Restocking continues after storm port-closure delays

Local News

Stores across Hawaii are catching up on restocking shelves, following cargo delays from port closures during the storm.

The state’s main container hub, the Honolulu port, plus other harbors were closed for days as Hurricane and Tropical Storm Lane passed to the south. Most ports were reopened by Saturday.

But as KHON2 reported before the storm, the domino effect of even a short port closure and no damage carried over into this week.

“Just because the ship came doesn’t mean it automatically got in the store,” explained Tina Yamaki of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii. “You still have got to offload it. You still have got to do the inspections. You still have got to get the trucks down there. And some of it, it’s got to go to the distributor first and they have got to do their prep work before the stores can get it.” 

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency reached out to the retail trade group to keep track of what kinds of quantities were on hand at stores and warehouses. 

“Who has food, what do you need at a shelter, or if something blows over and you need a tarp for them, who can you call and how do you get that?” Yamaki said. “Let’s have a one-stop shop and let’s have something that’s planned so we know what to do, where to go, who to call.” 

As the U.S. Coast Guard ordered the ports closed last week, both Pasha and Matson kept vessels positioned nearby so they could come back quickly. 

“Both ships had partially discharged prior to the port closure and came back to finish that off,” said Michael Hansen of the Hawaii Shippers Council. “The shipping companies did what they could do to lessen the impact.” 

Matson had sent off barges from Honolulu to Hilo and Kahului just before the container port closed Thursday, so they could come into neighbor island ports as soon as those reopened (Friday for Hawaii Island, and Saturday for Maui). Matson has activated an extra containership from its reserve fleet to bump up resupply volume.

“Probably the biggest lesson is that some of the wholesales and some of the larger retailers may want to keep a little larger inventory on hand,” Hansen said. “That’s going to be difficult to do because we have limited warehousing space.”

Retailers say supplies statewide never dipped below a critical level in this storm event.

“They’ve ordered extra,” Yamaki said. “Hearing that the storm is coming, they can kind of order ahead of time.”

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