In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, truckers are showing us what it means to be an American.You don't wait on some national organization to help you or your neighbor. We're thankful for those big relief orgs, but sometimes we need the action of a Few Good Men (and women, pardon the phrase) to save a community.
Queue the truckers.
When a community hits its hardest moments, truck drivers are there to bring them back from it. They're hauling trailors filled with water, diapers, milk, blankets and clothes. And a lot of them are doing it for free, on their own, and out of the goodness of their own heart.
Have you ever heard of the Pure Country Livestock Association (PCLA)? If you haven't, that may be a good thing. They work the shadows. They're there for truckers in their hardest times, after injury or other challenging moments in a drivers' life. They come in and provide money and material support when a driver is unable to provide for himself or his family. And they have been doing this for years!
Based out of Pennsylvania, PCLA members and supporters runs their own tractor trailers of relief supplies after natural disasters in the United States. We spoke with co-founder Jeremy Jansen. I'll tell you, they don't make a mold for truckers like Jeremy. The PCLA team came together Wednesday, after the rain stopped. They worked with other drivers to set up staging sites in different communities across the country and asked for donations from social media and churches. The donations poured in and truckers (not PCLA, but independent owner operator drivers) hauled those supplies back and forth for the 5 days since.
"It's my life's work to help drivers." shares Jeremy.
PCLA members and supports have a long history of sending hands-on aid during disaster relief. Recent examples before Harvey include wildfires in Colorado and aid after devastation in Michigan.
When a non-governmental organization steps in to offer relief, it works different than truckers that are contracted with FEMA.
A major difference is that FEMA is not able to get on the streets as quickly as an independent organization, largely because they're stuck behind a bunch of sticky red tape. Hundreds of truckers are contracted with FEMA to provide ice, water, food and other critical supplies. Its an important job and could count as some of the most important hauls of a driver's career. Drivers with PCLA, or drivers that decide to haul donations on their own, are not getting paid and they do not have direction from a national organization. They're out there using their own money and resources to help fellow Americans.
So what does the process look like when a driver steps up on their own to save a community after a disaster?
According to PCLA, it might look a little something like this:
1. Disaster strikes.
2. Ask yourself, "what can I do?"
3. Connect with your community for donations
4. Clean out your trailor so its fit for whatever needs to be hauled.
5. Set up a staging site for donations. This can be at a church or a large parking lot. You will need permission from the owner, but most are open to helping out. Just ask first!
6. Load up those trailers.
7. Connect with First Responders on the ground in the area that needs relief. Great places to start are fire departments, police departments and city hall.
8. Start running!
9. Deliver and unload.
10. Connect with people while you're there.
When PCLA was ready to offer relief, they connected with Houston Fire & Rescue.
The good guys at PCLA are just one example of truck drivers stopping their routine to save a community of fellow Americans.
I can say without reservation that truckers are the truest Americans. Borders, boundaries and signs don't stop a trucker from calling himself your neighbor and your friend. And I'll tell you, you're going to want them on your side when the water rises up in the creek.
Take a moment to thank a trucker for everything they do. Truckers are unsung heroes of our beautiful country.
If you'd like to know more about Pure Country Livestock Association and what they do for truck drivers, visit their website at pclabrotherhood.com. You can make a donation to truckers in need by calling (610)823-1335.