Floridians are starting to assess the damage created by Hurricane Ian a day after it slammed into the Gulf Coast as a massive Category 4 storm. By Thursday morning, Ian had been downgraded to a tropical storm, but a threat remains as it continues to bring heavy winds and rain to the state.
As of 11:54 a.m. EDT, more than 2.6 million Floridians were without power, with some counties, including Hardee, almost completely in the dark. Nearly 20% of Tampa gas stations have reported fuel shortage and access issues.
As previously reported, the logistics impacts could last for weeks — or longer.
Roads and bridges
In a news conference Thursday morning in Tallahassee, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is working to make sure roads and interstate highways are open.
Most of Interstate 75 remains open, according to FDOT, with some interruptions.
"Alligator Alley on I-75 across into Collier and Lee County is open and flowing," DeSantis said. "I-75 south through Charlotte County is open and flowing. Portions of Lee County they are still looking at."
Additionally, part of the Sanibel Causeway Bridge, a major bridge that connects Fort Myers to Sanibel Island, has been washed out.
DeSantis added that 100 inspectors, working in teams of two, will assess bridges. Once determined to be safe, they will reopen, but the governor added that he anticipates more bridges to be damaged.
Storm affecting key ports
Port Tampa Bay, a major facility for fuel that is mostly barged over from refining centers on the Gulf Coast, remains shut down.
With Tropical Storm Ian expected to move toward Georgia and the Carolinas, the Georgia Ports Authority said Wednesday that the Port of Savannah's Garden City Terminal will provide day operations through Thursday, with truck gates opening at 4 a.m. EDT and closing at 6 p.m.
There will be no night gates in Savannah on Thursday. The cutoff time for container pickup on Thursday will be 4:30 p.m., and 5 p.m. for container drop-offs.
Savannah's Ocean Terminal will operate as normal from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. through Thursday. The Port of Brunswick will also maintain normal operating hours from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. through Thursday.
The Georgia Ports Authority will open truck gates at Garden City Terminal from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday. Its regular Saturday gate hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. will be in effect. Gates at the Ocean Terminal in Savannah will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.
Vessel service in Savannah will resume Saturday morning.
Savannah could feel Ian's effects soon. Everstream Analytics' meteorologists are forecasting wind gusts of more than 70 mph, 6-to-8 inches of rain and a 3-to-5-foot storm surge at the Port of Savannah, the fourth-largest container port in the country, for Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the South Carolina Ports Authority said all marine terminals will operate at normal hours Thursday, but all will be closed Friday. The North Carolina Ports Authority reported normal gate and vessel operations will continue Thursday at the Port of Wilmington, Port of Morehead City and the Charlotte Inland Port.
On Friday, there will be no vessel operations at Wilmington and Morehead City due to anticipated high winds. Wilmington's South Gate and container yard operations will be closed. Container free time will be extended one day unless cargo is already in demurrage. The North Gate will remain open for normal operating hours for General Cargo and Tenant traffic.
FMCSA waives HOS restrictions in 8 states
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is waiving hours-of-service restrictions in eight states for motor carriers moving emergency relief supplies, equipment and fuel into states affected by Hurricane Ian.
The emergency order covers Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, waiving the 14-hour driving window, 11-hour driving limit and other HOS rules covered under Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The order expires on Oct. 28 or until the emergency is over.
Earlier this week, DeSantis waived hours-of-service, size and weight restrictions for trucks delivering emergency supplies and equipment.
Delivery delays reported
FedEx, UPS, U.S. Postal Service and XPO Logistics are reporting delivery delays across the Southeast.
Logistics providers caution that truckload capacity in Florida will continue in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Many carriers will switch to bringing in items for clean-up and repairs and hauling necessities such as water. Some freight may need to be held because of power outages or impassable roads at destinations, and many LTL carriers continue to have limited to no service in Florida.
Storm cancels, delays flights
Although Miami International Airport remains open, multiple flights have been delayed or canceled due to Tropical Storm Ian. The thousands of flight cancellations are likely to create ripple effects on airline networks across the country.
Airports in Orlando and Tampa are closed.
Other impacts being felt
CSX shut down several railroad facilities in the Tampa area, in addition to its intermodal hub in Winterhaven and other centers across Florida.
Tropical Storm Ian is tracking northward toward key automotive, agriculture, textile, food processing and industrial hubs in northern Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, posing potential challenges for major producers.
AIT Worldwide Logistics reported office closures in Orlando and Tampa, and employees are working remotely. Its Miami facility is fully operational but will not deliver to Naples or Fort Myers until Monday at the earliest, the company said.
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