If you’re an owner-operator considering hauling for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), or you’ve already committed to hauling loads through a government contract, there are some situations to prepare for and expect when running loads for disaster relief, debris removal, or other necessities post-natural disaster. While many people are leaving the areas affected by natural disasters, such as hurricanes, trucking companies are called to carry in relief supplies. If you’re a carrier bringing in the necessary supplies, you might not know what to expect.
What to Expect Hauling FEMA Loads:
Trucking demand will be increased.
Before you begin, know that the demand for trucking will be high for some time after a natural disaster. It’s a great opportunity to help those deeply affected and in need, while taking on new contracts and expanding a trucking company. Be prepared to be busy, if you want to be. Hours of service are often suspended for these types of hauls, but it’s not guaranteed, so double check before you start.
You’ll need to be patient.
At least initially, there will be a lot of waiting. When you reach a relief site, it might take quite a bit of time for someone to tell you where to go and there will be many other trucks also waiting to be directed. A great deal of coordination is necessary for a site to run smoothly, and it will take some time for local, state or federal officials to get in sync. For some workers, it might be their first time working a natural disaster, and the difficulties they’re experiencing will reflect on your wait time. Try to be patient.
Cell phone service might be affected.
There may be poor cell reception because power lines may be down. You might not be able to use your phone in certain areas, so make sure you have directions written out on paper. The CB radio can be helpful for the areas where you don’t have service.
Include FEMA detention rate.
Don’t forget about the detention rate. FEMA pays a daily detention rate and it should be built into your confirmation sheets. Load boards will have loads with a high dollar amount per mile, but you may have to wait days before unloading.
Slow payment process.
The majority of FEMA loads will be posted from freight brokers, and brokers may take a long time to pay you for your work. FEMA loads require a lot of paperwork to be filled out and submitted, so it’s not necessarily the brokers’ fault but you might want to consider asking them if they offer a quick pay option, or see if you want to factor to get your cash faster.
Keep yourself organized.
Be sure to keep everything in writing. Everyone will be swamped with paperwork when loads are being hauled for disaster relief. Make sure you keep a detailed log of all your costs, miles, hours, etc. so you know how much work you’ve put in and can get paid by the broker for all your time and hard work.
Be aware of damaged roads.
Frequently traveled routes for freight haulers that were closed may be starting to reopen after the initial disaster subsides, but there could be debris or high water unexpectedly across roadways, so be more cautious as you approach these areas.
Prepare your truck.
Prepare your semi-trailer or flatbed in advance. Fill up your tank before you get to the emergency area. There might not be operating gas stations within the area and you don’t want to leave yourself stranded, so plan on filling up ahead of time. It’s also recommended to bring a tire plugging kit and an air hose. Remember, you might not have cell service to call for help.
Bring extra food.
Bring enough food to last you a few days because, like gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants will probably not be up and running for weeks. You definitely don’t want to be hungry while you’re patiently waiting for instructions. You might want to bring a book or crossword puzzles to pass the time you’ll spend waiting, especially if you don’t have access to the internet on your cell phone.
Most importantly, stay safe.
If you encounter high water or unsafe road conditions that you know you shouldn’t drive through, it isn’t worth the risk. Keep yourself safe while you’re on the road, even if you’re hauling disaster relief supplies.
Being prepared to deliver FEMA loads is important when hauling freight for disaster relief. See if factoring loads for FEMA or government contracts is an option you’ll want to use to improve your cash flow, rather than waiting on brokers to pay you for your work.
NOTE: We cannot assist you in signing up for FEMA or finding FEMA loads. All we can do to help with that is provide you the easy-to-follow guide below. Once you are signed up AND have loads, we can factor your invoices. Please do not contact us until that point. We are not associated with FEMA and are not qualified to give advice beyond what is detailed below.
How to Haul with FEMA
Finding FEMA loads is as simple as following the liaison program guides on FEMA’s website, which are:
1. Register for the System for Award Management (SAM)
2. Monitor Contract Opportunity Sites
The federal government uses a couple of different sites to post FEMA loads.
- Federal Business Opportunites – A load board and portal that lets vendors review opportunities over $25,000.
- FedBid – An online marketplace connecting sellers to federal and commercial opportunities.
- DHS Advance Acquisition Planning System – A place to find DHS contract opportunities.
- It also pays to monitor various other online load boards.
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