Hurricane Season is Here: Don’t Be Caught Off Guard
If you’ve been in the industry long enough, odds are at some point, your operations have been disrupted by challenges created by hurricanes or other natural disasters.
Like clockwork, between June and November, it isn’t a matter of if a hurricane will make landfall somewhere along the Gulf of Mexico or East Coast, rather when/where and what the severity of the storm will be. As ocean temperatures rise throughout the summer, hurricane activity typically peaks in September when ocean temperatures are at their highest.
When news breaks that a tropical storm is developing off the coast and storm trackers are able to predict its path towards landfall location, it’s best to have a plan in place and drivers prepared in the event it affects your operation.
Let’s take a look at best practices to help keep drivers and equipment safe.
If word comes in that a hurricane is developing, drivers should pay close attention to national and local weather channels for the latest updates to see what areas are expected to be impacted and when. The good news is storm trackers can identify a storm and its predicted path several days – sometimes even a week – before it makes landfall. By keeping up to date with the latest storm developments, fleets can make informed decisions and re-position trucks accordingly. If the storm is tracking near a drivers’ location, it’s important for them to keep tabs on the National Weather Center and Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) for emergency service alerts.
If you’re in the bulls-eye of a hurricane, and on short notice, move equipment to high ground or areas that are less susceptible to flooding. With hurricane force winds, empty trailers are likely to be knocked over if they aren’t positioned correctly. To reduce trailer damage, park trailers as close together as possible, placing empty trailers in between loaded ones.
For some drivers, there’s no way around getting caught up in a storm or dealing with the aftermath. And if drivers find themselves in a situation where they become stranded, they’ll want to have a stash of emergency supplies on board to help them through it. These items include an ample supply of bottled water, non-perishable food items, rain gear, flashlights, a multi-purpose tool, a first-aid kit, and extra cash on hand. The Red Cross has a handy list of items worth considering packing.
It seems like every tropical storm event brings with it a story about stranded truck drivers. When tropical storm Imelda made landfall in Texas a few years ago, a commercial truck driver hauling food products was caught in severe flooding, leaving him stranded along with 200 other drivers, for 36 hours. In response, he took matters into his own hands to help feed others who were stranded. While this driver happened to have a truckload of food on hand, most caught in this situation aren’t so lucky.
Dealing with the aftermath
Even when the weather clears up, drivers still need to be wary. Downed trees, powerlines, and flooding pose a serious risk to equipment and drivers. It can be hard to tell how deep the water is on flooded roads, and if they drive through water that gets too deep, that can be a costly mistake. It can be days, weeks, or longer for proper repairs to be made to roadways or for flooding to recede, so it’s important for drivers to keep up with the local news and road conditions.
To help drivers navigate potential roadway hazards, fleets subscribed to Drivewyze Safety+ can create custom hazard notifications for drivers by geofencing reported obstacles like downed powerlines/trees or flooded roads so that drivers are aware of what’s ahead and can change course if possible. During hurricane season or when other inclement weather is present, fleets can remind drivers to bring emergency packs with them prior to exiting ‘home base’ by creating custom zones through Safety+ at company headquarters or terminals. It’s an easy way to remind drivers to be prepared before they head out for a trip.
Stay alert and be ready this hurricane season. Make sure your drivers are prepared to handle what Mother Nature may throw their way.