According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Florence intensified to a Category 4 storm, which may affect millions this week in the Southeastern U.S., including North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Hurricane Florence is aiming to take landfall late Thursday or early Friday somewhere between Charleston, South Carolina, and Norfolk, Virginia.
Over one million people have been ordered to evacuate the area to get out of the pathway of the strongest hurricane to hit the area in almost 30 years. A 12-foot storm surge is predicted with over 32 inches of rain in North Carolina alone, with potential damages currently estimated at as high as $27 billion.
What does this mean for our customers? First of all, get prepared:
- Electrical power could be out for days to weeks.
- Natural gas, oil and fuel production may be cut and therefore hard to get for a few days or weeks. According to FreightWaves, “A storm of this magnitude is likely to cause localized diesel supply and price disruptions, as extreme weather impacts the downstream distribution of refined products to fuel stations and truck stops.”
- Ports in the area are closing today, so if you plan on shipping something to/from a port, your shipment may be delayed. CMA CGM reported that four of their containerships bound for the U.S. East Coast will change schedules due to Hurricane Florence.
- Shippers should look for alternative routes if they are shipping in the projected storm path, otherwise freight could be delayed due to potential damages to roadways. Flooding can lead to more damage and disruption of transportation systems for weeks in the aftermath of the storm. Mudslides, washouts and major river flooding can occur.
- Production facilities should find alternative locations to manufacture in order to keep products flowing.
- Higher winds from the remnants of the storm could affect truck drivers far away from the storm landfall. Caution should be exercised.
- Railways can become flooded, causing tracks to be washed out or destroyed by floods. Rails will need to be inspected before trains can operate over them again.
- Look for alternative raw material or parts suppliers in case your suppliers are knocked out or have a delay in transport.
Several more hurricanes are building in the Atlantic Ocean, so everyone must be diligent during this hurricane season. We all need to work together to keep our businesses moving. Also, please note that FMCSA has issued an emergency declaration that will temporarily grant an exemption to certain regulations for carriers and drivers that deliver aid and assistance in the affected states and jurisdictions.