“This event is unprecedented & all impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced.”

That was the tweet heard round the world from the National Weather Service at 10:44 CDT Sunday morning, describing the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on Houston and other areas of south Texas.

Full list of road closings from Texas DOT: http://traffic.houstontranstar.org/roadclosures/#highwater

As of Sunday, hundreds of roads were closed and thousands had been rescued from unprecedented flooding, as what was now a tropical storm stalled over the Lone Star state, dumping band after band of torrential rain. Some spots are expected to get more than 50 inches – that’s more than 4 feet of water.

Sunday morning, as local TV station KHOU 11 News was flooding and had to evacuate, KHOU reporter Brandi Smith and photographer Mario Sandoval remained out in the field, transmitting live feeds from the north side of Houston. There they flagged down a rescue for a truck driver trapped in the rising waters. Smith remained broadcasting as they waited for the sheriff’s rescue boat to reach the truck and pull the driver from the window to safety.

Trucking sends relief

H-E-B, a Texas-based grocery chain, announced it will donate $100,000 toward Hurricane Harvey relief efforts and already dispatched a 15-vehicle convoy that includes two mobile kitchens, water and fuel tankers, portable generators, emergency grocery supplies and equipment. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has suspended certain commercial regulations in Texas and Louisiana, including hours of service, for drivers providing “direct assistance” for hurricane relief under regulation 49 CFR 390.5. Drivers responding to provide "direct assistance" to the emergency are exempt from applicable regulations in all states on their route to the emergency, not just Texas and Louisiana.

Craig Fuller, Founder of Xpress Direct (on-demand division of US Xpress), writes on Freightwaves.com that “over the course of four years of major hurricane activity, my division handled in excess of 20,000 shipments and billed over $100M in revenue in disaster relief loads alone (we had a much larger on-demand business- but disaster relief was significant for us).”

He offered insights and tips for fleets wanting to get involved in the relief effort.

  • There will be thousands of loads, if not more.
  • You will sit. When you get to the relief site, no one will have a clue what to do with you or be able to tell you where to go. Expect that there will be hundreds of other trucks waiting around with you for further instructions.
  • Expect cell service to be poor.
  • Make sure you get a daily detention rate built into your confirmation sheets. FEMA pays detention.
  • Get everything in writing.
  • If you take a load from a broker- expect the payment to be very very slow.

And, as part of comments added from a driver experienced with delivering relief loads, drivers should be prepared with things like dried or canned food, bottled water, plans for what to do about toilet needs, etc.

Fuel Prices Expected to Rise

The hurricane also could have far-reaching effects on the nation’s fuel prices. About 1 million barrels a day of crude refining capacity in Texas have been shut down, according to published reports.

Tom Kloza with the Oil Price Information Service tweeted Sunday evening, “Fasten seatbelts for wild 9th inning of the driving season. Gasoline futures up 10cts and Gulf Coast prices could triple those gains Monday.”

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet