Sunday, February 27, 2011

Destruction for FEMA

Oct. 6, 2008

Current mood:aggravated

So for the last two months I have been over the road truck driving.  During that time I was drafted by the U.S. Government.  You see, when Homeland Security was created FEMA was put under them.  Homeland Security has the contracts with trucking companies to put drivers to work when emergencies happen, namely hurricanes and earthquakes.  So when Hurricane Ike hit Texas, they started assembling personal to help out where people needed help.

So, while I was delievering a load to Texas, I got a call over the Qualcom that told me that my partner and I were going to work for FEMA.  Now, I had heard the term "Government Work" before, but I never truly understood it until now.  Here's what happened.

Day 1.  We (my parnter/ trainer Doug and I) are in Hutchins, Texas at the Covenant Transportation (the company we work for) truck terminal.  (Hutchins is just outside Dallas.)  We are told to go into Dallas to pick up some water, and drive it to the Air Force Base in San Antonio.  So we wait a bit to get water.  Once we are loaded we drive to San Antonio.  We wait quite a while.

Day 2.  After waiting a while, we are told they have too much water, and send us to Ft. Worth.  Ft. Worth is only 30 miles from where we were in Dallas.  So we drove 300 miles to go 30. 

Day 3 - 5.  We wait.  A long ass time.  We finally get a load, and take it to another Air Force Base.  We drop the trailer, and go back to the Hutchins terminal to get the truck fixed.

Day 6.  We get put on the waiting list to get the truck fixed at the Hutchins terminal.  However, it never happens.  We are told to get a trailer, and get our butts to FEMA at Ft. Worth.  They have some water to move.  So we don't get the truck fixed.  We go to FEMA, and get put on the waiting list.  We wait.
Day 7.  They tell us, "Get ready, don't go anywhere, we're going to be moving out."  We still go out, and see the movie Rightous Kill.  It was very intense.

Day 8.   At 7 PM we are told to put the truck and trailer at the shipping dock.  We wait at the dock for 4 hours.  When I ask why we are not being loaded with water I am told, "We are waiting for more water to come in."  I ask why when the trailer comes in, we can't just take the trailer.  That way, they wouldn't have to unload one trailer, and load another one.  They look at me as if I'm the asshole.

Day 9.  At 1 AM we leave for Houston, Texas.  We arrive at around 6 AM in the morning.  We are put in a parking lot at the Houston Texans' Reliant Stadium with 1000 other semi-trucks.  We wait.  We sleep... a lot.  We watch a lot of TV.  We eat the FEMA food.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great.  At least there was a lot of it.

Day 10.  We walk around the neighborhood.  An older woman who was working as a security guard thanks a bunch of us.  I ask her why.  She says, "You all are truck drivers right?  You have brought us food and water."  I say that I am a truck driver sometimes.  Usually when I am actually driving a truck, which hasn't been in a while.  I feel like a major hypocrite.  I honestly couldn't believe in my heart that I had helped anyone.  Afterall, all the water that I brought to help people was still in the truck.  I go to Blockbuster, and a pawn shop I buy a bunch of movies.  It helps pass the time.

Day 11.  At 2 AM in the morning we finally get the call........ to go back to Ft. Worth.  That's right.  We take the water back to FEMA at Ft. Worth.  They had way too much in Houston so they send it back.

Day 12.  We are finally off FEMA.  We go back to the terminal at Hutchins.

Day 13.  We are put back on FEMA.  We are told to take the water back to where it originally came..... Baltimore, Maryland.  So we get another empty trailer, and eventally get it loaded.

Day 14.  We arrive in Baltimore.  We drop off the water at a giant warehouse.  The very warehouse from where it came originally.

So here's the fallout and cost:
3 loads in Texas.  Only one of which was actually delievered to a place that could use it.  Since we are team drivers, we can technically run the truck 24/7.  Since we were running short drives, we could drive 3-4 trips a day.  Instead, we do 3 runs in 11 days. 

All those semi trucks were paid an average of $1000 a day (I heard it was between $960 and $1250 a day.)  Now the drivers didn't get that (except the independent owner operators.)  The company got $1000 day per truck.  The drivers were paid $100 a day plus milage (except there was no mileage)  Figure in the cost of diesel and wear and tear on the truck, you figure the company was making $600-$700 a day, per truck.  If you figure $1000 a day times 1000 trucks that's 1 million a day times 14 days.  And that's just at that one spot, and only the cost of the truck drivers.  That ..... is your tax dollars at work.

At Houston there were at least 1000 trucks present.  In fact, they had so many they had to send the trucks into the parking lot of the grocery store next door.  (Note: The grocery store didn't like that.)  In reality they had 4-5 times the amount of trucks they needed.  You don't need that many trucks, if you have a lot of trailers.  That's the way it is supposed to work.  The truck gets a trailer, loads it, delievers it, and drops it off.  The truck can then go get another trailer while that one is being unloaded.  They didn't do that.  It was complete overkill.

If that much money was wasted on just that spot, I wonder about all the other waste.  If they gave such a blank check to the truck companies I wonder what about the other services. 
I can now honestly, and without question say, "Damn Government Work."

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