How Hurricane Harvey is Disrupting the Trucking Supply Chain


The Lone Star State is scrambling to keep its infrastructure humming.

 

Texas ranks second as a trucking market, behind only California. Its chemicals and fuels segments are easily the largest in the country. Over 4% of all U.S. trucks touch Texas every day, with the biggest share running right across the path of Hurricane Harvey. Additionally, Houston, Texas, is one of the largest trucking hubs in the entire United States, if not North America. Consistently listed among the top centers for the transportation industry, Houston helps keep America moving. And now, following Hurricane Harvey, it’s largely underwater.

So how is the industry affected?

“For previous mega weather events, we know national statistics are affected even a thousand miles from the site of the worst problems. This is due to the complicated networks of supply chains and truck routing that keep our economy going,” said Noël Perry, Truckstop.com’s Chief Economist. “History tells us that it will take at least two months before the system is completely back to normal and that prices will jump up as much as 5% until the turmoil has eased. And of course, spot rates will jump much more.”

“In 2014, after those repeated winter storms, prices peaked over 20% compared to the previous year. These effects come from increased demand and reduced productivity, due to infrastructure damage and disrupted supply chains.”

Hours of Service regulations have also been suspended, as aid is being brought into Houston to care for those who were unable to escape the wrath of Hurricane Harvey. From Katrina to Sandy, trucking is always key in getting supplies to disaster zones. But how do supplies get into a city several feet underwater?

“Honestly: determination and the sheer desire to do what’s right,” says Jeremy Feucht, Truckstop.com’s regulatory affairs analyst. “That is what fuels a trucker every day. During disasters, we rely on them for food, clean water, and most the other supplies we take for granted.”

“Next time you see a trucker, thank them for the good they do and the life they lead. Particularly after a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey, take some time to shake their hand and buy them a cup of coffee.”

As an owner-operator or fleet owner, how can you better prepare for disasters like Harvey?

Hurricane season is June through November. Large storms and smaller storms rock the Southern and Eastern coast during this time. As you catch wind of a potential storm, start checking that state’s DOT site. TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) actively updates Twitter and Facebook to keep drivers in the loop of what is going on for major weather related activities.

If you’re currently in Texas, you can check out evacuation routes and guides for traveling through the affected areas here. Highway cameras can also be accessed via that link as well. You can also find highway conditions in Texas by calling 800-452-9292 (toll free). There is no time table as to when roads may be reopened or as to their current conditions on their site. TxDOT also suggests staying tuned to the National Weather Service. You can find their page on hurricanes here.

Get involved: How you can Help Hurricane Harvey efforts