Sunday, September 23 2018
ORLANDO, Fla.— Long before a storm made landfall, supply chains were already bracing for impact. Once Hurricane Florence hit the east coast, all supply chain activity in the hardest hit areas came to a complete halt. Roads were flooded or impassible due to debris, airports will be shut down, and transportation workers had to evacuate with their families. Many trucks got stranded before arriving at their destinations and communication was critical. Companies transporting goods leveraged technology to retain visibility to shipments, find the best carriers and manage an increased number of orders due to a spike in demand.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, North Carolina is arranging for a large transport ship to ferry trucks and supplies into the Port of Wilmington to relieve shortages in the city caused by flooding.
The Cape Ray, part of the Ready Reserve Force used to deliver military equipment around the world, happened to be in Jacksonville, Fla., where it was just completing a mission for the Department of Defense.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard had helped make sure that the ports of Morehead City and Wilmington are capable of handling the MV Cape Ray, a 648-foot-long “roll-on, roll-off” ship, which was expected to arrive at the state port in Morehead City last week and be available to take on trucks full of food, fuel, construction materials, and other supplies.
There are also many requests to haul relief products ranging from food and water cleaning supplies to affected areas.
The spot market experienced increased demand as a result of shipments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on their way to the Mid-Atlantic coast ahead of Hurricane Florence, according to DAT Solutions (also known as Dial-a-truck,) a US-based freight exchange service and provider of transportation information serving North America. Average rates for dry van and reefer shipments rose 6 cents and 8 cents, respectively, compared to the August average. Meanwhile, the average flatbed rate declined 2 cents per mile. The expected trading catalyst comes after spot market activity moderated in August following record second-quarter conditions, according to Hartford and Reed. Far East Asia had four typhoons in July and five in August and have disrupted ocean freight, but as Asian port operations return to normal, it’s expected to improve U.S. freight activity. Along the South Carolina and North Carolina coasts, embargoes were expected for affected areas and resources were staged to help with recovery efforts.
The damage to homes, businesses and public infrastructure is expected to total $16 billion to $20 billion, Moody's estimates. Such estimates are still in flux because of severe flooding that could last for days. Florence has killed at least 32 people and disrupted the lives of millions.
The regions of the Carolinas affected by Florence make up about 1.1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product according to Moody’s. Gasoline and diesel terminal racks in the Wilmington, North Carolina area could feel some effects, but they’re likely to be limited. Still, the two states, once centered on agriculture and textiles, have become bustling advanced manufacturing hubs. North Carolina is home to the nation's second-fastest growing aerospace sector and a cluster of biotech, information technology, and energy companies. The storm is likely to trim industrial production, but the effect on the nation’s economic growth should be well under a tenth of a percentage point.