ProfNet Wire: Business & Technology - Impact of Hurricane Katrina

Released: 12-Sep-2005 3:30 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: Profnet, PRNewswire
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ROUND-UP: IMPACT OF HURRICANE KATRINA (continued)

We've added the following to items posted previously at http://www.profnet.com/organik/orbital/thewire/lst_leads.jsp?iLRTopicID=10923

**1. STEVE CAMP, banking lawyer at the Dallas office of GARDERE WYNNE SEWELL: "Along with all the other belongings left behind by evacuees along the Gulf Coast is a wealth of personal information. There wasn't time to think of packing up things like credit card bills and bank statements, so the sad fact is that individuals and the financial services industry will likely be preyed upon by frauds. The industry will take it as easy as possible on customers who have lost their IDs and credit cards, but they also have to ferret out the swindlers. Retail merchants can protect themselves by asking for an ID for credit card purchases. However, banks don't have those same security options. It could become a real issue."

**2. TOM ORECK, president and CEO of ORECK CORPORATION, a New Orleans-based national company with plants near Gulfport, Miss., producing vacuum cleaners and other cleaning products sold nationally at 450 stores: "How can a company help employees rebuild their lives and get business running in the hurricane aftermath? At Oreck Corporation, we're helping employees, bringing in food, water, medical supplies, temporary housing and generators. Relocating employees and headquarters is also essential. We temporarily relocated some employees and our headquarters to Dallas and are working to get our Mississippi plant operating quickly. Employees who lost everything to Katrina need to know they have paying jobs."

**3. STEVE MCCUTCHEON, civil engineer with the UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA Faculty of Engineering, has done relief work around the world and has studied the levee system in New Orleans: "Because we didn't get those breaches closed, it probably cost a month in getting essential services back. The pumping system there is on an archaic electrical system, so when they lose their local power grid for those pumps, it takes some time to repair that grid, and they can't just plug into the normal grid that powers the local businesses and homes down there."

**4. IRINA PLUMLEE, immigration attorney at Dallas' GARDERE WYNNE SEWELL: "The relaxing of I-9 employment verification is the only reasonable course of action under the circumstances and, in the interest of assistance, to victims of this disaster. For additional humanitarian considerations, we hope that the measure would be extended past this 45-day window. It is unlikely that evacuated workers will be able to secure identity documentation within this period. Nevertheless, they will need to work and feed their families past the 45-day mark."

**5. BILL LASTRAPES, head of the Economics Department at the UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA's Terry College of Business: "To the extent that people can, wait out the initial panic that's going to follow the spiraling prices until the market can find its equilibrium and there's more information about the damage assessment in the Gulf and how long it will take to restore the gas supply. Consumers should think about carpooling, cutting down on impulsive trips to the grocery store for one or two items, and using public transportation where available."

**6. CAROLYN DEHRING, Ph.D., is a professor at UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA's Terry College of Business whose research includes land-use regulations and second homes. Her recent study concerning building regulations and land prices on Florida's barrier islands shows that increases in the strictness/severity of building codes result in decreased land prices: "What we do not know is whether such changes decrease the probability of damage. There is a need for empirical studies to show whether building codes designed to protect against severe weather events work." Dehring can also comment on other issues regarding the economics of safety.

**7. EVELYN BRODY, professor at the CHICAGO-KENT COLLEGE OF LAW: "In cases of disaster relief, it's a good idea to give to an established organization, especially one with the ability to work effectively in the region experiencing problems. The Better Business Bureau's 'Wise Giving Alliance' Web site is a good place to do background research on specific charities focused on Hurricane Katrina relief." Brody is an associate scholar with the Urban Institute's Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy and a board member of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action.

**8. STACY M. ANDREAS, partner at LATHROP & GAGE, L.C.: "As the Gulf Coast recovers and rebuilds from Hurricane Katrina, insurance claims are soaring." Andreas specializes in the resolution and recovery of insurance claims for all types of coverage, including hurricane insurance, flood insurance and FEMA claims. She has been assisting business policyholders and brokers throughout the United States with the resolution of complex insurance coverage claims for nearly 15 years.

**9. BRIAN DRUM, president and CEO of DRUM ASSOCIATES and the SBA's NYC Small-Business Person of the Year, brought his company back from the brink of bankruptcy after the terror attacks of 9/11. He can offer a blueprint for small-business recovery that includes a post-catastrophe business recovery checklist for all small businesses devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Drum was recently honored by Senator Hillary Clinton for his dedication, courage and commitment to his employees, and by Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the innovative steps he took to save his business after 9/11.

