Fleets, industry still weighing Sandy’s damage

By Jill Dunn on

Trucking company representatives say it’s too early to evaluate Hurricane Sandy’s damage, but some anticipate lost revenue from customers unexpectedly closing before truckers arrive.

Some carrier managers reported having customers who pledged to remain open, but dispatched truckers arrived to locked facilities.  

Still, the Pennsylvania-based Clark Transfer did not encounter closed doors, said Charles Duell, Clark executive vice president. The company, which transports equipment and supplies for performances and sporting events, had sufficient notice of the storm to prevent logistics issues.

Clark worked with customers to adjust routes and plans in advance of the superstorm. Even customers who had to cancel shows because of Sandy gave enough notice that no trucks were unnecessarily dispatched, Duell said.

Many trucking companies closed facilities from Maine to Washington, D.C., during the past 48 hours because of severe weather, flooding and power outages.

Con-way Freight activated its contingency plans and took trucks in the Northeast off roads and to secure areas.

It had suspended local and line haul operations in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, along with parts of Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Virginia, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Eastern Ohio.

But by late afternoon Oct. 30, only nine Con-way service centers in New Jersey and Long Island remained shut.  

Robert Mulvilhill said his Brooklyn-based Hillwick Trucking was closed Oct. 30 and 31. Mulvihill and representatives of other carriers interviewed reported that the storm had not injured their truckers, facilities or equipment.

Depending upon road and weather reports, FedEx will begin adding back service to storm affected areas today, said company spokeswoman Shea Leordeanu.

Several carriers, including FedEx, posted warnings of possible service delays and disruptions in affected regions. UPS announced that pickup service and delivery would not be available in some zip codes the company specified, including staffed and unstaffed retail locations.

YRC listed two Virginia and one New York terminal in operation, while all others have closed or limited operations. ABF’s website noted service center and lane service interruptions may occur and listed many locations that were closed or may be closed.

American Trucking Associations headquarters outside Washington, D.C. was closed Oct. 30 and 31. ATA spokesman Sean McNally said it would take some time for the industry to gauge damages.

The superstorm was a setback for all transportation modes, including rail freight.  CSX has and Norfolk Southern both estimated at least 72 hours of delay on freight traffic moving through the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions

Eqecat, a catastrophe risk modeling firm, issued its initial damage report Oct. 29. It estimated Sandy’s damage at $10 billion or comparable to last year’s Hurricane Irene.

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