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Lumber prices likely to rise in wake of Harvey, says N.S. industry broker

A worker tidies up the wood pile at a lumber yard Tuesday, April 25, 2017 in Montreal.
A worker tidies up the wood pile at a lumber yard Tuesday, April 25, 2017 in Montreal.

Hurricane Harvey’s path of devastation in the southeastern United States is likely going to push lumber prices up – but not right away, says a lumber industry broker.

“Over time, there will be a bit of an increase but it will be much more gradual than most people expect,” said Joel MacLaggan, the sales manager at Waverley-based lumber broker Eacan Timber, in an interview Monday. “It’ll be over the next year or two.”

That hurricane, now downgraded to a tropical storm, has blown off roofs, flattened houses, and flooded swaths of Texas, including Houston.

Unrelenting rains are expected to continue to pound the area for the rest of the week.

That’s already triggered an offer of help from Resolute Forest Products which has committed to sending a rail car full of lumber to the stricken area once the flood waters recede.

In Harvey’s wake, homeowners and businesses will need to rebuild. But MacLaggan said it’s still to early to tell what the cost of that rebuilding will be and what impact it will have on prices for building supplies.

Once the storm subsidies and residents return to their homes, then insurance companies will have to start assessing the damage, he said.

American lumber prices have climbed by 31 per cent since January last year with much of that jump in prices due to the United States' decision to slap Canadian softwood lumber exporters with a 19.88 per cent countervailing duty, said MacLaggan.

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