Trucking is all about responding to the unexpected, but Sandy has turned up the challenges and the stakes for fleet operations around the country, not only those with east coast-based operations.
At Con-way Truckload in Joplin, MO, for instance, the storm is impacting deliveries in the east. Many companies closed down without really notifying us, Billy Cartright, senior director of operations at Con-way, told KOAM News. We try to call ahead [and] find out if they're going to be there, he said. If not we shut our guys down before hand....we really try not to get them in that area and get them stranded.
According to the report, about two to three hundred of Con-way's 2,800 drivers are either driving through or stuck in the storm zone. "We have a communication device on the truck so we're able to communicate with them and so we've been-- either through that device or cell phones-- we've been trying to communicate with them to see where they're at, how they're doing and what their status is," noted Cartright.
Schneider National issued a prepared statement this afternoon updating customers and others on the state of its operations. Within the statement, the company noted that: " Schneider has numerous facilities and thousands of associates in the multi-state area hit by this storm. At this point, all of our office, maintenance and warehouse associates are safe and accounted for. We are still in the process of making contact with all of our driver associates and to date have no reports of any injuries.
"Schneider facilities closed yesterday are being examined today for any storm-related damage. We are assessing the safety of each facility and determining when we’ll be ready to reopen each for business. We expect to have a better picture of the status of our facilities tomorrow morning. To ensure seamless continuity, all operations at impacted facilities are being routed to facilities that are safe and open for business.
Our ability to move customer freight was also affected by the storm. We have been working with customers since late last week to adjust delivery schedules and prepare for this storm. Freight delivery in the area was halted as of noon Monday; we are now assessing customers’ operational statuses so we can make plans to resume deliveries. Based on the extensive impact of the storm to the East Coast infrastructure and potentially to our customers’ locations, we expect Sandy to impact freight movement in various degrees through Friday."
Sandy is also forcing several Triad trucking companies to reroute or delay shipments while seeking temporary rest stops for drivers who are stuck in the Northeast, according to an article in The Business Journal. Scott Fulton, senior vice president of sales for Epes Transport System, Inc. in Greensboro,NC, told the journal that many company truck drivers who made deliveries up north over the weekend are finding temporary places to park due to closed interstates.
In a prepared statement issued yesterday, John White, spokesperson for U.S. Xpress, noted that: "We have spent the last few days preparing by moving equipment from harm's way from Maryland through New England and this mainly entails getting our trailing equipment that could be in flood prone areas to higher ground.
"Freight flows continue to move and of course we are responding with emergency relief loads both for the government and for our customers," he added. "I estimate we have at least 200+ loads moving currently with water, generators and other relief merchandise. These loads are being moved from the Southeast and Midwest either to staging areas or direct to customer DC locations for redeployment after the effects of the storm are known.”
In some places, truckers are already beginning to get a little break. At 9:00 EDT this morning, PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) lifted the speed-limit and vehicle restrictions that were in place on roadways in eastern and south central Pennsylvania, including the Delaware River Bridge and Fort Washington Interchange.
Due to high wind speeds, a 45 mph speed limit remains on Interstate 90 in Erie County and Interstate 79 in Erie and Crawford counties until this afternoon. Speed limits were reduced yesterday to 45 mph on interstates and several other routes in these regions. Certain types of vehicles were also restricted from traveling on these roadways. PennDOT and the PTC have been monitoring roadway conditions through the storm and will continue to address concerns as the storm moves out of the state.