Sunday, September 19, 2010


trailer turned sink station

Drove to a Petro truck stop to receive a fax from our company regarding our most interesting load. Decided to have breakfast at Petro's Iron Skillet while we waited. Trucker Special. Load was for FEMA, part of the relief effort for Hurricane Ike. After all the criticism they received after Katrina, they were certain to be well prepared for Ike....and after today, we saw how prepared they really were.

Absolutely one of the coolest loads we had, drove to Houston, TX over to Reliant Stadium, which was turned into a HUGE open air distribution center full of eighteen-wheelers, each carrying relief supplies from bottled water (what we carried), reefers loaded with ice, MRE's (meals ready to eat, usually used in the military), medical supplies, cots, blankets, etc. They tied several different color ribbons on your rear view mirror to identify what you're carrying. Ours was Green for bottled water. There were thousands of trucks all in several different lots. On our drive down, we were required to put a FEMA sign in our window. With that, the local authorities couldn't stop or pull you over for anything. The interstate was backed up with trucks waiting to enter the stadium. It was a true convoy coming down. We saw about 35 water trucks roll out. Trucks carrying the same load were placed in the same lot.

We've never seen truck drivers so happy. It was almost like Burning Man for truckers! You sit for a few days waiting for them to tell you which devastated area to drive to. Areas that were hit so badly only allowed a few trucks at a time. Working for FEMA you are paid much more than you would on any given load, company and owner-op drivers alike, it was Disneyland for us all. Our daily rate (after our company's cut) was $175, owner-op's making upwards of $800/day. Everyone called it the truckers' holiday, forgetting about the thousands of people in need of relief support. There were hundreds of volunteers from all over the country, including local and state authorities. Was the first time we truck drivers were treated as people, and not like truck drivers. Were shown such support from volunteers and thanked profusely for being part of the relief effort.

Everyday there were three meals. Hot breakfast with a bagged lunch. Then a hot dinner. Incident Catering Services. They even had vegetarian options, a salad bar and a dessert station. Drivers ate at a communal tent and were all required to wash hands at the sink station before you get on line for food.

Porto-potties were in abundance and the cleanest we ever saw. There were also relief trailers, converted into hot showers for drivers. Also laundry trailers, where you can drop off your clothes and come back for them clean...all free of charge. Drivers didn't want to leave!

Diesel was pretty hard to come by. A lot of oil refineries were hit pretty hard. There were bags over fuel pumps at a lot of stations because they ran out of fuel. Since we were all idling, they had a diesel truck drive around to refuel you, all you had to do was lift up the hood of your tractor.

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