With Hurricane Florence expected to make landfall in the Carolinas on Thursday, Bernie Kavanagh, senior vice president and general manager of large fleets at WEX, shared his insight on the impacts of this storm, as well as the strategy communities are taking to prepare themselves with the help of the WEX Connect app.
“There are three stages of a disaster like this: pre, during, and post,” said Kavanagh. “The ‘pre’ stage has been happening the past few days, so we can see that like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, people are heeding the warnings to evacuate. People are more conservative in preparing and listening, putting natural disaster plans in place.”
Kavanagh noted that because of the location of this storm, being on the coast of the Carolinas, refineries and pipelines will not be as affected as they were with Hurricane Katrina. This will help supplies such as fuel, power, food, and water be delivered to those in need as well as keep fuel prices at a steady level without much increase.
“The technology back in 2005 with Katrina was limited and allowed those with gas to charge whatever they wanted because no one knew who had gas and what they were charging for it,” added Kavanagh.
Now there are apps, such as WEX Connect, and websites to help fleets, drivers and consumers see who has retail fuel and how much it costs, which could help quell the price-gouging seen after previous hurricanes.
WEX Connect app doesn’t just cover gas, it tells its users who has supplies as well as power. Kavanagh emphasized that it’s not just helping fleets, it’s helping everyone.
“In addition to the WEX Connect app, we update our website with the necessary data for those without access to a smartphone or tablet,” Kavanagh added.
When Kavanagh spoke about the "during" stage of Hurricane Florence, he said “the initial impact will be horrific.” But with the lessons learned from the past, “people need to band together and rely on others. WEX works with companies to identify what resources are needed and connecting the proper people” to aid as best as possible.
Kavanagh noted the "post" stage is hard to predict when you don’t truly know how bad the hurricane is going to be. But with WEX’s data and connections, they can connect to utility and tree-trimming companies, for example, and direct them to where they are most needed.
“Prepare and plan as best you can, but safety first at all measures,” Kavanagh stated. “Make sure you’re doing the right thing, moving vehicles to prepare for what’s coming down the road. Make sure you’re doing everything you can from a fueling standpoint and use the tools that are available to you.”