More than a dozen Siouxland volunteers return home this week after spending days feeding tens of thousands of Texans displaced by Hurricane Harvey.
Beef Products Inc. deserves a great deal of gratitude for leading the tri-state relief effort, which included rounding up the volunteers, donating and transporting equipment to cook the meals and supplying all the food and drink, which was either donated or sold to the company at cost, Journal staff writer Ian Richardson reported. The products included 6,000 pounds of BPI’s taco meat for nachos, and 10,500 pounds of hamburger patties provided by Jensen Meats, which uses BPI's Lean Finely Textured Beef, as well as buns from Bimbo Bakery, chips from Frito-Lay and bottled water from the Chesterman Co.
A mix of BPI employees, their family members and other volunteers traveled the more than 1,000 miles to the Houston area to assist the American Red Cross in serving food to refugees, many of whom lost their homes to the Category 4 storm and ensuing record rainfall. Over 10 days, the teams will serve more than 50,000 meals. For many, it was their first hot meat in days.
While some local volunteers drove to southeast Texas, BPI flew others there in its corporate jet. The family business also is covering the volunteers' lodging and meals.
The BPI and Roth family members have a long history of generosity in Siouxland, donating to countless local charitable and civic events. While BPI assisted in previous local disaster relief efforts, such as tornadoes that hit the Wisner and Pilger area in Nebraska in 2014, the company had never tackled anything on the scale of Harvey, which ravaged the Gulf Coast cities in Texas, with damages estimated at more than $150 billion.
The tragedy hit close to home for BPI, which got its start in Texas in 1981 in Amarillo, Texas, where the private firm operated a plant as recently as 2012.
BPI was one of several Siouxland employers that donated resources and organized relief efforts to assist hurricane victims, not only in Texas, but also, more recently, in Florida, where Hurricane Irma came ashore last weekend. Seaboard Triumph Foods, for example, sent a trailer of pork from the first week of production at its Sioux City plant to each southern state. The fresh pork was donated to Operation BBQ Relief, an organization which expected to serve more than 100,000 meals over 11 days to those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
An untold number of volunteers from the tri-state area also answered the call to help their fellow citizens whose lives and livelihoods were turned upside-down by Mother Nature. Leaving their own family, jobs and other day-to-day responsibilities temporarily behind, local volunteers hit the road and entered hurricane-ravaged zones, often at some risk to themselves. For their unselfless acts, they deserve our respect and admiration.
As the floodwaters recede, power is restored and debris is cleared away, Siouxland volunteers can take pride in the role they played in helping out so many Texans and Floridians at a critical time of need.