On Sept. 30, floodwaters from Hurricane Ian caused the closure of 14 miles of I-75 in southwestern Florida, according to Tampa Bay Times. Maryland native and truck driver Joe Myerly was stuck, two days after Ian made landfall, at a distribution site set up by the nonprofit Operation BBQ Relief, as reported by Transportdive.com. The nonprofit had requested the aid of The American Logistics Aid Network, a transport nonprofit that offered supply transport post-Hurricane Katrina.
Once the floodwaters receded and I-75 reopened, Myerly left the site to pick up pallets of canned food and other foodstuffs from neighboring states. Operation BBQ Relief has provided 100,000 meals as of Oct. 10, according to data collected on Transportdive.com. The operation hopes to provide 1 million meals to hurricane victims, food which has to be sourced by drivers like Myerly.
“It takes a lot of food,” Myerly said.
The nonprofit has sourced food from across the United States, in the last week alone reaching as far as green beans from Wisconsin, bread from Nebraska, and briskets from Arizona, said Chris Huggins, Operation BBQ Relief director of logistics and transportation. The American Logistics Aid Network has provided Operation BBQ Relief with the ability to provide between 60,000 and 80,000 meals daily to victims.
Huggins and his counterparts have relied on truck drivers to transport the operation’s food supply efforts. Operation BBQ Relief’s response to Hurricane Ian has been the largest since 2011 when the operation was founded. This momentous response is made possible by nonprofit truck drivers, volunteering their skill, time, and aid.
“They’ve been a godsend to us,” Huggins said.