Gulf Stream Coach Inc. has manufactured and delivered more than 3,000 travel trailers in less than four weeks to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The Nappanee, Ind.-based recreational vehicle and manufactured housing builder said the extent of Gulf Stream’s contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) calls for up to 50,000 units totaling approximately $521 million, dependent on where the trailers are shipped.
According to a press release, Gulf Stream’s rapid response was the result of a plan developed during past emergencies.
The company first supplied FEMA with temporary housing for the victims of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Almost every year since, Gulf Stream has responded to similar disasters, including in 2004 when it supplied more than 7,000 trailers to the southeast after a series of hurricanes devastated the area.
“Being a private, family-owned company gives us the flexibility to mobilize our work force and bring together all necessary resources with unusual quickness,” said Dan Shea, president of towable operations. “That’s the essence of our plan. It’s strategic in the sense that it will not only help us help the victims of Katrina, but also help us provide relief for whatever disasters might befall this country in the future.”
Gulf Stream said its plan includes eight key components:
• Devoting nine full production lines to producing roughly 300 travel trailers per day
• Hiring more than 300 new, experienced employees – with plans to hire as many as 500
• Bringing facilities into production that were not scheduled to open until January 2006
• Involving Gulf Stream engineers in developing specialized trailers that would meet the temporary needs of Katrina’s victims.
• Working closely with FEMA to determine the most useful and viable trailer features, which include a comfortable sleeping capacity of up to six people, residential-style toilets and air conditioners
• Adapting Gulf Stream’s manufacturing techniques for efficient production
• Engaging numerous suppliers and vendors to ensure that all necessary product components and raw materials could be delivered in the quantities and time frame desired
• Working closely with Norfolk Southern Railroad for nine months to devise safe, effective transportation for the emergency trailers
Gulf Stream said that rail travel presents the best delivery method in most disaster scenarios, since it poses the fewest infrastructure delays, such as fuel availability.
The company stressed that while its trailers are not intended as permanent replacements for victims’ homes, they are quality-built units ideally suited for use as temporary shelter.
“One clear advantage is that these trailers can be installed on former home sites,” said Brian Shea, motorized division president. “That allows victims to live where they’re rebuilding, allows children to attend their familiar schools and allows each community to retain some semblance of its shared identity.”
Dan Shea added: “Gulf Stream is pleased to be one of a number of RV manufacturers helping with this massive relief effort. Our hearts go out to the victims of Katrina, and we will continue to do our part in providing them with viable emergency housing.”