Katrina Hits Construction Industry

As one might expect, Katrina is starting to affect the construction industry:

Lumber prices have spiked nationally in Katrina’s wake, although they’re still below last summer’s high levels, when the housing boom strained supplies, said Jon Anderson, publisher of Random Lengths, a wood-products pricing service based in Eugene, Ore. The average price for plywood and OSB was $ 425 per 1,000 square feet on Friday, up $ 64 from Aug. 26, according to Random Lengths. The average price for framing lumber was $ 375 per 1,000 board feet, up $ 20. Katrina’s immediate effect has been to pinch supplies of building materials. The storm damaged mills in the South that produce plywood and OSB. It also shut down the port of New Orleans, which is the top destination for imports of cement and other building materials. Transportation also is a problem. Some trucking companies won’t go South to pick up shipments, because they fear they won’t be able to refuel for the trip back, dealers say.

And this is just staggering:

Economists from the National Association of Home Builders say the number of homes destroyed by Katrina likely will dwarf losses from any other natural disaster in U.S. history. Hurricane Andrew, which hit Florida in 1992, destroyed an estimated 28,000 homes. The four hurricanes that slammed the Southeast last year damaged 27,500. In New Orleans alone, Katrina and related flooding are expected to have ruined more than 200,000 homes.

Full article here.