A safe, resilient, and sustainable transportation system for efficient freight flow is critically important to a nation’s economy. A major disruption to the transportation system due to extreme natural or human disasters can significantly affect the freight movement in the system. The purpose of this research was to develop a general framework to study disruptions to freight flows under an extreme event and apply the framework to retro-analyze the impact of 2005 Hurricane Katrina to the freight movement on the US highway network using a geographical information system, assignment models, and performance measures. Freight movement dynamics prior to and after the disaster are analyzed using aggregated measures such as vehicle mile traveled and vehicle time traveled for different types of roads in urban and rural areas in the USA. This research shows that when a disaster occurs to a part of the highway transportation network, the freight flow changes are not only local, but also regional and national, indicating that applying solely distance-based methods to modeling flow disruption effects may not capture the whole picture. The research provides some insights for pre‐ and post‐disaster decision makings that help lead to a resilient freight highway transportation system.