Auto Glass Shops Busy, Unreachable in Katrina Aftermath

Auto glass shops in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana are experiencing many different levels of business in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall on August 29. GlassBYTES tried to contact many subscribers to get an idea of the state of the industry in the areas most affected by the storm.

A call to one reader in Brusly, La., was curtailed by an automated message indicating that "due to the hurricane" the call could not be completed as dialed.

The majority of companies contacted were up and running but had key employees out of the office, though it is unclear if they were working jobs directly related to hurricane damage or tending to their own homes and families.

In Ethel, Miss., near the center of the state, Arthur Sartain, owner of Attala Glass, was able to spend some time on the phone. Though he and his neighbors did get hit with some strong wind and rains, they were not subjected to the massive flooding and damage that more southern municipalities were.

"I'm in the middle of the state. We didn't get wiped out like Gulfport and Biloxi," he told glassBYTES. "They're not getting much auto glass done because they're spending more money on gas. The gas stations here are running out of gas and they're only getting one shipment a day. They're worrying about more survival than glass. It'll probably pick up more later when things get better. That's the scenario I'm picturing. Some of my customers don't even have telephone service right now."

Returning normal, every day function for families displaced by the hurricane is even harder to predict.

"Right now everyone is scattered all over the states and in refugee camps. They can't stay there forever. They need a place to live. Eventually sales will pick up, but it will probably be more than a year, as there are things you need like food and water and communication before you worry about replacing glass," said Sartain.

Stay tuned to GlassBYTES as we continue to bring you stories of survival and business in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and keep an eye on Tropical Storm Ophelia.

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