Making a Difference

Peterson Toyota sets up command center for flood victims after Hurricane Matthew

April 25, 2017
Still Recovering -- Low-lying areas of Lumberton, N.C., were underwater after Hurricane Matthew dumped 18 inches of rain on the community of 22,000 people./Photo by Getty Images 
 

When Peterson Toyota was forced to close for more than a week due to severe flooding from Hurricane Matthew last October, employees could have gone home to wait out the disaster.
 
But they didn’t. Instead, they chose to help provide basic necessities to Lumberton, N.C., residents who were devastated by the 18 inches of rain dumped on them. The city of 22,000, which sits 80 miles inland from the Atlantic Coast, is home to some of the state’s poorest residents. Even weather forecasters didn’t predict the flooding that would wreak havoc on low-lying areas, ruining homes, cars and belongings.
 
With no electricity or water for a week, Peterson Toyota closed up shop and set up a command center in an adjacent parking lot. It partnered with the local Greater Hope International Church and soon, supplies and checks were rolling in.
 

Rapid Response -- After Hurricane Matthew, Peterson Toyota set up a command center in the parking lot to help flood victims in Lumberton, N.C.
 

The first day, more than 750 people came for water, food, diapers and sanitation supplies. Dealership personnel also helped deliver supplies to stranded residents.
 
“We all had our own struggles because nobody had electricity or water,” says Shon Pevia, general manager of the dealership, which has been in the community for 35 years and is located on the busiest road in Lumberton. “Everybody was coming here. We knew we needed to keep our happy face on and be in the right frame of mind. It was really great how everybody started working together.”
 
Peterson Toyota and volunteers distributed supplies that week and supplied pallets of water the following week.
 
The recovery efforts received another boost when Southeast Toyota Distributors donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, half of which went to Haiti and the other half for Carolina coastal communities. An additional $5,000 donation was made on Peterson Toyota and Greater Hope’s behalf.
 
“During this community's time of need, Shon Pevia and the associates from Peterson Toyota responded quickly and selflessly to make sure neighbors affected by Hurricane Matthew had a place to sleep, clothes to wear and food to eat,” says Ed Sheehy, president, Southeast Toyota Distributors. “This dealership, like many in eastern North Carolina during this time, really ran on heart. They are a shining example of how Toyota continuously strives to be a benevolent community partner, and we are fortunate to have the associates at Peterson Toyota as a part of our dealer family.” 
 
Pevia says it meant a lot to have the support of Sheehy and Southeast Toyota Distributors.
 
“They flew in and checked on us and made sure we had everything we needed,” he says. “It was pretty awesome to have them be a part of this and see what we were up against.”
 
The region continued to feel the effects of Hurricane Matthew into the holiday season. Peterson Toyota and its local partners provided ongoing help to about 245 families in hotels, including food, Christmas trees and toys, and other assistance.
 
“We’re still battling and overcoming it, but at the end of the day it will be a better town because of it,” he says.
 
By Karen Nielsen


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