Delivery delays and heightened stress among employees are among the biggest challenges faced by Iowa manufacturing companies situated along the flooded Missouri River, according to a new survey.
Researchers from Iowa State University's Center for Industrial Research and Service called about 200 manufacturers in Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Pottawattamie and Woodbury Counties. Representatives from 60 percent of those firms — about 120 — agreed to answer questions about the impact of the floods on day-to-day operations and long-term planning.
In total, 53 percent of the survey respondents said they were affected by the floods, and more than half of those companies reported struggling with delays in orders going out and supplies coming in. About half said they'd experienced some kind of disruption to their workforce, whether it was employees making longer-than-normal commutes or dealing with the stress of having to leave their homes.
About one-fourth of the companies that reported flood-related impacts are food processors. An additional one-third are metal, chemical, plastic and rubber manufacturers. The names of the participants in the survey were kept confidential.
Ruth Wilcox, a program manager with CIRAS, said her group did a similar study of businesses after the 2008 flooding in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, area. That survey turned up similar concerns, but she said this event seems to have had a wider reach.
"There are definitely differences in western Iowa," she said. "The flood is sustained."
The researchers heard from some companies that were considering relocating because of flood damage or disruptions. But Wilcox said employers seemed to want to keep up the status quo as much as possible.
"Anecdotally, I can say most companies are very supportive of their workforce — they are always concerned about how disasters are impacting the workforce," she said.
CIRAS will share the survey results with organizations that can provide support services to affected firms. It also provides planning services to help companies prepare for future disasters.
"Ultimately, our goal is to get companies back to being even better than they were before," Wilcox said.
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