Survey of Western Iowa Manufacturers Details Flood Impacts, Ongoing Recovery Challenges



AMES, Iowa — As the Missouri River flood waters slowly begin to recede, western Iowa manufacturers continue to deal with major ongoing challenges such as transportation logistics and workforce issues.

To better understand the impact of the Missouri River flooding on manufacturers in the affected region, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) recently contacted manufacturing companies operating in the six-county Presidential Disaster Declaration Area that includes Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Pottawattamie and Woodbury counties.

Approximately 200 manufacturers were contacted with 60 percent responding to the survey. Fifty-three percent of the respondents reported being affected by the floods. More than half of these indicated that transportation remains a major issue, causing delays in order delivery and receipt of necessary supplies.

“The impacts are still ongoing as long as flooding issues are present,” said Ruth Wilcox, CIRAS program manager. “Manufacturers in this region will be experiencing the effect of the floods for many months as they continually deal with regional issues such as levee conditions and road degradation due to erosion and saturation damage.”

According to the survey, one-fourth of those impacted are food processors. Fabricated metals, chemicals and plastic and rubber products companies make up more than one-third of those affected.

Nearly half of the survey respondents also indicated disruptions to their workforce. “Some manufacturers have moved warehouses or operations, and others are considering relocation,” Wilcox said.

“All companies are concerned about the duration of the floods and the level of stress their employees are feeling,” explained Wilcox. “Workers are not only coping with possible employment interruption; they may have experienced flood damage to their homes and commuting challenges as many roads remain closed and detour routes extend their travel.”

As this disaster continues and the region moves into the recovery process, CIRAS acts as the collective voice for Iowa manufacturers by identifying industry challenges, providing guidance and conveying industry needs to local, state and federal agencies and organizations providing support and resources.

CIRAS offers specific services and technical support for Iowa companies affected by the flood and the resulting productivity and logistical challenges. Examples of CIRAS services include: plant layout simulation if relocation is a consideration; logistics and warehouse management to optimize operations and ultimately exceed pre-disaster productivity; and training opportunities to maximize the effectiveness and performance of employees as companies navigate through the transition.

Another core area of support provided by CIRAS is the Business Continuity Planning Service. This service helps Iowa companies ensure they are prepared to react and recover in the event of another disaster or disruption to business.

For additional information or available CIRAS resources, companies are encouraged to contact Ruth Wilcox at rwilcox@iastate.edu or 515-290-1134, or visit the CIRAS website at www.ciras.iastate.edu.

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