After a natural disaster comes the need for disaster relief, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other government agencies call on the trucking industry to help haul loads to relief sites. These loads are referred to as FEMA loads and are essentially government contracts issued for disaster relief loads aiding in recovery efforts. “They tend to come with higher rates, but pay attention to the details,” says DJ Crocker, TAFS Director of Risk Management, “They can also come with additional risks for your trucking company.” Here are a few tips from TAFS on running a successful FEMA load:
Getting in Touch with Freight Brokers
FEMA loads are not to be dealt with like your regular loads on a load board. These are harder to find through freight freight finding tools and typically go through freight brokers directly. This means the broker is responsible for paying you. Before you accept a load, base your decision on the broker’s ability to pay, not FEMA’s. In addition, DJ suggests “verifying the load is actually coming from FEMA”. If it is not, you may be stuck holding the bill.
What Else to Expect When Accepting FEMA Loads
How long are you going to wait?
When running FEMA loads, you will probably sit for several days at the drop-off site with your truckloads. Remember, in these situations, you are the supply chain. Resources in disaster areas are scarce. Make sure you replenish your fuel, food, and water supplies before you arrive in a disaster area. In addition, be patient. Several other truck drivers will be in your situation – waiting around to be unloaded. Remain calm and polite. A bad attitude will not make things go faster.
Verify Detention Rates
DJ also advises you to “ensure the detention rate and final total amount of detention pay are listed on your rate confirmation sheet.” Knowing how long you are going to sit, and how much you will be paid for sitting, will help you plan for your trip. Afterall cash flow is a important aspect to keep on top of for owner-operators.
Keep a well-organized, paper trail
Keep records of all your purchases and paperwork. Include details on deadheaded miles, layovers, linehaul, detention, and other accessorial charges. Also, keep detailed notes on conversations between brokers and your trucking company, including emails. “Get agreements in writing; do not simply accept a verbal confirmation.” Brokers deal with an influx of freight during natural disasters and are dealing with a great deal more paperwork than usual. A paper trail is the best way to ensure everyone is accountable.
Payment will take a while
Natural disasters slow everything down, including payments for loads. Payments can be even slower if you sign a contract. To speed up advances, it is best to utilize a trusted factoring company like TAFS. We can get you paid within hours*, instead of several months down the road.
Thank you to all the drivers giving their time to help in the wake of natural disasters. You are enabling these areas to get back on their feet. We appreciate what you are doing and, in return, want to ensure your business is protected. Read the fine print and stay safe.
* All advancing times on approved invoices are approximate and can fluctuate. Restrictions apply.
Other Ways to Help with Disaster Relief
Have you ever had to deal with disaster recovery? Hurricane Harvey was felt around the country. As the 4th most populated city in the United States, it seems everyone knows someone affected by the storm and flooding in Houston. Florida dealt with clean up after its own impact from Hurricane Irma and wildfires continue to rage through the northwest. Most recently, we have all seen the large scale impact of covid-19 and the demand placed on every trucking business responding to the relief efforts. In times of disaster, the country depends on the trucking industry more than ever. Charities donate water, medicine, and basic supplies, but truckers are the ones who help deliver those donations to the people in need.
However, making those deliveries is not always easy. Fires, flooded roads, and downed bridges can make it difficult to reach drop-off points. In the case of southern Texas, several shippers and receivers flooded, making it necessary to find other options outside of flood zones. FTR predicted 7% of the trucking industry was affected by Hurricane Harvey over the weeks that followed its landfall. With Hurricane Irma and the Northwest fires threatening populated areas, things may not get better any time soon. It is not possible for every truck driver to deliver supplies to disaster areas, but there are other ways to help.
What can we do to help?
As natural disasters batter the country, the trucking industry will continue giving its support. This is why “Trucking is a noble profession and truck drivers are noble people.” They find a way to get you what you need.
*These are suggested resources only. TAFS has no affiliation to these groups and charities.
Interested in learning more? Our team of trucking experts would love to assist you. 913-393-6110