MONTGOMERY, AL — This week’s deadly storms in the Deep South left entire communities in ruins, mostly in the state of Alabama, where about 165 tornados killed more than 200 people and injured thousands. One powerful tornado that ripped across the land from eastern Mississippi to Georgia grew to a mile wide in some areas and decimated entire sections of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. The infrastructural damage is so immense that it will have a long-lasting impact on commerce in this region, including some interruptions for many trucking operations.
According to a report by Truckinginfo, one of the twisters hit a truck stop in Glade Spring, Virginia, tossing more than 300 tractor trailers around and continuing on to kill 13 people in nearby homes. The destruction led to a massive fuel spill that covered a large area around the leveled truck stop and overturned tractor trailers, some of which were thrown onto the highway.
So far the tornadoes appear to have spared major trucking companies in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham from such catastrophic damage. Many commercial truck operations, Truckinginfo reports, were just feet away from being annihilated by the twisters.
Tom Neely, president of Ross Neely Truck Lines in Birmingham, told Truckinginfo that he’s never seen anything like the damage wrought by the tornado just half a block from his company. While his terminal received some roof damage, Neely said that his biggest challenge right now is the downed phone lines and lack of internet. He told Truckinginfo that he had to dispatch trucks to areas in search of internet access in order to operate normally.
The AAA Cooper terminal in Birmingham also escaped heavy damage, though the storm showered the carrier’s facility with debris. The tornado blew past Davis Hauling in Tuscaloosa within an eighth of a mile and WTI Transport’s Tuscaloosa facility, but those companies also received little damage.
Although these carriers received no direct hit from the tornado, damage may come in other forms. One of WTI’s large shippers, Tamco Roofing in Birmingham, was “totally obliterated” one source told Truckinginfo. WTI’s vice-president of operations, Darren Lee, told Truckinginfo that he expects some economic losses as a result of the destruction of client companies.
Businesses that were not affected by the storm directly will continue to experience interruptions for some time during the cleanup and recovery process as utilities and infrastructure are restored and employees who lost their homes and loved ones struggle to cope with their losses.