Reports of recreational vehicle dealerships shipping units to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for displaced Hurricane Katrina victims are surfacing from across the country.
In addition to sending RVs, many of the retailers are mounting campaigns in their communities for donations of clothing and food that are being packaged into the trailers.
The following is a sampling of relief efforts documented by news media:
• Lichtsinn Motors, Forest City, Iowa, reported that people are providing food, canned goods, and bottled water to the dealership. “We’ll make sure they stay in the trailers on the way down and help those in need,” owner Ron Lichstinn said, noting he is hiring his own drivers to take down 20 trailers to the Gulf Coast region.
• FEMA purchased 38 vehicles from Pontiac RV which were to be delivered this week to the Katrina-stricken areas. Ken Kafer, owner of the Pontiac, Ill., dealership, said that these vehicles were to be filled with donated supplies for evacuees when they are delivered to the Gulf Coast.
• Several trailers filled with donated clothes, food and water were headed south from Jolley Rogers RV Sales and Service in Cheyenne, Wyo. The units were originally going to be sent empty to help victims with their moving and cleanup efforts, but after hearing about the effort, local churches gathered donations.
• Bill Plemmons RV World, Rural Hall, N.C., said that FEMA is buying 50 travel trailers from the dealership. He said he has been filling out government forms so he can deal directly with FEMA. The business is also serving as a drop-off point for people who want to donate water, diapers and toiletry items for hurricane victims.
• Al’s Motor Home & Trailer Sales, Rockford, Ill., is sending 200 RV trailers to Selma, Ala., filled with supplies so federal officials can establish a mobile home village for Hurricane Katrina victims. The company has a sister dealership in Pierce, Fla., and the two locations have sold more than 400 trailers to the government at cost since the 2004 storms that devastated Florida.
• Roger Faulkner, general manager of General Coach in Hensall, Canada, said his company will be sending “as many vehicles as we can” filled with clothing, blankets, drinking water and non-perishable food for hurricane Katrina relief items. An Alabama dealer connected to the effort contacted General Coach and asked for whatever product it can ship, said Faulkner.
• RV dealers in South Central Kentucky are orchestrating a regional effort to ship travel trailers to hurricane evacuees. So far, 100 units have been sent to a staging area in Selma. Steven Burnett of Candy’s Campers, Scottsville, said dealers from Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Missouri and Georgia were participating. “We’re even getting calls now from dealers in New York and North Dakota,” he added.