There’s a term we use in the transportation industry – force majeure. It’s a state of emergency, or a condition that allows a company to forgo its contractual obligations. It’s an act of God, an unanticipated or uncontrolled circumstance. Basically, if there’s a tornado, hurricane, or the world ends, a provider isn’t responsible for ensuring your freight gets to where it needs to be.
Hurricane Sandy easily constitutes force majeure. No questions asked. It was the largest Atlantic tropical storm on record. When it made landfall near Atlantic City on the evening of October 29, it brought winds of up to 90 mph. Its wrath was fierce and far reaching. Millions across the Eastern Seaboard battled rising floodwaters and long-lasting power outages. So far, damage has been estimated to exceed $62 billion.
I live in the Midwest, so I was not directly affected by this super storm. But, LMS Logistics has offices and employees in the Northeast, and these staff members are responsible for ensuring smooth operations for our supply chain clients in that region. When the storm hit, nearly our entire staff lost power at their homes. Needless to say, so did our facilities and our clients’ facilities. But that didn’t stop our staff.
Per our contingency plans, offsite folks in the Midwest and Canada pitched in to ease the operational burden. But our Northeast employees still needed to be in the mix, working alongside our clients who were also experiencing operational disruptions. And, with plant, port, and carrier closings, managing freight became more difficult than ever.
Our employees did not complain; they did not make excuses. They fired up their battery-operated laptops and went to work. And, when they ran out of batteries, they worked from the homes of friends or family members who had power. Some camped out in local restaurants and coffee shops that were equipped with WiFi. Whatever they needed to do, they did.
Even when power was restored, the phone lines were down. Additionally, many cell towers had been damaged in the storm, which made cell phone usage unreliable. But our team pooled their resources and at one point, they were having a conference call with a client by huddling around a single cell phone with a signal.
And then there were gas shortages. Some so severe that they prevented employees from commuting to work, and those people continued to work from home. Those who could commute came early and stayed late.
Regardless of what was going on in the office or at home, our employees came through and went above and beyond to help our clients weather this unprecedented storm. Hurricane Sandy was an act of God, an unanticipated and uncontrolled occurrence that could not be avoided. But our staff did not fall back on force majeure; they went to work.
Special thanks to our northeast teams and the staffs that supported them. You make us proud.