Northland crew to bring fuel to East CoastCorey Lonetto figures he won’t be home in West Duluth this Thanksgiving. That’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make as he and five other Como Oil & Propane truck drivers deliver nearly 40,000 gallons of fuel to the storm-beaten East Coast.
By: Mike Creger, Duluth News Tribune
Corey Lonetto figures he won’t be home in West Duluth this Thanksgiving. That’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make as he and five other Como Oil & Propane truck drivers deliver nearly 40,000 gallons of fuel to the storm-beaten East Coast.
Como had a sendoff Monday afternoon for the drivers at its West Duluth headquarters. They will take three tank wagons and two semitrailers loaded with gasoline and diesel fuel.
“I pretty much wrote it off,” Lonetto said of the coming holiday. Once the drivers deliver the fuel to New Jersey, the trucks will be used for as much as 10 to 25 days as local and regional carriers of fuel.
Como and its Twin Ports Transport subsidiary began talking with national affiliates and the Federal Emergency Management Agency last Thursday.
Within a few hours, drivers such as Lonetto had volunteered.
It’s a big commitment for the company, said Will Norman, Como’s chief operating officer, because crews are especially busy hauling fuel in the Northland as winter approaches.
Norman said the donation of its trucks is a way to pay a favor forward after the help the region received after the June flooding.
“We lived some of the painful experiences” people are having in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Norman said.
Como’s senior vice president, Joe Stariha, said he received proof of the dedication to community in the response from the drivers who are willing to be away from home for so long.
“They all went out of their way,” he said.
Tolls on the route have been waived, Stariha said, meaning Como didn’t have to send the drivers off with as much cash as they expected. They will stop in Indiana after the first 12-hour leg and will arrive in New Jersey on Wednesday.
After they drop the initial load, the tank wagons will be used to shuttle fuel from nearby depots. The use of faraway trucks will help backfill fuel supplies that are now going to emergency vehicles, Norman said. With Como’s help, nonemergency delivery trucks will be able to stay on the road and help in recovery efforts, he said.
FEMA is paying for the fuel and associated costs. Stariha said the trip will be a first for the trucks; they’ve never been out of the Twin Ports region.
It’s a first for Lonetto as well. His first trip to the East Coast will be in a tanker.
He will be supported at home by family members willing to help his wife and month-old baby. That made the decision easier, he said.
“It couldn’t have worked out any better,” he said. “This is an amazing thing.”
He said the possibility of missing Thanksgiving pales in comparison to helping out people in need. And he expects to have a whole new perspective on thankfulness when he comes back.
“It’ll be fun coming home,” he said.