Hurricane Katrina caused an estimated US$2.4bn worth of tree damage in Mississippi, according to the state’s Forestry Commission.

More than half the damage was to commercial timber stands across 1.3 million acres.

A salvage operation is under way to process the downed trees before the onset of blue-stain fungus, which reduces the value of the timber.

But damage to power networks, roads and a shortage of loggers and equipment is expected to prove a problem during logging operations.

APA-The Engineered Wood Association says the southern states of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama produce 6.5 billion ft2 of wood panels a year – 22% of the country’s production.