In February, a combination of heavy rainfall and rapid snowmelt in the Pacific Northwest resulted in flooding throughout the region. With homes ruined, damage totals continuing to skyrocket, and lives displaced, many RDO Equipment Co. team members found
opportunities to help those in need.
RDO Vermeer Account Manager Joe Williams knew he had to act as he watched floodwaters wreak havoc on his hometown of Pendleton, OR.
The Umatilla River, which runs through Pendleton, crested at a level almost four times higher than the average for the season, spilling over its banks and breaking the levy meant to protect the town.
“It happened so fast that people were not able to escape in time and had to be picked up from their roofs via helicopter or by jumping into the bucket of large front-end loaders and taken to higher ground,” Joe said.
Joe began making phone calls to friends in Pendleton and to his teammates at the RDO agriculture store there and in nearby Hermiston, and he quickly had a team of volunteers ready to hit the scene, where some residents and businesses were grappling with
the loss of everything.
“It’s pretty tough,” said Pendleton Service Manager Brad Jennings of the town’s situation. Less than a year after his own home was impacted by a previous flood, watching the devastation unfold again was difficult to bear.
In response, Brad joined dozens of others to help a friend whose business was swamped, while Service Technician Miguel Soto and AYF Service Intern Ryan Hammond spent a day at an RV park along the river, one of neighborhoods hit particularly hard. The
team also offered a 1025 tractor for use in the clean up effort.
In the wake of the destruction, the outpouring of support from friends and strangers alike is what stands out to Brad.
“Watching team and communities come together is amazing,” he said. “It’s hard to see people go through something like this, but the bright side of it is seeing how we join up to help each other.”
With the nearby town of Echo also facing the wrath of the overflowing Umatilla, the Hermiston team was also on standby to provide aid.
“I reached out to the City of Echo to see if there was anything we could do,” said Danielle Baldwin, Office Administrator. “The team here was eager to volunteer in any way they could, so we were added to the flood relief list.”
Only a day after Danielle reached out, the team was contacted by a resident, and RDO customer, whose property had been covered with debris. Transactional Account Manager Allan Taylor, Field Service Technician Cody Jacobs, and Service Technicians Charles
Griffith, Jamie Newton, and Steve Keltz jumped at the opportunity and spent a day cutting and stacking wood and clearing mud.
“What would have taken the customer all summer to accomplish by himself, we were able to achieve in one day,” Jaime said. “He was thankful to us and to RDO for giving us the opportunity to help him get his home back to what it was before
Meanwhile, Joe, with a trailer of Vermeer mini skid-steers and attachments in tow, arrived in Pendleton, where he was joined by Hermiston team members: Account Manager Andre Allison, Service Manager Aaron Beamer, Service Technician Ben Morris, and Yard
Coordinator Kyle Bryant.
“We rolled up and started working, using the skid steers to move mud, trees, air conditioners, picnic tables, and front porches that were ripped away from homes,” Joe said.
The effort was an opportunity not only for members of RDO’s Vermeer and ag divisions to come together, but also to partner with other volunteer groups on-site, including Team Rubicon, a nonprofit organization of military veterans and first responders
dedicated to disaster relief around the world.
Emotions ran high for Joe as he met people who’d lost everything with no idea what to do next.
“I caught myself fighting back tears,” he said. “I spoke with a few of the homeowners and passed out hugs in hopes that my small gesture would let them know they weren’t in this alone.”
Amplifying Joe’s sentiment were the hard-working volunteers who didn’t hesitate to aid friends and neighbors during a time of crisis.
“Everyone represented RDO with the highest class, and I couldn’t be prouder to have them on my team,” Joe said. “We spent two days helping make a small dent in a large problem, but I’m proud of what we all accomplished.”
And for Allan Taylor, the opportunity to enact RDO’s Core Values and witness their impact is something he also takes pride in.
“It is a pleasure to work for a company that is so committed to and such a big part of the local community,” he said. “This was a great way for us to give back and come together as a team to help in our community during a very stressful and trying time."
Learn more about the ways RDO Equipment Co. team members make an impact in our communities.