Kevin Burch grew up in Flint, Mich.,, so it's only natural that he would start a campaign to get trucking companies involved in providing bottled water to the city whose water has been poisoned by dangerous levels of lead.
Burch is president of Jet Express, a Dayton, Ohio-based regional truckload carrier (about 250 miles south of Flint). After the first full day of the project, announced Jan. 26, they already had collected 20,000 bottles of water, enough to fill nearly half of a semi trailer.
“We have a full load 40,000 bottles headed to Flint for Monday delivery with a direct movement from a donation from Barry Pottle… with Pottles Transportation in Bangor [Maine], who teamed up with Nestles who donated all the water,” Burch said in an email Tuesday evening.
Nestle earlier this week announced that a joint effort between Nestle, Walmart, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo, will collectively donate water to meet the daily needs of over 10,000 school children for the balance of the calendar year. That translates to 176 truckloads, or up to 6.5 million bottles of water, to help with relief efforts for those affected by the water crisis in Flint.
Meanwhile, back in Dayton, “We are just starting to work out a program with the City of Dayton, Dayton Chamber, other trucking companies, and naturally one case at a time from the motoring public,” Burch said.
Other companies, including Dayton Freight Lines, Englewood Trucking and truck dealer Rush International, also have joined the effort, as well as several owner-operators who have agreed to donate their trucks and time.
Burch has long advocated that trucking companies cultivate a good relationship with their local media (and was honored as an HDT Truck Fleet Innovator for those efforts). “The media, both print and TV, have been great in informing the public just what truckers due in cases such as this tragedy in Flint,” he says.
Two years ago, Flint switched its water supply from Lake Huron to the nearby Flint River. Polluted water from the river has eroded the city’s old iron main pipes, causing lead to leach from the pipes into the water. The water coming from the tanks cannot be safely used; it’s especially dangerous to children, who are more susceptible to lead poisoning.