Owner-operator hauls hope to disaster-stricken regions

Paul Leicht (left) has been aiding in disaster relief since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005. Most recently he has hauled supplies for Convoy of Hope to Houston after Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and to North Carolina after Hurricane Florence this year. He is shown with Barry McGowen, Christenson Transportation’s director of safety and maintenance.Paul Leicht (left) has been aiding in disaster relief since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005. Most recently he has hauled supplies for Convoy of Hope to Houston after Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and to North Carolina after Hurricane Florence this year. He is shown with Barry McGowen, Christenson Transportation’s director of safety and maintenance.

Paul Leicht, an owner-operator leased to Christenson Transportation out of Strafford, Missouri, felt a calling in 2005 after seeing the devastation along the Gulf Coast of Hurricane Katrina and wanted to use his truck to help those in need.

He turned to Christenson, the company for which he’d been hauling for three years, which allowed him to use a company trailer and paid for his fuel to make two trips to the Gulf Coast to help those in the affected areas.

“I finally reached a point where I could make a difference to a lot of people, do something that benefitted only them, not me,” Leicht said of his initial motivation.

Leicht drove his truck and Christenson Transportation’s trailer to Convoy of Hope in Springfield, Missouri, to load up with supplies for victims of Hurricane Florence this year.Leicht drove his truck and Christenson Transportation’s trailer to Convoy of Hope in Springfield, Missouri, to load up with supplies for victims of Hurricane Florence this year.

During his experience helping Katrina victims, Leicht learned more about aiding in disaster relief and found another partner in Convoy of Hope, a non-profit based in Springfield, Missouri. In his first trip to the Gulf for Katrina, he hauled a load of donated medical supplies to a medical center in Mississippi. His next trip was a load of water for FEMA, but he was turned away upon arrival when FEMA told him they had too much water.

Leicht then returned to the first medical center he delivered to, and they directed him to a church only 2.5 miles from the FEMA distribution center. The church had no water to hand out to neighbors, so they took half the load and sent Leicht to a second church that was also in need of water.

Volunteers with Convoy of Hope unload Paul Leicht’s trailer at a church outside of Houston, TX, after Hurricane Harvey struck that city in 2017.Volunteers with Convoy of Hope unload Paul Leicht’s trailer at a church outside of Houston, TX, after Hurricane Harvey struck that city in 2017.

Last year when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Christenson helped Leicht connect with Convoy of Hope, and he was able to haul two loads of food, water, cleaning supplies and more to a church about 60 miles west of Houston. From there, he volunteered to take a load directly into Houston to a church that was handing the supplies directly to impacted residents.

His efforts continued this year along the East Coast after Hurricane Florence hit. He asked his company to call Convoy of Hope again, and he took a load of supplies to a church in Beulaville, North Carolina.

The two-million-mile driver plans to continue his efforts to help storm-impacted areas in the future.

“I’m going to pick out a storm a year, as long as I can do it,” Leicht said. “I don’t think I will have any trouble finding a storm.”

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