Helping our Community – Our time in East Palestine and Negley
As a company, we pride ourselves on helping our community any chance we can get.
In early February of 2023, a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. The derailment caused a major environmental tragedy that resulted in the residents being evacuated from their homes and the city. The city was left unable to drink its water and many are experiencing health problems already, with major concerns about the lasting health effects in the future. There has been media coverage showing the devastation and loss that little towns must now face. https://www.nytimes.com/article/ohio-train-derailment.html summarizes the situation well, for those who would like to find out more information about the story.
Shortly after the disaster, our Evolve team felt it was important to support our Ohio community. We loaded up a pickup truck full of bottles of water and drove to East Palestine, hoping to help if we could. This is about a 3-hour drive from Columbus. Once we were near, we began talking with locals and they told us that it was the smaller towns around East Palestine that were majorly affected too and the people of these towns could not access the help and resources that East Palestine residents received. These smaller towns got their drinking water directly from the creek that the toxic chemicals had contaminated. One of these small towns is Negley. As we assessed the situation in East Palestine, it became clear this small town of Negley was exactly where we needed to be. We went to the fire station and dropped off the truck full of water. At that time, our Evolve team was the first group to drop off any water to the community. After dropping off the water and being there for only 10 minutes, we watched residents quickly start to show up to get clean water. We knew that this water would run out soon, so we took to social media to raise awareness of this town’s needs and planned another visit for the following week.
A couple of days passed as we gathered donations of water, spread awareness, and went back to Negley with two more truckloads of water. I want to specifically thank all those who were able to partner with us to donate water- even our roofing materials distributor donated a large amount of water – showing just how great Ohians are as they help their neighbors on the other side of the state. When we arrived back in Negley we were amazed at the outpouring this community had now received. Supplies and water had been donated from organizations and individuals all over the country. After showing us two warehouses full of pallets of water, a firefighter stated, “this all started with you guys and the water you brought from Columbus a few days ago.”
The town of Negley is full of so many wonderful people who we got to meet with and hear their stories. Their lives have been turned upside down with no idea what is in store for their futures and health. We talked with the brave firefighters who fought the fire at the train derailment that first night. Over 70 departments from the surrounding areas were called in to help. They explained how this was the worst fire they’d ever experienced… stating one chief told his men “This is the type of fire that firefighters die at, make sure you’re sure before you get on this truck to go there.“ Their bravery, sacrifice, and skill should not be forgotten. There were no casualties, and none of the surrounding buildings caught on fire, avoiding even greater tragedy. Lots of these firefighters have lasting health effects from being so close to the chemicals during the derailment and fire, and many of these firefighters were volunteers. We were honored to hear the stories and meet the heroes of Negley.
Roofing and siding are our business, but we are people-focused first. Every single team member who is a part of Evolve, is passionate about meeting the needs of those around us, whether that’s in our city, or across our state. When we see a need, we’re a company that tries, as much as we can, to make an impact and meet that need. We are grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.
Want to get involved? Follow our social media to learn more about how you can help and stay up to date on our continued involvement in the town of Negley.
We are always looking for ways to serve our community, if you have a need or project that you could use help with, give us a call or email, we’d love to connect with you.