The tornado that ripped through Sanford in April 2011 left a trail of destruction in its wake – but the City and Lowe’s Home Improvement worked together to find some good in all the bad.
The EF3 tornado demolished Lowe’s store on Horner Blvd, requiring a completely new building. While the original building’s 350kw Caterpillar generator was still in great shape, it wasn't compatible with the new building’s system, says store manager Mike Hollowell.
Tragedy Into TriumphNot wanting such a valuable asset to go to waste, Lowe’s Companies, Inc. offered the original generator to Mayor Cornelia Olive for use at the City of Sanford.
“It was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Olive recounts. “I knew our Public Works department would find a good use for it and the Lowe’s team clearly wanted to do something nice for the city. It was a great fit,” she says.
“Giving this generator to the City was a pleasure for Lowe’s,” says Hollowell. “We were glad to help out any way we could,” he adds.
City Manager Hal Hegwer and Public Works Director Victor Czar quickly found a home for the generator, which was appraised at $100,000 and in perfect working order, at the raw water station on Highway 42 in Sanford.
A Self-Reliant City“The addition of the generator gave us the redundancy necessary for the Water Treatment Plant to go ‘off the grid’ should there be another disaster,” says Scott Christiansen, plant superintendent.
Even better, the donation also saved the City more than $145,000, considering the cost of a brand new generator plus installation, Christiansen estimates.
“The City is thankful to Lowe’s for giving us this opportunity to make our city more self-reliant so that its water supply will be protected during any disaster,” Hegwer says. “We are proud to work with our local businesses to bolster Sanford’s resources and better prepare the city for future emergencies.”