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September 10, 2020 2:15 PM, EDT

Fleets Rally to Aid Hurricane Laura Victims

Bengal Food DriveBengal Transportation Services held an event to feed relief workers and others in a church parking lot. (Bengal Transportation Services)

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Hurricane Laura wreaked havoc when it made landfall Aug. 27, but fleets have rallied to help the victims in the couple of weeks since.

“Truckers have moved millions of meals, water, tarps, plastic sheeting, generators, fuel and other items in support of response operations to both Texas and Louisiana,” a spokesperson with the Federal Emergency Management Agency told Transport Topics. “They have operated day and night to keep critical commodities flowing into the states.”

Trucking companies have done a lot, but their ability to transport needed emergency supplies has proved most critical. Louisiana has been a center point of that focus with the worst of the damage.

“I have family and friends who live in the west and southwest side of the state,” Cully Frisard, chief operating officer at Frisard Cos., told TT. “The Lake Charles area and the DeRidder area. Of course, we have drivers that live out in those areas as well that were impacted by the storm. It really did catastrophic damage.”

Frisard, a family-owned and operated business in Gramercy, La., started by organizing a donation drive at its facility. Soon it became clear more needed to be done.

“I was out there and a bunch of other family members were out there helping,” Frisard said. “I said, ‘We have to do more than this. This is not going to be enough.’ ” We turned around and partnered with the United Cajun Navy in Baton Rouge. We have since delivered a total of 10 loads.”

The United Cajun Navy is a volunteer organization that formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Frisard Cos. set aside seven trucks to help with that effort.

Bengal

Bengal Transportation Services responded to storm damage. (Bengal Transportation Services)

“We’re teaming up with the United Way to provide a spot for donations,” Edwin Anglin, assistant general counsel at USA Truck, told TT. “We’re providing the drop-off location, and then we’re providing transportation.”

The company, based in Van Buren, Ark., ranks No. 67 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

USA Truck set up locations to collect donations from United Way in Fort Smith, Ark., and southwest Louisiana.

“Basically what we’ve been hearing is that they need bottled water, Gatorade, sunscreen, cleaning materials,” Anglin said, listing items that also included building materials, first-aid kits and bug spray.

USA Truck still is in the process of collecting donations. The carrier plans on transporting supplies to the affected areas starting the week of Sept. 14. Anglin credited United Way for spearheading the effort.

“We have been hauling everything that has to do with relief,” Frisard said. “First-aid kits, water, nonperishable food items, tarps and baby items such as formula, diapers, wipes, and hygiene items for men and women.”

Frisard added that any donated supplies should go directly to the United Cajun Navy. His company also is working with local sheriff departments to determine the current needs of those impacted.

“We’ve been working closely with our core strategic partners within our customer base to handle shipments of water, generators, batteries and other essential relief items across a range of industries,” Justin Harness, chief revenue officer at U.S. Xpress Enterprises, told TT. “With our dedicated accounts, we’re keeping essential shipments moving, helping to ensure shelves are stocked and businesses and families have the goods they need.”

U.S. Xpress, in Chattanooga, Tenn., ranks No. 24 on the for-hire TT100.

UPS Inc., top-ranked on the list, has been transporting supplies for various relief organizations. The package delivery company just moved two truckloads into Louisiana for the American Red Cross on Sept. 10. The fleet also has also worked with The Salvation Army, ToolBank and Good360 as well as companies such as Coca Cola and UPS Inc. subsidiary Coyote Logistics.

“The UPS Foundation has moved 20 truckloads of relief materials to impacted areas near the Gulf Coast to help relief and recovery efforts,” a UPS spokesperson told TT. “Additionally, The UPS Foundation has provided $50,000 in grants for Hurricane Laura response and recovery efforts.”

Atlanta-based UPS said the two recent shipments alone included 576 clean-up kits, 584 storage totes, 600 flashlights, 595 bottles of hand sanitizer, 25 signs, 600 work gloves, 600 dust masks, 600 trash bags, 600 tarps, 606 rakes and 600 shovels.

“Before the hurricanes hit the Gulf, we focused on moving emergency supplies to where we knew they’d be needed the most,” Drew Wilkerson, president of transportation in North America at XPO Logistics, told TT. “Then the priority was helping our customers keep their supply chains flowing by managing loads, mostly on our XPO Connect digital platform.”

RoadSigns

What are fleets doing to help attract the best possible diesel technicians to join the changing workforce environment? Host Michael Freeze speaks with Ken Boyer, dean of the Auto/Diesel Institute at Baker College, and Ralph Romero, vice president of talent management at U.S. Xpress. Hear a snippet, above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.

XPO Logistics, in Greenwich, Conn., ranks third on the for-hire TT100 and No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 50 list of the largest logistics companies in North America.

Bengal Transportation Services transported and distributed food into the Lake Charles areas. The transportation, logistics and heavy-lift crane provider also held a cookout to feed volunteers, relief workers, first responders and locals in the parking lot of a local church.

“We took several trucks from our own fleet to bring all of the supplies that we needed to cook that day as well as other supplies,” Ashley Baham, marketing manager for Bengal Transportation, told TT. “We had a refrigerated truck that housed the ice and chickens that is still down there. And we’re about to start a donation drive here.”

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