WithÂ hurricane season in full swing across the nation, destructive storms have beenÂ sweeping across communities from Hawaii to the U.S. east coast, and the charitableÂ disaster recovery organization the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN)Â said today it is mobilizing volunteers to help. ALAN isÂ reaching out to businesses and coordinating their offers to volunteer services such as warehousing, transportation, and logistics expertise that supplementÂ non-profit organizations' capabilities to supply critical items like food, water, andÂ medical aid to disaster survivors.
Just threeÂ weeks after helping residents of Hawaii recover from Hurricane Lane, ALAN isÂ back in action inÂ the southeastern and mid-Atlantic U.S. as the regionÂ bracesÂ forÂ theÂ landfall of HurricaneÂ Florence, a whopping, Category 4 storm that mayÂ make landfall on Thursday. Some coastal areas ofÂ South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia are already underÂ evacuation ordersÂ asÂ residents prepare for hurricane-force winds,Â violent storm surges,Â andÂ sustained heavy rain.
To keepÂ residents, businesses, and volunteers informed, ALAN has created a websiteÂ dedicated to Hurricane Florence, that will help organizations to monitor theÂ storm's path,Â view recent alerts, and get updates on transportation andÂ supply chain conditions in impacted areas, the group said.
As of Tuesday,Â the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s NationalÂ Hurricane Center was warning that Florence is gettingÂ betterÂ organized and increasing in size, brewing up a possibleÂ life-threatening storm surge along the coasts of South Carolina andÂ North Carolina,Â with inland flooding to follow.
FlorenceÂ is currently forecast to reach land by Thursday, dropping up to 25 inches ofÂ rain that could fuel flash flooding as it slows down afterÂ approaching theÂ coast and moving inland. And even as it stirs through theÂ waters off the east coast, it is being trailed by two younger storms, Hurricane HeleneÂ and Tropical Storm Isaac.
As Florence nears land, regional logistics providers are already activating disasterÂ plans.Â Eastern railroadÂ CSXÂ Corp. saidÂ today it had advised all customers thatÂ anyÂ shipments traveling through the I-95 corridor willÂ experience delays.
In aÂ statement, Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX said it had activated itsÂ Hurricane Action Plan and that several of its regional operatingÂ departments are now making tactical plan changes andÂ curtailments toÂ proactively minimize the impact to rail traffic.Â The planÂ also call for CSX to monitor the storm path andÂ determine any potential impacts and actions needed,Â ensureÂ equipment in the storm's projected path and surrounding areas is protected,Â and prepare potential impact areas before the storm makes landfall.
Several businesses are already stepping forward with offers ofÂ aid, such asÂ Phoenix, Ariz.-basedÂ U-HaulÂ International, which is offeringÂ 30 days of free self-storage at 94Â facilities across the Carolinas and Virginia to residents who stand to beÂ impacted by the heavy rains and extremeÂ winds associated with the hurricane,Â the company said today.
"Logistics challengesÂ and costs are among the largest hurdles that most relief organizations faceÂ after a disaster," ALAN Executive Director Kathy Fulton said in aÂ statement.Â "While we certainly hope that none of these storms will be asÂ destructive as predicted, we're glad to be part of an industry that can provideÂ so many meaningful solutions -Â and grateful to the many companies that areÂ already making it possible for us to help."
ALAN isÂ also using its website to relay requests for hurricane-related logisticsÂ assistance, although it said some of those pleas may not emerge for severalÂ days or weeks afterÂ a storm hits, as government and relief organizations often takeÂ time to assess impacts and determine which goods and services are most needed.
In aÂ statement, ALAN said that logistics professionals in the meantime can help paveÂ the way for quicker post-hurricane recovery by staying safe (including givingÂ employeesÂ in potentially impacted areas ample time to prepare and/orÂ evacuate), steering clear of collection drives (which can clogÂ disaster-impacted supply chains and inadvertently doÂ more harm than good),Â and staying tuned (because significant opportunities to help will ultimatelyÂ arise).