Pray There Are No Major Hurricanes This Year
Most older Floridians are hurricane veterans that have experienced many major storms, including Hurricane Andrew, Michael, and Ike. Everyone knows the drill this time of year. Get your hurricane kit and supplies together, and if you get threatened by a hurricane board up, hunker down, or evacuate, and then repair and rebuild. Other than the stress, headache and expense, the cycle each time is about the same, except maybe for this year.
This year all Floridians should pray that no one in Florida or the United States is hit by a major hurricane because the level of despair and desperation will be worse than at any other time. The supply chain at all levels is stressed with huge price increases, long-lead times, and significant shortages that will not be resolved by the end of hurricane season.
If a Hurricane Andrew type storm hit a major metropolitan city, the ability to preserve property, repair, and rebuild homes will be very difficult if not impossible. A major storm will result in thousands of homes wearing blue tarp roofs for months if not for a year or more. Shingle and roofing material manufacturers have months of backlog of inventory at this moment, and safety stocks that are usually strategically staged for catastrophic events like this are just not available. Tarps, felts, and underlayment are in short supply as well, and if you are lucky to find something to cover your roofs, there is a major shortage of roofing nails.
Another major area of shortage is OSB sheathing and plywood. Thousands of 4x8 sheets of OSB and plywood are sold when a hurricane threatens an area, and normally wholesale suppliers will pre-stage large quantities to handle this sudden storm demand. This year, there are no safety stocks in these products either. A huge OSB supplier who normally stocks hundreds of truckloads in a Florida warehouse, told me this week that their warehouse is empty and the OSB producer is 2,000 trucks behind in production. In 2017 with ample supply, the state of Florida ran out of OSB and plywood during the peak of hurricane season.
Drywall and insulation are other areas where supply is being restricted with huge backlogs in inventory. If an area is flooded by a storm surge, drywall and insulation are in high demand quickly because homeowners must immediately rip out wet drywall and insulation to stop black mold. Unless something changes in the supply chain dramatically, there will be homes with open walls for some time. Not only is the drywall board in short supply, but so are the tape and mud to finish it, as well as the paint.
During a storm, many homes have windows, doors, and garage doors blow out or get badly damaged. In the first month of hurricane season, the lead times on garage doors is 12 weeks with many companies not having the springs to ship with the doors. Windows in the state of Florida are anywhere from 8 to 40 weeks to get, and front doors can take as long as 6 weeks to secure. A major hurricane with Category 5 winds will cause havoc on already strained supply chains and lead times.
Finally, if you are lucky enough to find the products, good luck finding the contractors to do the work. Many homeowners are experiencing huge lead times presently to have work done at their home and this is true across the country. There is little chance there will be a flood of contractors coming into the area from other states because they already have more work than they can handle.
Every Floridian and government official should be concerned about this, and when you get under a major hurricane warning, it is probably to late to buy supplies. In 2017, masonry anchors used for boarding up homes could not be found before Hurricane Irma and this year, many suppliers are already having difficulty finding them. Even electrical connectors are in short supply, so if you have a generator and you need a plug or cord, you may not find them.
My best advice is to prepare now and pray that there are no major hurricane strikes this year.
Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Show which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.