‘Thousands of employees affected’


Cullman Economic Development Agency Dale Greer: “These are very quick assessments and I believe there will be many more damage reports. Thousands of employees are affected.” / Tribune file photo

Note: the listing contained here is preliminary; it should be considered a demonstrative sampling, not a complete nor final report.  Investigation of the effects of the March 19 storms is ongoing.

CULLMAN – The Cullman Economic Development Agency (CEDA) surveyed damage around town after Monday’s storm, and found that the area’s industrial parks and complexes sustained major damage.  Only Industrial Park Four, located west of the city and north of storm victim Industrial Park Three, was spared severe effects.

After a preliminary examination, CEDA Director Dale Greer indicated on Friday that the path of destruction from Monday’s storms included:

  • Cullman Industrial Park One: Wal-Mart Distribution Center suffered roof damage but was still undergoing assessment. Webb Wheel lost windows in its main building and suffered roof damage. Numerous vehicles were damaged. Pennington Seed suffered roof damage and took in water but was able to reopen. Concours Mold had a company vehicle damaged but no building damage to report, at least initially.
  • Cullman Industrial Park Two: Reliance Worldwide suffered roof damage to multiple buildings. Damage to company and employee vehicles was extensive, and the facility suffered some water damage. Serta suffered damage to trucks and vehicles and scheduled a roof inspection. Elk River had skylights broken out, with substantial damage to the roof and front of the building. A company truck sustained severe damage. Nexan Building Products had employee vehicles totaled and suffered significant damage to the roof and front office area. Product displays in the front office were destroyed.
  • Cullman Industrial Park Three: Topre America suffered extensive roof damage on 800,000-square-feet of its building.  Cars of all second-shift employees were heavily damaged, along with some company vehicles.  The new Sequence Health facility suffered roof damage causing water leaks, and damage to vehicles in its parking lot.  NAFCO had broken skylights leaking water onto the plant floor. Two trucks there took significant damage, and a substantial amount of finished product inventory will need to be repaired or repainted.  Advanced Heat Treat had minor roof damage, and a company truck was damaged.
  • Cullman Industrial Park Five: Yutaka, Royal Technologies (specific damage not named)
  • Old Hanceville Highway and U.S. Highway 31 industrial areas: Goat Island Brewery had roof damage.  WestRock suffered holes in its roof and water damage, cracked windows, destroyed awnings, and every car in its parking lot was totaled.  Rusken, located adjacent to Goat Island, had not been surveyed by CEDA, but potentially suffered damage. One of REHAU’s damaged rental buildings is also located there. Inland Buildings had broken windows and one vehicle damaged. Cullman Casting Corporation had roof damage with leaks, and significant damage to company and employee vehicles.
  • REHAU/Cullman Industrial Complex. REHAU’s Tech Center roof was demolished, and both automotive and construction building roofs suffered damage as well.  Two off-site rental buildings were damaged even more extensively than REHAU’s campus buildings. The second shift was at work, and every employee’s vehicle in the lot was damaged. Greer was certain that production will be impacted.

Greer warned, “These are very quick assessments and I believe there will be many more damage reports. Thousands of employees are affected.”

The CEDA director pointed out that, unlike the tornado damage of 2011, this event’s hail damage may not be as readily visible but could but just as extensive as the 2011 storms. Where tornadic winds blew down walls before, large hail this time left outer walls of buildings standing but penetrated roofs, allowing tremendous water damage to follow.

“I just think it’s damage that people don’t see everywhere,” said Greer, “but it is pretty significant, though . . . People are going to be amazed at the extent of the damage, because, for the most part, that’s up on top of a roof where they can’t see.”

The full extent of damage will not be known until inspections of all locations are completed, which could take weeks.  The National Weather Service Huntsville office indicated Wednesday that the March 19 hail storm could go down as one of the most significant hail events in U.S. history.

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