NEWS STORY of the Year -- Hurricane Force – A Cruel Reminder of Change in our Society
Devastating storms impact forest products industry.
By Edward C. Brindley, Jr.
Date Posted: 1/1/2006
Certainly all of us have had a heavy dose of news concerning this year’s devastating hurricanes and their impact on society. Some readers may be concerned about the impact on our society but may not be aware of how it has directly influenced our industry.
Immediately after Katrina, the softwood market had a rapid price spike because of an overall panic on commodities. Softwood prices quickly subsided from the panic spike.
Pallet companies that service the Gulf region experienced a combination of impacts. Some manufacturers and recyclers had more business to stand in for pallet companies that could not function efficiently at the time, while some orders were lost or delayed because of production that was impacted by the storm.
There is serious concern over loggers being attracted to Louisiana and Mississippi to handle salvage logging situations, somewhat decimating the logging capabilities of the Ozarks and regions adjacent to the Gulf states. While much of the damaged forest is softwoods, mostly pines, the species makes little difference if equipment is shifted along the Gulf from regions that supply significant quantities of hardwood pallet material.
In Mississippi alone, Katrina caused an estimated $1.2 billion in damage to timber. In Louisiana, the losses were estimated at $600 million. Initial estimates in Alabama were 610,000 acres of damaged forests. Many people believe that much of the downed or damaged timber will go to waste, but it will still move productive logging resources into the region. Blue-stain fungus problems caused people to move quickly toward salvage efforts.
It did not take long for salvage wood to pile up. In Louisiana, storage facilities quickly filled up with pine saw timber for sale. Storage yards were established near Bogalusa, La. for rail traffic and near Ponchatula, La. for barge traffic. A hotline was established to register logging contractors who were interested in working in timber recovery and salvage efforts.
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