By Marcia Gruver Doyle
When it happens in your own backyard, it’s always different.
On April 27th, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the hometown of Equipment World, experienced the 190-mph winds of an F4 tornado that made a 15-mile gash through the center of town. When I try to describe the level of destruction, my wordsmith skills fail me. Photography has also proved a poor substitute.
After counting our blessings that everyone on our staff was safe, we started to consider the tremendous rebuilding task ahead. By the American Red Cross’s estimate, more than 2,300 homes in Tuscaloosa County were destroyed, with an almost equal number sustaining major damage. Across Alabama, catastrophe-modeling company AIR Worldwide estimates the insured losses will range from $1.9 billion and $2.6 billion.
When we first considered what would become our Contractor Disaster Resources website, www.equipmentworld.com/disaster, we thought we’d put up a few organized links, directing contractors to where they needed to go to sign up for public disaster recovery work, and explore the requirements for these jobs.
We envision a one-stop resource for contractors interested in disaster recovery work.
We quickly found out, however, there was no central source for this information. FEMA, the primary funder of public disaster work, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the primary contractor, both had information, but it required some digging to get the major pieces in place. And federal contracts are only one part of the work; insurance companies have their own requirements and keep their own lists.
While the website concentrated on Alabama in the weeks following the tornado, we are aware of the Mississippi flood waters spreading misery at press time. We know disaster response can hardly be considered just within the context of Alabama.
(The irony is our efforts will probably not do much to help local contractors get this work – if they hadn’t already gotten on these federal and insurance lists, they were behind the curve. And the lists are just a start – even more critical can be who knows you and your work.)
Our website is in its infancy. While we envision a one-stop resource for contractors interested in disaster recovery work, creating it will definitely be a process. We crave your feedback on what works and where we’re tone deaf.
Several contractors have told us doing post-disaster work put their company in a new league. With FEMA estimating debris cleanup in Tuscaloosa alone costing between $75 million and $100 million, it just might make sense for your company to go after this work.