As most of the nation turns its attention to Hurricane Irma, people in Texas continue to recover from the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey at the end of August.
True to its nature, the trucking industry has been there to help – from monetary donations, to supplies, to trailer capacity donated to aid organizations. When there is a need, the industry is there to help.
“What we try to do in these situations is partner with [agencies] to provide in-kind supplies so people can resume their normal, everyday lives,” Dustin Quesenberry, vice president of operations of Joplin, MO-based CFI, tells to FreightWaves.
Quesenberry says that CFI’s approach to relief aid was influenced following the destruction Joplin tornado in 2011. “What we observed from that was the need for things that made a difference,” he says, explaining that everyday essentials such as soaps, shampoos and the like become critical relief supplies.
“There’s a local church here the Joplin area and they are collecting goods and we are putting together a shipment,” Quesenberry says. That load will be one of many CFI trucks will deliver to the Houston area – usually to churches for local distribution.
How to help:
For carriers or owner-operators looking to help, the American Trucking Association has set up a Call to Action on its home page. There are many organizations that can help carriers and drivers looking to help. For more information, ATA recommends:
The Texas Trucking Association: www.texastrucking.org
Louisiana Motor Transport Association: www.louisianatrucking.com
American Logistics Aid Network: http://alanaid.org/
For state permitting notices, visit https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/sw/permit_report/index.htm.
You may also contact the ATA team at 703-838-1700 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katlin Owens, manager, corporate communications for CFI, says this kind of outreach is something that CFI performs throughout the year, not just for major hurricanes. She adds that CFI’s parent company, Canada-based TransForce International, has committed $250,000 in monetary donations and the company encourages employees to make donations through the American Red Cross.
CFI is also making preparations for longer-term support in some form as building supplies and other needs arise in the recovery efforts.
Quesenberry says CFI chooses to partner with organizations in its efforts to ensure that supplies being shipped are truly supplies that are needed. “If we’re sending stuff down that they really don’t need, then it becomes and obstacle,” he says.
Some equipment has been donated to the cause, but the company evaluates each request it receives for help to ensure certain conditions are met. These include whether it is safe for a driver to drive into the area, whether there is a clear delivery address that can not only receive the delivery, but is accessible, and whether the organization is the appropriate group to partner with.
“We donate to all these disasters in one way or another, but it’s not always with a FEMA,” Quesenberry says.
Like many carriers, CFI has a long history of donations. The company is one of dozens that participates in the annual Wreaths Across America event, it also partners with a coffee company to deliver coffee to military men and women. CFI has delivered 23 truckloads to date this year.
CFI is not the only transportation-related company involved in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Anheuser-Busch shut down beer production as some facilities to bottle water and then redirected 250 trucks each day to move relief shipments. Walmart sent out over 1,000 trucks with relief supplies in the first few days.
Texas’ largest grocery chain, H-E-B, activated its disaster relief convoy. According to H-E-B, the convoy includes fifteen vehicles, including two mobile kitchens, water and fuel tankers, portable generators, emergency grocery supplies and equipment.
Love’s Travel Stops has committed to donate $1 million to relief efforts with $500,000 going to the United Way Harvey Recovery Fund and the remainder to help Love’s employees affected by the storm through the Love’s Employee Emergency Fund.
“Our hearts are with everyone affected by this unprecedented storm,” said Jenny Love Meyer, vice president of communications for Love’s. “Our Musket fuel trading office employs more than 100 people near downtown Houston, and several travel stop locations throughout Texas and Louisiana employ hundreds more. Many of our employees are among the thousands who have suffered personal and property loss. Even so, many have reported to work to keep our locations open where possible to take care of first responders and anyone needing assistance. We’re beyond fortunate to have big-hearted, dedicated employees across our Love’s, Musket, Gemini, and Trillium CNG companies.”
Other carriers, including Celadon, U.S. Xpress and Landstar have also been involved in relief efforts.
For trucking, relief is really a year-round endeavor, and in a time of need, once again, it has stepped up.