Logistics of Disaster Management in Supply Chain

When natural disasters strike, there is no time to waste. No matter the type, the help involved must be ready for everything. It is crucial for the people that it involves to be hyper aware of their surroundings and be quick on their feet. Through all the chaos, good logistics can save the lives of many and help rebuild communities effectively. Here are some factors that play a big role in the logistics of disaster management:


Communication is arguably one of the most important factors in any operation. Due to the fast pace of disaster management, contact between organizations must be seamless. The United Nations, Red Cross, local organizations and many others must work together as the scale of these disasters are huge. In addition, they must also be in constant communication with local government, first responders and the media.

One approach that allows people to take action immediately is decentralization. Things can take time when they go through multiple parties, but when you decentralize authority, people are able to act faster. For example, when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, Walmart took a decentralized approach that allowed local managers to provide food and water to the victims quickly and effectively.

When the unexpected happens, communication will start locally. Initial news and planning are discussed among local organizations such as Incident Command Centers (ICCs) and possible Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs). Communication will generally be face-to-face, sent through runners, or radio. If news is sent through any medium that isn’t direct communication, it is generally encrypted so that information can be kept away from the media and general public.

Once communication is established between organizations directly involved, only then can information be sent to media outlets and the public. Information must be accurate before being broadcast, especially when it involves other people. For example, information about victims needs to be correct for those who have connections to them.


Though it may be a well known fact that forecasting is an essential part of logistics, there are many things that can go wrong. In disaster management, organizations and their workers must prepare for every possible scenario. Natural disasters are highly unstable, but a good way to prepare is to be aware of the warning signs. For example, there is some predictability in weather patterns. As well, plans are continuously developing to improve various procedures. There is no stopping these disasters from happening, but based on experience, observation and proper education, both citizens and professional aids can make the most out of a bad situation.


Essential supplies like clean drinking water and food are vital for victims of natural disasters. But with such an immediate demand for supplies and equipment, how does it get to the victims in time? The answer is transportation. Though there are many factors that contribute to the supply chain, transportation requires a lot of logistical planning. Often, in the affected area, infrastructure is severely damaged. For example, trucks may not be able to get to victims accurately enough in an earthquake if large objects and debris are blocking the roads. Alternative methods of shipment must be put into place and planning needs to be adaptable. A 3PL can help with choosing a mode of transit. It’s a big part of 3PL, as well as warehousing and more.


Overall, disaster management is a huge operation. It requires lots of forecasting and preparation, along with the ability to adapt. Organizations must be flexible in terms of change and expect the unexpected. However, these practices don’t have to be exclusive to disaster management. There are takeaways that you can employ to your business too. Make sure logistics is doing its part for you.