Milky Way driver Mike Szabo delivers water.

Lynden companies lend a hand

Oct. 13, 2021
LTI, Inc.’s Milky Way fleet delivers water in drought-stricken Oregon, while Lynden Air Cargo mobilizes to support Haitians hit by earthquake

Oregon was so hot in August that wells ran dry. In the same month, thousands of miles to the southeast, a magnitude-7.2 earthquake devastated Haiti.

Washington state-based Lynden companies responded to both crises.

LTI, Inc., and its Milky Way fleet helped deliver water in Oregon, and Lynden Air Cargo quickly mobilized people and equipment to help Haitians.

“Like many states, Oregon has been suffering from drought conditions this summer,” said John Bailey, LTI, Inc., operations manager in Klamath Falls, Ore. “When I first talked to the Oregon emergency management team about this project in late July, there were 55 dry wells. That quickly increased to 187 and numbers continued to climb.”

The state reached out to LTI, Inc./Milky Way to see if its tankers could haul water, instead of milk, to stranded residents. Oregon’s Bootleg Fire was in full swing and water tenders were scarce. Bailey, regional manager Greg Tolle, and Lynden leaders came up with a viable plan and moved forward to meet the state’s needs.

A milk tanker is not set up to pump water, so alterations were needed to make the deliveries. “On Day 1, it took two drivers, one to run the pump and the other to hold the end of the hose so it wouldn’t come flying out of the tank,” Bailey explained. “On the second day, we built a 2-inch PVC fitting that slips into the tanks, making it a one-man job.

“That worked so well another water hauler copied us.”

Bailey says he was surprised at the overwhelming support from residents when they first saw the Milky Way tankers pulling down their streets. “Driving a 6,700-gallon milk tanker on city streets can be challenging. In some instances, we had to ask neighbors if it was ok to back into their driveway to get turned around.” Each day, the Oregon state watermaster emails a list of homes needing water to LTI, Inc., and the delivery route is built from that information.

Lynden said its team will continue to serve Oregon residents through October.

Helping Haiti

A half a world away, an earthquake struck Haiti on Aug. 14, leaving thousands dead and many injured. Haiti is still dealing with the fallout from an earthquake in 2010 that killed an estimated 300,000 people. As it did in 2010, Lynden Air Cargo began flying relief missions immediately.

“Our first three flights were assisting with the movement of a search and rescue team’s gear from Washington, D.C., to Port-au-Prince in Haiti,” explained Dan Marshall, Lynden Air Cargo charter manager.

“We have also flown two supply missions from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Port-au-Prince. Authorities that grant landing permits switch from one day to the next, which adds to the confusion on the ground, however the Lynden team persevered and operated all flights very close to the originally scheduled date and times.”

The two crews flying to Haiti include: Capts. Brent Ellender and Chris Nichols, flight officers Random Dudley and Guillaume Saget, flight engineers John McClellan and Cliff Ayers, loadmasters Ron Pine and Kevin Boyles, and mechanics Bill Hamilton and Jim Brookshire.

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BT staff