Truck stops along the U.S. Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana are preparing for a potentially devastating hurricane by closing locations ahead of the storm.
“Love’s is monitoring the latest developments as Hurricane Laura nears landfall in the Gulf Coast area,” Love’s Travel Stops posted in a bulletin issued at 12:15 pm EDT.
“We are taking precautions and increasing fuel and food deliveries today to stay stocked as people are evacuating. Our store and support teams are prepared to serve Customers as long as possible. We will provide regular updates on this webpage and Love’s social media channels.”
As of noon EDT, Love’s had three closures in Texas and Louisiana, with nine more at risk of closing in Louisiana and 10 at risk in Texas.
Pilot Flying J, which so far has closed just two locations in Texas, is monitoring the hurricane as it makes its way toward the coast. “We are taking every precaution necessary and working with local law enforcement to safely keep our stores open and operational when possible in order to provide fuel, food and critical supplies to our team members, guests and emergency responders,” a Pilot spokesperson told FreightWaves.
TravelCenters of America also has closed two locations, in both Texas and Louisiana. A spokesperson there told FreightWaves it is keeping drivers informed of additional closures through the TruckSmart app.
Hurricane Laura, listed as a Category 3 hurricane Wednesday morning, has strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane with winds increasing to 140 mph, according to the National Weather Service in an update issued at 2 p.m. EDT. Laura was expected to approach the Upper Texas and southwest Louisiana coasts Wednesday evening and move inland within that area Wednesday night.
As FreightWaves reported earlier Wednesday, trucking fleets, ports and airports in the region have been bracing for the storm, which prompted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to declare a regional hours-of-service (HOS) emergency on Monday. The declaration, which applies to Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, exempts truck drivers and carriers from certain HOS provisions, including the 14-hour driving window and 11-hour driving limit.
“This Declaration addresses the emergency conditions creating a need for immediate transportation of supplies, goods, equipment, fuel and persons and provides necessary relief,” FMCSA stated. The temporary exemption, which expires Sept. 24, applies to drivers providing direct assistance to the emergency.
The Port of Houston, a major Gulf Coast container and energy export hub, announced it would be closed Wednesday and Thursday.
Freight railroads operating in the region have also taken precautions. Norfolk Southern said it has “staged equipment and materials in key areas to begin any necessary recovery activities as soon as it is safe to do so.” Union Pacific and Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS) advised they are curtailing operations, with KCS having temporarily discontinued service in Texas between Beaumont and Houston as of 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN), which provides supply chain assistance to disaster relief organizations and other nonprofits, cautioned that help from companies in the logistics sector could soon be needed.
“All signs point to Hurricane Laura making landfall as a Category 3 or 4 with historic, catastrophic levels of winds, flooding and storm surge,” Kathy Fulton, ALAN’s executive director, said in a statement issued earlier Wednesday. “As a result, we expect to see a substantial need for donated warehouse space, transportation, and logistics equipment — and we are mobilizing accordingly.”
Fulton said logistics businesses can donate hurricane assistance through ALAN’s website at https://www.alanaid.org/offer-inkind-services-or-equipment/.
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