How Companies Are Preparing for Hurricane Florence

September 11, 2018, 5:45 PM UTC

Corporations are preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Florence on the East Coast of the U.S. by shuttering factories and encouraging workers to keep their homes and families safe from the Category 4 storm. Here are some of the latest developments.

Smithfield Foods Shuts 2 Pork Plants (5:26 p.m. ET)

Pork producer Smithfield Foods Inc.’s Tar Heel plant, with 4,440 employees, has the capacity to process 35,000 hogs a day. Its Clitnon facility can process 10,600 hogs, with 1,819 employees. Both will be closed Thursday and Friday, a spokeswoman said by email.

October hog futures fell 2.6 percent to 54.48 cents a pound on Tuesday. It was the contract’s first decline in seven trading days, breaking the longest winning streak since it debuted in May 2017.

J.C. Penney Closes 7 Locations in the Carolinas (5:16 p.m. ET)

J.C. Penney Co. closed four stores in South Carolina and three in North Carolina on Tuesday ahead of the storm. The company is among retailers including Ross Stores Inc., Kohl’s Corp., Burlington Stores Inc. and TJX Cos. that each have 6 percent to 7 percent of their total stores located in the Carolinas and Virginia, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

Macy’s Inc. also said it plans store closures in areas affected by evacuation orders and curfews.

Nucor Suspends Operations at 2 Steel Plants (4:58 p.m. ET)

Nucor Corp.’s steel mills in Hertford County, North Carolina, and Berkeley County, South Carolina, will stop operating while Florence passes through the region, a spokeswoman said in an email.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based steelmaker doesn’t expect the suspension of operations to impact customer orders, spokeswoman Katherine Miller said.

Prices of coking coal, used by steelmakers, could climb to more than $200 a ton, from about $196 a ton today, as the hurricane disrupts port operations at Hampton Roads, Virginia, according to Clarksons Platou Securities. The storm threatens coal export facilities in the U.S., the supplier about 10 percent of the global market, the firm said.

Apparel Maker Gildan Closes Distribution Center (2:36 p.m. ET)

Gildan Activewear Inc., the Montreal-based maker of T-shirts and athletic apparel, closed its distribution center and offices in Charleston, South Carolina. “The facility itself is likely to not be impacted, but some of our employees would experience difficulties getting back to their homes given the altered transportation patterns and road closures,” Gildan said in an email.

The company also operates three distribution centers in North Carolina and five yarn-spinning facilities in North Carolina and Georgia. Gildan anticipates the storm won’t interrupt those facilities.

Pfizer Halting Work at Hospital-Drug Site (1:07 p.m. ET)

Pfizer Inc. is suspending operations Thursday at two facilities in North Carolina, including a Rocky Mount plant that supplies hospitals with drugs from its sterile injectibles division, Hospira. That business has been under pressure due to product shortages. The New York-based drugmaker said it was working to ensure that the pharmaceutical supply wouldn’t be affected by the impending storm.

Erin Fox, an expert on drug-supply issues at the University of Utah, said any prolonged disruption in operations at Rocky Mount would worsen longstanding supply squeezes for such medications.

Cargill Idles Meat Plants as Ports Close (10:44 a.m. ET)

Cargill, the agricultural giant and biggest closely held company in the U.S., will close meat-processing plants in South Carolina and Dayton, Virginia, on Sept. 14, spokeswoman April Nelson said in an emailed statement.

The Port of Norfolk, Virginia, Hampton Roads plans to close to all traffic starting at noon Sept. 12. The Port of Baltimore is already a step ahead, with no containers inbound or outbound at this time, Minneapolis-based Cargill said. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has declared a state of emergency.

Daimler Shutters Just-Opened Van Factory (9:54 a.m. ET)

Daimler AG suspended operations at its new Mercedes-Benz van factory in South Carolina after Hurricane Florence prompted orders to evacuate areas in the path of the storm. The plant in North Charleston, which Daimler just opened last week, has been contracted to produce 20,000 Sprinter vans for Inc.’s package-delivery service.

“Mercedes-Benz Vans Charleston plant has suspended operations for Sept. 11 until further notice in anticipation of potential impacts from Hurricane Florence,” the company said in a statement. “We urge our team members, their families and all those in the path of Hurricane Florence to take this time to prepare and stay safe during the storm.”

Boeing Closes 787 Plant in S.C. (6:42 p.m. ET Monday)

Boeing Co. plans to shut its South Carolina operations, including a North Charleston plant where 787 Dreamliners are manufactured. Evacuations have been ordered for coastal areas and operations will resume “once it is safe to do so,” the planemaker said in an emailed statement.

Chicago-based Boeing said its leaders are monitoring the storm and working with state and federal officials.

Volvo Car Group Idles First U.S. Factory (5:07 p.m. ET Monday)

Volvo Car Group, the Swedish carmaker owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., said Monday it idled operations starting Tuesday at its new plant near Charleston. The factory is its first in the U.S. and makes S60 midsize sedans. The decision was prompted by an evacuation order in place for Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley Counties in South Carolina.