Freight brokers told us that disaster relief freight – mostly truckloads of bottled water at this point – is already being tendered as of Wednesday evening, August 28. Chattanooga brokers LYNC Logistics and Trident Transport said they received requests from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for quotes to haul loads of water from the mid-Atlantic to the Southeast.
Meteorologists now say that Hurricane Dorian, which has just slipped past Puerto Rico as a Category 1 storm, could make landfall in Florida as a Category 3 storm, packing winds exceeding 111 mph. Florida’s Governor DeSantis has already declared a state of emergency in order to give local governments and emergency agencies the authority and resources they need to prepare for a disaster.
A broker at Covenant Solutions, a division of publicly traded expedited carrier Covenant Transportation (NASDAQ: CVTI), confirmed that his shop is also seeing a surge of water loads into Florida. At Nolan Transportation Group in Atlanta, a broker confirmed an influx of loads into Florida and said that rates inbound to Florida are jumping; he said NTG would rely on its strong carrier relationships to cover every load.
An official at Swift Logistics said that the brokerage, a division of publicly traded mega-carrier Knight-Swift (NYSE: KNX), is getting requests for loads moving from Oklahoma and Texas to Lakeland, Florida, but did not confirm the source of the tenders. The Swift Logistics broker said that ‘buyers’, i.e., carrier representatives, were working after hours in Phoenix to cover loads into Florida and that more were still being tendered.
The logistics division at U.S. Xpress (NYSE: USX), which has been involved in disaster relief for over a decade and has one of the most sophisticated operations, said that it had already started sending personnel on-site to staff ‘hurricane rooms’ for specific customers involved in disaster relief operations.
Major hurricanes are often associated with surges in freight demand, including commodities like bottled water, blankets and non-perishable food items. Drivers hauling disaster relief freight must be patient as they deal with fragmentary information, flooded or blocked roadways and government agencies reacting to an evolving situation.
As of Wednesday night, spaghetti models that repeatedly simulate the path of a storm in order to determine its most likely course showed Hurricane Dorian making landfall at Palm Bay, just southeast of Orlando, Florida, on the afternoon of Sunday, September 1.
FreightWaves will continue monitoring Hurricane Dorian’s progress and the response from government agencies and logistics companies. This is a developing story.