Hurricane Ida has left historical damage on the Gulf Coast, with over a million people still out of power and hundreds of thousands more with significant structural damage to their homes and businesses. As the rebuilding effort begins, the area will be faced with a dilemma unlike the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina — COVID-19 supply-chain impossibilities.
In 2020 — and most of 2021 — on a good day it was nearly impossible to find lumber and other raw materials for home construction and renovation projects. Lumber was so difficult to find that the usually boring commodity soared to historically high prices because there was just not enough of it to fulfill such unrelenting demand.
Now that much of New Orleans and other areas in the Gulf Coast will need raw materials to begin rebuilding the catastrophic damage left in Ida’s wake, supply-chain shortages that have been gripping the globe for the past year are likely to worsen.
One of the biggest industries affected by the pandemic, trucking, will be desperately needed to transport materials to the hurricane-stricken coast. The trucking industry suffered on both ends during the pandemic — both trucks and drivers were in short supply.
Loading and unloading at ports has been slowed down as dockworkers who contracted COVID-19 or landed in quarantine are unable to work, according to The New York Times. The pandemic also sidelined truck drivers, limiting the availability of vehicles that can carry products from ports to warehouses and then on to customers. Those trucks are now carrying much-needed hurricane relief supplies down south.
The lowered availability of trucks and drivers also allowed drivers to demand more money, constraining the trucking industry even further.
“The domestic trucking situation has been bad for some time, and the hurricane will add to that,” Megan Gluth-Bohan, the chief executive of TRInternational, an importer and distributor of chemicals just outside Seattle, told The New York Times.
“It’s going to have a significant impact,” she added. “Companies that make coatings, paint, shingles or treated lumber — a lot of these companies are going to have to slow down.”
The hurricane made landfall as a Category 4 on Aug. 29, hitting the Gulf Coast, home to refineries and plants that make an array of different industrial chemicals and products.
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