SOUTHEAST MILLS ESCAPE MAJOR DAMAGE FROM FLOYD

Byline: Scott Malone

NEW YORK — Hurricane Floyd’s track up the East Coast this week added up to a lot of lost production time for textile mills in the South, but many executives said their plants escaped major damage.
Many plants also made advance preparations to close in anticipation of the storm, and the shutdowns on Wednesday and Thursday were said to be orderly.
Floyd also forced The Hosiery Association to cancel its 95th annual meeting and convention, which was expected to draw 400 domestic and international executives to Charleston, S.C., starting Wednesday. Charleston Place, the resort where the event was to be held, was designated as the state’s headquarters for emergency relief operations.
Meanwhile, the textile mill with the most extensive closings was Burlington Industries, which closed seven apparel fabric plants in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia on Wednesday, in anticipation of the coming storm, sending home about 4,000 workers.
“We closed some of them at the end of the second shift, mid-afternoon, and the others closed at the end of the third shift, around midnight, depending on the situation. The object was to make sure that employees could get themselves and their families secure,” a company spokesman said Thursday. He added it appeared none of the closed facilities had been damaged, and the company expected to reopen them within hours since the storm had moved on.
At Galey & Lord’s Swift Denim division, a plant in Irwin, N.C., was knocked out late Wednesday and suffered “minor damage,” but was expected to resume operations sometime Thursday evening, according to John Heldrich, president. He said he had been told that the facility had damage to its roof and some equipment, but still had power.
Executives at National Spinning Co., an acrylic yarn maker in coastal Washington, N.C., which was hard hit by Floyd yesterday, could not be reached for comment. However, a man who answered the company’s main number but declined to identify himself said that the headquarters buildings were without power and that the parking lot had been flooded.
Loss of power was a concern for a number of companies. Dyersburg Corp. closed three Alamac knit fabrics plants mid-afternoon Wednesday, and as of Thursday was unsure when the plants, which employ 1,800 in Lumberton, Elizabethtown and Clinton, N.C., would reopen.
“All three Alamac plants are closed…There’s no damage, but just no power,” said T. Eugene McBride, Dyersburg chief executive officer, in a telephone interview from the firm’s Charlotte, N.C., headquarters. “We’re expecting, at best, to have the power back by Saturday. But we just don’t know.”
McBride added that the plant closings come at a bad time for the company. “We’re busy, and it’s a long time since we’ve been busy, and we need the production,” he said. “Probably, if we can get back up Saturday, we will try to run Saturday and Sunday.”
Guilford Mills Inc. shut down an apparel fabrics knitting plant in Lumberton, N.C., a yarn-spinning plant in Fuquay-Verina, N.C., and two automotive fabrics plants in Keenesville and Wallace, N.C., on Wednesday and expected to reopen them sometime Thursday, according to Terry Geremski, executive vice president . It looks like a one-day event for us,” he said, cautioning that the firm had not completed inspecting the plants for damage and was not sure if all the plants had power.