2003-09-18 Hurricane Isabel

Swing Transport – Hurricane Isabel

September 18th —  The Outer Banks of NC was  hit with  its  costliest storm ever.  The magnitude of the damage to eastern NC   and Virginia  was fast becoming evident.  Homes  were destroyed,  roads were damaged and covered with debris.  Electrical lines were down and power may not be restored for weeks. It wasn’t long until eastern NC was declared a Federal Disaster Area.  Governor Easley issued a plea for help.  He called Charlie Diehl, President  of the  North  Carolina   Trucking Association.  Governor Easley stated   “many  residents  in  Eastern  North  Carolina   are still in great need of basic resources.  They are trying to   rebuild their  homes and communities and they need the help of North Carolinians to accomplish this task.”

Mr.  Diehl  knew  where to  go  for  help and quickly assured Governor  Easley that he could count on the trucking industry to do  its part.   Charlie Diehl  did not  hesitate in pledging   manpower and equipment to aid in the disaster relief. 

How   could  the NCTA  pledge equipment  it doesn’t  have?  How could Charlie assure the Governor that man power and transportation would be provided at no cost?

Charlie  had  been  contacted  months  earlier  by  Dan Summitt, President of Swing  Transport   and  current  Chairman  of   the  North  Carolina  Trucking  Association.  Dan had explained that a pro-active approach  should be taken by the NCTA to mobilize equipment and manpower in disaster situations. Swing Transport has dedicated  equipment to  be used only in times of emergency. The NCTA  was  given  authority  to pledge this equipment when needed.   Charlie  Diehl  called  Dan and  explained  the need and asked  if  a unit could be dispatched to Raleigh, NC the next day.  Summitt quickly agreed. 

Brad Durham and Wayne  Whitley had  approached Summitt  before the storm  made  landfall to volunteer their services.  Swing Transport made arrangements and Brad and Wayne were operating a collection site in Raleigh, NC less than 15 hours after the call for help was received.

Wednesday and Thursday Brad and Wayne accepted donations. The Swing Transport unit was loaded with canned  foods,  cleaning supplies,  diapers, baby  formula,  personal  care  items,  paper  goods  and bottled water. Friday, Whitley and Durham delivered the load to a distribution center in Greenville, NC. Durham said,  “when  we  arrived  with  the  first  load,  the  warehouse was  about  empty, our  stuff  really  made  a difference.” Swing  was  not  through,  the  need  was  still  there.  Brad and  Wayne returned to  Raleigh and operated a collection site thru the weekend.  A second load was delivered to the distribution center.

MVC-019SFaye  Stone,  Deputy  Executive  Director  of the NC Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service requested  that  Swing  Transport  return  to  Raleigh  a third  time.  Governor  Easley was  planning a press conference to request more supplies.   Donations were coming but the need continued to swell.  Governor Easley made his plea for assistance with the Swing Disaster Relief Unit in the background. It was a proud moment for Swing Transport.  “When you  work in a community, you  strive to make the community better, you provide good paying jobs and pay taxes, but you have to do more, this is Swing  Transport’s way of doing more,” stated Summitt. Whitley and Summitt manned the site and the truck was quickly loaded and en route to Greenville, NC.

Swing Transport’s efforts did not stop in the Raleigh area.  In conjunction with Dr. Green  of Lexington, NC and Lexington State Bank, Swing provided  equipment and  man power to  operate a collection  site  at  the Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse in Lexington, NC.   Jim Swing, Ronnie and Denise Durham, Donnie Parsons, and Dan and Debby Summitt assisted in loading of the Disaster Relief Unit.  Jimmy  Thomason, a driver  for  Swing  Transport,  sacrificed  his  weekend   to   deliver  the  load  to  the  distribution  center   in  Greenville, NC.

At the request of the Governor’s Office, Swing Transport was once  again  racing to  provide  assistance.  In conjunction  with  Lowe’s  Motor  Speedway,  Lowe’s  Home  and  Garden, Clear Channel and NBC6, Swing Transport provided equipment  and man power for yet another collection  site to coincide  with the Charlotte NASCAR Race.  Wayne  Whitley, Greg Vaughn, Jim  Swing and Dan and Debby Summitt accepted donations over a three day period.

Food Drive Coordinator Kerry Ford Marancy said, “Since September 19th, we’ve distributed 180,000 pounds of food for specifically disaster relief.” Our eastern neighbors  have  much  work and many  hardships in front  of them.  Maybe, their path has been made a little easier due to the unselfishness of Swing Transport and its employees.” 

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