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Plywood prices up, but supply plentiful

By Sonny Long
May 26, 2010 at 12:26 a.m.

Corrie Funk and Charles Ramirez load plywood for customers at Lowe's. Sales jumped as Hurricane Ike was expected to affect the area in Sept. 2008.

If you are planning to board up your windows if a hurricane threatens the Victoria area, plan on paying a little more for the plywood.

Prices have increased in the last several months, the managers of two local building supply stores said.

"Prices have almost doubled in the last four or five months," said John Balderrama, store manager at The Home Depot in Victoria.

At McCoy's Building Supply, store manager B.K. Harrison is seeing the same thing.

"Prices have continued to go up," he said. "But I am hoping they have hit their peak."

On the upside, plywood should be in plentiful supply if needed.

McCoy's keeps plenty in stock year-round said Harrison.

"We buy it and keep plenty throughout the year," he said. "Some home builders even buy it for homeowners as a service."

At The Home Depot, plywood is also easily accessible. As Victoria's central location, it can receive supplies the next day from San Antonio and Houston distribution centers, said Balderrama.

BUILDING PREP

In downtown Victoria, One O'Connor Plaza and First Victoria National Bank loom on either side of DeLeon Plaza - both with plenty of exposed glass.

At the bank, plywood is kept on hand to board up the building's many windows if needed and generators are leased, if necessary, said Don Sparks, senior vice president for administrative services.

"Decisions regarding the board up of windows is based on the proximity of the storm and its probable track. Typically, this is 48 to 72 hours from a predicted strike," Sparks said.

Sparks said the bank monitors potential storms closely.

"The closer it reaches toward land where we can have a degree of certainty of the strike zone, the more intense our planning becomes," he said. "Typically, the preparedness plans are reviewed each year as we enter hurricane season to raise awareness."

Sparks added that the bank maintains an employee hotline in the event of a storm so employees can get updates regarding the bank's activities.

At One O'Connor Plaza, the tallest building in downtown, management considers safety issues year-round, and is especially cognizant of them during hurricane season.

"One O'Connor Plaza considers safety to be the highest priority and has an approved Life Safety Plan for a building of its stature, which is distributed to all tenants," according to a statement from Kemp Properties, which owns the building.

"Preparedness training and drills are conducted each year by building management and the Victoria Fire Department, which cover safe evacuation of the building," according to the statement.

"Kemp Properties also follows the Building Owners and Managers guidelines to prepare for a hurricane or emergency situations to protect the tenants and facility, in which communication is the key," the statement concluded.

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