Asphalt Life

It Takes A Village

Atlas Joins Team To Give WWII Vet A New Roof

Angie Lewis, Writer
Reading Time: 4 minutes
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In September 2017, Hurricane Irma pummeled the Caribbean with maximum sustained winds of 180 mph. The Category 5 storm demolished 95 percent of the small island of Barbuda before making landfall in the Florida Keys. As one of the most intense hurricanes in history, Irma left incredible devastation in her wake — killing more than 50 people and causing nearly $65 billion in damages.

One of the millions of homes in Irma’s path was that of 94-year-old World War II veteran Leo McLarney in Cutler Bay, FL, about 20 miles southwest of Miami. The hurricane-force winds left gaping holes in his roof, which led to mold.

Because he lives on a fixed income that goes toward his 24-hour at-home care, McLarney, who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor and fought in the Battle of Guadalcanal, was unable to afford the repairs to his home. So more than a year after the storm, his roof remained covered in blue tarp.

A Community To The Rescue

In early January 2019, CBS4 Miami aired a story about McLarney and donations poured in through Neighbors4Neighbors.org, a nonprofit created in 1992 in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. The organization connects South Floridians in need with people and companies that can help.

To get the work underway, John Pimentel, director of Miami-Dade County’s long-term disaster recovery group, FRIEND (Florida Regional Interfaith/Interagency Emergency Network in Disaster), organized a team.

More than 50 companies wanted to help, so Pimentel started with the first to respond — Atlas Roofing. Adam Stanley, territory sales representative for Atlas, then assisted Pimentel with much of the project management.

With the support of Frank Iammarino and Suncoast Roofers Supply, which supplied and delivered the Atlas products and other roofing materials, and Z Roofing, which donated the labor for the installation, McLarney finally got a new roof.

Pimentel said he’s never seen a project come together so fast. After the original CBS4 story aired Jan. 2, an initial inspection was completed, measurements were taken, all of the supplies were ordered and delivered, and the work began less than two weeks later.

To give the vet a high-performance roof that can withstand future storms and high winds, Atlas donated 23 squares of its Pinnacle® Pristine shingles featuring Scotchgard™ Protector, which prevents the ugly black streaks caused by algae. The company also donated 12 rolls of Gorilla Guard® Spec 30 engineered felt underlayment, three bundles of Pro-Cut® Starter shingles and two packages of Pro-Cut Hip and Ridge shingles.

On Jan. 30, the new roof passed its final inspection.

“A very special thanks to Leo McLarney for serving and protecting our country during one of the darkest times in world history, for his great sense of humor and for allowing us to be part of his life for a little bit,” Pimentel said. “His smile and amazing character sure touched every single person involved with this project!”

Persistence Pays Off

McLarney’s new roof would not have come to fruition without his four daughters, who consistently sought the aid their dad needed.

“My father, who has never asked anybody for any help... who has always helped others... who never spoke anything during the war... has now found in his late years that people are so appreciative of his service and they’re giving back to him,” said Regina McLarney-Crowley in a CBS4 follow-up story.

Additional work needs to be done at the McLarney house — which includes replacing the carpet and painting the exterior — but more help is on the way, according to Pimentel.

“It takes a strong village to help a community recover from a disaster with the magnitude of Hurricane Irma,” Pimentel said. “But with villagers like [the ones involved in the McLarney project], I am confident the residents of Miami-Dade County will overcome this disaster.”