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.
Faye 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.”