Transporting supplies to aid Texas storm victims comes natural to retired army medic

Robert Burns III made many stops to gather donations from multiple communities in an effort to help victims of the winter storm in Texas.

 

If given the opportunity, Robert Burns III would more than likely head out to help others following a disaster.

As an Army combat medic, Burns is used to helping others as he did in the Iraq War.

After the historic winter storm that hit Texas in February, Burns set out to help a few people.

“People were literally dying in their homes,” he said.

The storm killed more than 50 people, many from hypothermia, and knocked out electrical power to millions of homes and businesses.

Temperatures plunged into subfreezing, and the electrical infrastructure was not able to handle the emergency.

Residents of Brevard County and other communities along the route were willing to help with donations.

Burns was soon overwhelmed but pleased with the support he received from friends, neighbors and strangers in Viera, elsewhere in Brevard and along his route.

After he collected items for people he knew in San Antonio, he found that it would be difficult to ship the items. He decided instead to rent a 26-foot Penske box truck and try to fill it with donated items that would help many in the devastated area.

“It just made more sense taking it there,” said the Viera resident who served 18 years in the Army before being medically retired after injuries in Iraq. “The need was so desperate.”

Burns parked the truck near a Walmart store in Viera, and shoppers donated items. He loaded about 2,000 feet of copper and PVC pipe, about 20,000 bottles of water, diapers, baby formula, pet food, underwear, socks and many other items, then embarked on what turned out to be about a 30-hour trip.

“I loaded the truck, literally, by myself,” he said.

Many who could not help with the physical work donated money, so Burns stopped at Walmart stores along the way and bought more items.

“Everybody felt like they were a part of it,” he said.

Penske managers heard of his effort to help storm victims and refunded the cost of the truck rental.

Burns was pleased to help others.

"It was definetly hard work" he said. "I would turn around and do it again if I needed to."