As refineries and factories near the Gulf Coast move into recovery, one question is, “Where is the industrial wire and cable we need going to come from?” One source is Southwire’s Starkville, Mississippi plant.
Located in north-central Mississippi, Southwire’s Starkville facility was far enough from the Gulf of Mexico to avoid major damage from Katrina, but the plant is still close enough to allow one- and two-day delivery to Gulf Coast destinations.
Alex Thomas, plant manager at Starkville, says “We shut down the night Katrina made landfall. We definitely felt the effects. We saw high winds and scattered power outages, but we came out without severe damage. We were down for a few days while people looked after families further south, but we were back up to our full 24 x 7 production three days after the storm.”
One effect of Katrina that had lingering effect was disrupted data communications. Starkville’s data lines all ran through a switch in New Orleans that was located near the Super Dome. When the switch went under water, Starkville lost data communications with Southwire corporate headquarters in Carrollton, Georgia. That blocked access to order and shipping data for about nine days. Thomas’s crew was finally able to rig a bank of telephone modems and dial-up lines to restore vital connections with Carrollton.
Until the storm-damaged plants finish their physical assessments, the Starkville plant will be running about the same product mix as usual. That includes building wire, THHN and XHHW conductors, 600V power and control cables, and medium-voltage (MV) power cables including ARMOR-X seamless-armored products.
The Starkville production team is prepared to respond to needs for particular products, once customers see what their requirements really are. Plant planners do expect to see increased demand in medium-voltage (MV) power cables, and ARMOR-X seamless armored cable for offshore platforms.
“In general, we’ve recovered pretty smoothly, and we’re well-positioned to supply both storm-recovery needs and regular orders,” says Thomas. “‘No drama’ is the way we want it. There was too much of that down south.”