In response to the devastation wreck by Hurricane Ida, Georgia Coach Lines recently led a disaster relief convoy to bring needed supplies to communities in southern Louisiana ravaged by the natural disaster.
The crucial relief effort isn’t the first and won’t be the last for Clarence E. Cox III, owner of the multi-generational Georgia Coach Lines. He’s part of the Convoy of Care partnership that began in 2016 to bring help residents of Baton Rouge, Louisiana in the wake of historic flooding.
The partners include law enforcement, the trucking industry and the nonprofit organization Caring for Others, an organization Cox co-founded.
Cox says this relief work feels like a calling. Despite juggling the demands of his business with advocating for more CERTS funds and his new role with the African American Motorcoach Council, Cox knew he needed to set aside his business and focus on others in need.
“I wanted to take time to go out there and try to do this because I felt like it was needed. I also felt like people need to know that the motorcoach industry is involved in this because while we’ve got problems like everybody else, at the end of the day we don’t mind taking time to help other folks,” Cox said.
Before taking over the family-owned operation in 2017 from his father and uncle, Cox had a distinguished career in law enforcement. He served as president for the National Organization for Black Law Enforcement Officers (NOBLE) from 2017-18.
NOBLE played a key role in the success of the operation.
“It works good because NOBLE has law enforcement guys on the ground already. They can give us real-time information,” said Cox told Atlanta news station, WSBTV, which was a part of the effort.
Cox provided one of his motorcoaches for the trip to bring along volunteers to help unload and distribute the donations. Police and sheriff departments in Georgia provided escorts for the convoy to the Louisiana border.
“We’ve got a wonderful relationship with the Georgia Motor Trucking Association. They have companies in their association that donate the trucks and the drivers. Our heaviest lift is finding the volunteers and getting the stuff collected and packed up, but the trucks are free. For the last six years, the trucking association has played a significant role.”
Answering prayers for help
While the last 18 months have been financially tough for Cox’s Atlanta business, doing one of these deliveries never fails to remind him how blessed his life is.
“Even though I’m in need, I’m recognizing there are other people in worse shape than me. That’s the energy that keeps me doing this,” Cox said. “You see folks who are really hurting. They burst out in tears and hug you when they see you coming to help. On this recent trip, one lady was actually sleeping in the place that we use for distribution because she had no place else to go. She lost everything she had.”
In addition to the two long days of driving and delivery. Cox spent two days collecting donations in Atlanta, and then sorting and loading them into trucks. At the collection site, he cooked up a meal of barbecue chicken, brats, and ribs for the volunteer workers. The convoy delivered eight tractor-trailers loaded with much need supplies.
“I feel like God moves me to provide some of that help for those people who are really having faith and believing in God. I’m just a vessel for God. I’m just trying to motivate other people to participate. And so far, we’ve done a great job of that. There’s a bunch of people involved.”