Just three days after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, the great engine that is trucking is roaring to life to support the Herculean effort to relieve a disaster area that spans the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
The Katrina disaster is so immense that as of last night 12 foreign governments had pledged aid to the United States. Here at home, the Pentagon took the unusual if not unprecedented step of dispatching a naval task force to New Orleans that includes amphibious forces and the hospital ship USNS Comfort. Marshalling the federal government’s response, yesterday afternoon President George W. Bush declared that the relief and recovery effort will last years.
Against this backdrop, this morning the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) launched a web site designed to support motor carriers that “will play a pivotal role in providing relief to areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.” The web page, which can be accessed at www.truckline.com, will include information on road closures, changes to operating regulations, and other critical information. ATA stated that its “extensive, nationwide network has been brought to bear in monitoring the situation and new developments are being posted as they come to light.”
The Truckload Carriers Assn. (TCA) has also swung into action, posting Katrina- related information for trucking operations on its website, www.truckload.org.
According to TCA, a two-week long “declaration of emergency has been issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for carriers and drivers transporting gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel in response to the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the fuel supply system.”
TCA stated that this declaration “exempts carriers and drivers hauling gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel to address transportation needs arising from the disaster from 49 CFR Parts 390-399 from 1:00 pm EDT August 31, 2005 until 1:00 pm EDT September 14, 2005.”
According to TCA, the declaration does not exempt drivers from CDL, insurance or drug and alcohol testing requirements. It also does not apply to any carrier or driver placed out of service. A declaration has been issued by all of FMCSA Field Administrators and will cover all 50 states, added TCA.
TCA also reported that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Steven L. Johnson has ruled that due to the “extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstance” in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, EPA will temporarily allow all parties in the fuel distribution system, including refiners, importers, distributors, carriers and retail outlets, “to supply gasoline meeting a Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) standard of 9.0 psi in areas of the affected states where a lower RVP is required.”
Also helping get the relief ball rolling is the Midlothian, VA-based Internet load board Getloaded.com. In response to a large volume of calls from members inquiring about assisting with the relief effort, the firm is compiling a list of companies organizing relief efforts or providing assistance to the areas hit by Katrina.
Carriers interested in hauling loads for the relief efforts can go to www.getloaded.com to view a current list of companies organizing these efforts. The list is available to members and non-members alike through a link entitled “Hurricane Relief” on the front page of www.getloaded.com. Firms wanting to be added to the list may contact Getloaded.com at 888-565-3921.