MOREHEAD CITY — A North Carolina seafood industry nonprofit has reached out to help Gulf of Mexico fishermen affected by recent tropical weather.
The N.C. Fisheries Association, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the state seafood industry, announced in a press release Tuesday it recently sent several pallets of seafood and bulk ice to Louisiana to assist in relief efforts from Hurricane Laura, which made landfall in that state in late August.
In an email to the NCFA from Louisiana Fine Food Companies President and CEO Jim Gossen, Mr. Gossen thanked the association and its partners for their assistance.
“Thanks for everything your fishermen have done to help us here,” Mr. Gossen said. “Make sure you let them know how much help they’ve been on the western side of the state (of Louisiana).”
Laura isn’t the only storm to have battered the area this year. The Gulf Coast was hit again this week as Hurricane Sally made landfall in Alabama early Wednesday as a category 2 storm.
NCFA Government Affairs Director Jerry Schill told the News-Times Tuesday the organization has helped with hurricane relief in the past, but not in an organized way. He said previous relief efforts have involved seafood processors sending bulk ice to areas without power.
“It is always in huge demand when power is out,” Mr. Schill said. “It’s natural for most of us to want to do something, but we seldom do. It takes somebody to start the effort, and in this case it was Doug Cross of Pamlico Packing.”
According to the NCFA release, Mr. Cross called NCFA Executive Director Glenn Skinner and suggested the organization get involved with the relief effort.
“(Mr.) Skinner agreed and said if (Mr.) Cross would take care of assembling the seafood, NCFA would take care of the logistics of getting it to Louisiana,” the release said.
Mr. Schill said once the relief effort got started, it involved “lots and lots of phone calls, texts and emails.”
“This highlights the importance of having the infrastructure in place to be able to do this,” he said. “Further, it shows that we need to work on a plan with all the contacts in place for future events. That includes seafood and other needed materials, transportation and relief agencies. Let’s face it, right now the gulf is being hammered, but it will be our turn, again, in the Atlantic.”
Armistead Perry of Evans Seafood in Washington volunteered his facility for staging, and Ross Butler of Wanchese Fish Co. and True North Seafood offered the use of one of its refrigerated tractor-trailers and a driver to get the contents to its destination. They also supplied the pallets of bulk ice for the effort.
Charlie Hohorst of Acadiana Cold Storage in Lafayette, La., offered the use of his location to accept and store the donations from North Carolina. The Gulf Seafood Foundation’s Helping Hands project will coordinate the deliveries.
True North driver Lakeisha Williamson arrived at Evans Seafood Sunday, and the truck was loaded with the seafood and some cleaning supplies. The bulk ice was on the truck from Wanchese Fish Co. and arrived in Lafayette Tuesday.
The seafood and ice will be picked up by various relief sites this week to be used to feed storm victims and relief workers. The ice will be used for coolers to keep food cold for residents in the affected areas until power is restored.
Assisting Mr. Cross was Meade Amory of Amory Seafood, who coordinated donations from Virginia. Mr. Schill said Ewell Smith of the Carolina Loggers Association was also a key contact for the relief effort.
“I met him years ago,” Mr. Schill said, “when he was associated with the seafood industry in the gulf.”
Mr. Schill said a “media guy” in Cary who works with the Gulf Fisheries Foundation also took part in the relief effort.
“It’s a network that needs to be established,” he said, “and we’re working on it.”
Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email email@example.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.