In a less than a month, our membership has been devastated by three back-to-back hurricanes that caused such catastrophic damage in so little time, it pales in comparison to anything else in recent memory. In the aftermath of these storms, Teamsters are on the front lines.
At the Houston warehouse, Teamsters Local 988 members are wasting no time getting much needed supplies to their community.
Anthony Salazar and Jesse Nunez have been forklift operators for more than 25 years, and they were putting their talents to work at the warehouse headquarters in Houston, lifting pallets loaded with supplies off of trucks coming from all over the country.
“We were just seeing story after story, and we wanted to come help,” Nunez said. “Our business agent, Joaquin Galvan, he called us looking for volunteers and we got ready as soon as we could. Just to see people get back on their feet, I would be happy to see that.”
“I was talking to my daughter about all this, and we decided if a storm hits again, we’re going to go out there and help rescue people. We’ll get a boat, lifejackets, everything,” Salazar said. “It’s great that everybody stepped up for Houston. We always try to help out when there’s a disaster somewhere else, but this time we got hit. Trucks from New York, California, St. Louis, NYPD, Red Cross, Cajun Army, they all came out to help, and we’re definitely grateful for it.”
Teamster across the state were devastated by Hurricane Irma, but the most extreme damage was the ten-foot storm surges and 130-mph winds that ravaged the Florida Keys. Teamsters Local 769 has representation at the six largest employers in Monroe County, Fla., and their membership was devastated by the storm.
On September 10, Recording Secretary and Business Agent Rolando Pina and Business Agent David Renshaw were granted access to the disaster area. During that trip, they made 16 stops throughout the Keys, at each stop they delivered some much-needed supplies to their membership and to communities. Ten days later, Local 769 had set up a warehouse staging location in Port Everglades. Local 25 members Jimmy Williams and John Curtin delivered a truck full of food, water, diapers, clothes, and other much-needed supplies. Local 769 members and staff were there to break up the cargo into smaller containers so they could send it down to the islands.
“It’s been a bit of a logistics challenge, making the trip down to the Keys and back, but we’ll do whatever it takes,” Renshaw said. “We especially want to give thanks as well to all of the brothers and sisters of Teamsters Local 25 whose efforts and generosity set the example for solidarity in this great union. It was a very successful group effort and greatly appreciated.”
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has published a Disaster Relief Notice to assist members living in Puerto Rico who have been affected by Hurricane Irma. Assistance is available to individuals and households in the following municipalities who may have experienced a loss due to this disaster: Canovanas, Culebra, Loiza and Vieques.
“Puerto Ricans are a real resilient bunch, and we’re doing everything we can, but the clean-up effort is going to be huge,” said George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16, which includes Puerto Rico. “We’re going to need the federal government to step in. I thank God that there are a lot of good people doing hard work to make things better for the 3.5 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, but the main problem is that the infrastructure is just totally and completely devastated. Conservative estimates are at about $10 billion to fix it. We have to bring it back up, because there are people that are going without water, food, and fuel on the island as we speak.”
In the wake of these hurricanes, thousands of people in Puerto Rico are currently without clean water, food, or electricity. To help those who have been devastated by the hurricane season, click here to donate to Teamsters Disaster Relief!
Checks can be directed as follows:
Teamsters Disaster Relief Fund
c/o International Brotherhood of Teamsters
25 Louisiana Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20001