During the late summer and early fall, Crowley’s Carlos Rice keeps one eye glued to the TV and the other on the phone. With hurricane season usually in full swing, he and his team are frequently called on to collaborate with USAID to assemble and often deliver life-saving supplies to islands throughout the Caribbean, usually with only a few hours advance notice. In August of 2007, when Hurricane Dean battered Jamaica with 150 mph winds that left a swath of destruction, we were ready to answer the call.
Delivering tens of thousands of relief supplies by air is never an easy task, especially when the primary airport has been left without power, making nighttime landings an impossibility. But that was only one challenge. Upon receiving the call during the late afternoon, the team had to go through our 180,000-square-foot warehouse — 30,000 of which are dedicated to USAID supplies — then have everything they had requisitioned on pallets and ready to travel the next day. And on top of that, they needed to respond to a request for a competitive bid to transport all the supplies by the next morning.
Fortunately, Hurricane Dean represents the kind of situation where our Government Services team has succeeded countless times. Since assuming responsibility for logistics at the warehouse three years ago, we’ve instituted an online inventory tracking system — updated every two weeks — that enabled USAID officials to instantly determine what kind of aid could be delivered. And since we were awarded the delivery contract, our logistics team had a DC-8 filled with 80,000 pounds of relief supplies in the air and en route to Kingston in less than 24 hours, where the aid was distributed to those in need.
This type of effort is typical for our Government Services team, which in the event of a disaster can manage the entire logistical chain, including integrating the services of our Liner group when necessary. As the sole manager of the USAID’s Miami warehouse and logistics facility we’ve orchestrated humanitarian efforts throughout the world, helping USAID respond to all types of natural disasters — from floods in Pakistan to earthquakes in Chile.