The American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) said last October’s Superstorm Sandy, which ravaged the U.S. Northeast, has shown the network’s strength, as well a highlighted areas for improvement.
“A particular strength of ALAN’s network is that its members tend to be problem solvers,” said ALAN President Jock Menzies, in a statement. “Supply chain management, by its very nature, requires working with others and finding the best and most efficient alternatives. These traits are extremely valuable when confronting the crisis of an extreme event, regardless of scope.”
Sandy affected more than 100 million people and is expected to be among the 10 most expensive hurricanes in U.S. history.
In the aftermath of the storm, ALAN demonstrated its abilities to:
- Work with the supply chain industry and organizations, such as members of the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOADs) and state and federal emergency management agencies, to identify sources of relief items, including pumps for removing floodwaters, replacement medical equipment, transportation support, distribution facilities, and meals for a retirement home.
- Locate fuel sources. Fuel shortages were a major issue in the wake of Sandy, brought on by ship terminal damage, diminished truck capacity and highway access, and lack of electricity at gas stations. ALAN worked with the American Automobile Association (AAA) and OPISNet, a fuel price reporting network, to release reports showing which stations were pumping fuel. ALAN said, “This information proved enormously valuable to state and federal emergency management agencies as well as nonprofits, and demonstrates that repurposing private-sector know-how can provide critically important intelligence during crises.”
- Dispatch a logistics expert to the disaster site, with funding from three association partners. ALAN sent a graduate student from MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics to work with the New York City Office of Emergency Management and nonprofit relief agencies. ALAN has designated additional reserves for logistics support of continuing recovery operations.
“Superstorm Sandy also exposed weaknesses in the emergency response system. For example, because New York’s visiting nurses were not classified as emergency responders, they could not get priority at the gas pump, and many struggled to get to their patients. Another challenge developed as relief donations flooded in, overwhelming disaster response teams but delivering few priority items,” ALAN said.
“No one can predict when or where the next emergency will occur,” Menzies said. “But we can reduce the impact of disasters through planning, working cooperatively, and through bolstering communities’ ability to respond and recover.”
ALAN continues to raise awareness and improve disaster response efforts, speaking at industry events and company meetings, and working closely with government planning groups. A member of a regional catastrophic preparedness Supply Chain Resilience Project, Menzies works with private entities to find new ways to understand catastrophic risk, systemic vulnerability, and mitigate harm to supply chains.
Kathy Fulton, ALAN’s director of operations, provides input as FEMA develops a new automated tool for managing donations on a national scale. In addition, ALAN is working to promote greater access to information that could keep supply chains operating during a disaster, such as road conditions, curfews, power supplies, and communications, and helping VOADs to streamline their operations by connecting them with industry experts.
To learn more or become involved, access ALAN’s Website