As Hurricane Matthew swept across much of the southeastern U.S. coastal regions, many communities were left in the dark. Duracell’s fleet of response trucks were out in force helping power the recovery efforts.
An initiative which began in 2011, the Duracell PowerForward program has seen its fleet of trucks dispatched to over 32 severe weather incidents, handing out well over half-a-million batteries and recharging over 7,800 mobile devices.
Earlier this week, two of the trucks from the PowerForward fleet began making their way to communities affected by Hurricane Matthew. Starting in South Carolina, the trucks have made it to Savannah, Georgia, and are continuing south to Florida.
The fleet is made up of five trucks which are stationed across the United States, with the goal of reaching any affected location within 24 hours. Each truck is specifically kitted to traverse rough terrain, outfitted to carry thousands of batteries, and equipped with mobile charging stations.
In 2013 working with the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, the Canadian Volunteer Fire Services Association, and local Canadian Fire Services, Duracell’s PowerForward team assisted in the Alberta flood recovery efforts. This marked the first time the fleet responded to a disaster outside of the U.S.
One of the two 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD's - known as the Heavy Haulers - have been deployed to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. The trucks have been heavily customized by Duracell with aftermarket equipment and expertise from specialty shops allowing them to be on the front line with emergency responders without being a hindrance.
The Heavy Haulers feature 6.6-litre Duramax turbo diesel V8s capable of towing up to 10,000 pounds while heavy duty winches allow for up to 16,000 pounds of winching. Outfitted with 227-litre auxiliary fuel tanks, the trucks are capable of over 1,000 kilometres between fill-ups.
These two trucks also come equipped with 24 charging stations capable of simultaneously recharging 60 cell phones. Four independent 20-amp inverter-driven deep cell batteries are capable of supplying up to 500 hours of power without recharge in emergency situations.
Four-inch lift kits and 33-inch rock climbing tires give the trucks massive ground clearance, helping these trucks stay mobile in rough and unpredictable terrain. When not on duty, one of the Heavy Haulers is stationed in Manchester, New Hampshire, while the other is in San Francisco, California.
Duracell's PowerForward fleet also includes a Chevy Silverado 2500HD dually called the Rugged Responder based out of New Orleans, Louisiana which is currently on deployment visiting communities affected by the hurricane.
The truck is lifted 152 mm (six inches) and fitted with a snorkel for traversing water up to 1.5 metres (about 5 feet). Like the rest of the fleet, it features the capability to simultaneously recharge dozens of phones, is a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot and is capable of carrying thousands of batteries.
There's another four-wheel drive Chevy 2500HD on fleet known as the Rapid Responder. The pickup truck sits on a lift kit to accommodate larger wheels and tires and features an aluminum cap with a two drawer vault and custom roof boxes. It’s also equipped with three on-board computer stations for people to use to keep in touch with friends and family. The Rapid Responder is stationed in St. Louis, Missouri.
And finally, there’s the massive Chevy Kodiak C4500 truck pulling a 42-foot trailer known as the Comm Center, based out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
When not on-call, the trucks are used by Duracell for various disaster preparedness events across North America.