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Damage assessment and fleet recovery in the aftermath of a hurricane

Posted October 19, 2022


It's hurricane season, and we've already weathered a few in 2022. Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 and so far this year we've had: Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Ian, and Julia.

It's helpful to consider how to best assess the damage to your business after a hurricane and how to get on the road to recovery quickly.

While stories of property loss are commonplace in the aftermath of a hurricane, the trucking industry is used to handling storm recovery. Most fleet managers believe that steady and thorough preparation before a storm can best position an organization where fleet costs are concerned. Damaged roads and flooded warehouses have taken a toll on the industry in hurricanes past and these are the areas where fleet managers have less direct control. Even small regional damages can have larger global effects. This is why fleet recovery teams are quick to respond even as tropical storms continue to affect the areas in which they are responding.

While we may not know the specific toll 2022 hurricanes will end up taking in terms of fleet costs, learning from previous hurricanes has taught the industry how to best react. The biggest impacts take place in the following areas of operations:

How a hurricane could take a toll on your fleet:

1. Decrease in supply: Damaged roadways and flooded infrastructure leave trucks unable to operate, waiting for roads and docks to clear.

2. Increase in demand: Trucks are needed to transport everything from food to medical supplies and building materials so your fleet may be called on to do things outside the normal range of duties.

3. Fewer trucks in circulation: Trucks are pulled out of the usual scheduled circulation to meet the relief effort demand.

4. Lack of space in non-damaged facilities: Warehouses and fulfillment centers are bombarded with inventory from centers damaged by hurricanes requiring more workforce power, resources, and capacity.

5. Facility congestion causing delays: Inventory processing and loading can be backed up during a natural disaster, leading to stoppages and delays.

6. Price Jump: Where there is low supply and high demand, operational costs are bound to increase.

The loss of power often experienced during hurricanes directly impacts the trucking industry by causing delays for processing, networking and communications. The majority of what makes up fleet recovery is often a direct consequence of power outages.

As we see the hurricane season progress there may yet be disruption in the trucking industry if we see more powerful storm surges land. This kind of disruption that comes from natural disasters typically causes changes in supply, demand, cost, and overall flow patterns. Be aware of the time required and reorganization efforts required to recover from a backup associated with larger, more damaging storms. Fleet recovery is part of that overall disaster recovery and is aided with the help of reliable and experienced partners like WEX. While trucking companies head out to inventory warehouses, physical merchandise, and vehicles, after a natural disaster, WEX is helping get payments systems back in place and helping your company manage relationships with vendors, partners, and suppliers in the aftermath of a storm. Fleet partners like WEX also help manage expenses after a natural disaster with immediate cash-flow and fleet card resources. So, if your fleet managers are handling disaster preparation and partnering with companies like WEX, fleet recovery will be stealthy and fleet costs will be minimal.

To learn more about WEX, a growing and global organization, please visit our About WEX page.

Editorial note: This article was originally published on September 16, 2019, and has been updated for this publication.


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