Fuel saves lives. Immediately following any major natural disaster, fuel is needed within the first minutes of a disaster, to allow for first responders and aid agencies to perform their critical life-saving functions in the midst of the chaos. Just like water, shelter, and food, fuel is one of the primary resources needed to ensure aid relief is delivered to people in need. This includes emergency medical, shelter, food, clean water, as well as to heat camps and cook food. Fuel is needed during all phases of a disaster, and Fuel Relief Fund exists to fill the crucial gap in the first phases of a disaster, saving lives and alleviating suffering.
Fuel Relief Fund (FRF), a 501c3 nonprofit based in the United States and the Netherlands, with a ten-year track record of deploying and successfully solving the emergency fuel needs in major disasters across the globe. FRF is comprised of teams of highly trained and specialized volunteers within the fuel industry and related sectors, responds to disasters around the world, utilizing specific expertise and fuel distribution resources to provide temporary fuel availability to disaster-stricken areas. FRF’s relationship with national and international petroleum companies grants the ability to access all types of fuel and secure its transport. Therefore, FRF is postured to deploy to major natural disasters effectively, efficiently and expeditiously. FRF is the only NGO in the world that provides this type of service globally.
FRF was established in 2005 with its rapid response to Hurricane Katrina, bringing tankers across states to fill the gap in fuel availability for aid agencies on the ground to get to victims and power temporary shelters and hospitals. Based on this experience, FRF developed a tested methodology accepted worldwide for providing fuel in the form of gasoline, diesel, heating oil, coal, and other energy sources needed after major natural disasters locally in California, countrywide in the United States, and globally.
Simply, board members agree within 24 hours to respond, and our team of highly skilled, trained volunteers then immediately deploys to the local area in need. They utilize cash reserves earmarked for that deployment, and once on the ground, they participate in meetings with humanitarian aid and governmental agencies to conduct triage and coordinate services, compile donations and funds for emergency fuel, and then identify and transport the best local fuel sources available. With the coordination of government, United Nations, and other international agencies, FRF prioritizes what type of fuel is most needed, for what purpose and to whom to deliver to first based on the greatest need.
FRF volunteers have responded to and been deployed to major disasters all over the world, for ten years. We have developed a reputation of being an outstanding, reliable first responder, based on our track record deploying to such mega-disasters as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina in the United States, the earthquakes in Haiti and Turkey, the great Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and most recently the Nepali Earthquake disaster in April 2015. Tens of thousands of gallons of diesel, coal for heat, and cooking fuel have been distributed to hundreds of thousands of people and more than 200 local agencies and NGOs that need fuel to ensure their services as well – including Doctors without Borders, FEMA, the Red Cross, and local water sanitation agencies.
The process has been so effective and is so necessary to help other first responders, government and local agencies to undertake disaster relief tasks that the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) extended a stand by partnership agreement to FRF in 2015 to be the first responder to disaster-related humanitarian crisis on the global scale. FRF’s founder, Ted Honcharik, had met the director of OCHA, Valerie Amos, at Typhoon Haiyan. Ms. Amos was on the scene in Nepal at the 2015 earthquake disaster, with a full analytics team and state of the art vehicles poised to travel to the disaster sites and form an assessment. But they were stranded, without fuel to move.
Valerie asked her Operations Director, “Is Ted coming?” “Yes,” he replied, “He’s already here.” Not only was he already there, but he had already identified the closest diesel source in Singapore, and he got it to OCHA within a day to move their trucks.
In the United States, FRF regularly works with FEMA, Red Cross, and other agencies to provide the same service domestically when natural disasters strike. When Superstorm Sandy hit, the team dispensed over 35,000 gallons of free fuel to thousands of disaster survivors and to a variety of emergency response vehicles in just two weeks.
Bill Lavin, an Elizabeth, New Jersey fire captain assisting Fuel Relief Fund in Hoboken, claimed: “I couldn’t help but noticing, there was a line for water 20 people long, a line for food 30 people deep, and then looked at the line for fuel which stretched 250 to 300 strong. Without fuel, not much else can get accomplished.”
 Valerie Amos was under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator (USG/ERC) from September 2010 to May 2015. The USG/ERC is responsible for the oversight of all emergencies requiring United Nations humanitarian assistance. S/he also acts as the central focal point for governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental relief activities.