A swift response to a devastating storm

When Hurricane Matthew struck, Maersk acted quickly to safeguard personnel through its emergency response plan, and today contributes to the ongoing emergency relief for Haiti.

Haiti let
More than 800 people were reported dead and tens of thousands were left homeless as the storm left a trail of destruction across the country, causing flooding, mudslides and damage to infrastructure, power and water supplies.

With our assistance, the UN can focus a bit less on logistics in this emergency response, and a bit more on their real mission: helping more people, faster.

ROB ROLSKY, HEAD OF OPERATIONS, PROJECTS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES, DAMCO

What is The LET?

  • The Logistics Emergency Team (LET) is an emergency response partnership formed to assist the Logistics Cluster of the UN with disaster relief efforts.
  • The Logistics Cluster plays a vital role in addressing challenges faced by the humanitarian community, from coordination and information management to facilitating access to logistics services.
  • In 2015, the Logistics Cluster supported 400 organisations, including national and international NGOs, UN agencies, foundations and government agencies across 15 countries.
  • Since the LET partnership was initiated by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2005, the three companies – Agility, Maersk and UPS – have teamed up to support the humanitarian community by providing logistics expertise, deploying logistics staff, as well as offering in-kind services during large-scale natural disasters.

On 4th October 2016 a devastating hurricane struck Haiti. Hurricane Matthew hit the country with wind speeds of 230 kilometers per hour before continuing on its path of destruction over the Bahamas and up the US East Coast (USEC).

As ports on the US Southeast Coast were shut down and evacuated, the Americas Marine team in Panama had to work quickly to activate their emergency response plan.

“The uniqueness of this storm was the direction it took. Beginning through Haiti it continued to track over every major port in the Bahamas and up the US East Coast, so our efforts to protect staff and assets were multiplied,” explains Stephen Davis, USEC Marine Manager, Maersk Line - Americas Marine.

“Safety of our people is the priority. Before the storm hits there’s a short window of just a few hours to ensure our vessels can sail clear of the storm, and employees at the ports can evacuate to safety. We are glad to report our vessels, crew, and port employees were able to escape the storm unharmed.”

Help for Haiti
In Haiti, which bore the brunt of the storm, the full impact of its devastation is still being evaluated.

More than 800 people were reported dead and tens of thousands were left homeless as the storm left a trail of destruction across the country, causing flooding, mudslides and damage to infrastructure, power and water supplies.

Haiti let group
The America Marine team moved quickly to activate the emergency response plan when Hurricane Matthew hit.

Safety of our people is the priority. Before the storm hits there’s a short window of just a few hours to ensure our vessels can sail clear of the storm.

STEPHEN DAVIS, MARINE MANAGER, MAERSK LINE – AMERICAS MARINE

Keeping trade moving

  • While Maersk Line does not operate in Haiti, Hurricane Matthew caused extensive disruption to the network in the US.
  • The storm impacted eight ports – including Freeport Bahamas, Miami, Jacksonville, Charleston, Savannah, and Wilmington – which were shut down and evacuated, and over 70 vessel port calls over eight days.
  • Freeport Bahamas, a major transshipment hub, was closed for three weeks leading to severe delays to cargo and major re-routing of vessels. Maersk suffered an estimated half a million dollars in losses.
  • The impact to customers was lessened thanks to a close collaboration between operational and commercial colleagues in NAMLOC and the USA Cluster.
  • “We have learned over the years and improved how we react as these phenomenon happen, whether it’s a winter storm or a hurricane. Our efforts in planning and previous experience in execution of our crisis plans allowed us to quickly come together as one team, despite geographical differences, to minimise impact to our customers and to keep the freight moving,” said Davis.

2.1 million people are now said to be in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, including access to quality water, education, shelter, child protection, health and nutrition. The country is also struggling with an increase in cholera cases.

Relief items en route

Maersk is contributing up to USD 125,000 to the aid effort in Haiti as part of the Logistics Emergency Team (LET) – a cross-company partnership between Maersk, Agility, and UPS - that supports the Logistics Cluster led by United Nations World Food Programme in providing humanitarian relief efforts during natural disasters.

A Maersk vessel with 11 containers containing 5,380 shelter tool kits, plastic buckets, vehicles and other relief items on behalf of the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) is currently en route from Las Palmas and Dubai, scheduled to arrive in Port au Prince, Haiti by 19th December.

Maersk has also donated a reefer container for storage of vaccinations for UNICEF, while Damco has provided forklifts, operators and other services for local operations to run more efficiently.

Rob Rolsky, Head of Operations, Projects and Government Services, Damco coordinated Maersk’s response to the emergency.

“UN aid organisations needed help getting supplies out quickly, and with temperature sensitive storage for donated medicines arriving into the country. Maersk was quick to step up, and our team has done a great job communicating with the World Food Programme on behalf of Maersk. With our assistance, the UN can focus a bit less on logistics in this emergency response, and a bit more on their real mission: helping more people, faster.”

Stephen Cahill, Global Logistics Cluster Coordinator at the UN World Food Programme said the swift response by the LET was critical to helping vulnerable communities in Haiti.

“The LET response in Haiti has once again proved to be an excellent example of how public-private collaboration can make a difference in delivering humanitarian support. In a sudden on-set emergency like Hurricane Matthew it is vital to respond swiftly. The first planning discussions with Maersk were held before the hurricane actually hit Haiti, enabling the Logistics Cluster to provide effective disaster relief to the affected population.”