When a hurricane hits, it’s easy to think that the storm affects just the coastal regions that are pelted with wind and rain. However, a storm of this magnitude can affect the entire country because of its ramifications on the trucking companies responsible for transporting goods across the nation.
One of the most immediate effects of a major storm on trucking and transportation is that it can stop the normal flow of traffic. Before a storm, normally calm roads can become jam-packed with evacuating residents. Afterward, there may be an influx of drivers returning to their homes. In addition, flooding, downed branches, and debris can force authorities to close some routes entirely.
Rescue efforts require a large supply of resources, and the authorities use trucks to deliver them. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) commissions trucks from around the country to haul these critical loads. When many trucks are carrying disaster relief supplies, there are fewer trucks on hand to haul other loads. In accordance with the laws of supply and demand, when there are fewer trucks available for the job, the cost of moving goods goes up.
Storms in coastal areas can shut down or limit the work of oil refineries, so gas prices go up across the country. A price increase can last for weeks or even months after a storm. For trucking, an industry reliant on gasoline, when gas costs go up, the cost of doing business goes up.
A hurricane has the potential to devastate regional economies. Storms in Florida, for example, can wipe out an entire season of crops, and floods in Texas can shut down warehouses and distribution centers. These problems shift what goods are available for transportation, and they limit the number of trips that a trucking company takes in and out of a hard-hit area.
From routes to costs, a hurricane’s effects on the trucking industry last long past the day of the storm.