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Hurricanes Impact Whole Nation


Katrina and Rita will have devastating impacts for some time to come.

When Katrina hit, the nation buckled beneath the staggering havoc nature wreaked upon inhabitants of the Gulf Coast. Local, state, and federal emergency agencies obviously will have much to answer for in the future. Sadly, for all our deadly experiences with past hurricanes and other natural disasters, not to mention heinous man-made acts of terror, we seemed at a loss for what to do. Despite being the richest country on earth, despite enormous amounts of technology at our fingertips, we failed.

It’s a hard lesson to swallow, but it’s one, thankfully, we took seriously when Rita threatened the Gulf Coast. Lengthy nightly television broadcasts following Rita’s path of destruction allowed viewers to rest somewhat more easily, knowing relatives and friends, for the most part, had been moved from harm’s way. Undeniably, our nation’s greatest loss is in the lives taken in the wake of these hurricanes. But one must stand in awe of the resiliency of the human spirit when people express their joy at having escaped with their lives, rendering everything else irrelevant, even when they have nothing of any material value left.

As we move forward, however, those enormous personal losses will become evident. And the hurricane season is not over yet. November cannot come soon enough for those living on the edge of poverty, but huge questions remain about exactly how our movement forward will take place. While Gulf Coast residents will bear the brunt of this destruction, my feeling is that the entire country, as well as those countries to which we export our manufactured and agricultural products, will feel the burden as well.

As Rita was just making landfall, news reporters already were interviewing analysts who were anticipating the impact the hurricanes might have on the nation’s economy. Energy costs, it seems, will have the heaviest impact, beginning with the increased cost of gasoline across the nation. Following this, the cost of food and clothing will increase as the cost of transporting such goods across the country increases. As winter approaches, the cost for heating our homes and business will be impacted.

Many of you probably have your own worry lists concerning your employees and companies, even if your business is located in a relatively safe area of the country. The cost of energy is an important part of running a business. Getting to work and shipping products to customers will be more costly, but the energy it takes to run our plants and machinery also will be significantly higher.

And what about the materials that comprise the products themselves? Price increases for resins, coatings, and films having oil-based components started long before the hurricanes hit. These recent weather-related calamities simply put further stress on an already difficult situation. It will be worthy of note to see in what kind of position these circumstances will place converters who traditionally have been placed between a rock and a hard place with regard to suppliers and customers. No amount of price negotiating on the part of either can end with the expectation of the converter ultimately absorbing these costs.

Several announcements have come to my attention in the aftermath of the hurrricanes. DuPont Teijin Films US reports a raw materials surcharge of $0.15/lb for shipment on or after September 15 for all US-branded PET films shipped by the company. This increase reflects “the substantial increases in raw materials costs that DTF-US is experiencing as a result of Hurricane Katrina. This surcharge will apply to all shipments of these films to customers in North, Central, and South America.”

Miltec UV, along with many other companies, report contributions will be made to hurricane relief. The Flexographic Technical Assn. is working with the Printing Industries Assn. of the South and the Printers’ National Environmental Assistance Center to help companies in the affected area.

Americans show how big their hearts are under the worst of circumstances. I have no doubt our magnanimous spirit, determination, and conviction will prove victorious again.

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