Plastics companies in North Carolina and the Southeastern U.S. are surveying damage from Hurricane Florence, with at least one business resuming operations Sept. 17 after closing ahead of the storm.
The storm dumped 30 inches of rain in some parts of North Carolina, where about 500,000 people remain without power and hundreds of roads are impassable. The death toll has risen to at least 23, including 17 in North Carolina and six in South Carolina.
Moody's Analytics expects the value of property damage and disruption from Hurricane Florence to reach at least $17 billion $22 billion. The anticipated loss to economic output is $1 billion to $2 billion, which represents a 0.2 percentage point hit to GDP, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist.
Amyris Inc., which produces bio-based materials such elastomer products from alternative sources, has no electricity at its facility in Leland, N.C., but hopes to restart soon after it is restored.
"Following an initial assessment of the plant, the hurricane does not appear to have caused any material damage to the process equipment or the inventory. Assessments continue, but Amyris expects a quick return to full production once power is restored and the plant is back online," the company said in a Sept. 17 news release.
Leland is about 10 miles away from Wilmington, a city of 120,000 that was inaccessible by land for nearly a day because of flooding. Emergency workers announced Sept. 17 that they finally cleared debris from one major road and opened it with limited access.
Further north, the coastal town of New Bern endured 10 feet of storm surge and almost 9 inches of rain. More than 400 people had to rescued from flooded homes and cars.
The New Bern operations of BSH Home Appliances, which manufactures Bosch and Thermador brand products, remained closed after shuttering its operations there at 1 p.m. Sept. 13.
"The safety of our employees working at our manufacturing campus and central distribution center in New Bern, N.C., are our first priority. We will continue to monitor the situation at our facilities and when it is deemed safe by local authorities, BSH will reopen our facilities," a company spokesman said in an email to Plastics News.
That site remained without power and was closed, Linda Beckmeyer, manager of media relations for Bosch, said Sept. 17. There has been no other damage or flooding to the plant, she confirmed.
While no workers were injured in the Category 1 hurricane, several employees lost homes due to flooding or trees falling on them, Beckmeyer said.
Phone calls to Carolina Technical Plastic Corp., also in New Bern, couldn't be completed.
Nearby, Rowmark LLC in Trenton, N.C., remained closed Monday but steps taken ahead of the storm, which at one point was a Category 4, will allow the staff to begin producing its engraved plastic products as soon as possible.
"We were well prepared and are in good shape," a Rowmark operations official said through an assistant.
CMI Plastics in Ayden, N.C., was able to restart production of thermoformed packaging and parts after being closed last Sept. 13-14.
"We fared well. No damage to the building," Stephen Hasselbach Jr., sales and business development director, said in an email.
Not everybody made it back to work, however. Some CMI employees fled the area and others are home with school-age children.
"We have a few employees who evacuated, and have not been able to return home," Hasselbach said on Monday. "Local schools are being used as shelters, so classes are canceled today. Some employees have called out because of that. Otherwise we are up and running."
Ayden is near Grifton, which remained under a state of emergency on Monday as first responders monitor the rise of Contentnea Creek and the possibility of hurricane-related flooding. Flash-flood warnings are in effect in many parts of North Carolina and South Carolina.