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Lumber shortage could hamper hurricane preparations this summer

Commercial sawmills shutdown during pandemic
Lumber, wood
Posted at 2:56 PM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 16:27:42-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Hurricane season starts in less than two weeks, and Florida residents need to start thinking about preparations before a storm forms.

However, one issue that could hamper normal preparations is an ongoing lumber shortage that is causing supply problems.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Hurricane Guide

Florida residents know that when a hurricane is forecast to hit the Sunshine State, the situation can get chaotic at grocery stores and building supply stores like Home Depot and Lowe's.

As a storm approaches, people look to stock up on supplies and buy wood to board up their house and protect their possessions.

But given lumber shortages across the country, residents need to be aware that it may be harder to obtain wood to board up your home.

Home under construction in Simi Valley, Calif.
A sign sits in front of a KB Home construction site, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Simi Valley, Calif. U.S. homebuilders are poised to benefit this spring homebuying season amid strong demand, low mortgage rates and an all-time low inventory of previously occupied homes for sale. But soaring lumber prices and a shortage of construction-ready land could limit builders’ ability to capitalize on the strong housing market trends, analysts say.

Rising lumber costs

NBC News reported this week that lumber prices have more than doubled over the past year.

Experts say the nationwide COVID lockdown, forced commercial sawmills, furniture manufacturers and homebuilders to temporarily shut down.

That caused a shortage of cut and finished lumber across the country.

Also a factor, increased demand for new home construction and home remodeling during the pandemic.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average cost of a new home has gone up $36,000 in recent months.

Home construction number fall

Construction of new homes fell sharply in April in large part to the surge in the price of lumber and other building materials.

The U.S. Commerce Department said U.S. home construction was down 9.5 percent last month.

Economists believe builders are delaying projects because of those high lumber prices.

RELATED: NOAA predicts active hurricane season but not a repeat of historic 2020

Stock up earlier rather the later

As always, having a plan ahead of a hurricane is always the best way to prepare. Don't wait until a storm forms to start buying supplies. This will allow you to avoid the stress of packed lines and ensure you have what you need if the storm hits our area.

If you think you might need lumber to board up your home this summer, you are advised to buy it as soon as you can and store it in a safe place.

There is no guarantee this summer that your local home improvement store will have supplies on hand. Given shortage problems, it will be uncertain if stores will get resupplied in a timely manner.

Some community groups are working to help their neighbors prepare for storm season because of the inadequacy of wood.

A group in Southwest Florida called the Marco Patriots is urging people to save their plywood for those who will need it during hurricane season.

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