As residents of Hawaii brace for the potential landfall of Hurricane Lane, the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) today asked supply chain professionals who are not located in the path of the storm to be ready to help by donating transportation, space, services, and equipment.
Heavy rain began falling Wednesday on the state's southernmost region, the Big Island, causing flooding and landslides and prompting officials to close highways. The storm is moving slowly through the Pacific and is forecast to pass close to land by Friday and Saturday, triggering torrential rain, high winds, and heavy surf conditions, according to the U.S. National Weather Service.
Hurricanes rarely strike Hawaii, but the impact on the state's transportation and logistics infrastructure could be extensive. Twelve months ago, hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey tore through a half-dozen U.S. Southeast states and Caribbean islands, causing billions of dollars of damage and destruction.
As a powerful, Class Four storm, Hurricane Lane also has the potential to be a powerful and damaging event, according to Kathy Fulton, ALAN's executive director. In response, the group has created a Hurricane Lane web page that acts as a single hub where organizations can view and offer support for urgent logistics needs, monitor the path of the storm, and get updates about road, port, and other area conditions, Fulton said.
Recovery workers won't know exactly what kinds of logistics support will be needed until after Lane hits, but ALAN says logistics professionals can begin to help now by pre-offering equipment, space or services and by sharing the website link with other logistics professionals and businesses that might be interested in helping.
"This site will help us relay important safety messages and get the word out about Lane-related needs more quickly," Fulton said in a statement. "Few things are more challenging than figuring out how to get critical items like food, water, medicine and temporary shelter to impacted areas immediately after disasters strike—which is exactly what ALAN and its members are here to do."
Emergency officials in the state have not yet made any requests for support, according to ALAN, which is in touch with groups such as the Hawai'i Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and the Hawai'i Emergency Management Agency. However, that pattern is typical in disaster response and does not imply that the storm will be weak, ALAN warned. In previous years, most of the group's requests have come several days or weeks after hurricanes have hit.
In the meantime, businesses in the path of the storm that handle critical commodities such as food, pharmaceuticals, or hydration should stay in close touch with authorities and participate in ALAN's supply chain situational awareness calls, the group said.
"Information on supply chain disruption is often essential for emergency management decision-makers to have as they put recovery plans in place," Fulton said in a statement. "So if any of your area facilities or delivery services could be closed as a result of the storm, contact us at ops@ALANAid.org to discuss how and where that information can be securely communicated."
Supply chain managers and business leaders can also prepare by applying lessons learned from last year's hurricanes, according to PLS Logistics Services, a logistics management service provider in Cranberry Township, Pa.
To provide the best chance of a quick recovery in case of disaster, companies should implement business continuity plans with a weather-related risk management approach, PLS said in a recent blog post. Effective plans should include worst-case and what-if scenarios for high-risk areas, an emergency plan that includes alternative routes and production plans outside affected facilities, and coordination between supply chain partners both inside and outside your organization, the firm said.
Companies can also prepare for natural disasters by developing a list of additional suppliers, transportation providers, and warehousing options to implement as a back up plan, according to PLS.
Ideally, the storm will pass the islands far enough away to mitigate serious damage, and these plans will never be deployed, Fulton said. But it's always best to be prepared. "Over the years we've seen some potentially catastrophic hurricanes that have turned into relatively minor events while others have morphed into far more major events than originally anticipated," she said. "Obviously, we hope Lane will turn out to be the former. However if it isn't, we want people to remember that we are here to help—and that when it comes to these storms, there's no such thing as too ready."