Bailey Coach collects supplies for Hurricane Florence relief

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

A local bus company will provide transportation and emergency supplies to residents of Virginia and North and South Carolina as the states prepare for a direct hit from Hurricane Florence.

Bailey Coach bus service in West Manchester Township collected nearly three busloads of donated supplies on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at the Bailey Coach facility, 55 S. Fayette St. Items had to be dropped off before noon Tuesday in order to be included.

John Bailey, president of the company, said it renewed his faith in humanity to see the community's response. About 60 people contributed donations, and Bailey said he thought the drive was a success.

More:Forecasters: Pennsylvania could see Florence impact early next week

More:Surge, wind, rain, floods: Hurricane Florence could hit hard

When Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast in August 2017, Bailey sent three buses and 11 tractor-trailers filled with supplies to San Antonio, Texas.

"The response from the people was just incredible," he said of last year's supply drive.

Bailey asked for a specific list of new, unopened items: nonperishable foods, cases of bottled water and Gatorade, feminine hygiene products, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, razors, adult and baby diapers, baby wipes, baby food, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. The company did not accept clothing, shoes, blankets, sheets or towels.

FEMA contract: Bailey Coach is an affiliate of Trailways bus service, which has a contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide emergency transportation in disaster situations. That is the primary reason Bailey is sending the buses, but he didn't want to pass up the opportunity to send important relief items, too, he said.

"I hate running the equipment down there empty," he said.

Bailey planned to send three 55-passenger coach buses, one of which is wheelchair-accessible, and two 15-passenger vans.

Late on Monday, Sept. 10, he received an extra request from FEMA to send two empty buses to Richmond, Virginia. Those buses arrived in Richmond about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11.

The remaining Bailey vehicles planned to meet up with three buses from Wolf Bus Lines in York Springs, Adams County, and then travel south as a caravan. Three other companies from central and eastern Pennsylvania were slated to send their own buses to help out at Bailey's request.

The drivers were on standby Tuesday afternoon, waiting for the signal from FEMA to hit the road.

After the Bailey Coach drivers drop off their supplies, FEMA will direct them to transport people out of harm's way before the storm arrives. The buses and vans can even take people to hospitals or shelters if that's where they need to go, Bailey said.

Bailey collect supplies for Florence

Florence: The National Hurricane Center reported at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, that Hurricane Florence remained a Category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. In the same update, NHC forecasters said the storm was becoming more organized and increasing in size.

The storm is projected to make landfall in North Carolina early Friday morning.

The potential impact of Hurricane Florence on York County is yet to be determined.

Local emergency services are still busy assessing damage from storms and flooding on Aug. 31, and they likely won't get a break if Florence makes an appearance in Pennsylvania.

"I still don’t think this community realizes what happened last week," said Mark Walters, York County spokesman, adding that it's difficult to grasp the magnitude of the damage without seeing it in person.

Accomac Road in Hellam Township collapsed on Sunday, Sept. 9, and several other roads are still closed because of flooding.

Response: Walters said officials are already preparing to respond if the coastal storm brings damaging weather to the area. He urged people not to drive through flooded roadways and to stay as informed as possible through news outlets.

Walters also recommended residents download the FEMA app on their smartphones to receive important alerts and updates.

Mike Crochunis, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, said the agency will continue to monitor flood-prone areas, particularly near the Codorus and Conewago creeks.

Crochunis said PennDOT will be cleaning out drainage ditches and clearing debris continuously through the weekend in order to mitigate potential flooding.