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FreightWaves CEO Fuller offers advice to truckers hauling FEMA loads

Hauling emergency supplies demonstrates to public ‘how critical trucking is’

As Hurricane Ian bears down on Florida, trucks prepare to haul FEMA loads. (Photo Credit: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Even as city, state and federal officials urge residents to flee ahead of high winds and flooding, truck drivers answer the call to haul emergency supplies to areas where hurricanes are expected to strike. 

However, the way truckers heed that call has a huge impact on when, how and how much they get paid, FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller points out.

“Hurricane-relief loads offer an opportunity for trucking companies to demonstrate to the public how critical trucking is, regardless of the challenges a mission might be,” Fuller told FreightWaves on Monday.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is urging all residents to be prepared as Hurricane Ian, described as unpredictable, bears down on the state. 

As of Monday morning, Ian was a Category 1 hurricane, but according to the National Hurricane Center, “additional rapid strengthening is expected today.” 

The National Hurricane Center updates the probable path of Hurricane Ian on Monday. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

Fuller has some advice for truck drivers considering hauling Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) loads, which brokers advertise at high-dollar rates but often come with some pitfalls.

Years before founding FreightWaves, Fuller ran Xpress Direct, the on-demand emergency unit of U.S. Xpress, from 2002 until 2005. Over the course of his four years dealing with hurricane activity, his division handled in excess of 20,000 shipments and billed over $100 million in revenue in disaster-relief loads alone.

Ahead of Hurricane Ian’s unpredictable landfall, truckers can expect to see lots of loads of bottled water and preparation supplies like plywood, gas cans, duct tape, batteries and flashlights to be sent to prestaging areas, Fuller said. 

FreightWaves’ CEO Craig Fuller discusses what to look out for when hauling FEMA loads (Photo: FreightWaves)

What to expect when hauling FEMA loads

While trucking demand will increase and rates may soar, it’s important for truckers to ensure that daily detention rates are built into their confirmation sheets, Fuller said. Often it can take days, and sometimes weeks, before trucks are unloaded, which can prove costly if detention pay is not built into a driver’s daily rate.

“This is a big problem for trucking companies if they’ve not hauled FEMA disaster-relief loads before, and some of the brokers that are involved in the process can take advantage,” Fuller said during a previous appearance on What The Truck?!?. “They may not pay you detention, which is BS, because the federal government pays the broker detention. They will ask for documentation, but make sure that you get paid for detention because it’s your equipment and you’re the one that’s stuck.”

Be prepared for slow payment

Truck drivers who haul FEMA loads shouldn’t expect to be paid immediately as freight brokers must first submit paperwork to FEMA, which can be a long and exhausting process. 

“What I would recommend doing is going in and finding someone that can accelerate your payment, perhaps a quick pay service or a factoring company that can actually help pay for those freight bills,” Fuller said. “Because if you don’t, you’re going to have problems getting paid. Also, get everything in writing: Make sure that you have your confirmation sheets with detention, all of it in writing.”

Prepare for chaos at staging areas

Potentially extended delays in unloading even critical supplies call for some planning as any decision requires the coordination of local, state and federal officials before any freight can be delivered, according to Fuller. 

“You will be dealing with government officials, many of whom are not familiar with logistics and don’t understand what it takes to handle such projects,” he wrote in a previous article posted on

Fuller said drivers should stock up on groceries, prepare for possibly no cellphone service and rely on their CB radios in preparation for long waits. Fueling up prior to entering the prestaging area is critical as many fueling stations are typically closed because of high winds or flooding.

“Hurricane relief is the biggest dog-and-pony show you will ever see in trucking,” Fuller said. “But there is a certain satisfaction in being able to help people who are suffering.”

For detailed forecast information, keep up with the National Hurricane Center here.

This is a developing story. Stay tuned to FreightWaves and FWNOW for updates.

Do you have a story to share? Send me an email or message me on Twitter @cage_writer. Your name will not be used without your permission.

Click for more articles by Clarissa Hawes.

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  1. Busby Transportation

    This Busby Transportation LLC were interested in hauling some Fema load through u guys were already set up with you all My phone number is 803 308 2618 thank you

  2. Louis j Pelsoni

    you mean FEAMA has no idea of logistics??
    say it ain’t so …lol
    like where would they find someone with experience in managing logical supplies, umm like our national guard, army,navy airforce, marines..noooooooo say itsimt so Joe…ugh anotherprime example of we’re here from the fedral government too help …no no your not rookie…

  3. Matthew Doane

    I’ve been an OTR driver for 22 years.
    I’ve also answered the call for relief loads to numerous emergencies.
    I will never haul a thing into Florida again!
    The past two relief loads i pulled into Florida i recieved parking violations from State Patrol.
    Even tho my truck was placard and paperwork was authentic for disaster relief, i was given parking citations.
    The state of florida can go without my assistance for taking monies from my pocket when all i did was volunteer to help.
    One less truck to be in Florida.

  4. Velma Landry

    My husband hauled water after hurricane Rita and Katrina. There were days of waiting, and sometimes having to move locations, and there were some relief workers that supplied food to the waiting drivers. We were independents, and did have detention pay in our contract with our broker, so the pay was good, and they paid us the next pay period. My husband also had family in that area, and was able to check on some of them. What a sense of pride in helping in the relief effort.

      1. Busby Transportation

        This Busby Transportation LLC were interested in hauling some Fema load through u guys were already set up with you all My phone number is 803 308 2618 thank you

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Clarissa Hawes

Clarissa has covered all aspects of the trucking industry for 14 years. She is an award-winning journalist known for her investigative and business reporting. Before joining FreightWaves, she wrote for Land Line Magazine and If you have a news tip or story idea, send her an email to [email protected]