Victims of Hurricane Sally face nearly record prices for building materials in the COVID fallout


Pensacola, Florida

The Jay Cook family, who lives in the Cordova Park area, owns a tree farm in Panama City where 25% of their harvest was wiped out in Hurricane Michael in 2018.

Michael’s destruction of some of the region’s timber, followed by the Coronavirus pandemic that sent many millworkers home this year, caused a significant spike in wood prices. Now Pensacola residents are battling both high demand and soaring prices to recover materials and rebuild as they respond to Hurricane Sally.

“Fortunately, our trees were only about 10 years old, so they were still really resilient, which is what saved us,” Cook said, adding that the majority of the crops would have been lost had they been older. “Now with all the damage (from Hurricane Sally) as well, it’s going to be difficult to get the materials into places.”

For now, he said he doesn’t care much about finding roofing materials for his damaged, tarred roof on Friday. He said the responsibility would likely fall on the roofs.

If for some reason the insurance company decides not to cover the damage, he will be more concerned about finding the materials because he will need to do the work himself.

“The thing that’s crazy now is wood,” said Cook, adding that a wall in his backyard had to be rebuilt. “It’s too expensive.”

Cook was in a much better position to weather the storm than others in the region. He said he’d lived in the area for most of his life, so when he saw Hurricane Sally slowing down in the bay, he decided to go to Lowe and get a tarp, a chainsaw and some gas cans to have it ready.

Lumber prices are currently $ 607.6 per 1,000 feet of board, according to Nasdaq data. It peaked in August at roughly $ 831, which is well above the roughly $ 260 it had at the start of April.

Both the coronavirus pandemic as well as Hurricane Michael contributed to a massive increase in building materials costs for contractors, Stephen Shelley, partner at East Hill Building and Design, told The News Journal in an interview late last week.

“We saw a 30% increase in July (in building materials) and then the week before this storm hit, and this is broad, we had another 30% increase and materials were scarce due to insufficient supply of demand,” Shelley said. “We all know after that, it will be worse. So in terms of materials, it’s a nightmare in terms of cost and availability. “

George Banta, manager of Home Depot on the North Davis Highway, said prices for lumber have doubled over the past year and the hedge has increased as well. A standard piece of half-inch plywood used to go over $ 13 in Pensacola

Other than that, items such as saws, building materials, and roofs were in greatest demand from customers.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in business for sure,” Banta said. “What we’re selling now is mostly storm-cleaning (items), and people are taking care of their yards, their chainsaws, the trash bags and all that.”

Angela Burleson, a salesman at Reynolds True Value Hardware in Pensacola Street, said she didn’t see prices rise immediately after a hurricane, but prices can always change as they get more shipments from their warehouse.

Currently, the demand in her store is mostly concentrated for roofing materials, nails, fabrics, and anything related to patio work.

Dan Bowen, who lives near Joe Patty in Sanders Beach, said the contractor had put a blue fabric on his rooftop on Saturday morning, and it took about three or four hours to get there due to the long waiting lines.

Bowen’s house was blowing from shingles and water through windows and doors and from his vent to its new fireplace.

Bowen’s insurance official won’t come out until Monday when he finds out the exact schedule for his repairs, but he doesn’t care about the price of the materials because he’s said the cost of that will go to his insurance deduction.

“I’m learning about this process,” Bowen said. “Just say it costs me $ 1000 for the blue roof, and that comes from the deductible. Even though I do pay it, it contributes to my overall home repairs. So he didn’t lose (the money).”


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