Hurry up and wait: A day in the life of a FEMA hauler

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | 9/7/2012

When Hurricane Isaac slammed the Gulf Coast on Tuesday, Aug. 28, hundreds of trucks were dispatched to Federal Emergency Management Agency supply distribution centers set up in four states near the affected areas.

While some drivers were able to deliver their supplies and head on down the road, some truck drivers are still waiting at a few staging areas to deliver their loads.

However, FEMA Spokesman Raymundo Perez told Land Line on Thursday, Sept. 6, that “the distribution of water, ice and meals is virtually completed.”

That message has yet to be communicated to the hundreds of trucks parked at a staging area at Camp Beauregard in Pineville, LA.

OOIDA member Scott Neely of Hamilton, OH, has been there since Monday, Sept. 1, with a load of ice.

While he has hauled FEMA loads before and had some food provisions with him, he said he was stunned to read the sign posted where the drivers checked in that read “no food, no water, reefer fuel only” for drivers.

“Our only option is to drop our trailer and head to the nearest store a few miles away, but we saw other drivers do this when we were in Gonzalez, LA,” Neely said. “They dropped their trailers, and they just sunk right into the ground it was so saturated. They had to call a wrecker and have somebody come pick up the trailer for them so they could get back under it.”

After waiting at the staging area since Monday, Neely said National Guard personal offered drivers “MREs” and water late Thursday.

When Neely went to grab one of the MREs, he said many of the ready-to-eat packages of food had exploded inside the boxes – along with a dead mouse – he found among the packaged food.

He said on Friday, Sept. 7, that he and the other truck drivers were still waiting for instructions as to when they will leave and where they will take their loads.

“The word right now is we will be here another two days,” Neely said.

Late Thursday, Perez said that all of the transportation into the affected areas is done.

“The leftover supplies that belong to the state will be taken to facilities that the state owns for storage,” he said.

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