Berkowitz & Associates, P.A.
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Disaster Assistance Opportunities

For many people around the country, especially those on the Gulf Coast, this week has brought back many memories of August 29th, 2005. It was on that day that we all witnessed Hurricane Katrina, one of the top five deadliest hurricanes in the US and the costliest hurricane in US history. Although rebuilding still continues, it is estimated that Hurricane Katrina has been responsible for $89.6 billion in damage. As I put pen to paper, we are now witnessing Hurricane Gustav make landfall in Lousiana with the potential of moving into Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. It is almost with certainty that these natural disasters create severe tragedy for individuals who live in the path of these storms. However, these activities also can bring a reversal of fortune for entrepreneurs who can provide valuable services to those in need.

The opportunity I am bringing to your attention is to become part of the government efforts to put cities, towns, and people back into their world before the storm destroyed it. Before and after a natural disaster such as a hurricane, a relief effort is started to assist individuals, businesses and municipalities prepare for the storm, protect them during the storm and rebuild after the storm. Thousand of vendors, suppliers, service providers and contractors of all kind are awarded contracts by federal, state and local governments for the cleanup and rebuilding effort. All of these opportunities are for business owners throughout Florida and the country who have the drive and the resolve to take advantage of them. At the very least, this becomes an opportunity to develop and enhance a direct relationship with the federal government by beginning a bond with government contracting and procurement officers who see you and your business as a “go to” business for immediate assistance.

As we had seen during our own cleanup effort of Hurricane Wilma, there were many contractors from all over the country who descended on South Florida to assist in the cleanup effort. Hundreds of million of dollars were spent on those contractors here in South Florida who saw the opportunity and stepped up to the plate. I specifically remember all of the trucks with the Paul Bunyan company name on them from Pennsylvania. They were in South Florida providing removal of trees and debris from roads, private communities and government facilities. They brought many trucks and a lot of people. For us it meant that we were able to immediately receive much needed assistance removing trees and branches but it also meant the ability for our own businesses to provide food, housing, products, entertainment and a whole slew of other services to make these temporary workers comfortable while being away from home.

Don’t think that your business in ineligible as the types of goods and services needed run far and wide. The list includes businesses that are contracted to do everything from addressing short term needs like food and shelter to long term projects such as rebuilding and repairing entire cities and towns. These types of tremendous efforts by the federal government have created massive opportunities for all types of businesses via prime and subcontracting contracts.
There are many examples of contracts awarded in the Hurricane Katrina cleanup effort which I believe will be part of the Hurricane Gustav effort. A list of purchases released by five government agencies shortly after the Hurricane Katrina cleanup effort documented the government’s immediate procurement of things such as bottled water, maps of the local area, ready made food, debris removal and lots of insect repellent. The question you need to ask and answer is whether or not you are up for the challenge and opportunity to become part of another major effort to assist those in need and get your foot in the door to become a government contractor with all of the benefits it can bring?