**10. SUE WHITAKER, professor of residential property management in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at BALL STATE UNIVERSITY, says Hurricane Katrina is a timely reminder of the importance of disaster planning in apartment management. One of Whitaker's classes is using Katrina to learn how apartment managers can plan for -- and respond to -- disasters. She says RPM graduates often go on to develop disaster plans for the apartment communities they manage. Some alumni, now spread throughout the country, tell her that before they started work, their apartment communities did not have reaction plans for hurricanes, terrorism, tornadoes and other disasters.

**11. JOHN FITZGERALD, insurance professor at BALL STATE UNIVERSITY, says estimates for damage caused by Hurricane Katrina run as high as $26 billion, making it the most expensive storm in American history. Fitzgerald explains that many homeowners may be stuck with the tab due to their lack of flood insurance. He notes that while damage from the hurricane's high winds is covered under most insurance policies, flood damage is not. Fitzgerald also says that despite the expected price tag, the insurance industry learned its lessons from massive hurricanes in Florida and used the practice of reinsurance, or allowing other companies to purchase portions of a property insurance contract.

**12. ED PIZA, senior vice president of inbound transportation at BARTHCO INTERNATIONAL, INC., is able to discuss the economic impact of port closings on the shipping industry, as well as overcrowding of neighbor ports due to ship rerouting from Katrina's destructive impact. Barthco is a nationally ranked provider of worldwide customs brokerage and international freight forwarding services.

**13. HU MEENA, president of Jackson, Miss.-based CELLULAR SOUTH, the cell phone service provider with the largest market share in Mississippi's hard-hit Gulf Coast region, can talk about how cell phones are becoming increasingly vital and land lines increasingly irrelevant with every natural disaster, and what cell service providers have to do to ensure that their networks keep functioning in the wake of disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

**14. ERIC KESSLER, principal at ARABELLA PHILANTHROPIC INVESTMENT ADVISORS, which provides strategic guidance and unbiased analysis of nonprofit organizations to help philanthropists make well-informed giving decisions that achieve their goals, has worked in the nonprofit and philanthropy community for over 15 years funding, founding, managing and advising nonprofit organizations around the world.

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LEADS

**1. TECHNOLOGY: ADVANTAGES OF USING A FIXED WIRELESS NETWORK. MICHAEL BINDER, executive director of engineering at AIRBAND COMMUNICATIONS, is an expert on telecom, fixed wireless and broadband: "There are many advantages to using a fixed wireless network. Relying on broadband communications for high- speed data and voice services can increase functionality of business communications." Binder helps airBand bring fixed wireless to businesses of all sizes. Binder is airBand's technical representative to the WiMAX Forum. He can discuss the future of fixed wireless networks, as well as address the importance of having a fixed wireless network that provides high levels of scalability and reliability.

**2. TECHNOLOGY: BLUETOOTH WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY FOR THE HOLIDAYS. MIKE FOLEY, executive director of BLUETOOTH SIG, is available to speak on topics of cool consumer gadgets, wireless technology and Bluetooth: "Awareness of the technology has taken off in the last year, which will lead to an overwhelming number of people purchasing products with Bluetooth wireless technology this holiday season." Foley says Bluetooth wireless technology, the short-range wireless technology that allows devices to communicate with each other without wires, is showing up in all of the latest mobile gadgets, from the hottest cell phones to MP3 players, and even cars.

**3. WORKPLACE: EMPLOYEES OVERESTIMATE COSTS FOR FREE COFFEE AND TEA. JUDSON KLEINMAN, president of CORPORATE ESSENTIALS, a beverage service firm for professional businesses in the NY-metro area: "The actual cost for a coffee and tea service is usually less than $1 per employee per day. A recent survey conducted by an independent market research firm of 100 office professionals revealed that employees overestimate the cost per employee that their bosses would pay to provide free gourmet coffee and tea. Nearly half of those polled, 48 percent, believed it would cost their company between $1 and $5 per day to outfit their company kitchens with top-quality gourmet coffee and tea equipment and service. Employees' overestimates of the costs are indicative of the value they place on good quality coffee and tea. The difference between the perception of value and the actual cost is good news for employers. It means they can provide their workers with something they believe is up to five times more valuable than it actually costs."


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