by Stephanie Viscasillas

IT After 9/11: Recovery Logistics

Nov 15, 20012 mins
Disaster Recovery

On Sept. 11, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent out a plea to several trucking associations for 1,000 refrigerated trailers to aid in the disaster recovery in New York City. But nobody was sure how that would come together.

“Where do you begin to find 1,000 trailers?” asks Scott Nicholas, logistics analyst for Memphis, Tenn.-based transportation company GST Corp., one of the companies that received FEMA’s request. Traditionally, transportation companies use phones, fax machines or CBs to locate drivers willing to help out in emergencies. With those methods of communication spotty at best in New York immediately after the attacks, FEMA needed another means of getting the word out. Nicholas suggested calling Dallas-based TransCore, a transportation IT vendor. TransCore offers a B2B exchange, with e-logistics software that allows trucking company dispatchers to track freight movement and manage drivers remotely. With that software, TransCore posted FEMA’s request to monitors?usually used to post load requests?at truck stops within a 200-mile radius of Manhattan. The monitors flashed an ad calling for help from local truckers and providing a number for dispatchers to call.

“As soon as we did that, phones began ringing off the wall,” Nicholas says. Within two hours, 700 trailers were available and ready to move. After 24 hours, the ad had to be pulled?there was too much interest. Nicholas estimates that 95 percent of the drivers didn’t even want to be compensated. “If anyone says patriotism is dead, they should talk to those truckers,” he says.