The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a regional emergency declaration response for the East Coast states stretching from Florida to New York state as the region prepares for Hurricane Florence to make landfall.
As the storm approaches the most densely populated region of the U.S. with the power of a Category 4 hurricane, it has the potential to bring devastating wind, rain, and flooding along the coast and inland. The FMCSA’s emergency declaration will temporarily grant an exemption to certain regulations for carriers and drivers that deliver aid and assistance in the affected states and jurisdictions. Parts 390 through 399 of the Title 49 code of federal regulations, which includes hours of service, will be suspended for drivers and fleets participating in relief efforts.
The emergency declaration is in effect for the following states: Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The rules are only suspended while a truck is providing direct assistance. This terminates when transport cargo or provide services not directly supporting the emergency relief effort or when a carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce. Upon termination of direct assistance to the emergency relief effort, the carrier and driver are once again subjected to the normal regulations. However, a driver may return empty to a terminal or the driver's normal work reporting location without complying with Parts 390 through 399. Upon return a truck driver must be relieved of duty and receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty.
The storm is projected to make landfall in the Carolinas on Sept. 13, and could potentially sit there, dumping rain in the region for several days, potentially in the range of 20-30 inches. Hurricanes in the region usually travel up the coast and weaken as they move over land and colder waters, but Florence started at higher latitude than is typical. This makes Florence’s impact potentially unique because storms that originate where Florence has tend to curve northward and may miss land altogether.