By Catherine Reagor| May 19th, 2018
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Scottsdale-based HomeSmart CEO Matt Widdows had been scheduled to speak at a New York real estate conference when Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean in September 2017.

Hurricane Irma rips through the Caribbean

The Category 5 storm leveled many parts of Antigua and Barbuda, tore down trees in San Juan and ripped roofs off buildings in St. Martin.

The pilot cancelled his speech and flew to the islands in the Atlantic Ocean to help evacuate families and fly in medical equipment, water and generators.

The real estate group RISMedia honored Widdows, who founded Arizona’s now biggest residential real estate brokerage in 2000, for his work during the catastrophic hurricane and for HomeSmart's growth.

Widdows was presented with one of the group’s nine inaugural Newsmaker Awards Thursday at an event held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. He was the only award winner from Arizona.

He and his crew made many trips to the Caribbean and provided more than 10,000 pounds of supplies to relief workers and refugees in the Turks and Caicos, St. Thomas and St. Maarten following the hurricane.

“I knew that I had the means to go and help those in need during the hurricane, so I packed all the supplies I could and left,” Widdows said. “People were being forced out of their homes without their possessions, so to evacuate them to safety and provide them with the supplies they needed was my main concern.”

HomeSmart ranks fifth nationally among the largest brokerages for real estate deals on RISMedia’s annual list. The brokerage has almost 15,000 agents and 133 offices in 20 states.

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