Trump tariffs ‘adding extra costs’ as North Carolina rebuilds after Hurricane Florence

Storm brought devastation to region – and it may end up costing as much as $50bn to rebuild

Clark Mindock
New York
Sunday 23 September 2018 11:21 BST
Hurricane Florence: International Space Station captures views from space as storm makes landfall in North Carolina

President Donald Trump’s controversial tariffs are likely to have an impact on communities who are just now beginning recovery efforts after hurricanes smashed parts of the United States, bringing torrential rain and winds that have caused significant damage.

Home builders and contractors say that Mr Trump’s tariffs on steel, aluminium, and lumber could drive up costs for restoration and recovery significantly as those efforts begin anew following the landfall of storms such as Hurricane Florence.

And a new set of tariffs will probably raise prices further when the Trump administration implements planned measures on $200bn worth of products. Those include countertops, furniture, and gypsum – an important ingredient to create drywall.

Donald Trump visits areas affected by Hurricane Florence

Costs will increase by about 20 to 30 per cent, some builders believe.

“We’re all going to pay the price for it in terms of higher construction costs,” Alan Banks, president of the North Carolina Home Builders Association, told The New York Times.

That increase in cost could have a major impact on the people in areas like North and South Carolina, where torrential rains and winds were experienced after the landfall of Hurricane Florence just weeks ago.

In North Carolina, for instance, communities across the state experienced flooding as Florence stalled above, dropping heavy rains into the area. While the initial response to those rains and floods were for life saving measures, residents are now beginning to assess the damage to their homes, and what they may need to return their lives to a sense of normalcy.

In many homes, wet drywall will need to be removed where floodwaters lapped against the walls. For homes that were in the line of some of the worst winds, structural repairs or repairs to the facade of buildings could be necessary.

“In the short term, it is definitely hurting us,” Skip Greene, a contractor in North Carolina who had already been forced to table a project because of the tariffs, told The New York Times.

“I hope that going through all this pain is worth it in the end,” he continued. “We’ve got a tariff war going on with China and Canada, and the result was that I could not move ahead with building affordable housing.”

Hurricane Florence brought between $38bn and $50bn in damage and economic losses to the United States, according to an analysis by Moody’s. If the storm caused $50bn, that would make it roughly the seventh most expensive storm to ever hit the United States.

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