Natural Disasters Affect Lumber, Other Building Supplies in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Missouri has stayed safe from the devastation of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. But the state isn’t safe from the wave of rising prices for building materials riding in on the tail of those storms.

It’s not an immediate price spike, but in the next six months, when major rebuilding efforts begin, that’s all expected to change. As families in both Texas and Florida work to put the pieces of their lives back together, eventually some of those pieces will include sheetrock, plywood and shingles.

Charlyce Ruth, the CEO of the Home Builder’s Association of Greater Springfield, built her own life around those pieces of the building industry. She’s familiar with their demand in wake of natural disasters.

"I've heard that about 50 percent of homes in Houston did not have flood coverage, so will those houses even be re-built?" Ruth said. "Hurricanes are the short-term issue."

Jill Vincel, the manager at Southern Supply Company, agrees, expecting the market to rebound from the recent hurricanes just fine.

"The panics start happening with builders and consumers,” Vincel said. “And usually within a few weeks, all the pricing does settle back down and will drop back down."

Some of the exact supplies needed to rebuild are the ones being destroyed by mother nature, like wildfires blazing in the Pacific Northwest. They’re destroying acres of trees used for lumber right here in Southwest Missouri.

"That's our supply for Doug-Fir and Hem-Fir, and those prices were already going up on the increase before this happened,” Vincel said. “Those prices could possibly continue to go up because our supply is limited."

In fact, it’s what Ruth is calling the long-term issue. As fires destroy forests in an instant, the amount of time it will take for them to grow back is much longer.

"It's going to be years," Ruth said. "It takes a long time to grow the trees to the point where they can be cut down for lumber."

Southern Supply Company reminds Missourians – this isn’t the first round of natural disasters to strike at once, and it won’t be the last. It’s going to continue to sell building supplies to the region, but will have a more difficult task than usual.

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