When Suzie Ford, president and co-owner of NoDa Brewing, heard about the devastation in Lumberton, N.C. caused by Hurricane Matthew, she couldn’t shake it.
Some battered areas impacted by the tidal surge and torrential rain had been without clean drinking water for more than a week.
“It weighed on me, and I kept thinking about it,” she said.
So last week, Suzie spoke with Todd Ford, her husband and co-founder of the brewery, which will celebrate its five-year anniversary with a party next week. They had access to filtered water and a canning machine that could package that water at 141 cans per minute. They also own a delivery truck capable of hauling 5,800 cans of water.
The next morning, she asked her canning crew if they would be willing to can the water first and then stay later to finish the day’s beers.
“The whole brewery came together…people from all departments,” said Tyler Norris, delivery manager at NoDa Brewing.
The Lumberton area received nearly 6,000 cans of fresh water from NoDa Brewing last weekend.
On Sunday, his day off, Norris headed east to Lumberton. Though it had been a week since Hurricane Matthew passed by the Carolina coast, the storm’s effects were visible well inland. Road closures diverted Norris from U.S. 74 and onto smaller roads, many of which were also closed due to erosion and flooding.
“You’re wondering how you’re going to get there to deliver all the water,” Norris said. “There were roads that were partially caved in. All the creeks were high.”
Norris drove through flooded farmland and streets where sand was plowed into banks like snow.
Despite the detours, he finally reached his destination: the Allenton Fire Department, just east of Lumberton. There, he met with a volunteer coordinator and several of the firefighters, who were gathering and distributing much-needed items to the community.
“They were beyond gracious,” Norris said. “It was overwhelming how excited they were. I felt like I wasn’t even doing that much, but to them it was a big help. It’s made me glad to be a part of it in some way.”
NoDa Brewing isn’t the only brewery to can water for disaster relief. Anheuser-Busch routinely does this, and Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard — one of the first craft breweries to can its beer — shipped 50,400 cans of water from its brewery to Fayetteville to help Hurricane Matthew relief efforts.
Until the move to the new facility, NoDa Brewing wasn’t able to can and distribute water on this scale. But now, Suzie Ford said she expects to do it again if situations call for it.
Lumberton is still in need of many items, and the city has set up a GoFundMe page that aims to help those in the community that have lost their homes.
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