Monday, October 2, 2023

Hurricane Ida suspends Sanderson processing operations

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LAUREL, Miss. — Sanderson Farms announced on its social media that it closed six of its poultry processing plants on Monday, Aug. 30, because of severe weather associated with Hurricane Ida.

The Sanderson processing facilities included: Hammond, La.; McComb, Miss.; Laurel, Miss.; Collins, Miss.; Hazlehurst, Miss.; and Flowood, Miss.

“We are thankful that we have not had any reports of injuries to any or our employees as a result of this devastating hurricane,” said Joe F. Sanderson Jr., chairman and CEO of Sanderson Farms, in a statement. “We have experience managing through catastrophic weather events, and we were prepared to respond to Hurricane Ida and do all we can to protect our assets.

“Our top priority has been and will continue to be the safety of our employees, contractors and independent contract producers, and the health and well-being of the animals under our care.”

“All of our facilities have power except for Hammond, La., and the feed mill and hatchery in McComb, Miss. Those facilities will operate on generator power until utilities are restored,” Sanderson added. “Fortunately, none of our facilities have experienced any significant structural damage. Our operations in Hammond, as well as all our Mississippi locations, will not operate today (Aug. 30), but we expect to resume production in Laurel, Collins, Hazlehurst and Jackson, Miss., tomorrow (Aug. 31). The widespread power outages are creating challenges for our employees in Hammond and McComb, but we hope these locations will be back in operation later this week. We also expect to operate over the holiday weekend, including Monday (Sept. 6), to catch up on lost production.”

“We are pleased to report no significant bird loss and currently have 650 broiler houses, 17 pullet houses and 48 breeder houses operating on generator power,” he noted. “In anticipation of the storm and resulting power outages, we topped off feed bins and fuel tanks, tested generators and prepared farms before the storm hit to ensure our growers have adequate supplies of feed and fuel to care for flocks until power is restored.”

“Hurricane Ida was a storm of historic proportions, and we are deeply saddened by the extreme devastation and losses that have occurred,” Sanderson said. “We are grateful for the support from local authorities and the heroic work of first responders who are dealing with the aftermath of the storm as conditions allow. We will continue to help those displaced by the storm, including providing ice and food to the affected areas when it is safe to do so.”

Hurricane Ida made landfall on Louisiana on Aug. 29 as a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds and pounded the coastal region of Louisiana and Mississippi with flood damage. It’s reported to be tied for the fifth-strongest hurricane to hit the continental United States.

The more than 1 million customers left without electrical power included the entire area of New Orleans. Hurricane Ida was being compared to Hurricane Katrina, with Ida wreaking destruction on Louisiana on the 16th anniversary of Katrina.

As of Monday, Aug. 30, one death was being attributed to the storm, but rescue efforts are ongoing.

President Biden has approved Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ request for a major disaster declaration for relief.

“Thousands of our people are without power and there is untold damage to property across the impacted parishes. FEMA has been with us since before the storm to help coordinate our state and federal efforts, which has been incredibly helpful,” Bel Edwards said in a statement. “I know that it will take some time to address all of the challenges of this storm, but I am confident in the resilience of our people and the commitment of all of our partners to pull through this, which we will do together.”

After downgrading to a tropical storm on Aug. 30, the system continued to move into the southern United States.

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