Less than 12 hours after making landfall, Hurricane Laura was downgraded Thursday morning from a potentially catastrophic event to a Category 1 storm. Yet it was still packing 75 mph winds and heavy rains as it began its journey north toward the Ohio River Valley region.
Because Laura's ferocity was still an open question as of Wednesday night, several less-than-truckload and parcel carriers shut down much of their Thursday operations along the southwestern Louisiana and Texas Gulf coasts. LTL carrier Saia Inc. (NASDAQ:SAIA) said Thursday it had closed its terminals, at least for the day, in Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, Lafayette and Houma, Louisiana, according to an email from the company. It also closed its Beaumont, Texas, location. Saia said it is maintaining limited operations at its Houston facility. Saia was founded in 1924 in Houma and had its headquarters there for decades. It is now based in the Atlanta suburb of Johns Creek, Georgia.
LTL carrier Old Dominion Freight Lines Inc. (NASDAQ:ODFL) has closed its facilities in Lafayette and in the Louisiana capital of Baton Rouge, according to a map on Old Dominion's website. It has also closed facilities in Beaumont and Lufkin, Texas. Old Dominion's Monroe, Louisiana, facility is operating at very limited capacity with major service delays, according to the company's data. Shreveport and the carrier's Houston and Texarakana, Arkansas, stations are operating at 25% to 30% of capacity and are experiencing moderate service delays, the company said. Old Dominion's New orleans station is operating at 85% with minor delays, it said.
YRC Freight, the Overland Park, Kansas-based national LTL unit of YRC Worldwide (NASDAQ:YRCW), said Thursday it has closed its terminals in Houston and Beaumont, as well as Monroe, Shreveport and Alexandria, Louisiana.
Memphis, Tennessee-based FedEx Corp. (NYSE:FDX) said Thursday that its FedEx Express air and international unit had suspended service to more than 100 markets in Louisiana and about 60 in Texas. FedEx's ground delivery network is offering "partial" service in 45 markets in Louisiana and approximately the same number in Texas, the company said. FedEx Freight, the company's LTL unit, has suspended service in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma. The unit is offering partial service in other Texas markets, FedEx said.
UPS Inc. (NYSE:UPS) as of midday Thursday had suspended service to and from 144 ZIP codes in Louisiana and 67 in Texas. The number of affected ZIP codes jumped markedly from 52 reported Wednesday, the Atlanta-based company said. The number of affected ZIP codes in Texas was unchanged from Wednesday, according to UPS data.
Austin, Texas-based regional carrier LSO, whose network covers every address in Texas and the major markets in Louisiana, said it suspended service in and out of Beaumont, Lake Charles, south Houston and the surrounding areas. LSO CEO Richard Metzler said Thursday that the privately held company is also experiencing "operational impact" in Shreveport and the Longview and Tyler, Texas, markets.
"We will use Friday and this weekend to catch up and would expect that by the end of business Monday we will be current," Metzler said in an email Thursday.