Independence Tube Suffers Major Storm Damage; Other Companies More Fortunate
The late-April storms that ravaged the southern U.S. hit one metals producer particularly hard. Independence Tube’s 435,000-square-foot mill in Decatur, Ala., was rendered unusable in an April 27 tornado that hit the Birmingham area.
“The good news is that no employees were injured,” says John Tassone, marketing manager for Independence Tube, a producer of structural steel tubing.
Still, the company has been forced to close the facility, which produces squares, rectangles and rounds. It is relocating what production it can to its facilities in Marseilles and Chicago, Ill.
“We are also evaluating the damage to the building,” Tassone says of the facility, which opened in 2006. “We will be rebuilding the facility, but do not have any timetable yet as to when we will be back in production. We are in contact with our customers and will provide updates when we have them.”
At O’Neal Steel’s Birmingham facility, an early-morning storm knocked out one of the company’s outside cranes. But the handful of employees on site at the time sought shelter inside the facility and escaped without injury.
Later in the evening, a larger storm hit the city, but missed O’Neal’s facility. “We had no damage at all and it was only one-half mile away,” says Shirley Fagan, a company spokeswoman.
O’Neal is setting up a company fund to assist employees whose homes were damaged in the storms. At least four employees had homes destroyed by the storms, though employees or their families suffered no loss of life.
Even with minimal damage, the storm affected O’Neal’s business, as many of its customers remained without power and phone service in the immediate aftermath.
Most other metals companies in the south escaped the storm’s wrath. Nucor Steel Tuscaloosa General Manager Randy Skagen said his company did not suffer either property damage or injuries in the storm that hit his city particularly hard.
Additionally, a report from the Copper and Brass Servicenter Association indicated red metals suppliers in the region, including Cambridge-Lee Industries, NSRW Inc., Southern Copper & Supply, ThyssenKrupp Materials Copper and Brass Sales and Williams Metals and Alloys, reported no damage at their facilities.
In response to the devastating storms, Alabama’s ThyssenKrupp’s Steel USA announced a donation of $10,000 to the Alabama Gulf Coast Red Cross Chapter for disaster relief in northern Alabama. Additionally, reported Director of Communications Scott Posey, personnel from the company’s fire and rescue team were dispatched to Cullman, Ala., “to assist emergency responders who are shorthanded and overwhelmed.”