KATRINA: Road to Recovery
Devastation and deliverance down in Dixie
Among the first responders? Truckers, of course

In the midst of the confusion and chaos, when local, state and federal governments were struggling with what to do and how to do it, when political pundits began pointing fingers and arguing about who was responsible, it was the nation’s truckers who were among the first to come to the rescue when Hurricane Katrina hit.

Aside from the dispatched loads, there were those who volunteered. In the days following the deadly late-August storm, the OOIDA offices received hundreds of phone calls from members asking how they could help. Here are just a few of the storiesLand Line has heard from them.

Fred Lapp Flemington, NJ
OOIDA Life Member Fred Lapp of Flemington, NJ, began running loads to the disaster area almost immediately, hauling generators and transformers for BellSouth and other companies.

But in between those jobs, Lapp managed to find time to deliver a special load of his own.

Lapp loaded up his rig with a dozen cases of water and cleaned out the dog food supplies at one Wal-Mart store. He then parked his rig in a mall parking lot where a Federal Emergency Management Agency distribution center was already set up.

“They opened at 7 a.m., and at 4:15 (in the morning) people were already lined up to get water and food,” he told Land Line. “I just went and started talking to people, and I had everything passed out in 10 minutes. The dog food went just as quickly as the water.”

Ray Iddings Indianapolis
Ray Iddings, an OOIDA member from Indianapolis, hauled huge generators into storm-ravaged areas of Mississippi and Louisiana, and said the scenes he encountered were worse than the war zones he saw while in the military.

“I was in the service and this is worse than anything I’ve seen in the service, even after bombings,” Iddings told Land Line.

“These people have lost everything - they have anything left - whatever anybody can do isn’t gonna be enough … I’d say it’s going to take 15 to 20 years to rebuild.”

While many people were enjoying a three-day weekend for the Labor Day holiday, Iddings told his company he would work as long as they needed him to.

In addition to the generators, he also stocked up his truck with supplies - mostly peanut butter, crackers and water that he purchased himself.

“Peanut butter and crackers don’t sound like much,” he said. “But you know, it don’t take a lot for kids, and if they don’t have anything and I see someone who I think can use it …”

Sam Martin Waynesboro, PA 
Sam Martin, an OOIDA member from Waynesboro, PA, led a drive to collect supplies for the victims, which he then hauled down to the storm-damaged area himself.

Martin told the Waynesboro Record Herald that he decided to lead the drive and haul the load after his daughter’s fiance bought $600 worth of supplies and couldn’t find anyone who would take them.

Karl Keicher Darlington, WI
OOIDA member Karl Keicher of Darlington, WI, hauled a truckload of supplies collected by his church including food, water, clothing, school supplies and about 100 hand-made quilts.

Keicher said he and his wife decided they needed to help because, two years ago, when their daughter needed to undergo 13 months of chemotherapy, the church and the community gave generously to help with their expenses.

“My wife and I discussed it, and we decided this would just be a way to give something back,” he told Land Line. “We’re giving our time to get everything down there.”

Matt Bruce Sarasota, FL 
Matt Bruce, an OOIDA member from Sarasota, FL, sent five trucks with supplies from Florida to Selma, AL, via FEMA. Bruce said even the news reports don’t do justice to what’s really going on down there, especially in Mississippi and Alabama.

“You have no idea how bad this is until you put your boots on the ground,” he told Land Line. “The devastated areas of Mississippi and Alabama that I saw are where the extent of the hurricane damage is. If the levees hadn’t broken in New Orleans, we wouldn’t even be talking about (that city).”