For L-E-M Plastics & Supply Co. Inc. President Ellen Pietrowitz, the wrath of Irene is personal.
“We have to fulfill our contracts — even if I have to do it myself,” she said by telephone.
L-E-M, a fabricator and distributor of plastic products in Wallington, N.J., was devastated by flooding caused by Hurricane Irene. Pietrowitz's business was hit Aug. 28 with 4 feet of water during the storm, and was flooded again Aug. 30 when the Passaic River crested.
She said the firm had prepared for the storm by putting whatever they could atop tables and cabinets. “Everything that was not bolted down was flipped over. We had a very large compressor that was affixed to a pallet and now it is on its side. The water was pretty ferocious,” she said.
L-E-M staff began to clean up the plant Aug. 29, before water started to pour into the building. The firm is about 400 feet from the Passaic, but the river crest caused a backflow of the town sewer system.
She said cleanup is very expensive, and she doubts that L-E-M will able to use the 7,500-square-foot building again. For now, they are salvaging what they can, and Pietrowitz is optimistic about rebuilding her company, which her father started 37 years ago.
Suppliers and even competitors have offered help, and “we plan on fulfilling our responsibility to our employees and customers,” she said.
L-E-M is still shipping products, but there's a lot of work ahead, Pietrowitz added. The company telephone works, and she's developing plans for the future of the nine-employee company.
“We've been through this with Hurricane Floyd five years ago, and the building has been hit by a fire, but we went through it, but this is the worst,” she said.
Irene, a hurricane that became a tropical storm further north, caused havoc in the U.S. with wind and rain from North Carolina to Vermont. Lots of areas are still dealing with flooded rivers and broken roads or bridges.
Vermont molders Mack Molding Co. Inc. in Arlington and GW Plastics Inc. in Bethel showed their tenacity while weathering the tropical storm.
Mack's main plants in Arlington are fine, said communications director Julie Horst. The plants are in operation, but she noted that the firm's Cavendish site did close for some cleanup due to flooding from the Black River.
GW's facilities ran through most of the weekend of the storm, according to Larry Bell, vice president of business development and marketing. He said in an email that “the GW Plastics Bethel and Royalton, Vt., plants were able to run through the weekend due to the tremendous dedication of our associates.”
The Bethel plant lost power Aug. 28 and Royalton shut down to safeguard employees, he said. When power was restored Aug. 29, the GW plants began startup procedures. Washed-out roads have hampered the ability of people to get to Bethel, Bell said.