As we wrap up 2018 and move into the new year, we want to highlight our team's Give Back. One of the many CANA Foundation initiatives that CANA Advisors employees took on this year was a local cleanup effort after Hurricane Michael swept through Albany, Georgia – home to CANA’s Kurt Eades.
On October 10, 2018, the Florida Panhandle was devastated by Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 storm with winds of 155 mph. While Hurricane Michael inflicted the most significant destruction where it made landfall in Mexico Beach, Florida, the storm continued north through central and eastern Georgia as a Category 2 hurricane, continuing its devastation of the inland areas over the next several days.
Directly in the path of the eye of the storm, Albany, Georgia was significantly impacted by downed trees and power outages. The extent of the damage was put into perspective for Kurt when he was not even able get out of his own neighborhood. After four days without power and minimal outside support due to the extensive road blockages, Kurt happen to hear about a local organization called the Albany Chainsaw Gang that was helping clear trees to open access for local residents to and from their homes. Founded by Tom Gieryric, the Albany Chainsaw Gang is a group of volunteers who donate their time, resources and use their own equipment to help clear trees and open access after storms and other natural disasters. The organization is supported exclusively by donations.
Tom Gieryic (left) and Kurt Eades
While the cleanup and recovery efforts in Albany would be a long-term process, the work during the week following the hurricane were critical to opening roads and access and required as many people and organizations as possible to assist. Kurt wanted to do what he could for his community and help Albany get back on its feet. CANA Foundation came alongside Kurt and provided a cash donation to the Albany Chain Gang as well as two days off from work for Kurt to be able to work on one of the Chain Gang teams clearing trees. Kurt was paired with Duane, an Albany Chainsaw Gang veteran who already owned several chainsaws and a small skid steer loader (for moving trees), which enabled them to go out and get right to work clearing trees.
The first house Kurt’s team tackled belonged to an older couple in their mid-90s and was tucked way back in the woods. They cleared the fallen trees away from their water well and their propane tank, making it safe to move around those areas. There was also a fenced-in area where a tree had fallen and taken out the fence. They removed the tree and propped the fence up so that the couple’s donkey and goats wouldn’t get out. It was a long day of very hard work, but Kurt said, “the look that the couple gave us when we left, and the thanks and gratitude made it all worth it.”
Kurt and team - Day 1
The next day, Kurt and Duane began the day sharpening chain saw blades before they moved onto the first of two jobs. There were power lines down at the first house and trees blocking the entrance, so once they ensured the power lines were not live, they quickly got to work. While the residents had evacuated and were not home, Kurt and Duane were able to cut away the trees enough to make a path and clear the driveway up to the house.
Kurt and team - Day 2
The final job of the day had the biggest trees and took Kurt and Duane nearly four hours to clear, but they worked hard and were able to open access for another appreciative neighbor.
Kurt and team - Day 2 (second job)
Overall, Kurt and Duane’s hard work (as well as the other Albany Chain Gang teams) provided critical help to some of their neighbors in their Albany community. Kurt summarized it best when he said, “It was a very good feeling to be part of the cleanup efforts. Most people just tend to cleanup their own yards and then get on with business as usual. The satisfaction you get from helping people who desperately need it was great and gives you some hope for the human race during a time when it seems we could really use it.”
CANA employees accomplished many other noteworthy initiatives as well in 2018. As we enter into 2019, we look forward to continuing to work together to make an impact and give back, individually and collectively, in our communities.