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RV transport firms in the Elkhart area and other parts of the U.S. have joined the relief effort to provide temporary shelter to Floridians left homeless by Hurricane Charley, according to the Elkhart Truth.
Since last week, drivers have hauled a steady stream of RVs on a route that takes them from Indiana, through Forest Park, Ga., and on to Fort Myers, Fla., which is at the center of much of the hurricane’s devastation.
It’s a trip that eventually will become all too familiar to drivers: It is estimated that up to 8,900 trailers will be purchased by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) for housing relief.
And for firms such as Horizon Transport in Wakarusa, which already was busy lining up drivers for routine shipments before the storm hit, the task represents a logistical challenge.
“We’re shipping 30 to 50 units a day down there. How long that will last, I don’t know,” Marion Schrock, vice president of Horizon, told the newspaper.
“We pick them up where they are built and within a few hours, they’re on their way to Georgia,” he said. “We know the FEMA units take priority over anyone else.”
FEMA requires that the units first go to Forest Park on the outskirts of Atlanta, where they are inspected before going on to the disaster area. They usually stay at the staging area for a day or more before they resume their journey, a fact that causes additional scheduling problems.
It’s 685 miles to Forest Park, or a day or more drive, and then another 625 miles to Fort Myers, according to the Truth.
“We shipped 102 units on Thursday and 134 units on Friday,” Schrock said.
Horizon has had to divert a significant number of its 1,000 drivers to the hurricane relief effort.
“We feel for those people down there,” he said. “On our end, we’ve offered a better freight rate to the manufacturers to help offset the cost. The drivers are in turn delivering those units at a lesser rate than they normally would. It’s not a lot but anything helps. We have not had any problem with anyone saying, ‘Yeah, we’ll help out.’ ”
Bennett Truck Transport, based in McDonough, Ga., also is participating in the disaster relief effort, the paper reported. Bennett drivers are hauling both travel trailers and manufactured homes built by Fleetwood Enterprises, said Dan MacNeil, vice president of sales.
Finished units are coming from Fleetwood plants in Garrett, Ind., Texas, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Maryland, he said.
“I think within the next week and a half to two weeks, we’ll have them all down there,” Schrock estimated.
The orders could generate about $100 million of business for the nation’s RV manufacturers.