To keep our mission going and store our supplies. PLEASE read the summary below. I know it's long, but this is SEVEN months worth of disaster response and crisis relief. We need a permanent warehouse!
We're nobody famous. We're not looking to be. We don't need attention, or "status". No selfies. No glory. Regular guys has never been about any of that.
What we ARE about, is getting the job done. We do what we do, because we do what we do. That's it. Period.
When Hurricane Harvey hit, a bunch of us veterans got together and started SAR operations (search and rescue). We pulled out all those big trucks that non-Texans poke fun at (who's laughing now!? j/k), and tossed our boats in the water and got busy for a good 4-5 days before National Guard and other agencies started waving people off the water.
On Aug31 we acquired a private hangar (HP1) on a private airstrip just North of Houston via a VERY generous person who owned some restaurants. Veterans started showing up, and the address got spread around the interwebs and trucks started rolling in. Volunteers started putting donations on trailers and flatbeds and driving them all over.
Around this time, Angel Flight came on board and started flying supplies from our first location (HP1), and delivering them anywhere there was an airstrip to land on. Places like Corpus Cristi, Rockport, Victoria, League City... we're not even sure exactly everywhere they went, things were VERY hectic around this time. But they mostly flew medical supplies to get the most out of their available payload.
On Sept1 we were blessed with another warehouse. The new second 25,000 sq ft warehouse (HP2) in Greenspoint (known around here as "Gunspoint", you figure that one out), started filling up. More vets and civilians arrived. Some with 40 ft gooseneck flatbed trailers, some with pickups, others with Uhauls or other box trucks. It was amazing. We unloaded more than a dozen semi trucks each with 42,500 lbs of water cases and other supplies BY HAND (old military chain gang style) for about 4 days before a forklift showed up via another awesome donor. We almost cried. Our backs and bodies in general were beat to HELL. In fact, one volunteer was a chiropractor, and she generously had another chiropractor come out and give us adjustments. That's how bad it was.
We funneled supplies from HP2, up to the airstrip at HP1 constantly, to feed the planes who were lining up sometimes 5 or 6 planes deep. Load and go! Angel Flight rocked it! They would fly somewhere, and we would have a team of veterans on the other end to unload and distribute to whomever needed it.
Meanwhile, the veterans and civilians at HP2 kept rolling. We provided our own security, while wonderful people showed up to cook for us or bring us food!
We networked with city councils, pastors, mayors, and local law enforcement to get supplies where they needed to go. Our volunteer army of flatbeds and trucks going out at all hours of the day and night. We moved supplies ALMOST as fast as they came in. When we could not fit a supply load in our warehouse, we staged the truck, fed the driver, let him get some sleep, made some calls and found a home for it. We made things happen.
It was about this time, at the PEAK of Harvey supply ops, that Hurricane Irma hit Florida. We had JUST receive a few shipments FROM Florida, so we immediately knew we had to help. We could NOT let Florida suffer alone.
On Sept17, we sent an ADVON party (basically an advance team) via commercial flight to Tampa, where we linked up with another SF veteran who owned private planes. He granted us access to his hangar and planes, so we loaded up his small planes with as many supplies as we could, mostly medical, and flew into Marathon Keys Airport.
It didn't take long to locate some nurses at the DFAC who said their facility was operating off "bandaids and motrin", so we gave them everything we had, knowing more was on the way. We immediately liaised with locals and acquired a THIRD hangar (General Aviation) right on Marathon Airport. We now had an air bridge from Tampa to Marathon, and a hangar to store supplies in. We established a relationship with agencies operating in that AO (area of operation), and added more veteran assets to our team to assist at the Marathon hangar with unloading trucks that were now able to get through, and with distribution of supplies.
About a week and a half after we arrived in Florida, Hurricane Maria hit. As you can imagine, we felt that since we were already in the Keys, we should do what we could for Puerto Rico. Two members of our ADVON party into the Keys spearheaded an effort to transition efforts to PR. They worked with the local government in Puerto Rico and flew in a team to render aid and supplies to locals. That op lasted about 2 weeks and they absolutely made it a success by establishing a supply chain directly into PR.
Back home in Houston, we were still rocking and rolling at our airstrip and 25,000 sq ft warehouse. Trucks were still arriving almost hourly, and shipments were going out just as fast. We shunned media requests, we didn't allow selfies or video of our warehouse. We're not about that, we were there to WORK.
On Sept19 the earthquakes in Mexico hit. We were approached by an org working that effort, and we supplied their semi trucks with everything they could carry. Water, clothes, food, etc.
We were running on fumes. Several volunteers were literally living at the warehouse. I slept there SEVERAL nights. I took vets home with me to give them hot showers, meals, and an actual bed to sleep on in our guest room or even just a soft couch and some TV.
On Oct4, we opened another warehouse via the same generous property management group. This one was 26,000 sq ft. We've been dishing out or delivering supplies ever since. Even when the volunteer pool inevitably ran dry.
Since Sept1, 2017 we supplied several heavy hitter organizations like Cajun Navy, Easter Seals, Habitat for humanity (who also assisted in setting up our donor pool), NAM, dozens of churches, municipalities, local law enforcement and fire depts., Team Rubicon, and even the VA itself. Just to name a FEW.
We even got invited to meet the governor of Texas, and we had dinner with the Pres of Shell Oil along with only two other groups: Cajun Navy, and Team Rubicon.
By Halloween, we estimate we had received and/or shipped over half million TONS of supplies. Today we estimate it's closer to 750,000 tons.
We do more with less. That's the military way. It's certainly the Marine Corps way. The budget we did ALL of this on?
That's right. $3k. That's not a typo. Not $30,000 or $300,000. THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS.
But those days are over. We had to give up the hangars for obvious reasons. The first warehouse (HP2) needed to get leased, as does the 2nd one (HP3). So we stopped taking donations. Nowhere to put it, and truthfully, we need a break. This was NOT our full time work. But we still need somewhere to put the remainder of our supplies, as a contingency for the next emergency. We need storage. We would like to have a warehouse again, but we don't have the deep pockets for that.
Let me point out that NONE of this happens without volunteers and donors like you. Our team worked themselves to the bone for NOTHING monetary. They did it because it was the right thing to do. It's important to point out, our most crucial volunteer was a civilian. Anna, thank you. She stuck by us through good and bad, thick and thin. She definitely earned her RG patch.
Side note: I wish I had better photos of stuff we did. But truthfully, when you're in the thick of things, you seriously don't even think about photos. It's only when you have some down time do you whip out the cell and snap a few. Sorry. But we do have some videos on our facebook page.
Currently our operations are downsizing, and the warehouses we were using need to be leased out for actual money. We're not mad, that is life and the prop mgmt company needs to conduct business. Just appreciative of the space we were allowed to use for SEVEN months! But we still need a place to store our office supplies and critical needs inventory.
We were just a bunch of nobodies, no affiliation, so we never got state or federal funds. We sure weren't famous, and we kept a low profile, so no athletes or celebs came knocking on our door. We just did what we did quietly behind the scenes. In fact, that is exactly how we got our name. Everyone kept asking us who we were, who we were "with" or part of or associated with... which was nobody, so we just kept saying "we're just a bunch of regular guys". And it stuck.
So, if you can find it within you to donate $5, $10, $25, $50, or even a whopping $100 or more, we would appreciate it. When the next crisis happens, we'd like to be there to do what we do. If you're grinding just like the rest of us, do what you can, if you can. If you've got JJ Watt money, well...you know what to do!!
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