CHARLOTTE – There was a distinct smell of cat and dog food in the air at the Restore Global warehouse on Sept. 26.
But in a matter of hours, the air cleared as nearly $600,000 worth of donated pet food and other pet supplies was shipped to areas in the state that were hardest hit by Hurricane Florence and the flooding that came in the storm’s aftermath. The donations from many different national manufacturers filled four 18-wheelers that were bound to different nonprofits helping storm victims in eastern North Carolina.
Restore Global, located at 9525 Monroe Road, is a middle man between corporate givers and the nonprofits that benefit from those donations. White Knight Engineered Products provides the warehouse space for the nonprofit.
Instead of donations being shipped directly to the disaster area by individual corporations, companies send their donations to Restore Global. Restore Global then works with its nonprofit partners in the disaster area to make sure the right volume of donations gets to the right areas at the right time.
“What we are presenting is a new model on how to respond to disasters,” Restore Global CEO Steven Wray said. “What has happened in the past, especially in pet food, corporations are very generous and they want to make these donations available to the nonprofits that need it. What happens is they will send a truck to a disaster area, but the nonprofits can’t manage that. We have seen time and time again where assets just collect. In the nonprofit world, we call that the second disaster, things just pile up and they can’t be used.
“What we are saying to national manufacturers in our Access to Excess program, ‘Hey bring it here and we stage it and distribute it when it is needed.’ That way we are not overwhelming any single shelter or nonprofit.”
Some of the pet food and supplies shipped Sept. 26 were being sent to food shelters and food pantries that are assisting storm victims. The supplies included pet food, kennels and water dishes.
“People are starting to go back to their homes and they are starting to recover a little bit,” Wray said. “They need food but they also need pet supplies. They can not only go to the food pantry and get food for their family but they can also get food for their pet. Pets are part of the family, and we need to produce things for the family.”
Supplies were also sent to groups assisting pets that were abandoned before and after the hurricane hit the Carolinas. The individual nonprofits benefiting from the donations sent trucks to Restore Global to pick up their supplies.”
“Restore Global does a lot more than just pet needs, but this is what we are doing right now,” said Megan Tuttle of Restore Global. “Multiple corporations have sent truckloads to us. Rescue groups need kennels because they need a place for the pets once they gather them. There are many rescue pets, cats and dogs, that have been left behind. We are a nonprofit that assists other nonprofits.”
But food and other supplies for pets was not the only thing moving out of the warehouse and headed to areas ravaged by Florence. In a separate room inside the massive warehouse, sat 15 pallets of clothes, several pallets of liquid bleach and two pallets of bug spray that will be used to help storm victims. Another shipment from Global Restore helped first-responders and included gloves among the items that were donated.
“This is gold, and it is going to eastern North Carolina,” Wray said of the bug spray. “In disasters, bug spray is golden. In the disaster in Puerto Rico, we were moving a lot of assets during that period and bug spray was they No. 1 thing.”
Some of the bleach will be shipped to areas impacted in the state to be used clean damage from the storm. The rest will stay here in Charlotte as part of the recovery effort from Florence.
Charlotte Community ToolBank is providing tools for people and groups cleaning up from the storm. Community ToolBank has an 8,000-square-foot warehouse in South End, and it can provide over 250 types of tools and other equipment for projects like storm cleanup.
“When the tools come back, they need to be cleaned up,” Wray said. “Those tools will be deployed for months. When they come back, they will be nasty and they need to be cleaned up.”