Skip to main content
English | Español

Hurricanes and fires affect dozens of Boilermakers


The Army National Guard helped those stranded in flood waters caused by Hurricane Harvey, which made an August landfall in Texas.


The National Weather Service called Hurricane Harvey’s devastation “unprecedented.”


More than 80 people in Houston died due Hurricane Harvey and the flooding that followed.

IBB Disaster fund helps members recover

A STRING OF natural disasters hit North America in 2017, causing destruction across the U.S. and Canada. Boilermakers in several regions were impacted by fires, hurricanes and flooding.

Hurricanes produce high winds and floods

HURRICANES HARVEY AND Irma wreaked havoc on the United States, affecting members in Texas and Florida. International Rep Clay Herford said that members in Houston were hit especially hard when Harvey landed in August. While the Local 74 (Houston, Texas) union hall escaped harm, with flood waters only covering the parking lot, some members weren’t that lucky. Herford said that one member lost his home. Others had wind damage to their homes and a range of flooding from minor to major. In addition, some construction projects were put on hold, causing members to lose work.

Mack Wilbun, from Local 74, lost his house in the flood. Water started rising on the first night but didn’t enter the house, so he and his family decided to wait it out. Then, water rose quickly. The entire house flooded. He doesn’t have the funds to rebuild.

“It was devastation,” said Wilbun. “We lost everything. Two cars, all our furniture and clothes. All we owned was what we had on when we fled.”

Also affected in Texas were members and retirees of Local 132 (Galveston, Texas) and the Quality Control Council of the United States.

While Irma hit the East Coast in September, members escaped with little damage to their property. James Barnes, Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurer of Local 433 (Tampa, Florida) said he knows of no major devastation, mostly felled trees and power outages.

Fires impact British Columbia, devastate Northern California

FIRES IN AUGUST ravaged British Columbia, torching forests, brush and grasslands and prompting evacuations. Oncoming fires forced 14 members of Local 359 (Vancouver, British Columbia) out of their homes.

International Rep Richard MacIntosh said that four Local 359 Boilermakers were in need of help as a result of the fires. While no members lost their homes, those in the fire’s path had to bear the cost of evacuation travel, food (including the loss of food in freezers and fridges), clothing and shelter. There was also cleanup for the homes damaged by smoke and land damaged by fire.

A quickly-moving fire leveled homes throughout Northern California wine country in October, decimating structures and land, and killing 42 people. Local 549 (Pittsburg, California) BM-ST Mark Sloan said the fires only affected a handful of members, mostly in Santa Rosa.

“They didn’t get hit themselves,” said Sloan. “Their houses were spared. They’re helping other people [in Santa Rosa]. Right now, it’s a ghost town up there.”

Disaster Relief Funds aids members, retirees

MARK GARRETT, DIRECTOR of Health and Safety Services and Administrator of the Disaster Relief Fund, said funds were dispersed to 25 members and retirees from Local 74, Local 132 (Galveston, Texas) and the QCCUS as well as four members in British Columbia.

“The biggest thing is that a lot of people are cash poor,” said Garrett. “Especially if they’re retired. The biggest chunk of the money has helped with insurance deductibles. Some insurance companies won’t even come and look at the damage without a paid deductible.”

Garrett said that members are very grateful for the help. Retirees are “amazed that we helped them” even though they’re not actively working anymore. “Donations to the Disaster Relief Fund throughout the year made it possible for us to give timely aid to members facing difficult circumstances.”

Boilermakers help in Puerto Rico relief effort

A CONTINGENT OF seven Boilermakers went to Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria as part of a 300-plus union member relief effort by the AFL-CIO and United Airlines. Over 20 unions from 17 states took part in the operation including nurses, doctors, electricians, engineers, carpenters and truck drivers.

Jeffrey Hughes, Director—National Training Services, Construction Sector Operations, led the Boilermaker team during the two-week relief effort. Six members from four local lodges also participated. They were: Anthony Cimilluca and Jonathon Johnson, Local 5 Zone 175 (Oswego, New York); Dana Briggs and Joel Kipfer, Local 26 (Savannah, Georgia); Edmond Riviere, Local 37 (New Orleans); and Kenneth Thornton, Local 456 (Rock Hill, South Carolina).

TO DONATE TO the Disaster Relief Fund, checks should be made to “W.T. Creeden, IST” with “Disaster Relief Fund” noted on the memo line of the checks.

Mail to:
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers
Attn: IST W.T. Creeden
753 State Ave., Suite 565
Kansas City, KS 66101

Reporter  V56N4
Published on the Web: January 5, 2018

Latest News

  • Former L-744 BM-ST receives 65- and 70-year pins

    Former L-744 BM-ST receives 65- and 70-year pins

    Read More

  • Election 2018 Boilermaker Endorsements

    Election 2018 Boilermaker Endorsements

    Read More

  • U.S. Senator Jon Tester

    Tester bill would hold Imerys accountable for lockout

    Read More

  • Stop Precarious Work

    LafargeHolcim, STOP precarious work, respect workers’ lives!

    Read More

  • Climate change solution ‘no one is talking about’ explored in new video

    Climate change solution ‘no one is talking about’ explored in new video

    Read More