Hurricane Ida could exacerbate the supply chain disaster.

In normal times, the devastation of a massive hurricane like Ida tends to be followed by an aggressive reconstruction effort, as carpent...


In normal times, the devastation of a massive hurricane like Ida tends to be followed by an aggressive reconstruction effort, as carpenters, roofers and other skilled workers descend on affected communities to repair the damage.

These are not normal times.

With the global supply chain besieged by trouble – extreme shipping delays, persistent product shortages and soaring costs – construction crews will likely struggle to secure the necessary goods. At the same time, the damage caused by the hurricane to critical industries in the Gulf Coast region and the urgent need to rebuild is expected to spill over to the country’s already strained maritime infrastructure.

“The supply was already terrible,” said Eric Byer, president of the National Association of Chemical Distributors, a trade association representing 400 companies that manufacture and sell raw materials used in a wide variety of industries, including construction and pharmaceutical products. “Now it’s going to be worse.”

For months, an increase in trade from Asia to the United States depleted the supply of shipping containers, forcing buyers to pay 10 times the usual rate on popular routes like Shanghai to Los Angeles.

As dockworkers contracted Covid-19 or disembarked in quarantine, loading and unloading at ports has been restricted. The pandemic has sidelined truck drivers, limiting the availability of vehicles that can transport produce from ports to warehouses to customers.

Hurricane Ida will almost certainly worsen this situation, as available trucks are diverted en masse to affected communities to deliver relief supplies. No one is questioning the merits of this course, but it will leave even fewer trucks available to haul goods anywhere else, intensifying already deep shortages.

“The domestic trucking situation has been bad for some time, and the hurricane is going to add to it,” said Megan Gluth-Bohan, managing director of TRInternational, an importer and distributor of chemicals just outside of Canada. Seattle. “You are going to see more traffic jams in the ports.”

His company relies on a Taiwanese supplier of hydrocarbon resins, which it sells to American manufacturers of paints, varnishes and other coatings. It imports chemicals from Thailand which are included in industrial cleaning products and imports glycols which are used in food products, makeup and industrial coatings.

“It’s the raw materials that do everything,” said Ms. Gluth-Bohan.

Ms Gluth-Bohan was still assessing Ida’s impact on her industry, but it seemed obvious that the rebuilding effort would face challenges as the availability of needed supplies became even more constrained.

“It’s going to have a big impact,” she said. “Companies that make siding, paint, shingles or treated lumber – a lot of these companies are going to have to slow down. “

Part of the impact is the result of where the storm landed. The Gulf Coast is home to refineries and factories that manufacture all manner of industrial chemicals – a fact reported last winter, when a severe frost in the region put factories out of service, causing continuing product shortages.

In Ida’s wake, the plastic industry was preparing for a further rise in prices which were already at record levels.

The Royale Group, which manufactures and distributes chemicals from its base near Wilmington, Del., Purchases only a small percentage of its supplies from factories in the Gulf of Mexico. But that’s not comforting, said company general manager John Logue, because the shortage of a single ingredient can be enough to shut down production of many items.

The auto industry has been severely constrained by a persistent shortage of computer chips. Likewise, Mr. Logue’s business, which relies heavily on suppliers in China and India, has been unable for weeks to complete an order for a pharmaceutical company as it waits for a raw material.

“Any hiccups in the supply chain right now only fuel the disaster,” Mr. Logue said. “We don’t make what we want to make. We make what we are capable of making.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Hurricane Ida could exacerbate the supply chain disaster.
Hurricane Ida could exacerbate the supply chain disaster.
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