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Strengthening Post-Hurricane Supply Chain Resilience

Observations from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria

By National Academies Research
March 25, 2021

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee on Building Adaptable and Resilient Supply Chains After Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria to analyze the function of supply chain networks in four primary areas affected by the 2017 storms in South Texas (Hurricane Harvey), South Florida (Hurricane Irma), and Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (Hurricanes Irma and Maria). Specifically, the committee was asked to identify key lessons from these events related to supply and distribution networks and to offer recommendations for improving the conveyance and distribution of essential supplies and commodities during disaster response and recovery operations—focused on supply chains for food, fuel, water, and pharmaceutical and medical supplies. This article highlights parts of the report that focus directly on transportation issues in the four localities previously mentioned.

Supply chains facilitate the timely flow of materials and products from suppliers to manufacturers to distributors (wholesalers) to distribution channels (e.g., retailers, clinics and hospitals, and non-governmental organizations) and, finally, to end-users. They do this by transmitting demand information upstream—and other related information downstream—to guide production, transportation, and distribution decisions.

Disruptions to a supply chain can result from several forces, including demand shifts (e.g., spikes in demand for fuel and bottled water), capacity reductions (e.g., when a factory or retail store cannot operate due to damage or power outages), and communication disruptions (e.g., loss of cell phone, Internet, or point-of-sale systems). The resilience of a supply chain depends on how its bottlenecks and lead times are affected by such disruptions and what capabilities exist for swift restoration after a disruption. The objective of supply chain resilience is to minimize the impact of such disruptions on the affected population.

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Crisis Conversations 

Over the years, crisis management leaders have sat down with HSAC to share their thoughts concerning public safety and emergency management in the Los Angeles region and beyond. These dynamic dialogues have complied into the Crisis Conversations series. 

The Attacks on Paris: Lessons Learned 

On November 13, 2015, a total of nine attackers caused havoc in Paris. After President Francois Hollande had declared a state of emergency, 130 people had been killed, and 368 wounded. It was the deadliest attack on French soil since World War II. What lessons have we learned since then? A multi-agency Los Angeles delegation traveled to Paris, to meet with Parisian law enforcement and intelligence communities, and released a white paper, Attacks on Paris: Lessons Learned. The Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) white paper documents the findings of the delegation, and discusses how the lessons learned can be applied in Southern California.

HSAC Stakeholder Reports

Fiscal Years 2016 - 2018

The 2018 HSAC Stakeholder Report outlines HSAC's work throughout the greater Los Angeles region over the course of the year.

Fiscal Years 2015 - 2017

The 2017 HSAC Stakeholder report outlines HSAC's work throughout the greater Los Angeles region over the course of the year.

Fiscal Years 2014 - 2016

The 2016 HSAC Stakeholder report outlines HSAC's work throughout the greater Los Angeles region over the course of the year.