Even as the nation continued to learn of the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina across the Gulf Coast region, a call went out to home inspectors to assist in the recovery. On August 31, ASHI relayed a request from the Institute for Building Technology and Safety for resumes from home inspectors willing to be deployed to the hurricane-stricken sections of the U.S. The immediate response overwhelmed the Institute’s e-mail, voice mail and fax, and ASHI was asked to distribute a new dedicated e-mail address—katrinahelp@ibts—for those who had been unable to get through.
On September 1, the staff at HQ was relieved to hear first from ASHI Member Scott Patterson in Ridgeland, Miss., and then from ASHI Member Bill Hatchett, New Orleans, La., who had set up shop in Baton Rouge, La; had recruited ASHI Member Mike Burroughs from the northern part of the state to help contact the Louisiana ASHI Membership, and was working to secure positions for the local inspectors with the companies with FEMA contracts for disaster recovery work. Hatchet continued to share information with HQ as they were able to contact more than 100 local members.
Scott Patterson, who had done this type of work after Hurricane Andrew, used the ASHI discussion board to share information about doing FEMA inspections and to report on current conditions in Mississippi.
“I have done FEMA inspections; I worked Andrew in South Florida. Let me tell you first-hand that if you come to Mississippi, Louisiana or Alabama to work on FEMA disaster inspections, it will be one of the hardest jobs you have ever done. We have very limited gas, no hotels, limited rental cars and it is very hot. My suggestion would be to bring a camper to live in. When I worked Andrew, I lived in a tent (Army GPM) for six weeks, we had no choice.
He said that following Andrew, the company he worked for hired inspectors as independent contractors.
“All expenses are on you. You provide your own transportation and housing; they will get you to the area. You should be able to support yourself for about 2-3 weeks before the checks start rolling in. They will, at times, have cell phones donated that you will be able to use if you are in an area that still has coverage. IBTS is the only one that I know of that covers expenses. With IBTS, you are working more for FEMA and you are taken care of more.”
Recognizing that a disaster of this magnitude is personal and unique to those experiencing it, and that this is probably the greatest natural disaster of our time, learning about past experiences may help those who are considering working as inspectors in the region and those who can offer support to disaster victims.
For those reasons, an article from the September 2004 ASHI Reporter by ASHI Member Bill Condon, Portsmouth, Va., is reprinted in this issue and was included with the September 2005 The Inspector, ASHI’s e-newsletter.