Trucking companies felt the pinch during storm

Water pressure in Corpus Christi began increasing Thursday.

Power was restored for many residents who had been without light or heat for days.

The sun was out; no more freezing rain was in the forecast for the Coastal Bend.

All are positive signs of recovery after what turned out to be an unprecedented winter storm, though empty store shelves around the city tell another story.

Businesses that use big trucks to ship goods from far-away distributors to local shops and customers are hopeful the damage left by the storm isn’t permanent, and are optimistic things eventually return to normal.

When exactly that will be is anyone’s guess.

“We have to be planning for further delays beyond coming getting above freezing as we fix our pipes,” said John Esparza, president/CEO of the Texas Trucking Association. “I know we’ve got to prepare.

“Just because the sun comes out and (it’s) 70 (degrees), that doesn’t mean that we’re going to be back to normal quite yet.”

Returning to everyday life after the storm may depend largely on the public demand for water, Esparza said.

Trucking, also known as the supply-chain industry, is responsible for moving all goods — including essentials, such as water and food — across the state and country to their destinations.

There are 65,810 tucking companies in Texas and 702,950 related jobs, according to the trucking association.

“Trucking doesn’t stop,” said John Rojas, director of transportation training services at Del Mar College.

Highways can be closed. And many of the Coastal Bend’s major highways and bridges were shut down for days because of the weather.

Store shelves emptied, while trucks were set back on deliveries. Demand for basic commodities increased.

“When folks start hoarding … you just create this deluge of demand. And then it has to backfill. And if the roads are impassable or travel is difficult … it takes a little longer to get things back where they need to be,” Esparza said. “We know it’s not a shortage of diesel. We know it’s not a shortage of water. It’s just the logistics.”

More truck deliveries reached their local destinations Thursday as once-shuttered businesses reopened.

Vendors brought whatever products they had available to Island Market IGA grocery. The store on North Padre Island was open for business Thursday morning.

Store owner Lori Rasheed predicted “by the weekend, things will be back to normal.”

The store was closed Wednesday when it lost water service. Before closure, the shelves were bare from Tuesday shopping. The store was also closed Monday because of the weather.

A Corpus Christi-owned Oneta Company branch has been providing water to local hospitals, as well as grocery, dollar and convenient stores. The trucking business distributes products for Pepsi Cola Bottling Company of Corpus Christi,  Everest Water, Bay Coffee and Sunrise vending.

Its deliveries were pushed back a day, and the demand for water is high.

The local trucking business didn’t run on Monday due to the weather and closed roads. Tuesday and Wednesday, its trucks started driving on the roads a few hours late.

“We’re getting to places, but it’s a logistics nightmare, because of we have several (customers) that are closed because of power outages,” said Robert Harley, Oneta’s chief operating officer. “We’re rerouting, and we’re doing the absolute best we can to take care of the typical customers.”

Oneta Company has a water production facility in Corpus Christi, but pipes broke and it was out of commission until Wednesday. Its Houston production facility was also closed, and has had to route water from Mississippi to Corpus Christi.

“Obviously, nobody can forecast for a water main break in the city and a water boil, Harley said. “So you basically have what you have in house. And then you have to count on production facilities from all over to help support you.”

The state trucking association was helping find water for medical facilities in Corpus Christi on Thursday morning. It has gotten requests from around the state to help move bulk items, mostly water to operate boilers to heat large facilities such as medical ones, Esparza said.

“Fortunately, a lot of other states are responding to that need in Texas,” Esparza said. “As we talk right now, bottled water is on its way to the state emergency supplies. It’s very similar to what Corpus Christians have seen in terms of the hurricane. Those neighbors are busy working, and communicating with emergency management personnel.”

Source: Caller Times

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