South Carolina Forestry Commission officials estimate a loss of at least $65 million in the timber industry’s economic impact because of the massive flooding earlier this month.
The commission said its estimate was derived from forest planting and inventory data, aerial surveillance, mill reports and consultations with loggers and landowners.
State Forester Gene Kodama told South Carolina Radio Network that the number of closed roads also impacted the industry. “When the ground is saturated, you can’t log. So that is one effect, the lack of logging and the inability to move the wood to the mills,” he said.
Some mills have reported shortages of wood deliveries and difficulty shipping finished products. Those shortages are not only because of closed roads and bridges, but several rail lines in the state were also damaged or closed by flooding. “Many loggers in the flood zone have not been able to operate since the storm because of wet ground and inaccessible and disabled rail lines,” Kodama said. “These conditions are not likely to improve soon.”
Kodama said while the economic loss represents a small part of the industry’s $18.6 billion contribution to the state’s economy, it has a huge and immediate impact on the forest landowners, loggers, mills and suppliers in the counties affected by heavy rainfall and flooding. The loss of access to roads, bridges and rail lines, higher operating costs for loggers, increased transportation costs for mills, and overall lost productivity account for most of the economic loss.
The assessment does not include what are expected to be additional millions of dollars in damage and repair to private forest roads, which is not known at this point in time.