When it comes to effective disaster response, experience shows that the best approach is often a multi-modal one comprised of marine, air and inland transportation support. Depending on the circumstances of each event, deploying a custom mix of these logistics modalities can hasten the delivery of humanitarian aid, the restoration of municipalities and, most importantly, the well-being of impacted individuals.
To ensure such capabilities are available when needed, today's response agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), proactively partner with expeditionary logistics companies that can offer this type of comprehensive support. Prior to an event, these pre-arranged partners typically have responsibility for being intimately familiar with the response plans; staging relief supplies; and ensuring resources, such as warehouse space, materials and equipment, are available if needed.
And while each transportation option brings unique benefits to the equation, perhaps one of the most fundamental of the three is maritime--also one of the oldest industries in existence. Today's maritime companies are more than just basic tug-and-barge operators; many are experienced logistics providers that can offer end-to-end, supply chain solutions for all types of customers.
One such company that has demonstrated full logistics services and marine solutions to a wide variety of US response agencies is Crowley Maritime Corporation, headquartered in Jacksonville, FL. As a well-known logistics company with its roots in the marine industry, Crowley has over the decades provided response agencies with marine, inland and air transportation options for a variety of incidents, including natural disasters, chemical weapons handling and disposal, humanitarian assistance, military, and commercial operations around the world.
The advantages of response organizations partnering with a marine-focused logistics company can't be overemphasized.
"If a storm hits, infrastructure and roadways can be devastated," said Crowley's Bob Weist, Vice President, US Land Transportation. "But the ocean is usually left untouched. Maritime companies can do immediate waterway assessments to gain access to ports often faster than roadways can be reopened. And most barges don't require port infrastructure to work--marine operators can maneuver beach landings or lighter humanitarian cargo ashore to provide immediate relief and support to people in need."
While air transportation unquestionably offers some of the fastest speeds, Crowley's Kris Rogers, Director, Government Services, points out that: "Even smaller barges can carry more than 100 times the cargo that a single aircraft can, as well as heavier loads, at a much lower cost."
1 he ability to deliver mass amounts of humanitarian aid, oversized and overweight equipment and materials, support vehicles and more immediately after a disaster is paramount.
"Crowley understands that FEMA has an unofficial mantra in times of crisis," continued Rogers. "It's 'go big, go fast and go smart.' When we hear this, it means we should use all our resources to get the job done, which can be overwhelming to those unaccustomed to that type of...