The past several weeks have been difficult ones for our country as whole communities have been ravaged by disastrous hurricanes like Harvey, Irma, and now Maria in Puerto Rico. Flex Rental Solutions took the time in the last couple of days to reach out to some of our customers who could have been impacted by these storms -- and to inquire about how we could help in the disaster relief process.
That is why it filled our hearts with great hope when one of our users — Benjamin Slayter Marketing Director for Performance Staging — reached out to us about using our software for disaster relief in The Keys -- an area directly hit by Hurricane Irma. We gladly donated a subscription to our software so he could easily track his tools and equipment during the disaster relief efforts.
We also had to inquire more about how he planned to use it.
It turns out Slayter is involved with the South Florida Chapter of Burners Without Borders — an organization dedicated to disaster relief efforts, civic initiatives, and other community volunteer projects around the world.
Slayer is also board president of Burnt Oranges, Inc, a 501(c)3 registered charity who currently provides fiduciary responsibility for the local Florida chapter of Burners without Borders.
Burners without Borders was founded in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
“Burners” — if you’re wondering — is a term coined to describe Burning Man festival community. Following the 2005 Burning Man event, several participants headed south into the Hurricane Katrina disaster area to help with reconstruction and debris removal.
“When Katrina hit the Gulf Coast the community became immediately concerned,” said Christopher Breedlove, Program Manager for Burners Without Borders, “we mobilized a large contingent of people, money, and resources, and ended up donating one million dollars in demolition work.”
“There was the moment we realized that the same work that goes into building and creating Burning Man were the same we needed in disaster zones, like living in harsh environments, working with heavy machinery, doing resource distribution, working with decentralized volunteer teams,” said Breedlove.
The organization currently has 34 chapters around the world and several projects being conducted. The chapters operate as localized community groups.
How Burners Without Borders is activating disaster relief efforts in The Keys
Slayer is currently putting together three mobile resource units — which act like shops inside a truck or refurbished shipping container. These MRUs are filled with basic tools, advanced manufacturing equipment, and supplies for making prototypes and art that can be easily shipped into areas of need, such as disaster relief zones, impoverished neighborhoods, or refugee camps. The goal is for communities affected to use these tools for demolition, rebuilding, and recovery efforts.
“Part of the disaster response is giving people the tools they need to do the rebuilding and recovery work themselves because they know that area better than anybody else,” said Breedlove.
“The entire concept of the MRUs came out of the experiences working in refugee camps and the refugee population in Europe, this is the first time actually activating in actual disasters here at home,” said Breedlove.
“We've already purchased an ARC welder to send to The Keys to begin efforts there to shore up infrastructure for the coming weeks,” said Slayter in a recent Facebook post in the Burners Without Borders — Florida Chapter Facebook group.
Likewise, the Burners community in Texas — which already does beach cleanups four times a year — was ready to respond when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston.
“There was a resilient and connected community ready to respond,” said Breedlove, “the crew in Aransas Pass is dedicated to working there for six months and assisting with the cleanup efforts.”
How To Help with Hurricane Irma Disaster Relief in The Keys
Seacamp Association, Inc., — a non-profit Camp and marine research station located on Big Pine Key — was destroyed during the storm. They will be the first location for one of the MRUs. If you have a heart for helping stock the MRU by donating tools and equipment please use this intake form set up by Benjamin Slayter or buy a product using this Amazon Wishlist for Burners Without Borders.