It's been a few years since my last trip to New Orleans. Although I can still picture the historic buildings and recall the charm and excitement of the French Quarter, these memories seem far removed from the images of devastation following Hurricane Katrina. The damage done to the city is expected to take years to fully repair at a cost of billions of dollars to rebuild.
Of course, New Orleans wasn't the only area affected. Katrina left a path of destruction all along the Gulf Coast, ranging as far east as Mobile, AL. Nothing was left untouched along the way, including hundreds of thousands of homes, commercial buildings, ports, roads and highways and other segments of the states' infrastructure.
As in the face of other tragic events, the construction industry has taken a lead in providing help to affected areas. Numerous companies have donated money, workers, equipment and other services to the recovery and reconstruction efforts. You can find stories about their generosity at www.forconstructionpros.com/hurricane.
Yet, the construction industry itself is a demographic largely forgotten in all the disaster coverage. Many construction firms along the coast sustained damage to their facilities and equipment, and/or are experiencing shutdowns or delays in current projects. Their workers have found themselves not only without homes, but without jobs to return to.
To help these workers, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) has established the Hurricane Katrina Construction Workers Fund through the AGC Education and Research Foundation. The fund is designed to provide financial assistance to construction workers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama who suffered financially from the disaster.
In many cases, workers likely to benefit from this fund will be employed to participate in the cleanup and restoration of the cities and towns suffering damage.
"Our hope is that this relief fund will offer some peace of mind to those who have suffered," says Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC CEO. "As these construction workers are helping to rebuild their home town, we will be able to offer them assistance to restore their own homes."
Those interested in contributing to the fund can visit www.agc.org/donate, or mail a check to the AGC Education and Research Foundation (Hurricane Katrina Construction Workers Fund), 333 John Carlyle St., Ste. 200, Alexandria, VA 22314. All contributions are fully tax deductible.
To become directly involved in reconstruction, you can sign up to be added to a list of contractors for the affected states. Two such lists are being managed by Phillips & Jordan, Inc. and AshBritt Environmental, private companies contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Subcontractor forms are available at http://disaster.pandj.com/primaries/contact.html (Alabama only) and www.ashbritt.com/sub_conract.shtml (Louisiana and Mississippi).
And for those of you who wish to contribute on a more personal level, please visit www.forconstructionpros.com/hurricane for links to legitimate relief organizations accepting donations. The site also features various resources to assist contractors affected by the storm in their recovery process.