Plywood "alternative" in big demand as Hurricane Irma closes in

Corrugated plastic tested under extreme wind condition

ORLANDO, Fla. – The scramble to cover windows ahead of the anticipated wallop of Hurricane Irma has sparked last-minute consumer interest in a corrugated plastic marketed as “Storm Stoppers.”

Company CEO John Smith first introduced the corrugated plastic sheets as plywood alternatives in 2004 during the now-infamous three-hurricane year. Thirteen years later, his product has become a hot commodity again, thanks to the anticipated super storm.

“The demand the last five days has been off the charts," Smith told News 6 Friday. “We can’t answer the phone. We usually average 10 calls a day, now we’re getting 500.”

Smith and his assistant, Chad Hanjora, have been taking orders and cutting the material for a custom window fit at a fevered pace.

”It’s been absolutely crazy here,” Hanjora said. “Barely a second to breathe.”

The allure of the Storm Stoppers is its weight and convenience, Smith said. According to Smith, a Storm Stopper sheet weighs 16 pounds, versus a plywood sheet at "about 60 to 70 pounds.”

The material was tested at the Wall of Wind Hurricane Simulator at Florida International University. A video obtained by News 6 showed that the window coverings never budged under sustained winds of 143 mph (within Cat 4 Hurricane and EF-3 Tornado).

According to Smith, there are limited supplies of the sheets, which are attached to windows using a product designed by 3M called “Dual Lock.”

Smith told News 6 that the panels can easily be pushed off the windows from the inside. With plywood, though, “you are trapped unless you have an exit plan,” he said.

For more information, go to www.plywoodalternative.com or call TOLL FREE at 877-575-7788. The website may take a while to load because of high demand, company officials said.

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