EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Yesterday should have been the home opener for the NFL’s New York Giants. But instead of 78,000 screaming fans tailgating in the parking lot of the Meadowlands Sports Complex, there was a far more sobering scene. One that New Jersey Sports & Exhibition Authority (NJSEA) vp of public affairs John Samerjan said could not have been possible without the trucking industry.
PHOTO: A truck owned by Princeton Van Service drives into the Giants Stadium parking lot to unload relief supplies that are heading into Ground Zero on Sunday, September 16, 2001. (Photo by Tim Parry)
The VIP and press parking area for Giants Stadium is now one of several staging areas for supplies being brought into Ground Zero, where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center stood until the terrorist attacks of September 11. Supplies from all around the U.S. are entering Lot 9 via tractor trailers, being unloaded by volunteers, and being reloaded onto moving vans donated by local U-Haul, Ryder and Budget dealers, then into Manhattan.
“We’d be nowhere without their transportation,” Samerjan told Fleet Owner. “Goodwill can only go so far. We can organize an event, but without the trucks, there would have been no effort.”
Princeton Van Service, a moving company based in Princeton, NJ, hauled seven truckloads of supplies to the Meadowlands. Nassau Broadcasting Partners L.P., which runs five radio stations in the Trenton, NJ area, held a drive for supplies and equipment in the parking lot of Trenton’s Sovereign Bank Arena, and Princeton Van Service volunteered at the drop of a hat to truck the goods, which ranged from buckets to bottled water to dog food for the canine searchers working at the site.
“I’m glad I have the opportunity to do this,” said Princeton Van Service driver Mike Sullivan. “The stuff I have is immediately needed – tools and respirators. We’re going to make sure they get on smaller trucks and into Manhattan.”
The respirators, for example, were loaded onto a Meadowlands ambulance along with medical supplies that came in from as far away as Lincoln, NE. Other items, such as watermelons, towels, office supplies and even gas grills, went to the stadium’s indoor practice facility, where they were sorted by volunteers and loaded onto smaller vans.
Robert S. Minton, central group director of promotions and marketing for Nassau Broadcasting Partners, said Princeton Van Service routinely volunteers its equipment and drivers to charitable events. But he added that Princeton’s services had never been needed as much as they were yesterday.
“There has been unbelievable response from the public,” Minton said. “If we have enough of one item and we need more of another item, we get the word out and in 10 minutes, everything changes.”
Princeton Van Service driver Mike Larkin said he didn’t have to be asked to volunteer to make the 65-mile trip from Trenton to East Rutherford, which takes anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours to make.
“I’m proud to be volunteering. I just wanted to help out any way I can,” said Larkin. “I’m not surprised that people are giving, but I didn’t expect so many people to be helping out, so much stuff to be donated.”
Samerjan said one of the most touching stories he heard was about the president of a trucking company in Albany, NY, which is about three hours north of New York City. He was driving to Maine to start his vacation when he tuned in to an Albany radio station that was running a supply drive.
“The guy said he wanted to do something to help so he turned around and headed home,” Samerjan said. “The next thing we knew he was here with four 40-foot trucks and all the items that were collected at the mall.”