Nashville flooding impacts glass and glazing companies

Sahely Mukerji, Katy Devlin and Jenni Chase, Glass Magazine
May 3, 2010
COMMERCIAL, RETAIL, AUTO, FABRICATION

The interior of Nashville's Opryland Hotel, above, is under 6 feet of water. Parts of town look like New Orleans after Katrina, according to a Vitro employee. Photo by Vitro America.
 

The severe thunderstorm that passed through Tennessee and northern Mississippi this weekend affected a number of glass and glazing companies.

"We've seen extensive flooding in west and middle Tennessee," said John H. Morris IV, president, Jack Morris Auto Glass, Memphis. "The weather man was talking rain, hail and floods, and we got a lot of rain and flooding, but none of our stores were affected." In west Tennessee, more than half of the business is done remotely from home. "So, we have some workers who are now on water-logged streets," he said.

In middle Tennessee, glass suppliers have closed shops, Morris IV said. "We have a large inventory in middle Tennessee," he said. "It wouldn't hurt us for  few days because of our large inventory, but smaller glass shops would be hurt."

Nashville has had about 17 inches of rain since Saturday [May 1], said Randy Whitby, manager, Nashville location, Jack Morris Auto Glass. "Only one vendor among three are open today [May 3]," he said. "Among Mygrant, PPG and LOF [Libbey-Owens-Ford], only LOF was open.  PPG's in the MetroCenter area, which has 3 feet of water."

Authorities have evacuated residents near Nashville's downtown tourist spots, the train depot, near LP Field, where the Tennessee Titans play, and the MetroCenter area where a leaky levee threatens 500 residents and about 150 businesses, according to a May 3 AP report. The Cumberland River has reached its highest level since an early 1960s flood control project was built and is continuing to rise, threatening portions of downtown Nashville, the report stated.

"The river is supposed to crest tonight [May 3]," Whitby said. "They're putting sandbags and getting prepared."

None of Jack Morris' inventory was affected by the flooding, Whitby said. "Some of our families have been affected: one lost his home and another had to take a boat to get his grandmother."

Nashville Tempered Glass, Nashville, was affected similarly, said Gavin Gaskins, plant director. "We haven't been affected, really, but a lot of our workers, about 20 percent, haven't been able to come to work," he said. "They live in a part that was hit hard. Our plant is up high; we're safe."

The Tennessee Valley Authority is trying to monitor the water levels everywhere, Gaskins said. "The rain caught many people by surprise. Nobody predicted flooding as far as I know."

Evans Glass Co., Nashville, also has several employees who were impacted by the flooding, said Bill Evans, president. " One has completely lost all of his horse fencing, a barn, two trucks, a cell phone and lots of sleep," he said. "The water has not receded yet. He will be out for several days if not longer. Another has some flooding in his basement. Another has spent many hours removing water from the basement of his church."

The company building had a roof leak that caused the drop-ceiling in a restroom to collapse, and the employees had to mop about 5 gallons of water from the offices.

"We have received numerous calls about broken glass," Evans said. "Several were broken by debris scattered by high winds. Several doorlites appear to have been broken by items swept in by some flood water and thrown/lodged against the door. We have had several 'leak' calls. Of course, we have had multiple calls about water coming 'under the door and over the threshold.' "

The Glass Doctor location in Nashville was open for business May 3, according to Todd Overpeck, communications specialist for Glass Doctor, Waco, Texas. “The owner [Bill Rotert] said they had received a couple of calls about break-ins at retail businesses, but no home calls,” he said. “The shop has also had trouble getting glass, as [the Nashville locations for] Vitro America and PGW Automotive Glass are both closed.”

The Nashville Vitro America location will remain closed today [May 4], reported Todd Takacs, branch manager. Water is not the only problem, he said. "The sub-station that services our branch’s electricity has flooded, along with 36 of their bucket trucks and almost all of their tools and supplies used to fix power outages. As a result, we do not have power in our industrial park (MetroCenter). They are going to let the water go down then evaluate the electrical issues."

The Vitro building didn’t look flooded the morning of May 3, from the overpass, Takacs said. "We do have one employee with a major problem," he said. He has 4 feet of water in his house. He lost everything."

The majority of Vitro's customers have been called, Takacs said. "None of the [employees] will be reporting for work today  [May 4]. Salaried employees are meeting in the morning. We will get an update and formulate a game plan based on what we learn."