COVID 19 continues to send ripples down the supply and demand chain

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 1:18 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - COVID 19 continues to send ripples through the supply and demand chain from toilet paper to now lumber.

The Wheelchair Ramp Accessibility Program saw this shortage first hand. The nonprofit builds wheelchair ramps for people with disabilities. Volunteers said Tuesday they’ve started late this year because of COVID and now might have to close again because of the shortage.

Volunteers like Steve Schroeder were happy to be building ramps for people with disabilities once again after having to delay construction on many because of COVID 19.

“We’ll build this week, but after this week we’ll be on hold if we don’t have lumber,” said WRAP Volunteer Schroeder.

Schroeder said WRAP would normally have built 50 ramps by this time but the delay has meant they have built 19 to date. With a lack of ways to get their hands on lumber, they might have to put the remaining 41 ramps on hold.

“It’s hard because these people need access to their homes,” he said.

Gary Ehrisman, a manager for Gilcrest Jewett Lumber Co. in Marion, said this shortage isn’t going away anytime soon.

“The large mills are afraid of lawsuits,” he said. “They’re worried about someone getting sick or dying if it is made mandatory that they come back to work. The pipeline is empty.”

He said there’s a shortage for pretty much all lumber used to build and renovate homes, but green-treated lumber that doesn’t rot is even harder to get. It’s forced him to make changes on who he sells his product to.

“Treated material is what’s kind of hard to come by,” he said. “We had some come in the last two weeks. The guy walking in off the street probably will not get the product from us.”

Ehrisman said the prices for the lumber continue to fluctuate every day because of the shortage. At the end of the day, Shroeder said he and his team will continue building when they can find the construction materials needed.

“We’re doing the best we can,” he said. “It’s sad that the other customers are going to have to wait.”

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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