Central America Facing 'Catastrophic' Flooding Threat From Tropical Storm Eta: How It Impacts Region's Promo Apparel Facilities, Supply Chain
Hurricane Eta crashed into Central America as a category 4 hurricane early Tuesday, making landfall in Nicaragua with sustained winds hitting 150 miles per hour. While it was downgraded to a tropical storm shortly after reaching land, Eta's current track has it moving slowly over Nicaragua and Honduras before arcing back out to sea, dumping huge amounts of rain that could trigger potentially catastrophic flooding in the region, according to The Weather Channel.
Honduras is home to manufacturing facilities for several large promo apparel companies, including Delta Apparel, Hanesbrands, Gildan and American Apparel (now owned by Gildan). As such, the storm, despite its downgraded status, has the potential to disrupt the promo supply chain.
Carlos Encalada, vice president of manufacturing for Delta Apparel, told Promo Marketing that the supplier's Honduras facility, located in San Pedro Sula, is relatively protected from winds, as the city lies at the bottom of a valley. That, however, increases the flooding risk.
The facility is located near the Chamelecon river, which historically has seen flooding issues due to previous hurricanes. (In 1998, flooding from tropical storm Mitch caused massive damage and loss of life in the area.) The National Hurricane Center reports that Honduras could see 10 to 20 inches of additional rainfall over the next few days, with some areas seeing up to 40 additional inches. Heavy rains also increase the likelihood of landslides.
4 pm EST: Extremely dangerous Hurricane #Eta is making landfall just south of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, with estimated maximum winds of 140 mph. For more information, visit https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gB pic.twitter.com/MZfFsA6iGo
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) November 3, 2020
Encalada said that, as of mid-morning Wednesday, operations at the facility are continuing without interruption, but that Delta is closely monitoring the situation. Other suppliers in the region have not yet reported outages or disruptions at their facilities there. Still, the situation could rapidly change in the coming days, especially if heavy rainfall estimates hold.
There will likely be minor delays and supply chain interruptions regardless, as the port of Puerto Cortes, located in northern Honduras and one of the region's largest ports, has been closed for the past two days as a precaution. This closure is already impacting outgoing shipments for manufacturing facilities in the area, and the port could suspend its shipping schedule for another two days as Eta continues its slow march across the country.
If that's the extent of the storm's impact, it would amount to only minor disruptions, as the major apparel companies operating in Honduras have robust supply chain redundancy. Gildan, for example, has 24 manufacturing facilities and eight distribution centers spread across multiple countries, though its mask production is centralized in Honduras. Hanesbrands has manufacturing and distribution facilities in multiple continents.
Encalada said Delta Apparel is similarly prepared.
"In general, Delta is well stocked to continue supporting sales,” he told Promo Marketing. “We do have a good distribution of geographic locations where our facilities are based. Our facilities in Mexico and El Salvador are running smoothly with no issues.”
We've also reached out to Gildan for comment and will update this article with additional information as it becomes available.