As Hurricanes Harvey and Irma made landfall on the Southern United States and Caribbean, life and commerce essentially stood still. Residents fled to shelters, were held up in their homes, or evacuated the area as these major weather events ravaged the regions. The commercial sector was affected as well, as the storm damaged buildings and other infrastructure.
So, with the raging seas and high winds, what happened to the air and ocean cargo shipping industry?
Normally, point-to-point shipping decreases the amount of time needed for cargo travel, since the transportation is so efficient. But this is not the case when a major natural event gets in the way. USA Today reports that Amazon sent a notice to subscribers that they were unable to deliver on two-day shipping in the event of the hurricane.
“Due to severe weather conditions as a result of Hurricane Irma, deliveries are experiencing delays,” their statement read. “We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Google Express and Walmart sent out similar memos. Since Florida was hit particularly hard by Hurricane Irma, Miami shipping cargo and other shipping services in the area were negatively impacted.
In the thick of Harvey, USA Today reported that UPS, FedEx, and the United States Postal Service had to completely cease delivery to certain areas of Texas and Louisiana. FedEx in particular halted American air cargo services to over 350 cities and cut back on ground shipping to more than 490.
“Our priority is always the safety of our team members and providing service to our customers,” FedEx spokesman Jonathan Lyons said in a statement, according to USA Today. “FedEx has implemented contingency plans to lessen the effect of Hurricane Harvey on operations and mitigate potential service delays.”
What will happen to these different types of freight is immediately unclear, but it does bring up the importance of emergency preparedness. It also emphasizes that ground, air, and ocean cargo shipping companies should communicate with customers clearly when these unforeseen events do happen. This way, the shipping industry will be able to address immediate dissatisfaction and make up for lost time in the aftermath.