With a large number of domestic and international natural disasters, 2011 has been a very busy year for the American Logistics Aid Network. "This year was particularly challenging because of the variety and range of events that took place and the different kinds of needs that relief agencies had," he says.
ALAN works with its business partners to provide relief agencies with the logistics help they need during times of emergency. "Business controls 85 percent of the resources in this country so it plays a very critical role in helping affected people rebuild their communities," Menzies says.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for ALAN in 2011 was the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. ALAN called on Yusen Logistics on the West Coast to help consolidate and ship relief supplies. Another interesting aspect of this event was that a professor of logistics in Tokyo, who is an ALAN partner, was able to provide daily feeds of conditions on the ground that ALAN posted on its web site. "This information was very interesting to people ranging from the Department of Defense to FEMA and relief agencies involved," he says.
Menzies notes that Japan was one of the world's best prepared countries for disaster, "yet they were challenged because some of the planning approaches they took, such as organization at the state level to project needs upstream, were overwhelmed by the destruction."
Other countries could learn a lot from Japan, however, in terms of having a core of people trained and that are ready to respond, Menzies says. He also notes that Japan did a tremendous job of rebuilding damaged infrastructure very rapidly after the event. Menzies says he saw photographs of one area taken immediately after the disaster and just 100 days later. "I thought I was looking at before and after photos, rather than after and 100 days later," he says. "They made tremendous progress."
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