Compassionate Logistics – Using Knowledge and Resources to Help After Disasters

By Alex Batty, MHI Marketing Communications Coordinator |@mhi_alex

You’ll have to indulge me for a moment in a bit of navel gazing. I’m allowed to do so on occasion. I have feelings… even if I pretend not to.

Here at MHI HQ, we’re in temporary office spaces as our main office is getting redone, which means there are whole departments stuck in small rooms together. It’s fine. Everything’s fine.

Part of this temporary living style means that I have inadvertently sat in on more conference calls than I was needed on, just due to the nature of the beast. My normal go to of putting in some headphones and blasting some music works great, but occasionally things will still filter through. I normally tune back out, but on a recent call others were having with ALAN, something struck me. First, context.

ALAN is the American Logistics Aid Network, and if you haven’t heard about them, you should definitely check them out ( But they “support disaster recovery by engaging industry to address the unmet needs of relief organizations, communities, and people.” And of course they’re currently working on aid for Hurricane Harvey and the biblical levels of flooding in the Houston area.

Back to the unintended conference call participation, one phrase that filtered through really struck me:

“We’ve got to make sure the survivors are taken care of.”

I know a lot of times in supply chain, material handling, logistics, etc. we talk a lot about the bottom line. How do we keep up with the rate of change, with new technology, with different customer buying patterns. Because we have to get stuff done. And at the end of the day, we have to make money to keep the doors open. I’ll be honest, I mostly think of supply chain as moving goods for customers to buy. Amazon and Walmart gotta get me my stuff.

But on this phone call were a whole bunch of people with knowledge and connections using logistics to just… help out. Time and space and materials were donated without thought just because people were in need. Even here, we’ve seen people in our network offer material handling equipment and warehouse space to move and store goods to help out people.

And honestly, it kind of warms my cold, dead heart.

If you want to help out, you can go to their website to find areas to offer donated logistics services, find requests for support, and read tips to best help disaster survivors. I tuned back out of the call, because it wasn’t my call, so I don’t have specifics at the moment, but we’ll probably be doing another email push with information, or you can visit now to learn more. These guys know what they’re doing and are connected to the boots on the ground, so they’re the people to go to. They also post updates on current situations on their homepage, so you can find out what’s going on and what’s still needed.

Logistics is cool. Logistics moves stuff all around the world and allows us to be consumers and have creature comforts.

But logistics is made of people. And when we see others in need, we move from being industrial to being industrious. Just helping other people because they’re people and we know how to make things happen.

Pretty cool.