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Northern sawmill provides Texas hurricane relief

White River Forest Products sends lumber shipment to Houston

A cross-border lumber dispute hasn’t deterred big-hearted Canadian forest products companies from providing disaster relief to hurricane-ravaged Texas.

A donation of lumber from White River Forest Products has reached Houston to assist in the rebuilding of 111 Habitat for Humanity homes that were affected by Hurricane Harvey at the end of August.

The lumber mill took on the challenge laid down by Resolute Forest Products, who donated a rail-car of lumber after Hurricane Harvey ravaged the city, and asked other lumber manufacturers to follow suit.

According to a Sept. 30 news release, White River Forest Products CEO Frank Dottori “spurred his team to mobilize” and transport more than $20,000 worth of lumber to help with the rebuild.

Houston Habitat for Humanity is in the process of gutting many of the flooded homes destroyed by Harvey. Rebuilding should begin in a few weeks.

Bob Schlaegel, a company shareholder and owner of Houston-based Bedrock Logistics, donated the shipping, noting that he had family who was directly affected by the hurricane.

Bob Giroux of Soanbert, the company’s marketing agent, contributed logistics and organized the transaction.

"When you put yourself in their shoes, it doesn't take long to realize what you have to do," said Dottori in a statement.

"We're proud of our product, and we wanted to help, so we made it happen. We hope this will turn up the pressure on other lumber companies to follow suit to help the people affected by Mother Nature's rampages on both coasts, in Florida and in Houston, alike."

"This has been a very emotional time for many Houstonians and this donation of lumber will truly help raise spirits along with going straight to the affected areas," wrote Matt Murphy, the ReStore manager for Houston Habitat for Humanity, in an email to the company.

"Many are donating on a national level, which is great, but it is the donations going straight to the local level that has the fastest and largest effect. The city is coming back strong and we couldn't do it without great partners like [White River Forest Products]. We sincerely thank you and everyone involved on this incredible donation of lumber."

The White River Forest Products lumber mill, based in White River, is owned by private investors, Pic Mobert First Nations and the White River Economic Development Corporation. The former Domtar mill was restarted in 2013 and now employs more than 140 people.