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Rotec shut by storms, most unscathed

Keywords: Tags  storm impact, steel, scrap, tornado, AK Steel, Haynes International, Allegheny Technologies, SSAB Americas Keystone Steel & Wire

NEW YORK — Most metal companies appear to have been spared the wrath of the severe weather that ripped through the Midwest Sunday and left at least eight people dead.

Damage was still being assessed Monday after dozens of tornadoes were spawned by the massive thunderstorm system.

Illinois appeared to take the biggest hit, with six people reported dead and seven counties declared natural disaster areas by the state’s governor as of Monday afternoon, according to media reports. One tornado that hit Washington, Ill., about 140 miles southwest of Chicago, was preliminarily given an EF-4 rating, indicating wind speeds of 170 to 190 miles per hour, according to National Weather Service data cited by the Associated Press.

The storms also impacted Michigan, where another two people were reported killed, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and western New York.

In Lafayette, Ind., a tornado halted operations at a Rotec Group facility that produces precision steel tubes for the automotive industry, a spokesman for parent company Voestalpine AG told AMM sister publication Steel First. "The entire plant is out of operation," he said, although there were no casualties and the 15 employees present at the time were unharmed.

The cost of the damage isn’t yet known and the company is hoping for a partial restart of operations after an inspection.

Nanshan America Advanced Aluminum Technologies LLC, across the street from the Rotec plant, was unscathed. "Nanshan America weathered the storm with no damage. We were up and running both presses this morning as planned," Tim Donnelly, director of sales and marketing, said.

Toll processor Precision Strip Inc. lost half of the roof at its Perrysburg, Ohio, facility but no workers were injured and no equipment was damaged, a spokeswoman for parent company Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. told AMM Nov. 18.

Quanex Building Product Corp.’s screen facility in Perrysburg, Ohio, suffered damage to part of its roof and lost power Nov. 17, a spokeswoman said. But the power has since been restored and the damage to the roof didn’t impact operations because the impacted area didn’t cover equipment, she said. "Everything is back in operation now," the spokeswoman added.

"Minor power outages in a couple shops, but restored very quickly; no impact on production and everyone is safe," a spokeswoman for Severstal North America Inc., Dearborn, Mich., told AMM via e-mail.

Spokesmen for Chicago-based pipe and tube group JMC Steel Group Inc. and Houston-based TMK Ipsco, the North American subsidiary of Russia’s OAO TMK, said there had been no impact on the company’s facilities from the storm.

"I am at the Atlas (Tube Inc.) Chicago facility today, and things are operating as normal," the JMC spokesman told AMM via e-mail.

Similarly, a spokeswoman for Harvey, Ill.-based Atkore International Inc. said the company was not impacted. "Thank goodness," she said via e-mail.

A source at a large service center chain with operations in the affected region said none of the company’s facilities had sustained damage.

A wire rod buyer in the Chicago area also said he wasn’t affected by the storms. "I had some tree limbs down, but the big stuff was 40 or 50 miles out from of us. I have not heard about slowdowns," he said.

"No impact on our operations," a spokeswoman for Chicago-based ArcelorMittal USA LLC said via e-mail.

"You’ll start to see scrap coming in a week or two. You’ll see a ton of utility work going on. There will be a lot of scrap and a lot of rebuilding, especially in the Illinois area. No damage has been reported in the Kentuckyana (Louisville Metro area), and our company didn’t see any impact from the storm," a source at Louisville, Ky.-based Freedom Metals Inc. told AMM.

Other companies reporting no damage included Able Alloy Inc., Cleveland; Ace Iron & Metal Co., Columbus, Ohio; AK Steel Corp., West Chester, Ohio; Haynes International Inc., Kokomo, Ind.; Kimmel Scrap Iron & Metal Co., Detroit; Metalico Buffalo Inc., Buffalo, N.Y.; Universal Scrap Metal Co., Chicago; and Wilkoff & Sons LLC, Cleveland.

There was no response from Allegheny Technologies Inc., Pittsburgh; Keystone Steel & Wire Co., Peoria, Ill.; Millennium Alloys LLC, Mars, Pa.; SSAB Americas, Lisle, Ill.; and United Alloys & Metals Inc., Columbus.

The exact number of tornadoes in play was unclear. While reports Sunday night indicated about 80 tornadoes, the actual number was more likely between 30 and 40, according to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., attributing the discrepancy to the same tornadoes being reported multiple times.

Michael Cowden, Samuel Frizell, Nathan Laliberte, Rey Mashayeki, Catherine Ngai and Thorsten Schier, New York, and Lisa Barrington, a London-based reporter for AMM sister publication Steel First, contributed to this story.

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