The most destructive storm to hit the U.S. mainland since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Katrina may end up being the most costly natural disaster in US history. The storm left a path of destruction, flooding, and property loss that cut through the northern Gulf coast from west of New Orleans to east of Mobile, AL, before heading north through the eastern half of the country. The cities of New Orleans, LA; Biloxi, MS; and Gulfport, MS are among the larger metropolitan areas that will be forever changed by the storm's intensity. The current estimated costs of the storm range from $10B to $25B.
Before Katrina landed, local DKI members were already preparing for the storms' assault. Water removal and drying equipment were moved into mobile trailers, commercial structures were boarded up where DKI had pre-disaster plans in place, and contingency resource plans were put into action.
Elsewhere across the country, DKI catastrophe response teams from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, North Carolina, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Tennessee, Florida and Pennsylvania began loading equipment into trailers and setting off for staging areas outside the storms' expected path. Once in place, the teams awaited word from DKI's central command post in Chicago to be dispatched to the areas most in need of assistance.
The extent of the damage, including the complete lack of water, electricity, and other necessities in many areas, has made access to many affected areas impossible at the present time. While DKI's recovery efforts have started in many inland areas, along with tens of thousands of local residents, it still awaits approval from the National Guard and other state and federal bodies before it can begin the cleanup of many coastal areas.
Unfortunately, the damage has not been confined to just the Gulf Coast. Several DKI member companies have been working for over a week in Florida restoring property damaged by Katrina's initial landfall, and many other DKI member companies are responding to water and wind damage throughout Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Ohio and other areas damaged by Katrina's only slightly more subdued path north, as well as the ancillary tornados it produced.
All told, more than 10,000 pieces of portable equipment, including air movers, dehumidifiers, generators, and portable extraction units are either currently in place or staged immediately outside the hurricane ravaged areas. And more is on the way as another group of DKI catastrophe response teams is waiting to see where they can best lend assistance before mobilizing their resources. It is expected that within a month over 30 DKI companies from around the country will be in the Southeast aiding their fellow members and the property owners affected by the storm.
"The response of DKI's members to the immediate impact of Hurricane Katrina has been both overwhelming and typical," said Dale Sailer, president of Disaster Kleenup International. "Our member contractors prepare and train all year to be able to respond quickly and efficiently to losses, regardless of size, and this is clearly the largest natural disaster to hit our shores in a long time, perhaps ever. Our ability to respond in the manner we have will enable families and businesses to begin the process of getting their lives back to normal as fast as humanly possible and minimize the financial impact of their loss. After all, that's why most of our contractors got into this business in the first place - to help people."
For homeowners, property owners and managers and government officials seeking the most up-to-date information on the disaster recovery efforts, DKI has established a web-based resource at www.hurricanecatastophe.com which provides important updates on storm activity, as well as how to prepare for a storm beforehand and respond to its impact afterwards.