The Impact of Hurricane Irene on Express Parcel Service

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Hurricane Irene was reported as having the potential to be the most dangerous storm since Katrina. Many news anchors asked the question, “Will this be the east coast’s own Katrina?” By the time the storm made landfall in the New York area, it had been downgraded to a tropical storm. However, with damages in the billions of dollars from the Carolinas up to Vermont, express parcel service was sure to take a hit. Parcels did not come in or go out of many regions directly before and during the storm, but many areas in the east are beginning to return to normal function already.

Many shippers, whose packages were in transit, were forced to wait without any knowledge of when their packages might arrive at their final destination. Some of the east coast states, such as South Carolina, were on the initial predicted path of Hurricane Irene, and began taking precautions before the storm hit. Major shippers forecast delays and some of South Carolina withheld shipments to keep their employees safe. Other states followed similarly in light of the predicted disasters. Many states expect to be recovering for months to come. The delay in shipping in many of these areas was unavoidable.

Vermont faced the worst damage of the storm, with New Jersey, New York and Connecticut experiencing the heaviest flooding in the north. Each of these states will take longer to recover from the tropical storm, but like Manhattan, whose subway system is already nearly 100% operational, most locations will see a return to normalcy by the first week of September. New York, though predicted to be hit by a hurricane force storm, was largely spared with exception to some flooding. The cost of repairs throughout the city is high, but most people were not strongly impacted apart from the evacuation. Other states may recover even more quickly. In all events, as roads and roadways reopen, shipping will fully recover.

Both UPS and FedEx have already begun to ship parcels throughout the New England area again, and both shipping services warn that delays may still impact their express parcel service as road closures and flooding are still being experienced, especially in low lying areas. Vermont and Connecticut have experienced a rare phenomenon of massive rains in mountainous regions, a situation that is leading to prolonged flooding as waters drain into valleys and rush toward lower elevations. This sort of flooding is prolonging the recovery for those mountainous locations.

Since several rivers are still expected to crest through the first days of September, shipping delays and a return to full service could be as far away as another week. Though the return to full-service is not immediate, UPS and FedEx will accept shipments throughout the region. Neither service is currently accepting fully expedited shipments, but both are using ground services. Packages that were caught in the system, shipped before the storm, may still not have reached their destination. In that case, and pending there is no emergency, the business or persons using the service may apply for appropriate refunds.

For all packages that were shipped before the storm hit but did not arrive at their location before the storm disrupted service, several day delays may result in customers receiving refunds for express parcel service. Medications and other packages that might be more urgently needed can cause stress and burden for those waiting for their packages to arrive. UPS and FedEx expect full-service delivery to begin again soon. However, in the case of an emergency, those needing medications immediately should visit a doctor, explaining the circumstances, and receive guidance on what to do. In all nonemergency situations, a refund can be filed for lost benefits.

Natural disasters affect every arena of life. Anyone who experienced the burden of mandatory evacuations in Manhattan will testify that it is not easy to relocate and leave cherished valuables behind. Returning to a normal lifestyle is equally challenging, and most people do not want to worry about smaller details like when a shipment might arrive. Fortunately for everyone, refund claims can be filed for several months after a late delivery and still be eligible for a full reissuance. The most important thing during natural disasters is the safety of lives.

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