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Lumber company seeks whereabouts of workers

By Richard Mize Published: September 1, 2005
Lumber wholesaler Weyerhaeuser Co. was trying to find all its Gulf Coast employees in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on Wednesday.

Damage assessment from high winds and flooding was still on the back burner.

"As far as damage goes, right now we are not even concerned with that," said Fred Probst, site manager for the Washington-based timber giant's Oklahoma City lumber distribution center. "We're going to have to wait until we ascertain whether all our folks are safe."

That means the effect of the hurricane on lumber supplies and distribution will be determined later, Probst said.

"Our people are more important than any of the asset base," he said of Weyerhaeuser, which has a lumber mill in Idabel, a plywood and lumber mill in Wright City, a cardboard plant in Valliant and another mill not far across the state line in Dierks, Ark.

As wide as Katrina's swath was, its landfall near New Orleans was too far from southeastern Oklahoma to directly affect Weyerhaeuser's operations in Little Dixie.

However, Probst said, some of the lumber company's operations in Louisiana were directly in the path of Katrina, including plants in Arcadia and Natchitoches, La.

Lumber markets didn't wait for data to respond, he said.

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