The US East Coast is experiencing delivery service suspensions, disruptions and delays following last night’s arrival of Hurricane Sandy.
The storm system centred on New Jersey has seen service suspensions from the big shipping companies reaching from southern New England down to northern North Carolina, and as far inland as parts of Ohio.
Companies said they had contingency plans in place ahead of the storm, facility closures and transport network disruption were taking their toll today.
Even where services are not suspended, companies were warning of disruptions and delays in States across the North East.
Hurricane Sandy hit America’s most populated region on Monday evening, with hurricane force winds knocking out power, while rain, snow and the storm surge have brought severe flooding in many areas.
As many as 7.4m people are currently without power, while the region’s major airports have seen 17,000 flights cancelled.
The US Postal Service had worked much of Monday to get as much volume delivered as possible in areas facing the imminent storm, except where evacuations were taking place in New York and New Jersey.
Some retail operations were closed as of Monday afternoon from Boston down to northern North Carolina, with Postal Service headquarters in Washington, and other offices in northern Virginia and Maryland operating only with essential personnel.
Tuesday assessments on routes were being taken on a case by case basis, with USPS working to get facilities back on line by close of play Tuesday.
FedEx has temporarily suspended service in much of New Jersey, and along the East Coast from Massachusetts down to the northern part of the North Carolina shore. In other states along the Eastern Seaboard there were also warnings of delays today.
Deliveries in the New York City area were being limited to emergency medical and perishable items only.
The Memphis-based company said it was continuing to monitor the situation and said the top priority was the safety and well-being of staff, along with the level of service to customers.
Service delays and disruptions could be anticipated in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington DC and West Virginia, the integrator said.
“FedEx is committed to providing service to the best of our ability in areas that can be safely accessed,” it said.
UPS said severe weather, flooding and power outages resulting from Hurricane Sandy was causing some unavoidable delays in New England, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington DC and West Virginia.
The company said: “UPS is committed to making every effort to provide service to all areas where conditions permit safe access. We are closely monitoring local areas to ensure service resumes as soon as conditions permit.”
DHL had similar warnings of unavoidable service delays, saying that availability of local DHL pickup was dependent on which areas were accessible following the storm.
DHL facilities in Baltimore and New Jersey were closed Monday afternoon, with services in the areas suspended, although plans were to reopen Tuesday afternoon depending on whether power was on.
“DHL has been proactively managing its network and activated contingency plans to minimise shipment delays,” the company said.
Service guarantees for late shipments do not apply during natural disasters, the company noted.