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Preparing Homes For Storms Now Could Leave Hole In Wallet

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Approaching hurricanes usually mean loads of plywood fly off shelves to board up windows. But what if the plywood is already gone?

That is the question being posed during this hurricane season as the war in Iraq is costing supplies and money.

Boots and bullets win wars. With the war won in Iraq, the next phase is rebuilding. That takes materials like plywood.

"A certain amount of material has been mandated by the federal government to be allocated for the reconstruction in Iraq," said Roger Nicholson, of Diamond Hill Plywood Company.

People who are thinking about building that dream house, perhaps putting on an addition, may want to think again. A sheet of plywood has gone up 300 percent just since the beginning of the year.

Nicholson has been in the plywood business for 30 years. He said production problems, a wet season and U.S. government purchases for Iraq have all contributed to an increase in the cost of plywood.

"It works pretty much like any other commodity product, like the stock market or futures," Nicholson said. "It is based on a supply-demand situation."

Right now, demand is outstripping supply as more and more Americans share the cost of Iraqi freedom. U.S. suppliers are importing plywood from South America to try to relieve some of the shortage.

Raleigh building contractor Randall Shirley said he feels the plywood pinch every day.

"Six dollars a board about 30 days ago," Shirley said, "Today it's right at $15, and it's still climbing."

The rising price is impacting Shirley's bottom line. A new house he is working on will require about 350 sheets of plywood.


Dan Wilkinson


Paul Ensslin, Web Editor

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