By Jim Forsyth
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp temporarily halted production at its sprawling San Antonio pickup truck plant on Wednesday due to storm damage at the facility, which was hit by lashing rain and strong winds, a company spokesman said.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Texas said the problems began when a major storm blew through the region earlier in the day, knocking out electrical power at the plant, according to spokesman Mario Lozoya.
"Now that we have some power back in some areas, we are starting to see the real damage, and a lot of it is water related," Lozoya said.
He says the first shift was told not to report, as managers went through the 2.2 million square foot (236,800 square meter) facility inspecting the damage. Production was halted and a decision will be made later on Wednesday on whether the second shift, which starts work at 6:30 p.m. CDT (2330 GMT), will be able to resume production.
"Our concern is that there may be water in the electrical systems," Lozoya said. "We want to make sure those things are safe."
The National Weather Service said the area south of San Antonio, where the plant is located, reported winds of about 80 miles per hour (130 kph) during the storm, which dumped drenching rain and hail across the San Antonio area.
The Toyota plant, which opened about a decade ago, employs 2,600 people and builds the company's full-sized Tundra pickups and mid-sized Tacoma pickups.
The trucks sold in Texas can come with a sticker reading “Born in Texas, Built by Texans.”
(Reporting by Jim Forsyth; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing at W Simon)