The Effects of Natural Disasters on Today’s Steel Industry

Natural disasters have horrific and devastating effects. They can tear apart homes, our places of employment, schools; all while ripping holes in families, communities and our most cherished memories. No matter when or where a natural disaster has occurred, the destruction can be felt as if it happened yesterday. With the various natural disasters that have recently occurred around the world, it is heartbreaking to think of all the people who have been affected. Homes destroyed, buildings in shambles, places that may have once been a familiar scene are demolished to unrecognizable bits. And while it is obvious that many jobs and industries worldwide are destroyed when a natural disaster occurs, an affected area that we might overlook is an area that many of us rely on to rebuild our lives after they are ripped apart by these heartbreaking disasters. That area is the steel industry.

Japan

The 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters have left parts of Japan completely in ruins. Rolling blackouts throughout Tokyo and other parts of the country caused many businesses to shut down, including various steel producing mills. Worldwide, Japan is the second-largest producer of steel, with many of these plants powered by coal. As the world’s largest importer of coal, in addition to being the country responsible for roughly 20% of the world’s imports of coal, it is no surprise that Japan depends on coal for existence. Coal is used to generate power, and a lot of the coal that is brought in by Japan goes directly into the production of steel. Without power, steel manufacturers were forced to shut down many of their facilities, putting production at a stand still. As Japan slowly begins to pickup the pieces of the disasters they recently faced, the rebuilding costs around the country have been estimated to linger around $180 billion U.S. dollars. When rebuilding first began, it was figured that around 10% of this cost would be for steel, as the reconstruction of infrastructures around Japan could call for as much as 30 metric tons of steel over the course of a few years.

Joplin, Missouri

In the horrendous wake of the Joplin, MO twisters, it is no surprise that the people of Missouri are taking the necessary measures to be as prepared as possible if and when another storm strikes. With these preparations, it is also no surprise that many people are resorting to storm shelters, several of which are made from steel. Storm shelter manufacturers in Missouri have seen an increase in sales since the storm first hit. A company called TwisterSafe makes customizable above-ground steel storm shelters. TwisterSafe, a company that had around 10-15 shelters ordered per month before the storm hit has found themselves more busy than ever. At Missouri Storm Shelters, another storm shelter manufacturing company, they are seeing more of a demand for their products as well, with an increase in demand for their above-ground steel shelters and concrete shelters below-ground.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

The aftermath of the storms that ripped through Tuscaloosa, Alabama has had the population of the state of Alabama (and other areas of the South) reconsidering their safety options when a storm hits. One steel company with more than 40 years experience in the steel industry has realized the increased demand for safe places to turn to during a storm and have created LifeSafe Storm Shelters. The idea behind the JWF Industries, Inc. storm shelters manifested from the company’s own safety concerns during threatening storms, and was validated when the recent storms demolished parts of North and Central Alabama. Shelters made of steel are preferred (versus fiberglass or concrete) for a number of reasons, mainly because of the sheer weight of shelter, especially against extremely powerful storms. Steel shelters allow for more of a water-tight barrier than that of a concrete shelter, and have the ability to withstand corrosion for years on end.