Stretched Thin by Pandemic, Motorcoach Company Sends Buses, Drivers South for Laura
The Daily Nonpareil
Kent Dinnebier, Clarinda Herald-Journal
September 1, 2020
Despite sitting idle for the past six months, 600 motorcoaches rolled into action to assist with evacuation efforts in Texas and Louisiana as Hurricane Laura approached landfall.
On Aug. 26 and 27, the hurricane reached land in Louisiana near the Texas border. Though the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm by the afternoon of the 27th, Laura still left a significant amount of destruction in its wake.
"Each year 600 buses or more are called upon to assist in hurricane response activity in the U.S. It is their responsibility, not to be taken lightly, to move thousands of people out of harm's way - from nursing homes, hospitals, senior centers and other facilities - and provide transportation for those who have no other means to evacuate," said Peter Pantuso, president and CEO of American Bus Association, in a press release posted on the organization's website. "All the official weather reports point to an especially active hurricane season in 2020. However, because of COVID-19, it is increasingly becoming more challenging to obtain buses as the season continues. Many of the motorcoach companies that would normally engage in these evacuation missions are now on the verge of bankruptcy because of the pandemic."
"These companies lost most, if not all, of their regular business this past year, and many were forced to deactivate their authority and idle their equipment. So, when the call comes for help now, this traditional emergency response force relied upon by the federal, state and local governments in these situations, is not ready," Pantuso said in the release.