Hurricane Ida Recovery Efforts: How Can TMSA Members Assist?

Source: Kathy Fulton, Executive Director, American Logistics Aid Network/ALAN.

Three days after landfall along the Louisiana Coast the response to Hurricane Ida continues. While all major interstates in the state are reopened residents are encouraged to stay off the road for emergency responders. The lack of power, water, and communications has prompted Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to encourage evacuees to not yet return. Hurricane Ida, now a tropical depression, continues to leave a path of destruction as it moves across the Tennessee Valley into the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England today. National Weather Service predicts heavy rain could bring “high potential for significant flooding impacts.” Ida is expected to exit the United States Thursday afternoon off the coast of New Jersey.

ALAN is working alongside our non-profit partners as they begin moving supplies into the area. Thank you to all who have reached out to offer donated services – we will match them as soon as possible. Please understand that many of our nonprofit partners already have their initial response packages planned, and it is only now that they are able to conduct assessments that they will look to replenish supplies.

Additionally, we continue supporting research and analysis for public and private sector entities to help shape recovery efforts. The details you are sharing regarding your member needs and responses has been incredibly helpful. Please keep sharing your insights.

So What Have Been Priorities So Far?
Tuesday’s work was focused on food and grocery recovery, and it appears that sector continues to make steady progress. Continued recovery will depend on restoration of grid power, or in locations where that will take an extended timeframe, delivery of sufficient fuel to power store generators. The food sector is also reliant on communications infrastructure to power electronic transactions. Since only about one-fifth of Americans typically use cash to purchase groceries, restoration of communications to allow credit/debit and state-issued Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards remains a high priority.

Wednesday's analysis work focused on the fuel sector. You may recall that MIT shared some of their post-Colonial-cyberattack research on fuel with us. That work was able to be utilized and drilled in on to provide detailed information on fuel status and recommended actions to support rapid recovery for that sector. The importance of Louisiana’s refining capabilities to the rest of the US cannot be understated. Oil and natural gas production recovery is showing good progress. 

Relevant Information and Resources
Here are some key updates as of Wednesday evening, including some relevant media articles of interest for those wondering about Ida’s impact on supply chains beyond Louisiana:

  • IRS grants dyed diesel fuel penalty relief in Louisiana due to Hurricane Ida
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation has activated the Routing Assistance Hotline for Hurricane Ida 1-833-997-6237
  • Primary concerns in the path of Hurricane Ida continues to be power and water outages due to extensive damage to the transmission system serving New Orleans. Utilities are conducting assessments and restoration efforts where conditions are permitting. Damage assessments are expected to take three days with estimates of restoration once the assessments are completed.
  • As of Tuesday, August 31, 2021, at 1:45pm the Louisiana Department of Transportation announced all interstate systems in Louisiana are open to traffic. DOT is requesting for the public to keep the roadways open for emergency response efforts. Roadway reopening
  • As of 3:30pm, September 1, 2021, the Port of New Orleans is set to normal with restrictions. The US Coast Guard is conducting assessments of the Mississippi River to determine what areas are safe for traffic. As of Wednesday, September 1, 2021, portions of the Lower Mississippi are closed. This link provides the latest updates on Port of New Orleans.

Finally, a reminder that September 1st is the start of National Preparedness Month and a reminder to all of us the importance of preparing for disasters from both natural and manmade hazards. As the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001 approaches we are all reminded to remain vigilant to threats within our shores. The wildfires in the West, Hurricane Ida along the Gulf Coast, the earthquake in Haiti, and the flooding in Waverly, Tennessee demonstrate the magnitude of disasters we see in the region. Now is the time for each of us to do our part to build more resilient communities. Take time this month to prepare your families and businesses. Ready.gov has great resources.

What Can You Do To Assist?
ALAN will have a few specific answers to that question soon, because ALAN will 
begin posting requests for donated logistics assistance on our Disaster Micro-site. (ALAN doesn’t have any open requests for Hurricane Ida logistics support at the moment, which is not unusual. These requests ordinarily will begin to be received after the initial wave of search-and-rescue efforts – and shortly after initial damage assessments have been made.)

And ALAN will have even more specific answers in the coming weeks as search-and-rescue efforts cease and clean-up efforts intensify. 

Meanwhile, there are still many ways all of you can put your shoulders to the wheel and make a positive difference, which is why ALAN would like to share these four practical suggestions for how you can help with Hurricane Ida recovery:

1. We can make sure our employees are safe – and supported. If any of your facilities are located in places where Ida or its remnants have hit, be sure to check in with your employees to ensure they are safe and sound. And if they have been impacted, make helping them and their families your first priority.  Even though many government and non-profits will be stepping in to provide relief, few things are more meaningful than knowing that the people we work with (and for) have our backs. We’re also updating information on evacuations, curfews, and more at https://www.alanaid.org/operations/#1539173858292-2bc76504-589d

2. We can offer to help. If you’re a business or individual with warehouse space, trucks, equipment, or expertise that you’re willing to share, go ahead and offer it now. Even it’s nowhere near the disaster area, let us know – because often the donated materials (like building supplies) that urgently need to get to disaster sites may be located much farther away and require far more logistics support than you might imagine. And the thing you’re offering may be just the ticket.  

3. We can avoid becoming part of the problem. Although it’s tempting to organize collection drives of products, these drives often create more challenges than they solve.  Transportation capacity to disaster-impacted markets is often very tight, and it needs to be reserved for the most critical of materials. As a result, the last thing we need to do at this critical point is choke it even more. This same advice also holds true for logistics companies that want to load up trucks and drive them to impacted areas. Now is not the best time to do that, because relief organizations and shelters already have their hands full.

4. We can make sure we’re better prepared for the next storm or event. If there’s one thing that fast-intensifying storms like Hurricane Ida teach us it’s that some disasters don’t give us a lot of time to prepare. Don’t allow yourself to get taken by surprise again.  Use this time in between major storms to do a quick post-disaster assessment that will help you get better prepared for the rest of hurricane season.  Then shore your preparation efforts up accordingly. A good place to start is Ready.gov, which has many resources and tools that you can share with your families and employees. Other ideas include holding a hurricane safety drill, building a disaster kit, or setting up a time to meet with your county’s emergency manager to establish a relationship. Better yet, do all of the above – because we  need you to be strong enough to withstand whatever disaster is next, and we want you around!

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