Andrew in 1992. Jeanne in 2004. Ike in 2008. Sandy in 2012. And don't forget the double whammy of Katrina and Rita in 2005.
Now we'll add Hurricane Harvey to the roster of storms that had a major impact on plastics.
Once again, the industry will have to bounce back.
The U.S. plastics industry has frequently been battered by hurricanes. Experts in actuarial science would say it's a cost of doing business, especially in coastal areas.
The short-term impact will be significant. Some resins may temporarily be in short supply, and processors will scramble to find what they need. Prices may rise. There will be a spike in demand for building products, cars (to replace all those damaged in flooding) and essential products like tarps, coolers and bottled water.
We're still fielding reports from plastics companies on the Texas Gulf Coast, so we're not sure yet how many companies suffered major damage. Arkema Inc.'s plastics catalyst plant in Crosby, Texas, is a notable exception at this point, where flooding and the loss of power caused major havoc.
Most of the processors we've been able to reach say they were spared from the devastation. Like the resin companies, they hunkered down and prepared for the storm and flooding. Now they're cleaning up and getting back to work.
But many of our phone calls and emails are still going unanswered. That's typical after a disaster like this. Factories lose power, phone and internet service. Company managers are up to their necks (sometimes literally) and have other priorities, like tracking down and helping workers, and getting production up and running again.
So at this point, we're hopeful that everyone is OK... and that any companies in the path of Hurricane Irma are prepared for that storm, too.
There will be aftershocks, and those are harder to predict. Who could have known that Erie Plastics Corp. of Corry, Pa., once a major player in thin-wall injection molded packaging, would be a victim of Hurricane Katrina? But it happened. The hurricane was at least partially to blame in a complicated story that we reported in 2009: Erie lost a major customer in Procter & Gamble after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, shutting down Folgers coffee production for several months.
Just like in the past, there's a silver lining to all the rain clouds that brought destruction to Houston. It's the way the industry came together in tough times.
Every day, we hear about another company writing a check to the relief effort. Trade groups including the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors and the Plastics Industry Association have put out a call to members for help.
On Aug. 30, I talked to CEO Jeff Applegate of Texas Injection Molding LLC in Houston, who said he was floored by the support he was being offered from industry colleagues.
"I feel good about the industry when you've got some awesome people who step up and offer to help. I'm overwhelmed with the generosity," Applegate said.
Even 50 inches of rain from a Category 4 storm could not dampen his enthusiasm … and this from a guy who was staying with friends because his own house had been flooded, and he was rescued by boat!
It's a nice story to restore some of our faith in humanity, and I'm happy he shared it with Plastics News readers.
Loepp is editor of Plastics News and author of The Plastics Blog. Follow him on Twitter @donloepp.