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Hurricanes disrupting supply chains in Gulf and how you can help

The wrath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma — and now Maria — means disruptions in supply chains in the south and southwest.

According to MarketWatch, Harvey has already sunk industrial production, with output dropping 0.9 percent in August, the biggest decline since May 2009, the height of the recession. Production is likely to remain down in September due to the impact from Irma and potentially Maria just around the corner.

At the same time, supply chain operators nationwide are being asked to help victims who need immediate transportation and warehouse space related to the disaster. The clearinghouse for such requests is the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN), comprised of hundreds of supply-chain businesses that are positioned to locate and move goods from suppliers to affected communities rapidly and efficiently. The organization says that as much as 80 percent of disaster recovery expenditures go toward transporting, warehousing, and distributing goods and services to affected communities.

ALAN is asking supply chain operators to contact them if their closed facilities will mean a disruption in the flow of critical commodities like food and pharmaceuticals.

The organization also tracks warehouse and transportation via a special online map. Currently, needs include Portable Storage in Rockport, Tex. needing portable storage for up to 400 pallets, and Transport Pet Supplies in Louisiana needing transportation of pet food and medical supplies to Florida.

For supply chain operators who want to help during this period of hurricane relief, ALAN suggests the following:

Don’t self-deploy. Avoid disaster areas until volunteers are requested. Keep the road open for emergency response vehicles first.

Connect before you arrive. Before you arrive on site, make sure you are needed. Good intentions can overburden local supply chains if the communities are not prepared for your supplies. ALAN’s website is updated with requested items.

Work through ALAN. They are connected and already partnered with voluntary organizations and emergency response agencies so they know where and how to get goods in the most efficient way possible.

Cash is king. One way to help is monetary donations. They permit local sourcing of supplies, which helps survivors take control of what they need while stimulating the local economies, which have already been hard hit.