At the time of this writing, the U.S. landfall of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma have come and gone, but the effects of both still remain. The events that have unfolded in Texas and Florida remind us of similar events as a result of Katrina and the reality that we are largely at the mercy of the weather.
As one of the nation’s oldest and largest freight carriers, C.R. England knows all too well how disruptive drastic weather can be. Events like major hurricanes do not cause problems only during the hours immediately before and after their passing; they often disrupt daily life for weeks or months afterward, sometimes even years. The disruptions are something we are used to in the trucking business.
Bringing Freight to a Halt
One of the first things our industry experiences during drastic weather events is freight coming to a halt. Within a few days of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall, truckers were starting to turn down loads heading into south-central Texas for fear of being caught in the storm. When Harvey did eventually make landfall, it brought with it more than 4 feet of rain in some spots. All truck traffic in and out of Houston and the surrounding area stopped completely.
Even if the hurricane had caused only minimal damage, trucking companies like ours would have been behind schedule as a result of the storm. We would have had to work a little bit harder to get things back on schedule. But now we know that the devastation in Houston and some other low-lying coastal areas could take years to fully recover from. Trucking will be part of that recovery by bringing in much-needed supplies and supporting local businesses as they seek to rebuild.
Rates Go up in Affected Areas
Another way drastic weather affects the trucking industry can be observed in pricing. Employed C.R. England drivers are paid a set amount no matter where they travel, but that is not the case for independent contractors. In the days immediately following Harvey and Irma’s landfall, rates were up more than 300% for loads going to the hardest hit locations.
Independent contractors have to raise their rates to account for the increased amount of time they must spend on the road servicing storm damaged areas. They also assume a considerable amount of risk to their own safety and that of their trucks. Increased rates reflect that risk accordingly.
How long rates will remain higher for the affected portions of Texas is anyone’s guess. But until things return to something at least vaguely resembling normal, it is going to cost more money to get goods into south-central Texas.
Finally, the trucking industry has to take account of the long-term effects of devastating weather. According to FTR Transportation Intelligence, as much is 7% of the U.S. trucking industry will be directly affected for at least a few weeks following Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Locally, 25% of the industry will be affected for the foreseeable future. Those effects include everything from disrupted supply chains to the time it takes to get trucks in and out of hard-hit areas.
Weather is something that we have always lived with in the trucking industry. Events like Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma only strengthen our resolve to continue serving America by being the backbone of our economy. Our collective hat is off to all those truckers willing to go into hard-hit areas with much-needed goods and supplies.
Go by Truck – https://www.gobytrucknews.com/harvey-hammer-trucking/123