“Galveston is getting pummeled by wind and rain right now and the storm is still several hours from making land fall here…”
It’s been almost four years since Hurricane Ike devastated Galveston. Thankfully since then hurricane season has been fairly uneventful. Still every year June 1st rolls around and the Gulf Coast readies itself. One company the city of Houston keeps on speed dial is these guys:
First Responders and Director of Sun Coast Resources Emergency Fuel Response: Al Cavazos, Danny Parrish, Kyle Lehne, Anthony Pendergraft and Larry Bothmann
Larry Bothmann: “Hey Sonny, there’s a hurricane out in the Gulf are you ready to go?”
Sonny: “I’m ready; I’ve been watching it.”
Larry Bothmann: “Are you ready to respond right now?”
Sonny: “I’m ready.”
That’s a typical phone call at Sun Coast Resources, an emergency fuel response company that provides fuel during hurricane season.
Sitting in his office, just off the 610 North Loop, Larry Bothmann coordinates Sonny and over 50 first responders who are poised to react at a moment’s notice. They’ve got bags packed by the door, say a quick goodbye to their loved ones, and then get on the road with their pickups.
Yep you heard it right, regular old pickups stocked with fuel reserves keep’s everything ticking over when all other fuel is exhausted.
Director of Sun Coast Resources Kyle Lehne says it’s just a way of life in the emergency fuel business.
"Its kind like a fire department. We really never know when an emergency’s gonna happen. Hurricanes people think of most of the time, you can see the hurricanes coming, but tornadoes or forest fires that we responded to, ice storms, a lot of those you don’t have the warning that it’s coming. So you have to be ready to go."
Sun Coast Resources is one of many private fuel companies the Houston area relies on during a hurricane.
Francisco Sanchez with Harris County’s Emergency Management says it’s an important relationship in a time of need.
"Fuel companies have something called the fuel desk that operates out of a state operation center. They are sort of our information feed back and forth to let us know where the resources are how we can acquire those resources when they’re needed when there’s public safety involved."
About 120 hours before any storm fuel companies like Sun Coast Resources strategically place trucks stocked with fuel around the city or state. And they have a VIP list of customers. Larry Bothmann again.
"That’s what we handle is the first responders. It’s all your government agencies; it’s all your doctors; its nursing homes that may be out of power."
Once a hurricane hits and fuel is an issue, there’s no stopping until the job is done says Anthony Pendergraft who has been with Sun Coast Resources for 15 years.
"Generators at hospitals, you gotta keep 'em full; There’s hundreds of people in there counting on you. There’s no I can’t. It’s get it done. What you get back out of it is good. To see somebody smile because you’re helping them, it’s a scream."
Should we be unlucky this year to have another Ike, with fuel plans in place and the help of companies like Sun Coast Resources local emergency managers say we’re as ready as we’ll ever be for hurricane season.