When Hurricane Ian struck Florida as a destructive Category 4 storm, we wanted to do our part to help the people affected.
This was a truly devastating storm, and the effort required to recover and rebuild would be immense and will continue for months.
Together with our colleagues at UPS, we set out to rapidly provide warehousing and transportation for desperately needed food, water, equipment and cleaning supplies to support impacted communities and accelerate the clean-up process.
But this effort didn’t come together overnight — it was the result of months of planning to put processes in place that could be mobilized at a moment’s notice.
Crucial Relief Freight, Delivered Where It’s Needed
Hurricane Ian made landfall in the morning on Wednesday, September 28 and battered the state throughout the day before heading out to sea and tracking north toward the Carolinas.
By early Thursday, we were already on the ground in Fort Myers coordinating shipments of donated relief freight.
Over the next several days, we worked with the UPS Foundation, Good360, LIFT Nonprofit Logistics, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Reach Out America, and Toolbank to help stage and move relief shipments including:
- 10 pallets of medical-grade cleaning products
- 5,760 shelf-stable meal kits
- 1,596 water cases on pallets
- 272 sprayers, foggers and tyvek suits
- 20,000 lbs. of food, cleaning wipes, lanterns and juices
- 20,000 lbs. of drinks, cleaning supplies and hygiene products
- 2,500 baby kits
- 8 pallets and 6-7 partial pallets of beverages donated by Coca-Cola (tea, water, other)
- 2,445 Cambro boxes and tote bags
- 1,040 Food boxes
- 1 truckload of outdoor clean-up kits
- 1 truckload of mattresses
- 1 Toolbank trailer for disaster relief
- 4 truckloads of mixed relief supplies
- 4 truckloads of water and mixed beverages
- 3 small aircrafts with water filtration and desalination equipment
We also collaborated with the UPS Foundation to transport the Fraternal Order of Police’s 53’ meal preparation trailer from Nashville to Ft. Myers to help the FOP prepare 3,000 meals per day for first responders and members of the community.
Setting the Stage for a Rapid Response
Freight transportation may be what we’re most known for, but in disaster relief situations, there are other moving parts to consider.
Chief among them — where will all the donated freight get delivered and staged before it is sent off to be put into use at relief sites?
Our General Manager of Humanitarian Logistics Zach Gilstrap began meeting with warehouse vendors months ago in advance of hurricane season to gauge capacity in regions that were likely to be hit. In fact, just weeks before Ian struck, Zach was on hand in Jacksonville to help open a new humanitarian pack and ship facility in collaboration with LIFT Nonprofit Logistics.
As Ian tracked north toward Florida, Zach got in touch again to lock in local facilities that could be used to stage relief freight along the storm’s likely path. When the skies cleared and supplies started rolling in, they already had staging space reserved for them, including at our new Jacksonville facility.
This leg work made it possible for the relief effort to get moving the moment it was safe for trucks to hit the road again.
Motivated to Move the Freight That Matters Most
We’d like to thank and recognize the dedicated individuals in our humanitarian logistics team and the UPS foundation for stepping up to help support those affected.
We’re proud of the way our teams regularly come together in the most challenging circumstances, and we’re honored to work side by side with such dedicated individuals.