Morton Salt To Rebuild Plant Hit By Hurricane

Company said it plans to rebuild its Bahamian island factory where it employs more than half the working population after damage from Hurricane Ike forced operations to halt.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Damage from Hurricane Ike has forced a Morton Salt factory to halt operations on a Bahamian island where it employs more than half the working population, but the company said Wednesday it plans to rebuild.

The hurricane ravaged the factory's offices and loading docks as it roared across Great Inagua island Sunday as a ferocious Category-4 storm, said George Bochanski, a spokesman for Morton's Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based parent company, Rohm and Haas.

"We're going to work to bring it back up, but it's going to take some time," Bochanski said by telephone from Philadelphia. He said workers likely will be called back in phases, and the company has not yet estimated the cost of the damage.

The factory employs about 150 people on Inagua, population 1,000, which is the southernmost island of the Atlantic archipelago.

The island's only settlement, Matthew Town, is essentially a company town where Morton even operates a general store. Its affluence allowed islanders to build sturdy homes that survived Ike's 135-mph (220-kph) winds with limited damage.

Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, who toured Inagua on Tuesday, said many roofs were damaged but he was "pleasantly surprised" the destruction was not more extensive. Crews were still working Wednesday to restore electricity.

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