Supply Chain Management in Disaster Response
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Supply Chain Management in Disaster Response

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    In today’s society that disasters seem to be striking all corners of the United States and the globe, the importance of emergency management is undeniable. Much human loss and unnecessary destruction of infrastructure can be avoided with more foresight and specific planning. During emergencies various aid organizations often face significant problems of transporting large amounts of many different commodities including food, clothing, medicine, medical supplies, machinery, and personnel from different points of origin to different destinations in the disaster areas. The transportation of supplies and relief personnel must be done quickly and efficiently to maximize the survival rate of the affected population and minimize the cost of such operations. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the primary organization for preparedness and response to federal level disasters in the United States. FEMA has a very complex logistics structure to provide the disaster victims with critical items after a disaster strike which involves multiple organizations and spreads all across the country. Unfortunately, inadequate response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita showed the critical need for better mechanisms in emergency operations. Initial research in this area showed that this is an emerging field and there are great potentials for research in emergency logistics and disaster response. The goal of this research is to develop a comprehensive model that describes the integrated supply chain operations in response to natural disasters. An integrated model that captures the interactions between different components of the supply chain is a very valuable tool. It is ideal to have a model that controls the flow of relief commodities from the sources through the chain and until they are delivered to the hands of recipients. This research will offer a model that not only considers details such as vehicle routing and pick up or delivery schedules; but also considers finding the optimal location for temporary facilities as well as considering the capacity constraints for each facility and the transportation system. Such a model provides the opportunity for a centralized operation plan that can eliminate delays and assign the limited resources in a way that is optimal for the entire system. Emergency response operation is a dynamic and very time sensitive operation. A mathematical model at the operational level is needed that can be used in the critical hours and days immediately after the disaster strikes. Such a model is a unique tool that can also be used at strategic level or planning level analysis. It is a very complicated task and to date, there is no study in the literature that has addressed this problem sufficiently. This research also aims at developing optimization algorithms and heuristics to solve the proposed model and find applicable solutions to decrease human sufferings in the most economically sensible way. The algorithms need to be fast so that the results can be used in the initial response phase and also as the situation changes in the highly dynamic environment after the disaster. Finally, a comprehensive series of numerical analysis is performed to evaluate the proposed model and solution algorithms. The numerical analysis shows the required details for model implementation. A range of analysis is conducted to investigate the effect of different parameters on the mathematical model. Overall, the numerical analysis confirms the applicability of the proposed model in real-world like scenarios. Also, it is shown that the model size and complexity grows rapidly in case of large-scale disasters which emphasize the need and importance of fast and efficient solution algorithms. At the end, conclusions and directions for future research are discussed.
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