SEATTLE – Even before Superstorm Sandy finished its deadly rampage on America’s East Coast, the federal government reached out to Foss Maritime Co. to provide disaster relief in devastated parts of New York and New Jersey.
The call came because officials knew of the Seattle-based company’s successful work in earthquake-torn Haiti.
The Defense Logistics Agency contacted John Tirpak, Foss’ Vice President of Marine Transportation, as communities throughout New York and New Jersey struggled to cope with the tidal surge and high winds that Sandy brought in its wake. Subways and rail lines were under water, people were trapped in homes and apartments, hospitals had no power, and vital communications centers had lost electricity.
“We knew from our work in Haiti that we had to get the necessary equipment – and the right people – to affected areas as quickly as
possible,” said Tirpak. “And we knew from experience that we’d be entering a situation where chaos reigned, communication would be difficult if not impossible, and roadways would be impassable.” As a result, Tirpak designated Rob Wagoner as Incident Commander for the Sandy Relief effort due to his extensive work in the Haiti Relief effort in Port Au Prince. Within hours Foss had relief supplies headed to New York and New Jersey. The company mobilized 26 pumps, six generators and the personnel to operate the equipment from locations across the country, trucking them to Naval Air Station Lakehurst, NJ. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers marshaled the equipment for deployment from there.
“Foss was contacted during Sandy because of the work we’d done in Haiti in partnership with the U.S. government,” said Wagoner, who helped deliver tens of thousands of tons of food and rebuild the island-nation’s main port as he oversaw company relief operations. “The Defense Logistics Agency in particular was well aware of Foss’ capabilities in the face of a natural disaster.”
Foss employees are still on duty at NAS Lakehurst, working to clean flood damage or provide electricity in communities on the Jersey Shore and New York, where nearly two weeks after the storm some services are still out.
ABOUT FOSS MARITIME COMPANY
Founded in 1889, Seattle-based Foss Maritime offers a complete range of maritime services and project management to customers across the Pacific Rim, Europe, South America and around the globe. The company has harbor services and transportation operations in all major U.S. West Coast ports, including the Columbia and Snake River system. With one of the largest fleets of tugs and barges on the American West Coast, Foss operates two shipyards and offers worldwide marine transportation, emphasizing safety, environmental responsibility and high-quality service. See www.fossmaritime.com for more information.