Coming to the aid of Irma victims: Trucks roll in Florida

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Fuel, food, generators, supplies. As residents of Florida attempt to pick up the pieces from the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma, truck drivers are taking part in the recovery.

OOIDA Member Adam Farmer of Zebulon, Ga., is one of the hundreds of truck drivers contracted by Storm Services to deliver aid to parts of Florida that were damaged by the hurricane.

Irma was listed as a Category 4 hurricane with 130 mph winds when it made landfall on Sunday in southern Florida. The storm has since been downgraded by the National Hurricane Center to a tropical depression. ABC reported Tuesday that the death toll was at 12.

Farmer and about 450 other truckers met at the Daytona International Speedway before being told where to go. Farmer’s group was dispatched to Sarasota, Fla., where the Storm Services trailers will serve as mobile command centers for victims and emergency personnel. The trailers for Storm Services, which is hired by government agencies as well as the private sector, provide such things as mobile sleeper units, showers and laundry services.

Truckers muster at Daytona International Speedway preparing
to deploy for Hurricane Irma relief efforts

“It means a lot knowing that we can help,” Farmer said. “Most of my family lives in Florida. I want to help. The trucking industry plays a big role in helping. People rely on us. So many truckers are willing to go above and beyond.”

On Monday, Farmer posted photos on his Facebook page of all the trucks lined up at Daytona waiting to be dispatched.

Farmer said he hopes that such events will provide people with a better image of truck drivers.

“Truck drivers definitely get a bad name from a lot of people,” Farmer said. “A lot of people don’t give us the respect we deserve. We’re away from our family so that we can make sure everyone else has food and shelter. I grew up in trucking and have always had a huge amount of respect for it. I think seeing all these truckers lined up to help others makes a very powerful statement.”

Depending on the level of damage, Farmer said they’ve been told they could be dispatched to various parts of Florida for weeks.

And while Farmer and the other truck drivers are getting paid, he said they are not getting rich off the work.

“I feel like it’s my duty to help out,” Farmer said. “Honestly, we’re not making great money. I make better money pulling my step deck. I’m not doing it to make money. I’m doing it to help other citizens. I don’t want to speak for everyone else, but I do it to put a smile on people’s faces. It’s not about anything other than helping people in need.”

Irma recovery continues

More than 5.6 million people are still without power in Florida, according to a statement by Gov. Rick Scott. An estimated 94,000 residents are being housed in emergency shelters throughout the state. Every interstate and turnpike is open in the Sunshine State, however state transportation workers are still assessing damage on U.S. 1 South in the Florida Keys. The Port of Tampa reopened Tuesday afternoon and fuel shipments are being brought in for delivery. Scott’s office announced the Florida Highway Patrol will be escorting fuel resupply trucks to gas stations.

The Environmental Protection Agency approved an emergency wavier to allow more fuel to enter the state, and Vice President Pence announced the feds would also waive Jones Act requirements, allowing more fuel to get to Florida.

In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal lifted a mandatory evacuation order for six coastal counties in the Peach State. The recommendation comes after the Georgia Department of Transportation completed safety inspections of 49 bridges in the impacted counties. Local authorities may now determine when citizens may return home and issue appropriate guidance. More than a million Georgians are estimated to still be without power Tuesday.

About 68,000 North Carolina residents are without power due to Irma. The storm surge set the third-highest record in Charleston, S.C., with nearly 10 feet of water pushing a mile inland. More than 250,000 Palmetto State residents were without power as of Monday night.

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