Katrina disaster coalition seeks product donations

THE PLUMBING industry's disaster relief coalition, made up of nearly a dozen associations, in late September decided to ask manufacturers and suppliers to register products that can be donated or offered for sale with the National Emergency Resource Registry. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security activated the NERR in order to provide assistance to those affected by Hurricane Katrina. In a nationwide

THE PLUMBING industry's disaster relief coalition, made up of nearly a dozen associations, in late September decided to ask manufacturers and suppliers to register products that can be donated or offered for sale with the National Emergency Resource Registry. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security activated the NERR in order to provide assistance to those affected by Hurricane Katrina.

In a nationwide conference call, coalition members also decided to draft a mission statement, investigate formalizing itself, study opportunities to help the needy, make available accurate technical information on backflow prevention and sterilization of contaminated potable water systems and, finally, to choose a name for itself. Associations in the coalition also plan to help out their favorite charities.

Ike Casey, executive vice president, Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors — National Association, said his association would continue to support PHCC's national charity, Rebuilding Together, a group that rebuilds homes for the poor, elderly and disabled. Rebuilding Together has two homes that it is ready to begin rebuilding in Louisiana. It also has homes it's rebuilding in Houston; Baton Rouge, La.; and Albany, N.Y., for those moving from the Gulf Coast.

PHCC will agree to donate hours of labor, material and warehouse space. Casey said he will try to persuade his members in the region to donate 10,000 hours of labor.

Barb Higgens, executive director of the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute, noted that PMI will continue to support The Storehouse of World Vision, a Chicago-based charity that accepts donated obsolete and overstock goods and resells them at nominal costs to the needy, church groups or community service organizations.

Inge Calderon, executive vice president of the American Supply Association, suggested what might be the best course of action, registering with the National Emergency Resource Registry.

"When people are ready, they are likely to look there for goods and services," Calderon said. "Maybe we should develop a list of goods and services that we have access to."

She promised to blast e-mail her members and ask what they would donate.

"The National Emergency Resource Registry is the better way to go," said Pete Censky, executive director of the Water Quality Association. "That way you're capturing all the potential for products and services and, potentially, what people in the entire country might have available. Unless we're all prepared to create a database of who has what at the moment, then we'd have list of things not knowing who to give it to."

Censky noted that the registry also includes products offered for sale, and with President George W. Bush promising $200 billion to rebuild the Gulf coast region, there will be a lot of buying.

While the registry appears to be limited to products at this point, Casey and Sean McGuire of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America said they would poll their members to see how many labor hours they might be willing to donate.

Research by coalition members found that many charitable organizations mainly want money. The Salvation Army is serving meals and needs cash and volunteers, said Hans Tiedemann of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Alberta.

America's Second Harvest and AmeriCares are providing food, water and toiletry items to evacuees, and they don't see how the plumbing industry can be much help to them now other than donating money, said Shannon Corcoran, executive director of the American Society of Sanitary Engineering.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking for contractors who can perform debris clearing, power and utility work and roofing.

Coalition secretariat Mary Garvelink, the immediate past president of PHCCNA, doled out tasks for the group. She will work on a mission statement, along with representatives of ASSE, the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials and CONTRACTOR magazine. Dr. Lawrence Galowin of the National Institute for Standards and Technology will develop information on how to decontaminate a flooded building's potable water system. IAPMO will handle backflow prevention guidelines. Casey will study opportunities on how the coalition can help the needy.