Fleets lend hand after attacks

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Just hours after terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon on Sept. 11, trucking companies and owner-operators donated time and equipment to the relief effort.

Bill Joyce of the New York State Motor Truck Association, which canceled its Sept. 12 annual convention, says his group had many offers from truckers anxious to help. Mike Allain, safety manager of Wal-Mart Logistics in Marcy, N.Y., coordinated the shipment of water and medical supplies from Wal-Mart distribution centers nationwide. “Out of 210 drivers, I have 190 volunteers,” he says.

The New York State DOT kicked in its own kind of relief. It suspended hours-of-service regulations for truckers involved in the relief effort.

When the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut sent out a fax the morning after the attack asking for help from the trucking community, “We got 15 responses in 15 minutes,” President Mike Riley says.

“Seeing what the world is going through, we wanted to do whatever we could to help,” says Kathy Civarella, president of J.R. Christiano and Sons Trucking in Connecticut.

At Rock Solid Stone Belt Inc. in Shoals, Ind., which trucked the Indiana limestone used in the part of the Pentagon that was hit, President Ted Benckart canceled the company’s Sept. 12 50th anniversary celebration. “I’m going to take the money we would have spent and give it to the Red Cross,” Benckart says. “They need it more than I do.”

Jerry and Judy Reese, owner-operators leased to the Center for American Jobs, had just shown their truck in the Pride & Polish competition at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas and were on their way to another truck show in Michigan when they heard the news of the attack.

“We took [the truck] to the sheriff’s department in Pontiac, Mich.,” Jerry Reese says. “We loaded it up with water, batteries, flashlights, drinks, food and medical supplies. It only took us about five hours to get it all together.”

Fully loaded at more than 85,000 pounds with items donated by the Center for American Jobs and DT Energies, the Reeses arrived at the staging area outside Manhattan the day after the attacks. The Reeses rested as volunteers unloaded their cargo, guarded by military police. “There’s so much water, I’m maxed out,” Reese says. “It busted my wheel seals.”