Jerry and Judy Reese, owner-operators leased to the Center for American Jobs, were on their way to a truck show in Michigan when news of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks broke.
The couple had just shown their truck at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, and they were planning to show the truck again. But the attacks gave the Reeses’ truck a new purpose.
“We took it to the sheriff’s department in Pontiac, Mich.,” said Jerry. “We loaded it up with water, batteries, flashlights, drinks, food and medical supplies. It only took us about five hours to get it all together.”
Fully loaded at more than 85,000 pounds gross, the Reeses headed for Manhattan to assist rescue efforts. They arrived the afternoon of Sept. 12. As of Sept. 13, the couple and their truck rested in a parking lot, guarded by military police, as volunteers off-loaded the truck’s cargo.
“We started distributing some of the stuff to the military,” Jerry said. “We’ve got a lot of water here for the military. We’re just trying to keep it cool.”
The Center for American Jobs, along with another Michigan company, DT Energies, donated the items in the Reeses’ truck. Members of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department, the Southfield Police Department and others helped load it. The load was one of the heaviest the Reeses have ever carried.
“There’s so much water, I’m maxed out,” Jerry said. “It busted out my wheel seals.”
Jerry said he was greeted with an unfamiliar sight when he arrived in New York. He once delivered goods to homes in the city, but the attack had cast the city under a strange light.
“It looks totally different,” he said. “It’s total chaos. You see fear and tears in people’s eyes. Smoke is still in the air, stuff you don’t want to breathe. It’s something I’ve never seen before. God be with us.”