Hurricane Katrina: The Industry Responds

Representatives from various PHCP industry organizations participated in a teleconference call on Sept. 2 to shape an industry-wide response to Katrina relief and recovery. Coalition participants included ASA, ASPE, ASSE, IAPMO, PHCC, PMI, MCAA, MCA of Canada, MCA of Alberta, The World Plumbing Council and the UA. Almost all of those groups had already pledged money and other donations to various relief efforts in the days following Katrina.

The yet-to-be-named coalition aimed to determine if there is any existing infrastructure - possibly through FEMA - to act as a clearinghouse for PHC industry rebuilding efforts, which could include materials, manpower and money. Projects like Rebuilding Together, a national charity supported by the PHCC, offer individualized help to those in need. Other avenues and relief organizations to be contacted included the World Health Organization, the Red Cross, The Army Corps of Engineers and the Salvation Army.

As of this writing, assignments were handed out and fact-finding was to continue, leading to a second conference call in late September.

Meantime, the participating organizations had already opened their hearts and wallets to various relief efforts. These included:

  • SUPPLY HOUSE TIMES' parent company, BNP Media, joined many other industry firms in donating funds and/or services to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts with its $25,000 pledge to the American Red Cross's International Response Fund. Also, Tim Fausch, publishing director of BNP Media's Architecture & Construction and Plumbing Groups, which includes this magazine, traveled with a response team from his home church and one near Gulfport, Miss., to help anyone in need. He also tried to contact local contractors and wholesalers to offer them support and supplies from a huge truck filled with donations from the Troy, Mich., area (BNP Media's headquarters). They also brought chain saws and tools to help clear debris.

  • American Supply Association matched $1,200 contributions raised by the ASA staff to the American Red Cross. Many members also dug deep in contributing to the “SWA Katrina Relief Fund” established by the Southern Wholesalers Association to benefit member companies and individuals put out of business.

  • Ferguson Enterprises (Newport News, Va.), Stock Building Supply (Raleigh, N.C.) and Wolseley Canada (Toronto, Canada), all part of the North American Plumbing and Heating Distribution Group of Wolseley plc (Reading, England), offered a corporate donation of $200,000 to the Red Cross, as well as four tractor-trailer loads of emergency supplies, such as generators, extension cords, gas cans, batteries and flashlights, shovels, pumps, water hoses and electrolyte drinks.

  • Hughes Supply (Orlando, Fla.) pledged supplies and $25,000 to the Red Cross and Salvation Army, and is matching its employees' contributions to those organizations. The company also pledged $21,500 in matching contributions to its Family Fund, created to assist fellow employees urgently in need. “We are in the process of identifying ways to transport emergency supplies to relief areas using our trucks," said Hughes' spokeswoman Lauren Brey. "We have committed an additional $70,000 to this effort so far.”

  • Quality Service Contractors is accepting donations for QSC Family members affected by Katrina. The funds collected will be distributed equally to the QSC-PHCC members affected to help with rebuilding their lives. It also is looking into mounting a future labor effort to send volunteer QSC members to the area.

  • The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association 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. In addition, a task force (including members from New Orleans) has been set up to determine ways to find jobs for those who cannot go back to work in the hurricane-stricken areas.

  • The Mechanical Contractors Association of America contributed $25,000 to the American Red Cross. MCAA also has established the MCAA Member Relief Fund, where financial assistance can be provided directly to members. MCAA donated $50,000 to the Relief Fund.

  • Peerless Pump Co. promised some of its high-powered pumps and technical assistance to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the City of New Orleans as it relieved its flood waters. For every $1 donated by an employee, Peerless will donate $2 to the American Red Cross.

  • The American Society of Plumbing Engineers offered to become a clearinghouse for help targeted to members affected by Katrina. Specifically, ASPE is looking for job openings to temporarily provide opportunities for the plumbing engineering community.

  • The Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating sent a contribution of $2,500 to the Canadian Red Cross. Numerous CIPH members also sent individual donations, as did members of the MCA of Canada and its affiliates.

  • The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) established the Hurricane Katrina Construction Workers Fund, through the AGC Education and Research Foundation, to provide financial assistance to the construction workers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama who suffered financially from the disaster.

  • The United Association reportedly offered its Gulf Coast training facilities as staging areas for relief supplies and temporary housing. The International Plumbers and Pipefitters Union also extended the terms of its Gulf Coast Agreement to all hurricane emergency work throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Almost immediately, that agreement was deployed for high-skill HVAC and refrigeration repair work on Wal-Mart stores throughout the region. The UA's Gulf Coast Agreement provides for flexible terms and contract administration, as well as portability of craft workers across the region, and will facilitate fast and flexible response to emergency conditions.

  • The National Association of Plumbing Specialties Distributors (NAPSD) donated $10,000 to aid in the recovery effort in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

  • The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has established a number of initiatives to help architects affected by this disaster, including the “Displaced Architects Fund” and an online “registry” where displaced architects can request the necessary tools (computers, telephones, furniture, etc.) they need to operate.

  • The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) said it would distribute copies of its brochure, “Guidelines for Handling Water Damaged Electrical Equipment,” to electrical distributors, contractors, and inspectors in the Gulf Coast region. The NEMA brochure may be downloaded free of charge at:

  • The Home Depot said it will make a direct donation of $400,000 to emergency management organizations, including the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army, for immediate disaster relief and recovery, and a direct donation of $600,000 to support long-term rebuilding efforts. Also, the Home Depot Foundation will make a direct donation of $500,000 to nonprofit organizations that produce and rehabilitate affordable housing. In addition, The Home Depot Foundation and The Home Depot will work with suppliers to donate additional materials to emergency management organizations.

We're sure there were many other PHC industry groups and individuals who responded magnanimously to this unprecedented disaster. These were merely those that came to our attention in the immediate aftermath.