Local company generates lots of help for Rita victims
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Outdoor Power Products employees David String, left, and Shelby Hodges, second from right, help load up generators, chainsaws and gas cans Tuesday afternoon which Jay Weeks, second from right, and Jay Spikes will take to Groves and Port Arthur to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Rita.  
Staff photo by Angela Pitts

Sept. 28, 2005 -- Sulphur Springs continues to play a significant role in recovery efforts following two disastrous hurricanes in the past month.

When Hurricane Rita hit the Texas Gulf Coast, one of the first things lost was electric power, and Outdoor Power Products of Sulphur Springs became one of the very few places people could find portable electric generators between the Gulf Coast and Oklahoma City.

�There were some people that were driving to Tennessee to pick generators up before they found us,� according to John Poskey with Outdoor Power Products. �We were the only store in the state that had them and was open on Sunday.�

Following a little rain and a lot of wind Saturday, the next day at Outdoor Power started out calm and routine, according to employee Rachel Anderson. Then the phone started ringing.

�We made a few phone calls, and it has been non-stop since then,� she said.�

When people from the areas around Lufkin and Jasper all the way to Port Arthur learned of the generators available here, they were on the road to Northeast Texas. Not only did people come from the storm-damaged area, but those who had left their homes in advance of the approaching storm and knew there would be no electricity available when they returned to their homes and were looking for the generators.

�People from every town down in there came up, picked up generators and what fuel cans we had,� Poskey said. �We were wiped out of fuel cans in no time.�

Following the initial run on the generators in stock, Poskey moved quickly and was able to have additional units shipped in to meet the needs in the devastated area.

At mid-morning Wednesday, the company, which sells and services small engine products, had two trucks loaded with the portable power plants and fuel cans on the road back into the affected area — their second trip in less than 24 hours.

�We have got two trucks down there right now. They got back at three o�clock this morning and pulled out again at nine,� Anderson said. �They are loaded with 50 generators each and going to Hemphill and Huntington ... they are not stopping.�

�Poskey said his company was attempting to fill the generators with gas before they left.

�There is no gas to be had when they get there,� Poskey said. �All the fuel cans are also being filled up so when they get down there, they are filled with fuel and ready to go when they come off the truck.�

For Rachel Anderson, the disaster hit close to home — literally. She is a native of that area, and many family members fled to her Sulphur Springs home to get away from the storm.

She said that she and her husband had already sent a load of non-perishable food items and other necessities to family members that chose to ride out the storm and protect what might be left of their homes.

She described the situation as “horrible.”

�It is scary right now,� Anderson said. �There are all kinds of people down there, and they are starting to react in the wrong way. They fight over generators, they fight over fuel, over food � it�s horrible.�

Poskey said he did not know how long he would continue to ship generator sets to the area, and said that some of the major stores there were starting to get shipments in. For one particular area, the local electric utility’s main generating plant was flooded and would take an extended amount of time to get back on line.

Older Archives

Looking for News-Telegram Sports and News Archives for January 2004 - November 2008