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Hurricane Season Prep

July 12, 2022 by Keith Jaco
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Preparing for hurricane season is quite possibly one of the most looked past forms of prep in the world of logistics. Knowing and planning the first steps following the prediction and eventual landfall of a hurricane can save businesses time and money. Hurricane season for the Atlantic Coast and Gulf Coast runs from June 1st through October 31st with heightened chances from early August through the end of October. Everyone has heard the phrase “better safe than sorry,” and this couldn’t ring more true when discussing the possibility of a potentially devastating hurricane interrupting your supply chain.

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How the Supply Chain is Impacted by Hurricane Season

It is no secret that freight trucking is the most dominant form of transportation today. In 2015, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported that the total value of shipments in the United States toppled over $19 trillion with an overwhelming majority of those shipments coming by way of freight trucks. With the importance and dependence the U.S. has on freight trucking, it is important to prepare for the worst once hurricane season rolls around.

Hurricanes bring a plethora of potential roadblocks, including heavy rain, dangerously gusty winds, flooding and limited road visibility. Impassable roadways can lead to stranded trucks and drivers, which can also lead to loss of cargo and extended delivery delays. Unfortunately, catastrophic flooding can and will happen when hurricanes are present.

In 2011, Hurricane Irene devastated the state of Vermont as catastrophic flooding decimated the northeast, resulting in $6.5 billion in total losses in the U.S. And in 2017, Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on southeast Texas, pouring down 35″-60″ of rain over five days, leading to a week-long closure of one of the busiest ports in the nation, the Port of Houston. When disasters like these hit, logistics companies feel the affects as each shipment that suffers a delay can lead to hundreds and thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

How to Prepare for Hurricane Season

Freight shipping via freight truck is dependent on clear roadways and clear weather forecasts. With increased chances of devastating storms due to hurricane season, it is extremely important to keep a watchful eye on incoming weather systems. The best way to stay alert and be prepared for incoming storms is to set up a forecasting alert system. The National Weather Service (NWS) issues severe weather warnings by using any of their 122 Weather Forecast Offices. There a number of mediums that deliver these warnings on behalf of the NWS but the most effective form of alerts come via mobile phone or weather radio.The full list includes:

Increasing Inventory

Another part of storm preparation should include increasing inventory during hurricane season. If you are in the business of manufacturing goods that are often sought after following the landfall of a devastating hurricane, you should prepare for increased needs. Materials such as wood, non-perishable food items, water, metals and safety equipment will all likely see an increased demand during these times. In addition to increasing inventory, supply chain managers should run monthly resiliency checks to ensure their slated inventory meets all needs, including under emergency situations.

Explore Alternative Routes and Use a Diverse Set of Carriers

When a hurricane hits, the possibility for flooding is at an all-time high. Flooding can restrict normal routes for carriers, leading to delays and possible loss of cargo. When preparing for hurricane season, logistics companies should explore the use of alternative routes as well as a wider range of possible carriers. The use of alternative routes can help keep the flow of goods moving in otherwise unaffected areas. Implementing a diverse group of carriers can also ensure you are able to resume business in and around areas that have been hit by a hurricane or tropical storm.

How Emergency Managers Should Prepare for Hurricane Season

While preparing your family and company for the possibility of an incoming hurricane, it is also important to ensure your neighbors and fellow community members are prepared for whats to come. Designated emergency managers are in place in communities across the Gulf and Atlantic coasts in the event of a hurricane. Along with the help of federal partners such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Hurricane Center and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, emergency managers help implement and distribute hurricane preparedness training, response and evacuation planning, and operational decision support.

Training for these officials includes teaching when and when not to order evacuations and close schools, how to prepare for torrential flooding, storm surges and hurricane-force winds. The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) provides resources for those interested in becoming an emergency manager or seeking emergency management practices. The implementation of a well-rounded, attentive emergency manager can be the difference between life and death for many coastal communities each hurricane season.

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How Supply Chains Can Be Disrupted During Hurricane Season

Supply chains are the backbone of any well-functioning society. Supply and demand is the basis of business in the United States and across the world, and when one side lacks, this disruption can plague millions of people almost instantly. When devastation strikes, especially in the form of a tropical storm or hurricane, supply chains must be well equipped to stomach the damages and pickup the pieces, while ensuring the infrastructure is sound enough to rise to any occasion. Oftentimes when areas experience destruction from these storms, supply chains will become overwhelmed with demand for a variety of items, leading carriers and other logistic companies to shift their focus towards the tragedy, taking priority away from their every day services. This can cause a ripple effect which can halt production of certain items or even create a higher demand, leading to possible scarcity.

How Emergency Managers Can Weather the Storm with Supply Chains

One way emergency managers can impact their community before and after a hurricane hits is to create close contact with local supply chains to ensure readiness and resiliency. It is crucially important for emergency managers to collaborate with local supply chains to ensure critical goods and services will be available in the event of a hurricane. Becoming involved and understanding preexisting networks, vulnerabilities and threats help emergency managers interact with supply chain managers to support and improve supply chain resilience and post-incident restoration.

It is important for emergency managers to develop a strong understanding of the supply chain and distribution networks as well as the legal constraints which can impact them. There are a variety of components that can hinder the implementation of supply chain resilience. Labeling these concerns ahead of time and tackling them head on before a storm hits can ensure resiliency in the face of tragedy. A few of these attributes include:

  • Just-in-time inventory practices
  • Communication networks
  • Facilities
  • People
  • A diverse risk landscape
  • Industry consolidation into a small set of large suppliers

Hurricane Season’s Further Disruption of Fragile Supply Chain

Following nearly three years of balancing a worldwide pandemic with regular supply chain demands, the potential for a busy hurricane season has many on edge. We are already seeing a rise at the gas pumps as the Russia-Ukraine war has seen oil prices soar, leading to unleaded gas prices skyrocketing above $5.00/gallon. And with the chance of a wide margin of hurricanes on the horizon for August-October, it is now more important than ever to establish an Emergency Supply Chain (ESC), as well as prepare for a depleted fleet of freight transportation.

Trucking companies will have the chance to bid on FEMA contracts as early as 1-2 weeks before a hurricane hits. Pair that with the permanent closure of restaurant and meat plants across the nation as a result of COVID-19, and you’ve got quite the puzzle to piece together when it comes to achieving supply chain resiliency. All of these outside factors are part of a collective reasoning for establishing preparedness and readiness for this year, and every year’s hurricane season.

Prepare for Hurricane Season Now with FreightCenter

Here at FreightCenter, we’ve been operating in the great state of Florida for over 20 years, dealing with our fair share of hurricanes during this time. We have the resources and experience you need to wade through the tricky waters of hurricane season. Our team of trusted and industry intelligent shipping agents can help assist with any and all shipping needs you may have this time of year. Log on now to run a free online quote or give us a call at 8007167608.

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