Getting an emergency load of water to Florida, which was hit by Hurricane Matthew recently, was a challenge for Debbie Desiderato. But it was one the Long Island, New York, owner/operator was more than willing to accept.
She had to drive more than 300 miles out of her way to make it to her destination with road closures and to avoid the bad weather. She was making the delivery for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“I picked up this load in Pennsylvania and ran as hard as I could,” Desiderato said. “I think I drove for 20 hours and had about an hour nap in the middle of that, but pretty much just hammering down to get down here with the hours of service regulations lifted.”
Desiderato says hauling this FEMA load has been incredibly gratifying.
“It’s very rewarding knowing that you’re helping,” Desiderato said. “Even though I’m sitting with my load of water and don’t know where I’m taking it, I will eventually take it somewhere it’s needed.”
As this is published, Desiderato is in Orlando parked in a military staging lot belonging to the National Guard. She isn’t alone; about 75 truckers in total are there with other emergency loads, mostly water.
Despite the nature of her load, Desiderato said local hotels have not been cooperative with truckers who want to take showers. She had to rent a room at $80 in order to get a shower. Desiderato doesn’t know how much longer she and the other truckers may be parked in Orlando.
“They made me book a room to take a shower, which is pretty mean I think,” Desiderato said.
The truckers are getting treated to three meals a day while they’re sitting waiting to find out where they want to send their water.
“It’s just a waiting game,” Desiderato said.
This is the first FEMA load she’s hauled and she said she’s quite happy with it overall.
She got her Class A license in 2002 and has been driving full time since then. She operates under her own authority and takes her 2012 Kenworth T680 all over the country with her Australian cattle dog in tow.