In the logistics and freight delivery business, finding solutions to the challenges of our clients is all in a day’s work. Recently, however, three names in the news have pushed many in our industry to abandon normal protocols and find new ways to deliver the goods.
By now the names are familiar to anyone with a TV or access to the news: Harvey, Irma and Maria — a trio of devastating hurricanes. They closed shipping routes, blocked highways, flooded warehouses and cut off the routine supplies of goods that are the basic necessities for millions of people in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, the Caribbean and most recently Puerto Rico, where the destruction was historic and the continuing challenges have been monumental.
Now, in this difficult time when the stakes are highest for the people we serve, our ability to improvise and innovate is not just essential, it is critical, and sometimes a matter of life and death.
While much work remains to be done, we have heard of heroic shippers facing rough waters and seemingly impossible delivery conditions, managing to unload cargoes that will save lives in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other parts of the Caribbean. Ports were closed, piers damaged, but the need was there, nevertheless.
In Florida on the northbound lanes of highways, while anxious families drove bumper to bumper looking for safety away from the storms, truck drivers in rigs filled with needed relief – generators, batteries, gas cans, bottled water and food — headed south and straight into the worst of it.
Rather than their normal routes, many drivers were diverted to pick up full loads of water, food, emergency medical equipment and supplies and headed to staging areas where the supplies were then flown to the people most in need. Like cabbies at busy airports, they delivered to their destination and waited for their next assignment.
Truckers are still being tested in the weeks following the storms. With trucks already in short supply across the country, many have been called away from their normal routes, stretching supply chains right at the start of the year-end peak shipping season.
Multi-millions of dollars and goods have been donated by our nation’s businesses to American Red Cross Disaster Relief, the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund and numerous large and small agencies that are supporting the people whose lives were turned upside-down by the storms.
In many ways the public has come to expect that kind of response from the business community, just as we look to our federal, state and local governments to step in and coordinate efforts to bring life back to normal – or at least as close to normal as it can get -- for the people impacted by the storms.
We sincerely applaud their efforts which are extraordinary and at the same time we are reminded that with every contribution, every movement of goods and services in and out of the storm ravaged areas, the brave and hard-working people working throughout the nation’s supply chains are among the unsung heroes making things better as quickly and efficiently as they can.
To our colleagues in an industry that often doesn’t get the recognition it deserves: We salute you and are grateful for your service.
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