Historic flooding continues to devastate the Midwest, drowning cities and small towns along the Missouri River. People have been flown to safety in helicopters because their neighborhoods, for all intents and purposes, became islands after bridges were washed away. Everyday needs like clean water, food and personal hygiene products are hard to come by, but truckers and relief groups are doing their best to get supplies to the victims.
One town that was hit hard was Fremont, Nebraska. Last night, March 18, Nebraska State Police officers and members of the Nebraska National Guard escorted a caravan of tractor trailers and fuel tankers from Omaha to Fremont, about 32 miles away.
HyVee, an employee-owned grocery store chain based in West Des Moines, Iowa, supplied some of the trucks. Since this disaster began last week, the company has also been donating food and water to flood victims and the shelters in Fremont, in addition to other areas in Nebraska. Hy-Vee is also feeding first responders, utility crews and volunteers. According to social media posts, the drive took 2.5 hours. Roads to Fremont were not open to the public, and the Nebraska Department of Transportation plowed away mud several inches thick to clear a path.
This about enough to make anyone tear up, help has arrived Fremont! ❤️
Troopers and the National Guard just escorted this caravan of HyVee & Hilland trucks and fuel tankers into Fremont from Omaha. The trucks brought in much needed water, food and gas this evening. pic.twitter.com/xrKcupjqh1
— U.S. Truck Drivers (@TruckDriversUSA) March 18, 2019
Another company lending a hand is Fremont Contract Carriers (FCC), based in Fremont. President and CEO Tim McCormick told FreightWaves that he has offered assistance to local businesses that are flooded. FCC may also lend trailers to the North Bend school system to use as temporary storage while their buildings are cleaned up and repaired. He’s waiting to hear back from the school system on specific needs.
McCormick wants to do more in the coming days and weeks. FCC’s facility did not flood, but some of its drivers have been displaced by the flooding and have not been able to get to work. It’s becoming harder for FCC to go on with business as usual and deliver loads to its customers, but McCormick said that FCC will do its best to balance the “professional and personal” issues in order to help victims as much as possible.
Shelters have been set up in several spots across eastern Nebraska and western Iowa with food, water and medical supplies available, but a lot more help is needed.
In a Facebook post, the Nebraska Trucking Association (NTA) said “Of course, our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone impacted by these floods, including some of our members whose facilities and equipment are flooded, and who have drivers and other staff stranded or rendered homeless. May we all remain Nebraska Strong!” NTA has been asked to assist emergency managers and to “round up” food-grade bulk tanks to transport potable water to communities in need. This kind of specialized equipment is in somewhat short supply. NTA is asking anyone in Nebraska or nearby states who has this kind of equipment to contact them. Please send an email to President Kent Grisham, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another way to help is to keep track of disaster relief and response activities at the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN). ALAN is an industry-wide organization that brings the expertise and resources of the logistics industry together with non-profit disaster relief organizations. The goal is to help solve supply chain challenges immediately so that help arrives as soon as possible. Right now, requests to ALAN are limited because the flood damage is still being evaluated in many areas of the Midwest. As the needs of the victims’ aid groups become more specific, ALAN will post updates on how your trucking company may be able to help.
Impact on Freight
In the days following the heavy rain and subsequent flooding, the volume of loads out of and into Omaha, Nebraska dropped. This is shown on the chart above in which the Outbound Tender Volume Index (OTVI.OMA) is the white line, the Inbound Tender Volume Index (ITVI.OMA) is in green. The outbound volume of trucks continued dropping this week, possibly because drivers have been displaced and some fleets may not be running at full capacity. Some trucking companies themselves may even be flooded. However, inbound volumes are slowly rebounding, possibly in response to the need for supplies to be trucked into the region for recovery efforts. This trend will probably continue for several days, and perhaps even into next week.
The National Weather Service still has Flood Warnings posted as rain falls across the flooded region tonight (March 19), and there’s more snowmelt upstream that may have an impact later this week. The Missouri River at Plattsmouth is forecast to remain at Major flood stage until later tonight and until Wednesday night at Omaha. At Nebraska City, the Missouri River should fall to Moderate flood stage tonight. Around 10 percent of the river gauges in the region are at some level of flood stage. More flooding is possible this week along the I-29 corridor from southern Minnesota all the way to Kansas City.