Hurricane Florence has Supply Chains Bracing for Impact


Hurricane Florence is poised to be one of the most disastrous hurricanes to ever hit the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. It’s currently scheduled to make landfall in South Carolina on Thursday, September 13th. The National Weather Service upgraded Florence to a Category 4 storm, the second most powerful category of hurricane, on Monday at noon EST.

States north of Florida haven’t been hit by a Category 4 storm since the devastating Hurricane Fran in 1996. Hurricane Sandy, one of the most disastrous hurricanes to hit the east coast, was only a Category 3 when it made impact. Residents are now bracing for a storm that is likely to wipe out power, cause major flooding, and tear-apart even well-built buildings.

Supply chains are expecting major disruption due to Hurricane Florence

Residents of east coast states are stocking up and buckling down ahead of Hurricane Florence. Local governments are handing out sand to use in defense of flooding, residents are flocking to grocery stores to stockpile bottled water and non-perishable foods, and emergency supplies such as backup generators and plywood are flying off of hardware store shelves. Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina have already declared a state of emergency due to Hurricane Florence.

Ahead of any major weather event, retailers experience huge surges in sales as everyone stockpiles the goods they may need to weather the storm. This causes unforeseen demand spikes and wide-spread out-of-stocks, meaning that retailers need to scramble to keep up with unexpected sales. Many retailers rely on the spot market to find additional capacity as they rush to fill both store orders and online orders. Long before a storm makes landfall, supply chains are already bracing for their impact.

Once Hurricane Florence hits the east coast, all supply chain activity in the hardest hit areas is likely to come to a complete halt. Roads will be flooded or impassible due to debris, airports will be shut down, and transportation workers will be evacuating with their families. Many trucks are likely to get stranded before arriving at their destinations and communication will be critical.

What can companies do to prepare their supply chains?

Preparedness is the key for supply chains to successfully weather a major hurricane like Florence. Companies transporting goods should leverage technology to retain visibility to shipments, find the best carriers and manage an increased number of orders due to a spike in demand. Shippers should closely monitor federal and state announcements and stop sending to zip codes that have been closed to deliveries. Once the storm passes, companies with strong supply chains can aid in emergency distribution and can help with rebuilding efforts.

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