracore was able to make a difference in the lives of many people living in Biloxi by donating the use of an excavator, a wheel loader and a lift truck.

Along the way we received the heartfelt appreciation from people looking for a way to get their lives back to a form of normalcy and of course, some excellent press coverage. In addition, our participation provided a strong sense of internal pride within the organization.

So, regardless of whether an effort is undertaken in order to receive favorable public relations, enhanced goodwill in the community, or benefit people who are in desperate need of assistance, the time to act is now.

If you or your organization is sitting on the fence in regard to lending assistance to the people of Haiti, I urge you to take a second look at the upside.

The time to act is right now.

Note:  Since uploading this post on January 14, I’ve learned that JCB is in the process of sending backhoe loaders to Haiti and Hyundai Construction Equipment is coordinating with a relief agency to send over equipment.  Great moves by a couple of outstanding companies!

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