We continue with ongoing Supply Chain Matters commentaries regarding the supply chain impacts of Hurricane Sandy as it continues to impact the Northeast portions of the U.S.  Prior commentaries can be viewed here and here.

Today, news and social media has provided stark visual images of the initial destruction across states such as New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and other Northeast states. The death toll has surpassed 80, tragic on its own, but could have been far worse given the sheer scale of this storm. Buildings with back-up generators have come to discover the weak link, placement on ground level when flooding compromises reliable operation. Newark Airport began very limited service today while LaGuardia Airport is expected to open tomorrow for limited activity.  Rail, air and surface transportation has also begun to recover but there is much backlog and highly congested roads and many infrastructure issues to overcome. Initial reports from oil refineries in the path of the storm thus far indicate no major damage, but operations have not resumed.

As the supply chain impacts of the Hurricane Sandy continue to unfold, some thoughts are worth reflecting upon.

Supply chain risk mitigation includes both anticipating a major disruption event, along with the actual response to the event.  Already, there are stories being shared as to how food and medical supply distributors, home improvement retailers and transportation providers had pre-positioned resources and teams prior to the actual impact of the hurricane, and how those positioned resources are being dispatched.

The busy holiday buying season is just upon us and supply chains were already in a high level of inventory positioning and sales channel deployment.   Transportation carriers were starting their ramp-up, and in the case of ocean, inbound containers are already inbound.

Over the coming hours, days and weeks, supply chain teams will again be called upon to redirect resources, respond to urgent customer or supplier requests, react to an unforeseen glitch brought about by overtaxed networks, or seek alternative supply on an urgent basis.  The challenge differentiation, speed and effectiveness of the responses will ultimately be determined by those organizations that made a concerted investment in supply chain risk mitigation and response processes and tools.

Supply Chain Matters will continue to focus our coverage of this incident with sharing the learning and key takeaways for business management and supply chain teams.

Bob Ferrari