My family arrived back to our home in Naples, Florida, on Oct. 8, about 10 days after Hurricane Ian’s landfall on our side of Florida. What we returned to was heartbreaking. Much of our town was reduced to a wet rubble, and hundreds lost their lives in the storm.
Some of our favorite places to visit and enjoy after work and on weekends vanished, and many of the neighborhoods within walking distance of ours are uninhabitable and will likely remain that way for months, if not longer.
Our family was fortunately safe and well out of the storm’s way when it hit, and our home escaped any real damage. Likewise, all of the NTI team, about half of which were in the direct path of the storm here on the West Coast of Florida, fared well and stayed safe.
So this month’s blog is personal for me, because Hurricane Ian literally landed in our backyard, and every day when I look out my window or drive anywhere, I see reminders on every block about what happened and all of the heartache and loss inflicted by the storm.
When disaster strikes and you’re personally affected, whether it’s yourself, your loved ones, your neighbors, your friends, or your employees, your feel a heightened awareness of how much goes into putting our communities, our towns, and our state back together.
In thinking about recovery and reconstruction, trucking is at the fore.
Before the storm made landfall, many fleets and their professional drivers were already preparing to send both loaded and unloaded trucks and trailers to Florida to start the clean-up efforts and deliver vital relief loads: Potable and bottled water, food to feed families, medical supplies to treat those injured, critical equipment to restore utilities and water access, and empty dumps to load debris and aid in disaster clean-up.
Of course, the waves of relief will continue to flow in by the truckload in the coming months as rebuilding begins in earnest, via loads of lumber, glass, shingles, concrete, and other materials needed to repair and resurrect towns and homes.
So I want to extend a sincere and heartfelt thank you to truckers and trucking for not only delivering everything we rely on in our day to day lives, but also for being a literal lifeline whenever any disaster hits, whether it’s a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, fire, or flood.
I also want to extend a thank you to the companies that devoted resources to helping our community in the wake of the storm. The NTI team witnessed firsthand the Hy-Vee convoy of disaster relief loads heading south on I-65 in Tennessee. Our team in Florida watched professional drivers and team members from Walmart not only deliver food, but prepare and serve food to people who were displaced from their homes. We saw Publix haul in water and ice, truckload after truckload.
Secondly, after trucking’s role in recovering after the storm, I’ve also thought about all the ways we can support each other not only here in Florida, but in your own backyard, too, wherever that may be. FloridaDisaster.org is a great resource if you feel compelled to give to the communities struggling to dig out from the wreckage and mess left by Hurricane Ian and to help provide necessary food, clothing, water, and medical care for those left without after the storm.
However, it doesn’t have to be our disaster. Look up other places in your town, state, and region where you can volunteer. Find organizations you feel like your resources can be utilized and put to good use. Check out resources like Deed, an app and website that helps companies find and promote volunteering and charitable opportunities locally. Offer a VTO (volunteer time off) option to your employees and encourage them to take a few days a year to devote their time and energy to volunteering in their community.
Ian has been a reminder that there’s always something we can do to help each other and our communities, whether that’s giving resources or time in the wake of a disaster or in other ways throughout the year. I hope you feel the same way. Until next time, be safe and well. ~Leah