From David C. Humphreys – President and Chief Executive Officer
We are very lucky in many regards in Tuscaloosa. First, no one was seriously hurt or killed. However, we now know that four employees suffered serious damage or loss of their homes. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them and their families.
Yesterday’s visit to Tuscaloosa provided me with an immense sense of relief. Damage to the plant itself is not nearly as bad as I had expected. It appeared that the very northern edge of the tornado came across the front of our Tuscaloosa plant property and crossed the south boundary of the plant at an angle going southwest to northeast. As a result, the main force of the tornado missed the production lines.
The production lines are relatively untouched; the lines themselves look just fine. The production buildings (Area 1 on the photo) that house our shingle lines and saturated felt line lost some sheet metal (but not that much). The production buildings’ sheet metal roof and walls survived pretty much intact with the translucent skylight top course of the west wall blown out. (It may have acted as a “relief valve” mechanism.)
Most of what seems to be needed to get up and running again consists of cleanup of debris and electrical work to reconnect some supporting equipment for raw material delivery to the lines. Barring any major surprises, it looks like we could be up and running again no later than mid-June (Our engineering group and outside contractor teams actually think that it may take only 30 days to be running again. So let’s hope for the best.)
We did lose our warehouse (Area 2) on the south side of the plant and the roof over the loading dock (Area 3). Those areas look bad but will not affect our ability to restore production and shipping. Some of that warehouse inventory was damaged but fortunately we did not have much stored at that location.
The manufacturing offices were slightly damaged with blown out windows and sheet metal siding lost but the sales offices were completely untouched. All we need is for power to be restored to get the sales offices back on line.
I was so impressed with the Tuscaloosa team’s management and organization to respond to this challenge. From their temporary command center (formerly the plant conference center), the team has things well in hand with a well-thought out plan to assess and execute the restoration of shingle and roll production. Cleanup and equipment assessment was already underway yesterday morning. All of our Tuscaloosa employees are working their regular shifts as part of our 24x7 clean-up and restoration effort. And with our corporate Engineering and Construction teams already on site (and our outside contractor’s crews on the way today) I have no doubt that we will get back to normal very soon.
As of yesterday, the Tuscaloosa plant had no phone or Internet service. I know that many of us would like to extend well-wishes to our colleagues in Tuscaloosa, but they have very limited communications – even cellular coverage is spotty. Their server/communications equipment is intact and will be back up in the next day or two. But please limit attempts to communicate with the plant as they are busy with the recovery efforts.
Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers. We wish our colleagues in Tuscaloosa the best and know that they will overcome this challenge.