Metl-Span Panels Withstand Hurricane Maria

A 34,000 square food storage facility in Puerto Rico escaped the Category 4 hurricane relatively unscathed.

“We’re blessed.” John Williams, President at Sterling Merchandising in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, was able to utter those two words after Hurricane Maria ripped through the island in September 2017. The Sterling Merchandising facility, constructed with insulated metal panels from Metl-Span, survived the Category 4 hurricane with no leaks and minimal damage.

Sterling Merchandising facility in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria hit the island in September 2017

“I’ve thoroughly inspected the building and there are no leaks,” Williams says. “We lost a couple downspouts and a little guttering, but that’s about it. There was one ridge cap that was bent, but I just bent it back and screwed it down. It’s very impressive because it blew hard and the building is 100 percent airtight.”

The Sterling Merchandising facility, which houses top national brands from all over the United States, measures 23,000 square feet, while the freezer portion is 11,000 square feet. Since opening in October 2009, the facility has endured its share of “tests”, including a small hurricane and an earthquake that measured over 7.0. Hurricane Maria came at the facility with winds estimated up to 180 mph.

For both the roof and wall panel, Metl-Span’s CF42 was chosen by Williams. Both feature a six-inch core of urethane for insulation, helping keep Sterling’s ice cream stock at a temperature between -13° and 22°Fahrenheit. A total of 26,488 square feet of CF42 was installed as wall panel, and 14,583 square feet of CF42R serves as the roof. Both are 22-gauge Galvalume in PVDF Polar White.

Other buildings near Sterling Merchandising in Puerto Rico suffered immense damage.

“About 12 hours after we lost power, we turned on our 1 megawatt generator,” Williams says. “In that time, the freezer temperature went from -15 Fahrenheit to -8 Fahrenheit. The generator quickly took it back down.”

Caribbean Cleanroom Products Inc. of Dorado, Puerto Rico installed the Metl-Span panels in 2009. C.J. Sabol, P.E., Project Manager/Pharma Consultant for CCP, helped Williams design the facility and oversaw the construction.

“The design and construction were key to surviving all this building has been through,” says Sabol. “It is a solid structure with the right panels and the right attachment system. It’s about good engineering and good practices.”

Sabol visited the site within a couple weeks of Hurricane Maria and noted that several food and beverage buildings in the vicinity were severely damaged. “Sterling Merchandising is the only one that is still operating,” he says.