In the wake of this year’s unusually high number of natural disasters, The Ford Disaster Relief Mobility Challenge has awarded four Transits to nonprofit organizations that support natural disaster relief efforts.
To be clear, this challenge was a contest. Ford offered the most versatile and flexible van on the market to organizations who had the most creative/effective ideas for their use. The idea was to get the most out of the Transit by giving it to people who know the disaster business the best. Also taken into consideration, was how the organizations would use the van when it was not engaged in disaster relief.
And the winners are:
Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans
- A warm meal can nourish the soul as well as the body during the stressful environment of a natural disaster and Second Harvest intends to use their Ford Transit to nourish as many victims and first responders as possible. The Transit will be equipped to reheat and serve meals. A serving window will be installed making the Transit an emergency food truck. When not in use on an emergency, the van will become a tool to fight food insecurity among children and seniors.
Empact Northwest, Kingston, Washington
- With a focus on swift water rescue, Empact Northwest is equipping their Transit with portable lighting, swift water and flood recue gear, emergency communications, and a towing package that will allow them to transport a rescue boat. When not engaged in an actual rescue, the Transit will be used in rescue training exercises involving multiple local first responder groups.
Mercy Chefs, Portsmouth, Virginia
- Distribution is Mercy Chef’s big challenge. The organization has an excellent reputation for establishing high volume kitchens overnight that provide meals for everyone affected by a disaster. But not everyone can make it to the kitchens. The Transit’s ability to access hard-to-reach areas and its huge cargo space makes it ideal as a meal delivery vehicle. The Portsmouth organization believes that the Transit will allow them to reach twice the number of victims as it can today. When there are no emergency demands, the van will be used to distribute meals from community kitchens.
Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN), Kansas City, Missouri
- Not surprisingly, the Salvation Army’s SATERN network wants to equip their Transit as an emergency communications van. Providing clear, timely, communications during a disaster is essential to effectively manage resources and coordinate efforts. The Transit is ideally suited to provide a communications platform. When not used as an emergency vehicle, the Salvation Army will provide communications support to other nonprofit organizations.
The idea of combining a high-capability vehicle like the Transit with the know-how of experts in disaster relief is just another example of Ford’s commitment to community involvement and improving mobility. There are now 7 specially equipped and designed Transit disaster relief vans in service across the country.
The Transits are not the first vehicles that Ford has donated as emergency response units. In the past five years Ford has provided 50 such vehicles. First responders appreciate specially designed vehicles, but Ford’s contribution doesn’t end there. Ford’s commitment to communities in need of response and recovery has included $5 million in funding and the mobilization of thousands of Ford volunteers.