Future Pipe Industries Inc. was planning a Sept. 27 grand opening of its $15 million, 150,000-square-foot fiberglass pipe plant in Gulfport, Miss.
That was before Hurricane Katrina hit on Aug. 29, filling the building with 3½ feet of water.
The company, which is owned by Dubai, United Arab Emirates-based investors, is one of several plastics-related firms still cleaning up from Katrina.
Plant manager Mazen Turk originally expected the cleanup and repair to take three months, but it is moving more quickly than anticipated. The plant will make fiberglass-reinforced pipe in as large as 13 feet in diameter for sewers and potable water. It also will manufacture glass-reinforced epoxy pipe for the oil and gas industry.
``Five miles from here there was total destruction,'' Turk said. All 20 employees have been accounted for. Four have decided to move away, and four others are living in shelters. Power is back up, but as of Sept. 23 he was worried about the next hurricane, Rita, which was threatening farther west.
Seemann Composites Inc., a defense contractor along the industrial canal in Gulfport, was flooded by 4-5 feet of water. Will Seemann, a sales assistant and son of owner Bill Seemann, said computers and machinery were destroyed by the sea water. However, he said that the company should be back in production shortly.
He said he and his father lost their homes and are living on a boat. The firm employs 50 and he said 12 have lost their homes.
``My house was obliterated - it's all kindling now,'' he said.
Seemann said roads have been damaged and two major east-west bridges no longer are standing. The company has a few trailers so homeless workers have a place to stay.
He said that people are pitching in. Seemann purchased new computers and had them shipped to a resin supplier in Mobile, Ala. From there, they were then trucked in to Seemann's 42,500-square foot facility.
Nearby, PET resin supply Wellman Inc. said Sept. 20 that its Pearl River plant in Hancock, Miss., is expected to resume production in November. Pumps, drives and electrical controls were damaged by 2-3 feet of water that surged into the building. Wellman has more than 200 people working to clean and repair the site.
Wellman also said a 300 million pound-per-year PET resin expansion at Pearl River will probably be delayed a quarter until the second quarter of 2006.
Tarnell Co. LLC has been working to contact 260 plastics companies in the Gulf Coast area. It said only 17, as of Sept. 22, have not been reachable. Since they are without phone service, they are probably nonoperational.