IBT Locals Join Forces to Provide Hurricane Disaster Relief
We may never be able to fully understand the path of Mother Nature’s fury. Or why storms move the way they do, leaving a swath of destruction on one side of a street and the other side remains untouched. What we do know is the human tragedy in terms of lives and property destroyed and the immediate need for assistance to those left in the path of the fury.
Local 769 Business Agent David Renshaw has been up close and personal on more than one occasion. It was 26 years ago when he and his family weathered the monster known as Hurricane Andrew that devastated their home and belongings. Last year after Hurricane Maria levelled Puerto Rico, he was a key point of contact in marshalling not only supplies, but in securing both airlift with Airline Division member airlines and sealift with Crowley Shipping to get urgently needed supplies to Puerto Rico. Working hand in hand with Division Director David Bourne and multiple other local Unions and Joint for TLU 901 in Puerto Rico, Teamsters were a major force in the effort to get help to those in need. In the Northeast, VP George Miranda worked coordinating supplies and volunteers to take personal time to fly there and help folks in need. In addition to helping the people of Puerto Rico, he oversaw multiple deliveries of truckloads of food, water and supplies to the victims in the Florida Keys that came from across the nation.
And yet again, with the impact of yet another hurricane this year, Teamsters have stood up to help fellow Americans in need. Hurricane Michael, which appeared to pose some threat to the Florida Panhandle did what so many storms did; it turned into a monster when people weren’t looking and gave little or no time to react. The result was utter devastation in areas that least expected it and were ill equipped to deal with the aftermath. Hurricane Michael in terms of pressure was the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall, in addition it was the strongest storm on record to strike the Florida Panhandle.
Brother Renshaw, now with an unplanned new title as Southeast Regional Disaster Coordinator stepped up, under the direction of Roy Gillespie of the Teamsters National Disaster Relief coordinator. Working hand in hand with Local 991and Joint Council 75, the AFL-CIO reached out to the Teamsters and joined hands for a union colocation relief team along with others to mount a massive support effort for the people of the Florida Panhandle who have had their lives upended now. While we all saw the pictures from the security and warmth of our homes, David and others have been on the front line since days after the storm hit.
“I had paramedics from South Florida positioned there before the storm hit,” he said. “And what we have seen and witnessed firsthand defies words. Cities like Mexico no longer exist. It’s not a matter of just restoring power and water…there’s nothing to restore and nothing to restore it to. The towns are gone. Just like a bomb had been dropped on them. Roads aren’t damaged, they no longer exist. Infrastructure is gone. Towns like Panama City, Blountstown, Port St. Joe also took a devastating hit as their sense of normality has been turned upside down, some with nothing but the clothes on their back and a few personal belongs they have. This is a long-term recovery.”
How your Local Union and Joint Council can help our Brothers & Sisters and their community in need is the following:
Monetary donations, contact: Jim Gookins-Principal Officer TLU 991 (251) 433.1521
Donate goods, contact: Jim Schurling-President JC 75 (904) 786.7649
Local teachers; members of the FL Educational Association, joined by school administrative staff and members of the FL AFL-CIO, joined in with members of the IBT to unload the first delivery of disaster relief supplies for residents of Franklin County after the devastating hurricane. The delivery, as well as most of the others, were daunting as the roads; in many areas were completely destroyed. Working in coordination with local law enforcement and others, members of the IBT and AFL-CIO went out first to find roads that were able to handle trucks and ensure they were safe to drive on.
“Hotshot” is a term used to describe a short notice call for immediate assistance. This photo is right after such a delivery. An IBT Local 991 Steward contacted the crew who was able to get an immediate delivery of supplies to a local church whose pastor was coordinating donations and distribution to many elderly people and those who had no access to transportation. IBT Disaster Coordinator and Local 769 Business Agent David Renshaw is in the foreground with Brother Roy Gillespie, IBT Disaster Relief Coordinator (Second on right)
Volunteers led by IBT Hurricane Relief Coordinator Roy Gillespie and the local AFL-CIO; worked long days driving to inaccessible, rural areas to ensure that elderly hurricane victims and others were supplied with critical assistance and checked on to make sure they were safe. With the outstanding assistance of Costco in Tallahassee, FL they were able to marshal much needed supplies, which were sorted and palletized by Costco employees to streamline the delivery process.