Industry's Katrina generosity astounding

IN SEPTEMBER 2004, this magazine ran a front-page story headlined, "Hurricane brings out the best in plumbing industry," about how contractors pitched in to help after Hurricanes Charley and Francis hit Florida. This year, the industry response to the destruction in Louisiana and Mississippi from Hurricane Katrina is astounding. The Board of Directors of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National

IN SEPTEMBER 2004, this magazine ran a front-page story headlined, "Hurricane brings out the best in plumbing industry," about how contractors pitched in to help after Hurricanes Charley and Francis hit Florida. This year, the industry response to the destruction in Louisiana and Mississippi from Hurricane Katrina is astounding.

The Board of Directors of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors — National Association voted to set aside a fund to immediately provide $2,000 to any member in the hurricane-damaged areas who requests assistance. PHCC also agreed to waive two years of national dues payments for those members. Contributions are being accepted for the fund. Those wishing to contribute should call 800/533-7694, or e-mail [email protected]

Two members have been assisted by the fund. Other members affected by Hurricane Katrina are being contacted to let them know that the assistance from PHCC is available.

In addition, a task force, which includes members from New Orleans, will determine ways to find jobs for those who cannot go back to work in the hurricane-stricken areas.

To assist in the monumental task of rebuilding the plumbing and sewer systems damaged by Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana Plumbing Board has relaxed certain rules and procedures applicable to plumbing work. PHCC Vice President Jim Finley is the chairman of the Louisiana State Plumbing Board. Plumbing licenses from other states will be recognized on a temporary basis. Temporary licenses will be issued to all qualified applicants who pay the fee. The ratio of apprentices to journeymen plumbers will be relaxed to allow three apprentices for every journeyman.

All applications for Journeyman or Master Plumber licenses will be taken at the Baton Rouge office of the Louisiana State Plumbing Board, 12497 Airline Highway, 225/756-3434.

The Mechanical Contractors Association of America has also started a fund to help its members directly.

"I spoke with ... David Gallo, president of Gallo Mechanical Contractors in New Orleans," said John Gentille, MCAA executive vice president and CEO. "Grateful that he and his family are safe, he must now face the fact that his office, his shop, his trucks — and his home — are all under water. He has not been able to contact some of his 125 employees."

MCAA has started the MCAA Member Relief Fund with a $50,000 contribution to help Gallo and all other MCAA members affected by the storm. Checks can be made out to the MCAA Member Relief Fund and sent to Gentille at MCAA, 1385 Piccard Drive, Rockville, MD 20850.

Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association, through the New Horizons Foundation, has established the New Horizons Sheet Metal Industry Disaster Relief Fund. The funds from this special account will provide direct financial assistance to SMACNA members and their employees, including Sheet Metal Workers International Association members displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Donations can be made through New Horizons, Chantilly, Va., at newhorizonsfoundation.org, using Visa, MasterCard and American Express. New Horizons is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, so all contributions are tax deductible.

Greg Leisgang, Air Conditioning Contractors of America chairman of the board, has appointed a Katrina Relief Task Force to oversee the group's relief efforts. Past ACCA Chairman Alan Barnes Sr. is chairing the task force.

A Web page has been created at www.acca.org/katrina/. Included on the page is a listing of contractors who are willing to provide temporary employment or relocation assistance to displaced HVACR workers.

An ACCA charitable relief fund is being set up specifically to help displaced workers and families in the HVACR industry. ACCA suggests that member contractors ask their employees to donate $10 each and match it. Donations can be made online by credit card on the Katrina Web page, or by mail. Checks should be made out to "ACCA — Katrina Relief Fund," and mailed to ACCA, 2800 Shirlington Road, Suite 300, Arlington, VA 22206. The association is investigating setting up this charitable fund with a community foundation in the affected areas.

To help member companies in the region replace equipment, tools, supplies or vehicles, ACCA will compile a list of available equipment and post it on the Website. Contractors who can donate equipment should send an e-mail to [email protected]

CONTRACTOR magazine Best Practices column contributor Charlie Greer has donated 100% of the income generated from the sale of all books, CDs and DVDs at HVAC Comfortech-2005 to the ACCA Disaster Relief Fund. Sales from his booth at HVAC Comfortech totaled slightly less than $6,000, so Greer wrote a check to round it up to $6,000. CONTRACTOR's Marketing columnist Adams Hudson declined to accept royalties at Comfortech from the sales of the Service and Maintenance Agreement PowerPack, which is a joint project between Hudson and Greer. The royalties were all donated to the ACCA Disaster Relief Fund.

Members of the Illinois Pipe Trades Advancement and Promotional Program and the United Association headed to the Gulf Coast with several truckloads of food and personal supplies. Bill Hite Sr., general president of the UA, spearheaded the effort. Steve Toth, UA international representative for Illinois; Mike Arndt, director of training; and IPTAPP Executive Director Rick Terven Sr. assisted him.

They enlisted the assistance of IPTAPP organizers Bill Hite Jr., Kevin Connolly, and Rick Terven Jr. and UA consultant Jim Pavisek.

Hite Sr. created the UA Relief Fund for Hurricane Katrina through the UA and has sent a letter to all union members asking for voluntary contributions. The Executive Board of the Illinois Pipe Trades approved $10,000, in addition to funds raised locally.

Donations from members of IPTAPP were used to purchase food and personal items for displaced families in Mississippi and Louisiana. After shopping for supplies, the men met in Bloomington, Ill., to load trucks bound for the Gulf Coast. Hite Jr., Connolly, Terven Jr., Arndt and Pavesik left Sept. 6, first stopping in Mississippi at the Gulf Park UA Regional Training Center, which has been set up as a shelter. They proceeded from there to UA Local 198 in Baton Rouge, La., where several families were sheltered in its training center. A third and fourth truckload of supplies left two days later, driven by Jeff and Matt Langendorf, Local 149, and Local 149 Business Agent Steve Brewer and his wife, Sherri.

Neil Miller, coordinator of training for Local 198 in Baton Rouge, and Business Manager Sammy Graphia will distribute the supplies to members of Local 198 and their families.

The National Association of Wholesalers sent a letter to its members noting that immense quantities of supplies and equipment will be needed as recovery and rebuilding proceed.

If a supplier does not already have an established relationship with a disaster relief agency, the Department of Homeland Security suggested to NAW that its members register with the National Emergency Resource Registry by going to https://www.swern.gov/emergency/ asset_index.php. First-time users must register to participate in the system.

NERR is the coordinating mechanism being used by federal, state and local officials to source supplies and equipment. NERR will accommodate both offers to donate and offers to sell merchandise.