It is still too early to determine the full impact of Hurricane Florence on the North American automotive supply chain, which hit the East Coast of the U.S. over the weekend of Sept. 15--16 and brought destruction to large areas of North and South Carolina.
The hurricane, which damaged homes and businesses and left 500,000 of them without power, is known to have caused the death of at least 37 people and continues to disrupt movements as it moves inland as a tropical storm.
Carmakers and their dealers are still assessing the impact. Mercedes-Benz and Volvo took the precaution of closing plants in the area ahead of the storm. Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) only opened its new full-production Sprinter van assembly facility in Charleston, SD, this month but decided to shut the plant as a precaution.
Volvo shut its plant, which is also located near Charleston. The plant opened in June this year and is making the S60 mid-size sports sedan. As with MBUSA, it has not been able to provide details on when production will recommence.
Dealers have been adversely affected, but the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) said it had yet to ascertain what the full impact of the storm was. The North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association was unavailable for comment.
Major road links were flooded in North and South Carolina, and 11 bridges were closed.
At the port of Charleston, most operations resumed the week of Sept. 16, including ro-ro and container traffic, and at the intermodal connections inland. The port of Virginia, meanwhile, has only reported minimal disruption and was only closed for one day in anticipation of the storm.
“Leading up to mid-week last week, we were focused on preparation, ride-out and resumption of operations, and these are standard protocol that we follow as a storm nears,” said a spokesperson for the port. “Since Wednesday, we have had normal operations and we extended our hours of operation into the weekend to make up for the single-day closure. Finally, we have reached out to North Carolina and are offering whatever assistance we can provide to those ports in helping them regain their footing.”