Keep up with the storm
With hurricane season in full swing across the nation, destructive storms have been sweeping across communities from Hawaii to the U.S. east coast, and the charitable disaster recovery organization the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) said today it is mobilizing volunteers to help. ALAN is reaching out to businesses and coordinating their offers to volunteer services such as warehousing, transportation, and logistics expertise that supplement non-profit organizations' capabilities to supply critical items like food, water, and medical aid to disaster survivors.
Just three weeks after helping residents of Hawaii recover from Hurricane Lane, ALAN is back in action in the southeastern and mid-Atlantic U.S. as the region braces for the landfall of Hurricane Florence, a whopping, Category 4 storm that may make landfall on Thursday. Some coastal areas of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia are already under evacuation orders as residents prepare for hurricane-force winds, violent storm surges, and sustained heavy rain.
To keep residents, businesses, and volunteers informed, ALAN has created a website dedicated to Hurricane Florence, that will help organizations to monitor the storm's path, view recent alerts, and get updates on transportation and supply chain conditions in impacted areas, the group said.
As of Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Hurricane Center was warning that Florence is getting better organized and increasing in size, brewing up a possible life-threatening storm surge along the coasts of South Carolina and North Carolina, with inland flooding to follow.
Florence is currently forecast to reach land by Thursday, dropping up to 25 inches of rain that could fuel flash flooding as it slows down after approaching the coast and moving inland. And even as it stirs through the waters off the east coast, it is being trailed by two younger storms, Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac.
As Florence nears land, regional logistics providers are already activating disaster plans. Eastern railroad CSX Corp. said today it had advised all customers that any shipments traveling through the I-95 corridor will experience delays.
In a statement, Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX said it had activated its Hurricane Action Plan and that several of its regional operating departments are now making tactical plan changes and curtailments to proactively minimize the impact to rail traffic. The plan also call for CSX to monitor the storm path and determine any potential impacts and actions needed, ensure equipment in the storm's projected path and surrounding areas is protected, and prepare potential impact areas before the storm makes landfall.
Several businesses are already stepping forward with offers of aid, such as Phoenix, Ariz.-based U-Haul International, which is offering 30 days of free self-storage at 94 facilities across the Carolinas and Virginia to residents who stand to be impacted by the heavy rains and extreme winds associated with the hurricane, the company said today.
"Logistics challenges and costs are among the largest hurdles that most relief organizations face after a disaster," ALAN Executive Director Kathy Fulton said in a statement. "While we certainly hope that none of these storms will be as destructive as predicted, we're glad to be part of an industry that can provide so many meaningful solutions - and grateful to the many companies that are already making it possible for us to help."
ALAN is also using its website to relay requests for hurricane-related logistics assistance, although it said some of those pleas may not emerge for several days or weeks after a storm hits, as government and relief organizations often take time to assess impacts and determine which goods and services are most needed.
In a statement, ALAN said that logistics professionals in the meantime can help pave the way for quicker post-hurricane recovery by staying safe (including giving employees in potentially impacted areas ample time to prepare and/or evacuate), steering clear of collection drives (which can clog disaster-impacted supply chains and inadvertently do more harm than good), and staying tuned (because significant opportunities to help will ultimately arise).