Answering the Call
Sal & Friends Win Race with Hurricane Matthew
As the full force of Hurricane Matthew was bearing down on the Southeast Coast in early October last year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was ramping up its advance team. As one facet of the preparation process, the All Hazards Incident Management Assistance Team of Garner Environmental Services was charged with mobilizing emergency power generation equipment.
Utilizing hundreds of pieces of equipment from Cat® dealers’ rental fleets, Cat Rental power managers across the country functioned as a single, integrated network in deploying the power needed to satisfy customers’ emergency needs. Cat dealers from the Northeast to west of the Mississippi River prepared to ship hundreds of trailer-mounted Cat diesel generator sets, each ranging in size from 20kW to 2MW. Adding up to 400MW total, the mobile generators were dispatched to Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Cat dealers H.O. Penn, headquartered in Poughkeepsie, New York and Foley Inc. headquartered in Piscataway, New Jersey were designated to serve as the coordinators for a group of Northeastern Cat dealers. H.O. Penn Power Systems rental manager Jim Rogan and sales engineer Jeanine Iavarone and Foley rental manager John Holland set out to determine how many generator sets were available and where they were located. The mission involved pickup from several dealer locations in five states and delivery to a decommissioned military installation in the Orlando area.
Even in its weakened state, Matthew’s wind and torrential rains caused damage in excess of $10.5 billion,
making it the costliest Atlantic hurricane since Sandy in 2012.
Based on H.O. Penn’s relationship with Sal C Machinery Movers, Inc., a Long Island heavy hauling and rigging specialist, Rogan and Iavarone placed a 7:00 a.m. conference call to Sal Castiglione, who owns the firm with his father, Sal, Sr. The logistics of the mission were outlined, including pickup locations from other Cat dealers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Castiglione was tasked with rounding up the trucks and drivers needed to deliver 35 to 38 gensets to Orlando as early as possible on the following day.
Six calls to friends in the business and less than 30 minutes later, he had lined up more trucks and drivers than needed to pickup the gensets at the scattered Cat dealer locations and deliver the emergency power to Orlando. Just as soon as the last of the 35 gensets was picked up and rolling, a call came in for four additional trucks. Sal and his friends came through quickly based on the extra trucks he had on standby from the first round of calls.
The trip itself proved to be somewhat harrowing. The ordinary route straight down the I-95 corridor (1,150 miles) was abandoned in favor of a more inland route designed to stay west of the coastline. The I-81 to I-26 alternate took them along the backside of the Appalachians and through the western part of North Carolina near Asheville, where heavy rain and fog slowed progress. Though the alternate route was hundreds of miles longer, the trip was made virtually non-stop, only taking time for refueling and short breaks along the way. From the time the 7:00 a.m. call came in from H.O. Penn to delivery of the last of the 35 gensets to Orlando required just over 30 hours. The four last-minute gensets were diverted to the Atlanta area.
FEMA and Garner handled the umbrella logistics to help keep the trucks moving. Stickers authorizing scales to be bypassed were posted in the windshields, and service hour regulations were suspended. The entire initiative was focused on placing the generators into service at hospitals, emergency shelter facilities, municipal buildings, data centers, and other mission-critical locations before Matthew made landfall.
Sal and his team checked the units in upon arrival at the joint FEMA-Garner field operation and turned them over to be distributed locally according to the master hurricane-response plan already in place. They volunteered to help with local distribution if needed, but were glad to park for some well-deserved rest. They decided to stand by in case the units were needed further north. Besides refueling at TA-Petro locations along the way, RoadSquad Connect was called into service at 4:00 a.m. to fix a blown tire.
Matthew Changes Course
Hurricane Matthew hit the southeastern United States hard as it tracked very close to the coasts of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Matthew made official U.S. landfall only one time on Oct. 8 southeast of McClellanville, South Carolina, as a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds. However, Matthew brought widespread flooding, including record levels to major rivers like the Lumber, Neuse and Tar in eastern North Carolina. They remained above flood levels 10 days after the storm had passed. More than 660 roads were closed statewide.
Even in its weakened state, Matthew’s wind and torrential rains caused damage in excess of $10.5 billion, making it the costliest Atlantic hurricane since Sandy in 2012. Of the 1,600 deaths attributed to Matthew, more than 1,000 occurred in Haiti where it hit as a Category 4 storm and 49 in the southeastern U.S.
Even though the generators were ultimately not pressed into service, Sal Castiglione and his friends could proudly say, “Mission accomplished.” They had won the race with Hurricane Matthew.
As many truck owners and drivers across this great land do when disasters strike, this group rallied to the call for emergency assistance. While others continued to take care of day-to-day business back home, these 39 drivers and their trucks set out to help minimize the impact of a potentially devastating natural disaster. For many people, particularly those in North Carolina, Hurricane Matthew turned out to be a very devastating storm.
CAUGHT ON CAMERA
If you’re familiar with Big Rig Videos and Chris Fiffie, the man with the ideas behind the mobile video camera, you may have seen his YouTube video entitled, ‘When Disaster Rolls In, Truckers Roll Out.’ It featured Sal Castiglione from Long Island, New York and his friends who hauled 35 trailer-mounted generators to Orlando and four to Atlanta, as Hurricane Matthew was bearing down on the coasts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.
Chris credits social media contacts for alerting him to an unusual convoy of trucks pulling trailer-mounted Cat generator sets, as they were heading eastbound towards Orlando. A few Facebook exchanges later, Chris was connected to Sal Castiglione’s mobile phone. As detailed in the related story, Sal and a group of his truck-owning friends rallied to the call for emergency transportation assistance originating in five Northeastern states.
They met at a rest stop west of Orlando, and Chris videotaped the convoy and recorded driver CB interviews from his car as they traveled the Florida Turnpike towards Orlando. Working alone, Chris utilizes a video camera controlled by joysticks and monitored on LCD screens. If you haven’t seen his work that focuses on building the image of the trucking industry, check out the Big Rig Videos Facebook page and his many other videos on YouTube.
Sal Castiglione (4)
Sal C Machinery Movers
Deer Park, NY
Jonathan Donation (11)
Double Green Circle, Inc.
Nicholas DeNaples (5)
Davd Izzi (5)
Izzi Trucking & Rigging
Brandon Stine (2)
Craig A. Stine Trucking
Chris Murdock (2)
Shelburne Falls, MA
Kenny Conroy (2)
Conroy Carriers Inc.
Charlie Bowen (2)
Lil Hollywood Transport
Union Beach, NJ
Fred Richards (2)
RB Farms Inc.
Covington Township, PA
Owner-Operators (1 each)
Nick Magyar III
CJL Unlimited LLC
Joe “Hawk” Gallopo
Deer Park, NY