Parker Oil sends crew to Florida

Published 11:26 am Wednesday, September 13, 2017

With Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in Texas now well underway, Parker Oil is turning its attention to the victims of Hurricane Irma in Florida. A second fuel truck and crew departed Parker’s Franklin plant for Orlando on Saturday to deliver gasoline and diesel fuel donated on behalf of the company.

The plant had previously dispatched a truck to Texas on Sept. 1. According to Franklin Plant Manager Kevin Lackey, the driver of the second truck is Jessie Pope, who has worked at the Franklin plant for several years. He is accompanied by Tobias Smith, a recent hire at the company’s Suffolk office.

Once roads are passable, Pope will rendezvous at an Orlando Walgreens distribution center with fellow Franklin plant employee Brandon Cook and his brother, Devin, who had been dispatched to Texas on Sept. 1 for Hurricane Harvey relief.

“Right now, they can’t get anywhere because of flooding and damage to the roads,” Lackey said on Monday. “Once they get there, they will get instructions on where they’re going to help out.”

As of 9:40 a.m. Monday, Cook and his brother had made it to Tallahassee and Pope had made it to Jacksonville, where each team rode out the storm. By 3 p.m. Monday, they had each made it to Orlando. They will eventually be joined by 12 other crews from the company’s Lawrenceville, Hopewell, Emporia and South Hill plants, six of which had been providing relief in Texas.

“We have 14 trucks all together in the Florida and Georgia areas from our different plants assisting in the disaster relief,” Lackey said, adding that one employee with the Emporia crew, Brent Darden, is husband to one of his secretaries at the Franklin plant.

As of Monday morning, the National Hurricane Center had downgraded Irma to a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour. Tropical storm force winds were still be present throughout most of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and parts of Alabama through Tuesday morning. By Monday evening, the NHC had downgraded Irma to a tropical depression. Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys as a category four hurricane on Sunday and proceeded  northwest, affecting most of the state.

As was the case with Hurricane Harvey relief, Lackey said that Parker’s trucks and drivers will most likely be assigned to help refuel utility company trucks so that those crews can repair downed lines, or to refuel generators at pharmacies.

A return date has not been set for the drivers. They will remain until relief agencies with which the company is partnering tell them they are not needed anymore. If drivers or helpers get tired and want to come home, Lackey said that the Parker plants will send others to take over.