Duracell Power Forward Helps Communities Rebuild and Recharge
Lighting the way
If you’re anything like us, you probably take electricity for granted. When that little red battery icon flashes on your phone, all it takes is a quick jaunt to the nearest wall outlet to restore your device. Unfortunately, after a natural disaster, a lack of access to reliable electricity hobbles those lines of communication, which are now more important than ever.
The Duracell Power Forward program, which since 2011 has provided free batteries and power to those impacted by natural disasters, proves Duracell knows how important communication can be following a storm, earthquake, flood, or landslide. Its recent initiative includes reaching more people, more quickly, by expanding its fleet of on-the-ground relief vehicles, joining up with The Weather Channel (to track storms for optimal fleet deployment), and reaffirming its commitment to Ready.gov (to spread the preparedness message). The goal? Reach any storm site in the continental United States within 24 hours to provide batteries, Wi-Fi, and mobile charging.
“Being in the battery business, we know all too well when a natural disaster strikes, power fails and communities aren't always prepared,” says Jeff Jarrett, marketing director for Duracell. “Duracell believes a little power goes a long way in reviving hope, so we have committed to expanding our fleet and relief efforts.”
The Power Forward fleet of custom-built Chevrolet light- and medium-duty trucks is equipped with lockable charging stations, Wi-Fi, and Internet-enabled computers—all ready to serve the residents of a displaced community free of charge (no pun intended).
The largest of the trucks is the Manchester, New Hampshire–based Chevrolet Kodiak 4500 “Community Center,” which tows a large trailer. Primarily designed for the Northeast’s crippling snowstorms and hurricanes, the Kodiak’s trailer is equipped with 32 charging lockers, four on-board computer stations, two generators, and a Wi-Fi hotspot to help maintain contact with loved ones. Additionally, a climate-controlled community lounge gives families a place to safely gather, while four televisions can play weather, news, sports, and children’s movies, helping provide a sense of normalcy in a time of trial.
Joining the Kodiak in Manchester is a dualie Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD “Heavy Hauler.” The truck’s utility bed features enough charging stations to provide power to 60 cell phones simultaneously, while a bed-mounted TV provides weather information and on-board Wi-Fi helps citizens connect. Additionally, a 20-amp inverter driven by four deep-cell batteries can provide up to 500 hours of emergency power without needing recharging. Obviously, the Heavy Hauler is a power source, but since it’s equipped with a heavy-duty brushguard, winch, 4-inch suspension lift, and 10,000-pound towing capacity, it can also be used to free stranded vehicles, clear fallen trees, and haul away rubble and debris. The Heavy Hauler also has a twin located in San Francisco, used primarily in the event of the region’s all-too-common earthquakes, floods, and mudslides.
The Silverado 2500HD “Rapid Responder” combines many of the same features in a lighter-duty package, featuring charging stations, secure charging lockers, Wi-Fi, three computer stations, and emergency tools. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, the Rapid Responder primarily operates following tornadoes and floods, using a 1.5-inch lift, brushguard, and winch to clear a safe path through affected communities.
Also serving the Midwest and South is the New Orleans–based “Rugged Responder,” a massive, lifted Silverado 3500HD dualie. A Fab Fours set of bumpers, 6-inch Skyjacker lift, and 37-inch Toyo tires provide all the ruggedness needed for the hurricane, tornado, and flood conditions. Most notably, additional door sealing and a high-mounted snorkel enable the Rugged Responder to ford water nearly 5 feet deep. Those capabilities give the truck access to even the most remote, cut-off communities, where people will surely appreciate more charging stations, Wi-Fi, and an outdoor television display. Recovery tools, storage boxes, and a custom ARE cap provide additional utility.
All the Power Forward trucks are painted in Duracell’s signature paint scheme. In fact, from afar, the Kodiak’s trailer looks a lot like a gigantic D-cell battery. The trucks stand out, which likely helps residents of affected communities find them. In the past, the fleet has made its way to the California Bay Area; North Carolina; Monroe, Louisiana; Oso, Washington; and many other locations, providing free batteries and the aforementioned connectivity to those impacted by the natural disasters.
There’s nothing more unsettling in a crisis than the feeling of isolation and worry that comes when power outages disrupt communication and cause safety hazards. With the Duracell fleet, the company hopes to mitigate that stress. Its motto says it all: “Ready. Relief. Restore.” So if you ever find yourself in such a situation, keep your eyes open for the Copper Top trucks to help you Power Forward.