FMCSA declares regional emergency as Hurricane Ian pounds Florida

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FMCSA declares regional emergency as Hurricane Ian pounds Florida
This GOES-East GeoColor satellite image taken at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, and provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows the eye of Hurricane Ian approaching the southwest coast of Florida. Hurricane Ian's most damaging winds began hitting Florida's southwest coast Wednesday, lashing the state with heavy rain and pushing a devastating storm surge after strengthening to the threshold of the most dangerous Category 5 status. (NOAA via AP)

WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has declared a regional emergency for areas of the south and southeast United States due to Hurricane Ian.

This comes as Florida has suspended tolls on certain roadways, and the state has also waived hours of service requirements for big rig drivers as a result of the storm.

The FMCSA’s declaration includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, according to a news release.

“Such emergency is in response to Hurricane Ian and the current and anticipated effects on people and property, including immediate threat to human life or public welfare from heavy rains, high surf, flooding, and strong winds,” the news release states.

The emergency declaration provides regulatory relief for truck drivers who are providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts by transporting supplies, goods, equipment and fuel into the affected states.

It also covers drivers “transporting persons into and from the affected states or providing other assistance in the form of emergency services during the emergency related to Hurricane Ian in the affected states,” according to the news release.

However, “direct assistance does not include transportation related to long-term rehabilitation of damaged physical infrastructure or routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration, after the initial threat to life and property has passed,” the FMCSA’s declaration noted.

Click here to read the full declaration.

Hurricane Ian made landfall in southwest Florida near Cayo Costa on Wednesday as a catastrophic Category 4 storm.

About 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate southwest Florida before the storm hit the coast with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph. It was heading inland, where it was expected to weaken, at about 9 mph, but residents in central Florida could still experience hurricane-force winds.

Before making its way through the Gulf of Mexico to Florida, Hurricane Ian tore into western Cuba as a major hurricane Tuesday, killing two people and bringing down the country’s electrical grid.

The center of the massive Category 4 storm lingered offshore for hours, which was likely to mean more rain and damage from a hurricane that was trudging on a track that would have it making landfall north of the heavily populated Fort Myers area. Catastrophic storm surges could push 12 to 18 feet (3.6 to 5.5 meters) of water across more than 250 miles of coastline, from Bonita Beach to Englewood, forecasters warned.

“This is going to be a nasty nasty day, two days,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said, stressing that people in Ian’s path along the coast should rush to the safest possible shelter and stay there.

Solera Fleet Solutions/Omnitracs offers the following hurricane safety tips for truck drivers:

Don’t forget to prepare for the before, during and after. Before a hurricane hits, there are various ways drivers can prepare themselves and their cabs for the storm. Drivers can — and should — prepare for the worst-case scenarios, including getting caught in the middle of the hurricane or its aftermath.

While it is always imperative that drivers aim to be off the road during a hurricane, they should get off the road as slowly and carefully as possible if they find themselves stuck in one. While driving during and after a hurricane, avoid driving through pools of water. Standing water can hide fallen power lines and sinkholes and may look far less deep than it is.

Get ahead of the weather and route. The National Weather Service will issue three different kinds of alerts with impending hurricanes. The first alert is an advisory, which signifies potentially hazardous, but mostly non-life-threatening inconveniences. The second alert is a watch, which indicates a potential tropical storm or hurricane within 48 hours. The third and most crucial alert is a warning signifying an impending tropical storm or hurricane within 36 hours.

If driving in areas that are potentially sensitive to hurricanes, drivers should look through their planned route before they go to stay in the know on how to prepare best. If driving through one of these areas, be sure to tune into the local weather radio station and continuously monitor weather updates.

Remember that safety and flexibility go hand in hand. Nothing is worth jeopardizing personal safety or the safety of others. The sheer weight and size of commercial motor vehicles, coupled with weather-related incidents, can result in massive disasters on the road.

Any reasonable customer or manager should and must understand that safety is the top priority while drivers are on the road, so keep a flexible mentality. Communicate delays to routes as needed; remember, slow and safe is better than fast and sorry.

Practice open communication. While experienced fleet managers and dispatchers prioritize driver safety, they’re not in the driver’s seat. Drivers should keep the lines of communication with them open, so they know what drivers see when they see it.

Open communication also helps back-office teams reroute drivers as needed, so they can further avoid dangerous routes altogether.

Equip the truck with the right necessities. Drivers should ensure their cab is fully stocked with the proper necessities on the road.

Here are the vital supplies drivers will want to keep on hand:

  1. Bottled water and non-perishable food.
  2. Rain gear, such as umbrellas, ponchos, and boots.
  3. A pack of different types of batteries.
  4. A flashlight or headlamp.
  5. A portable phone charger.
  6. Protective cold-weather gear, including gloves, warm clothing, and blankets.

Other hurricane safety tips and resources are available from the National Weather Service.

Meanwhile, the American Logistics Aid Network is urging Florida and Gulf Coast residents to prepare — and asking members of the logistics community who aren’t located near the storm’s path to be ready to help.

“Over the next few days Hurricane Ian has the potential to deliver high winds, strong rains and a significant storm surge across many parts of Florida,” Kathy Fulton, ALAN’s executive director, said. “We are mobilizing accordingly.”

Late last week, ALAN began what Fulton calls the preparedness stage of the disaster relief organization’s storm activation, which includes:

  • Providing pre-storm information about the storm’s latest path and supply chain impacts via its Supply Chain Intelligence Center, which can be accessed for free at
  • Updating ALAN’s Disaster Micro-site with helpful links for those who are in Hurricane Ian’s cone of concern. That site is also where ALAN will share any specific requests for logistics assistance that it receives because of the storm.
  • Checking in with members of the nonprofit and disaster relief community to find out what resources they anticipate needing.
  • Working closely with government and industry officials to share critical disaster and supply chain information.

ALAN’s response relief efforts — which include fielding and filling specific requests for logistics help — will commence later this week if the storm’s strength and path continue as predicted.

“Most of our requests for assistance arrive after a hurricane or tropical storm has hit,” Fulton said. “That’s because each storm winds up having very different outcomes and pain points.  And you really can’t predict what those will be – and where relief organizations will require supply chain assistance the most – until after the storm has moved through.”

As always, Fulton said that ALAN hopes these measures will prove to be merely precautionary.

“Over the years we’ve seen some potentially catastrophic hurricanes that have turned into relatively minor events while others have morphed into far more deadly and destructive events than expected,” she said. “We are praying that Hurricane Ian will turn out to be the former.  However, if it isn’t, we want people to remember that ALAN is here to help – and to do everything in their power to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Trucker News Staff

The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.
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