Employees of Goddard Enterprises Ltd. (GEL) around the region have pulled out all the stops to assist colleagues and others in the Caribbean who have been hit by the passage of recent hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“I really want to commend the staff because though many of them had personal damage to their homes and property, they went out to work from the day after Hurricane Irma and have been selflessly preparing meals for those displaced and in shelters, as well as for the relief workers in those countries that were hardest hit like St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Barbuda” explained Anthony Ali CEO and Managing Director of GEL. “The company’s experience in airline and industrial catering has come to the fore because we have been preparing meals in Antigua where our kitchen received minimal damage for victims in shelters, people displaced, and for relief workers who are assisting those that have been impacted by the hurricane to ensure that people had something to eat in those critical first days,” he added. The company’s flight kitchen facilities in St. Maarten and St. Thomas were both extensively damaged but even in this case, staff was eventually able to get back to the operations, make temporary repairs and immediately started preparing meals to support victims locally.
Mr. Ali expressed admiration for the many unsung heroes of Goddard Enterprises Ltd. that he has seen during and after the disaster, most of whom went above and beyond the call of duty when the company arranged for three container loads of relief supplies to be sourced, packed and shipped on the first available sailing. “On the Saturday immediately following the passage of Irma, a team from across the region in Antigua, Barbados, and Trinidad immediately started working through the weekend to source and coordinate with carriers to get the much needed supplies out. Some employees had to work into the night, to get the paperwork ready so that there would be no delay at the ports of entry when the supplies arrived.
In addition, the Antigua kitchen facility was able to send, by helicopter, an initial supply of non-perishable goods and water to its sister company in St. Maarten for their immediate relief until the containers arrived in Antigua.
Arrangements were made with Tropical Shipping who transported the containers from both Barbados and Trinidad where the non-perishable food items were sourced through Caribbean Distribution Partners (CDP) – a GEL joint venture partner company with the Agostini Group based in Trinidad. The company worked closely with Blue Waters in Trinidad to source a 40 foot container filled with cases of water to go with that first shipment to Antigua. The National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) in Antigua was contacted and worked with the Regional Manager of Goddard Catering Operations for the Caribbean – Pedro Corbin, and together they are coordinating the arrival and clearance for the distribution by NODS.
Then, following the passage of Maria and its devastation of Dominica, the relief effort was replicated to send containers of items from Grenada involving GEL subsidiary Hubbards and CDP subsidiary Independence Agency. Again with the assistance of Tropical Shipping, relief was able to be immediately sent by diverting a ship making a regular call to Grenada to Dominica to get relief there as quickly as possible.
After the initial need for food had been organised, they turned attention to shelter and rehabilitation of the people of St. Maarten and St. Thomas. Generators, tarpaulins, rope, gas stoves, flashlights, batteries, plywood and other humanitarian supplies have been sent out of Miami to help people get their lives back together. In addition to their own efforts, the Goddard Catering Group (GCG) Miami team also mobilised support from their suppliers including Dade Paper Co. and Sysco Food Services as well as a drive by Pembroke Pines Charter Middle School which donated 15 pallets of supplies to the effort. In addition, GCG customers Delta Airlines, Jet Blue Airlines and Spirit Airlines donated and flew free of cost relief supplies to assist GEL employees in St Thomas.
GEL is in the process of mounting a drive for ongoing relief from its companies and staff as the Group is aware that the need for the victims of both hurricanes will go far beyond these first few weeks and month.
Speaking proudly of the attitude of the teams and subsidiaries across the region Mr. Ali said “We never stopped to ask “should we?” but instead asked “How do we?”.