Multi-state disasters create the biggest logistics challenges.
A sobering list of how effective the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been in distributing supplies post hurricanes highlights the need for state and local jurisdictions to do more detailed planning on restoring their supply chains.
See this quick summary from Jason Biermann that he recently shared with Western Washington colleagues:
"I want to share with all of you (sorry if it’s a duplicate) the recently released DHS OIG [Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General] assessment of FEMA’s commodity distribution efforts during the response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria. I found the statistics contained within this report reinforced how vital our planning is. Some examples:
While I’m confident that FEMA learned many lessons from Irma and Maria, the scale of these operations obviously exceeded the available capability and capacity. Due to the number of people affected and geographic spread, a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake will very likely be much worse. Based on that likelihood, I think it would be imprudent of us to rely solely on the traditional, linear “DC – ISB – FSA – SSA – POD” model of logistics. I’m looking forward to reconvening everyone soon and discussing how to align the RCPGP projects with the supply chain resilience TA work done by Snohomish, King, Pierce, and Thurston Counties. I think our region has a significant head start on its engagement with the private sector grocery folks and we should take full advantage of that."
The eight-county Central Puget Sound region he refers to has a project to look at how to provide supplies in a post earthquake environment where transportation routes and facilities — e.g., bridges — have been damaged or even destroyed.
The highlight I always tell people is that earthquakes are "come as you are" disasters. There is no opportunity to see the earthquake brewing for several weeks and get the supply chain moving in advance. In the case of an earthquake, the shaking is your first indication that something needs to be done logistically. Thus, the timelines above will be extended even further.
I would also like to note that the two hurricanes mentioned above were in the 2017 mega hurricane season and some of the major impacts were to Puerto Rico, which provided additional logistical issues in getting supplies to the island, offloading them and then getting them distributed.