Tag: Hurricane

Four Hurricanes that changed Convoy of Hope

On August 13, 2004, Hurricane Charley barreled into Florida’s western coast as a Category 4 storm. Convoy of Hope was ahead of the storm, sending its one and only Disaster Response team. They were on the ground the same day the storm made landfall — setting up a point of distribution (POD), assisting those affected by the storm.

Eleven days later, another storm started brewing in the Atlantic Ocean — one that would become Hurricane Frances. It struck the eastern side of Florida as a Category 2 storm on September 5. Convoy called for reinforcements and began sending supplies to assist survivors on the other side of the state.

A couple weeks later, on September 16, Hurricane Ivan struck the Pensacola area of northwestern Florida.

And ten days after that, Hurricane Jeanne made landfall on Florida’s east coast where Hurricane Frances had struck less than two months before.

Four hurricanes in six weeks.

Randy Rich is a 25-year Convoy veteran and currently serves as our Vice President of Administration. He was sent with the reinforcement teams who responded to both Hurricanes Charley and Jeanne. “It was like Groundhog Day,” he says. “During our response to Hurricane Jeanne, we set up a POD in the exact same parking lot as we did during Frances.”

At the time, Convoy would arrive as quickly as possible after the disaster, set up a POD, and serve for about a week. The 2004 hurricane season demanded that the team be in full-on disaster relief mode for nearly two months straight. To provide some context, in 2003 Convoy distributed approximately 300 tractor-trailer loads altogether. In that period of 53 days in 2004, the response teams distributed 169 loads. The response even warranted a site visit from then President George W. Bush.

To say the team was stretched thin would be an understatement. But Convoy has never been afraid to lean into the difficulties surrounding a disaster response. Everyone on staff stepped up and did what they could, regardless of whether or not it was part of their job description. Supply Chain workers traveled to Florida to assist in relief work, Community Events personnel helped with distribution, and they depended on the incredible generosity and kindness of local volunteers in Florida to make our PODs flow smoothly.

“That hurricane season really helped us develop the POD concept,” says Randy. “Working through the concept of setting up a distribution hub that could service other neighborhoods and communities … all of that was developed further during those four hurricanes.”

Randy also remembers the human toll such an intense hurricane season had on the residents of Florida. He recalls seeing an elderly couple pulled up to the POD he was working at. With tears in his eyes, he recounts how desperate they looked — “They were probably going to sleep in their car that night.”

Convoy of Hope understands that hurricanes, like all natural disasters, affect everyone in their paths. It doesn’t matter who someone is, what job they have, or where they live — everyone needs to be told there’s hope and that they’re loved during those dark moments.

That’s what Convoy has been doing for 25 years, and with the help of friends like you, that’s what we’ll continue to do for decades to come.

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Disaster Services

Surviving Hurricane Michael

Glenn and Elnora were huddled in small closet of their home as Hurricane Michael ripped off part of their roof and left their bedroom completely exposed. Trees fell everywhere and rain poured into their home as the storm drew on.

As the eye passed over their area, things calmed down. Glenn and Elnora ran to their car, hoping to make it to their church down the road before the second half of the storm struck. As they got in their car, a huge gust of wind blew them into a ditch in front of their house. Rain began pouring into the vehicle, but they were scared to get out of the car as power lines came down and the storm resurged.

The couple rode out the second half of the storm from their car, but remained safe. However, the church they had planned to go to was completely destroyed.

“I’ve been here all my life and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Glenn says. “Not this strong of a hurricane. We went through Opal, we went through the rest of them — they’re not like this. Would I stay again? No.”

We Won’t Give Up

The couple is taking recovery one day at a time. They remain without power, water or cell service — unable to get ahold of their kids to make sure they’re okay. However, they remain hopeful, with some supplies from Convoy of Hope and their community coming together to lift each other up.

“We’ll start afresh,” says Glenn. “We never have given up, so we won’t give up now.”

Find out how you can support Hurricane Michael survivors through Convoy of Hope at convoy.org/michael.

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Disaster Services / Field Story