Irma’s Impact on Glass Businesses Uncertain

Hurricane Irma weakened to a tropical storm Monday after roaring up much of Florida Sunday, though it is still considered dangerous and is now making its way into and through Georgia. The glass industry is feeling the effects.

Irma hit the Florida Keys as a Category 3 hurricane and the mainland in South Florida as a Category 2, traveling up the Western part of the state while dropping to a Category 1. It continued through Central and Northern Florida, eventually turning into a tropical storm. Multiple media reports state that more than 5 million homes and businesses in Florida lost power in the storm. Damaging winds and flooding have been widespread throughout the state and are now being reported in Georgia, with more than half a million homes and businesses reportedly without power in the southern part of that state.

According to Reuters, catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide estimated that the storm did about $20 billion to $40 billion in damage in Florida, lower than earlier estimates that it would cause more than $100 billion in damages. Earlier, Irma caused billions in damage across the Caribbean last week, where it killed 38 people.

Many calls from USGNN.com™ to glass businesses throughout Florida went unanswered and unreturned Monday as of press time, as they are likely still shut down. Most glass companies USGNN.com™ reached out to Friday morning were already closed. Some had spent the previous few days helping secure windows of businesses and homes, and others closed even earlier to allow employees to evacuate.

Companies like Miami’s Dash Door & Closer Service put detailed plans in place prior to the storm. This has allowed Dash Door, which mostly serves the commercial market, to get back up and running as soon as Irma passed.

“There’s definitely some damage, but we made preparations so that we can serve our clients,” said Steve Sanko, the company’s CEO. “Our folks were able to assess damage today, and we’re going to be back operational tomorrow.”

Dash Door prepositioned its vehicles with employees throughout the Miami Dade and Palm Beach area, and the rest of its trucks were in a safe warehouse location. Additionally, it pre-purchased 1,000 gallons of gas a week ago so it wouldn’t be dependent on outside supplies.

Sanko says his company will be very busy over the next several days.

“Starting mid-yesterday, the phones started ringing quite a bit,” he said. “The phones have been ringing today as well.”

Falling Glass and Cranes

Irma did significant damage to under-construction projects in South Florida, ripping glass panels off of the tallest building in the state and toppling sections of cranes at three other sites.

Fox News national correspondent Bryan Llenas posted video on Twitter of glass lites flying off of the 85-story Panorama Tower in Miami. The mixed-use tower was slated for completion by the end of this year and is Florida’s tallest building.

Llenas later posted images of two different glass panels—which he said measured six feet in height—that had fallen to the ground. Both are evidently made up of laminated glass, as each remained in one large piece despite partially coming out of their framing.

Nearby, construction cranes on at least three different sites bent and partially collapsed during the storm.

According to the Miami Herald, a crane at an apartment building in downtown Miami went down late morning Sunday, followed by a second crane at a condo tower a couple miles north. In the afternoon, another at an oceanfront Fort Lauderdale condo fell.

The newspaper reported that in all three cases, the booms, or arms, that collapsed still remained attached to the main upright portion of the cranes, so they didn’t fall all the way down to the street.

Glass Show Impact

Irma was expected to make its way through the Atlanta area as a tropical storm Tuesday and into early Wednesday.

The annual GlassBuild America show is set to begin Tuesday, and event organizers say the event will continue as planned “unless and until the Mayor of Atlanta and the Governor of Georgia declare a state of emergency and require evacuations for the Atlanta area.”

Show organizers have made arrangements to allow exhibitors to set up late into the evening if necessary.

Exhibitors were seen on Twitter Sunday and Monday setting up on the show floor, though at least two companies have said they will not exhibit as planned due to the storm.

Window Manufacturers Affected

Florida is home to numerous door and window companies, and the storm has left many, from small installers to major manufacturers, unable to operate. USGNN.com™ tried unsuccessfully to contact several via phone.

PGT Innovations, a major manufacturer of impact-resistant fenestration products for residential and commercial markets, ceased all operations on Friday. Assessment teams were scheduled to inspect the company’s facilities in Miami today.

On a Facebook group for door and window installers, Jeff James, who works with Bahama Glass and Windows of Cape Coral, Fla., said he’s worried about production issues after the storm. He posted that standard windows and sliders are already on a three-week wait period, and custom products are on a four- to five-week wait.

Doers Window Manufacturing, based in Tampa, with retail locations throughout the state, has manufacturing sites in Tampa and NewSouth Window retail locations in South Florida. Earl Rahn, president of Doers, says the storm could have implications on building codes.

“This storm came right over Lake Wales and Orlando: those are not impact zones. Orlando is not a mandatory impact zone but it should be,” he says. “I think there may be a day in Florida that all windows will be made out of laminated glass. We should be moving in that direction to eliminate problems. We can’t dictate to the state of Florida but all homeowners can do is be prepared. As a homeowner, I felt secure with my energy efficient impact windows. [My wife] Amy and I stood in our living room, which is 60 miles west of Tampa, with all impact windows and doors. You could not hear the storm until it got above 80 mph winds.”

Nick St. Denis, Trey Barrineau and Tara Taffera contributed to this article.

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