Motor coaches have long been a choice for vacationers traveling long distances. Every year, up to 751,000,000 passenger trips are taken by motor coach. Now motor coaches are proving to be that much more valuable as passengers use these large vehicles to make their way to safety after Hurricane Harvey.
“You have people who are angry, hurt, desperate, and need a lot of help,” said Cary Martin, owner of Little Rock Tours.
The tour bus company was called on Thursday, August 24, on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency requesting six of the Arkansas business’ 56-seat motor coaches. According to Martin, the buses — driven by one woman and five men — were sent to San Antonio, Texas by 7:00 PM that very night.
This isn’t the motor coach company’s first rodeo with hurricanes either. According to ArkansasOnline, Martin and his wife, Gina, have been lending their tour vehicles to federal and state authorities over the course of five hurricanes, including 2005 horror show Hurricane Katrina.
“Whatever it takes,” said Martin. “There are lives to be saved.”
The motor coaches are currently stationed in Rockport, Texas and are escorted by police. The vehicles contain ready-to-eat meals, water, sleeping bags, and blankets to be handed out to those in need of supplies and food. The buses are primarily being used to transport survivors who have been rescued by helicopter to local safe areas such as the city of Austin.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has also made calls to other agencies requesting volunteers for assistance. The Sebastian County sheriff’s office was one of the responders, sending out search-and-rescue officials as well as boat teams on a four-day deployment to help assist those in the Houston area.
“Just as other agencies came to our call for help, we, too, will respond and assist the first responders who are overwhelmed with rescue efforts,” said Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck.
The Sebastian County sheriff’s office is also collecting supplies and food donations such as protein bars, cereal, and bottled water. Donations may be dropped off at 800 S. A St. in Fort Smith.
Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Polaris