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February 22, 2021 11:45 AM, EST

ATA Launches Efforts to Help Texans Battered by Storm

Carrier, Others Reach Out to Louisiana
Loading water in San AntonioA volunteer loads water for people in San Antonio. (Eric Gay/AP)

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American Trucking Associations has launched a relief effort aimed at helping those in Texas and Louisiana impacted by the recent deadly snowstorm.

In Texas, residents were left without power and water after a historic snowstorm hit the state earlier this month. With efforts underway to restore utilities and provide relief to those in need, ATA launched an effort to get clean water to residents.

“We are asking our trucking family to not only keep all those affected in your thoughts and prayers, but to help ATA coordinate relief efforts,” ATA President Chris Spear said in a Feb. 19 letter to members. “Our friends in Texas need your help.”

ATA readied eight truckloads of water that were set to arrive in Texas by Feb. 24. The federation’s Share the Road and Workforce Heroes trucks were among those headed to the state.

At around the same time, the federation had plans underway to get two truckloads delivered to Shreveport, La., which also felt severe effects from the unusual weather for the region.

For both states, each truckload carried 20 pallets with an estimated 960 cases of water. And more shipments were in the pipeline, ATA said, once trucks and drivers were lined up.

In Texas, the earliest shipments were delivered to recipients with the greatest need, including Houston Memorial Hermann Hospital and Catholic Charities of Central Texas. The Texas Trucking Association and the Southwest Movers Association are helping to coordinate those relief efforts on the ground.

“We have a pipeline of support that we can tap when these things come up,” Texas Trucking Association President John Esparza told Transport Topics on Feb. 22. “We start plugging in what we know and where we know [help is needed], whether it’s moving generators or locating potable water or just resourcing water to be used in boilers. You name it. We’re looking to connect to people within the trucking universe to be able to help and they very much responded.”

Esparza noted that the state has a good level of preparedness to coordinate relief efforts due to experience with past natural disasters like hurricanes. While the snowstorm presents different challenges, knowing whom to contact for emergency management or to move supplies is the same, he said. Esparza noted that uncertainty created by the fast-changing situation with the current relief effort is a challenge, but said drivers who have volunteered are providing constant updates about road conditions and availability of fuel.

John Esparza

"We’re looking to connect to people within the trucking universe to be able to help and they very much responded,” Esparza says. (TT File Photo)

“A lot of that stuff has to be triaged by the hour,” Esparza said. “Just anything we can do with boots on the ground to evaluate the situation hour by hour as we are going through this.”

In Louisiana, over-the-road carriers Preferred Materials has been helping coordinate efforts between local trucking companies, the state trucking association and ATA.

“We have been working diligently in aiding both state and local governments in relief efforts, as well as working with our area hospitals to provide them with much-needed water 24 hours a day,” company president David Todd Ruple said in a statement to TT. Ruple said he expected to be providing water to area hospitals at least through the week of Feb. 22, and noted that while southern states simply weren’t prepared for such a severe snowstorm, he was glad to see the industry leading the relief effort.

“I am proud of our trucking community,” Ruple said. “We did and are doing what we always do — pulling together and getting much-needed supplies and goods delivered to those in need. That is the heart of the truck driver — to serve others and their communities regardless of the obstacles and hardships they may face.”

ATA is asking members, affiliates and others to consider donations of cash, supplies or transportation to assist with storm relief efforts.

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