Major hurricane would lead to long rebuild with low building supplies
Most senior Floridians are hurricane veterans who have experienced many major storms, including Hurricane Andrew, Michael, and Ike. Everyone knows the exercise at this time of year.
Gather your hurricane gear and supplies, and if you’re threatened by a hurricane plank, cringe or evacuate, repair and rebuild. Aside from the stress, headaches, and expense, the cycle is about the same every time, except maybe for this year.
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This year, all Floridians should pray that no one in Florida or the United States is hit by a major hurricane, as the level of desperation and despair will be worse than ever before. The supply chain at all levels is under pressure with massive price increases, long lead times and significant shortages that will not be resolved by the end of the hurricane season.
If a Hurricane Andrew-type storm hits a major metropolis, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to preserve property, repair and rebuild homes. A severe storm will cause thousands of homes to wear blue tarp roofs for months, if not a year or more.
Clapboard and roofing manufacturers are currently months backlog in inventory, and safety stocks usually strategically positioned for catastrophic events like these are simply not available. Tarpaulins, felt and underlayments are also in short supply and if you are lucky enough to find something to cover your roofs, there is a serious shortage of roofing nails.
Another major area of shortfall is OSB sheathing and plywood. Thousands of 4×8 sheets of OSB and plywood are sold when a hurricane threatens an area, and normally wholesale suppliers will prepare large quantities to meet this sudden storm demand. Also this year there are no safety stocks in these products.
A huge OSB supplier who normally stores hundreds of truckloads in a Florida warehouse told me this week that their warehouse is empty and that the OSB producer is 2,000 trucks behind in production. In 2017, with plenty of supply, the state of Florida ran out of OSB and multiplex during the peak of the hurricane season.
Drywall and insulation are other areas where supply is limited with huge inventory backlogs. If an area is flooded by a storm surge, drywall and insulation quickly becomes in demand because homeowners must remove wet drywall and insulation immediately to stop black mold.
Unless something drastic changes in the supply chain, there will be houses with open walls for some time to come. Not only the drywall is in short supply, but the tape and mud to finish it off, as well as the paint.
During a storm, many homes have windows, doors, and garage doors that break or become badly damaged. In the first month of hurricane season, the turnaround time for garage doors is 12 weeks and many companies don’t have the springs to ship with the doors.
Windows in the state of Florida take 8 to 40 weeks to get, and it can take up to 6 weeks to secure front doors. A major hurricane with Category 5 winds will wreak havoc on already stressed supply chains and lead times.
Finally, if you are lucky enough to find the products, good luck finding the contractors to do the job. Many homeowners are currently experiencing huge turnaround times to get work done in their homes and this is true across the country. There is little chance of a flood of contractors from other states coming to the area as they already have more work than they can handle.
Every Florida and government official should be concerned about this, and if you get a major hurricane warning, it’s probably too late to buy supplies. In 2017, the masonry anchors used for boarding houses had not been found before Hurricane Irma and this year many suppliers are already struggling to find them.
Even electrical connectors are scarce, so if you have a generator and need a plug or cord, you may not find them.
My best advice is to prepare now and pray that there are no major hurricane attacks this year.
Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Show which can be seen on AroundtheHouse.TV.