Logistics of Hurricane Harvey's Humanitarian Aid

Hurricane Harvey has been wreaking havoc in the state of Texas since Friday, August 25th, crippling most of the state, and specifically devastating Houston. It made its second landfall on Wednesday morning, August 30th, inundating another Texas city, Port Arthur, and hit the coastal areas of Louisiana. 33 counties in Texas are under federal disaster declaration.

The logistics industry is one of the greatly effected. Houston shipping channels and ports at Corpus Christi and Galveston have been shut down.

Harvey is reportedly the strongest hurricane to hit the country since Hurricane Charley in 2004 and is said to be the costliest natural disaster in US history, initially estimated to be at $160B. The current estimate is almost the combined costs of Hurricanes Katrina ($108B) and Sandy ($29.5B).  

Donations are coming in and many have volunteered to help. While the logistics industry has been effected by Hurricane Harvey, several companies have offered their services to humanitarian organizations.

A rapid-response humanitarian relief organization, Airlink is said to be working with major airline companies, namely United Airlines, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines, to relieve workers and volunteers. Averitt Express has also pledged a $100K donation to the American Red Cross National Disaster Relief Fund.

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Maria Garza visits her grandfather Jose Garza’s home after it was damaged by flood waters.

Furthermore, FedEx has committed a total of $1M in cash and services to Hurricane Harvey’s relief operations and humanitarian organizations, including American Red Cross, Direct Relief, Heart to Heart International, and Salvation Army. The company reportedly stopped its shipping services in the southeastern part of the state as a result of the storm. David J. Bronczek, president and chief operating officer of FedEx Corp said “FedEx will continue to work closely with humanitarian and disaster relief organizations to provide support and deliver supplies to assist those hardest hit by the storm."

Additionally, through its UPS Foundation, United Parcel Service (UPS) also pledged more than $1M in cash, logistics and technical expertise donations to support relief operations in Texas and Louisiana. The foundation is closely working with several charities, including FEMA, the American Red Cross, and The Salvation Army, in assessing long-term needs. It's also said to add $500K in the coming months for post relief operations.

Meanwhile, on August 29th, Joint Base Charleston also provided aid and its two C-17 Globemaster III military aircrafts, carrying 30.6 tons of relief supplies, flew to Alexandria International Airport in Louisiana. The supplies were offloaded at the airport and were distributed to several areas.

American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) said a 10,000 to 100,000 square feet of warehouse space in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio, Texas will accommodate tens of thousand of displaced residents. Its executive director Kathy Fulton noted that private to 53-foot trailer vehicles will be recruited to transport goods to the warehouse while large trucks will be used to handle goods from the warehouse.

As of this writing, Harvey is still an active storm and is affecting the ongoing relief operations. As the devastation of the strongest hurricane in US history continues, operations will become even more complicated. Logistics by road is the main challenge as most of the roads were inundated. Rail operations have also been grossly effected.

The question of how to move volunteers and supplies to the heavily effected areas remains uncertain for now as most of the roads in the state are impassable.


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