Dispatches from the Hurricane Front

Monday, October 31, 2005
From frequent commenter and currently deployed DHS volunteer in Louisiana, Skookumchuck writes:


Very insightful post regarding JIT and a flu pandemic. I've touched on this in several posts on Roger Simon's blog and also in a few e-mails to Rick Ballard at YARGB. I'm still on the hurricanes and haven't gotten to much emailing or web surfing.

Anyway, clearly JIT goes beyond this particular case to involve all manner of disaster commodities. I'm a logistics contractor for DHS and this is one of the things we think about quite a bit. To start with, we can't even predict demand, since what we call "demand" are really just a series of political requests. That is why our MREs are now showing up on eBay. It is also the reason we can't backfill FEMA Logistics Centers in a timely way, since we don't know what will hit us coming back unused from the field.

It is a complex problem. On the one hand, how do you provide a buffer in a JIT-oriented society that doesn't believe in having buffers? On the other hand, transportation systems are much more flexible than they were in past decades and you can source from many locations in a very short period. So there are two sides to JIT. The interesting thing is that this has received little attention to my knowledge outside of informal discussions. Hey, maybe its time for a paper . . .

Back to Edmonds WA in a week or so. I hope.

Skookumchuck (OK, its a Pacific Northwest Native American term) makes some great points about how disasters are managed from the logistics end--I hope he can participate in some discussion on this board--Hard to apply a market model to commodity resupply when demands are political and not economic.

Thanks for all you are doing Skook!


truepeers said...

Klahowya Tillicums,

`Skookumchuck' is Chinook Jargon, an early trade language made up of various European and aboriginal tongues. I'm sure Skook won't mind me pointing out Skook=big, powerful; Chuck = a large body of water.
Kudos to Skookumchuck, a name well chosen for one working to traverse the rapids of relief. I hope he sends us more reports. And how tasty are those MREs for sale?