As the U.S. prepares for the first Category 4 Atlantic hurricane of the season to hit the eastern seaboard, freight railroads are taking direct action to protect their employees, customers and infrastructure.
Freight railroads operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, over more than 140,000 miles of track across the nation’s vast and diverse landscape putting them in the direct line of major weather events, such as Hurricane Florence. Over the years railroads have developed an effective strategy and process to protect employees, ensure network safety and mitigate impacts on their customers before, during and following major storms.
Railroads are actively working with government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to monitor the path of Hurricane Florence and its potential impacts. The information is then aggregated into accessible dashboards enabling all parties to constantly keep abreast of storm developments.
Railroads have established command posts to coordinate Hurricane Florence preparations, implement contingency plans, conduct impact assessments and initiate response actions. These plans entail a range of initiatives, including, but not limited to:
- Removing locomotives and rail cars from yards and areas at risk of flooding.
- Rerouting traffic out of areas likely to be affected.
- Staging rail employees, equipment and materials to areas surrounding the projected track of the storm to enable prompt response and recovery actions.
- Continuous updates to customers on storm preparations, potential service disruptions and projected restoration of service.
Railroads work with local, state and federal officials to ensure they can deploy teams to inspect, assess, and, as needed, clear, repair or restore damaged infrastructure to enable resumption of safe train operations as quickly as possible. If necessary, railroads will often bolster local relief efforts by delivering critical supplies such as food, water and lumber into affected areas and moving debris caused by storm damage out of these areas.
Hurricane Florence is projected to be the strongest storm to target the East Coast in decades and railroads are taking this threat very seriously. You should too! Visit ready.gov/hurricanes to learn the steps you can take right now to stay safe.