After Katrina: As FEMA chief exits, engineers dig in for long haul of hurricane recovery

With criticism mounting, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff dismisses FEMA director. President signs bill for more aid to region, as squabbles erupt on investigating federal reaction to disaster. New Orleans paper reviews "Hurricane Pam," 2004 emergency preparedness exercise that predicted worse scenario than Katrina. Projected tab of destruction rises to $125 billion. ABB, JEA, AMWA, CH2M Hill, Fluor, Bechtel and ASFE among latest gearing up for long term rebuilding of region...

Sep 10th, 2005

TULSA, OK, Sept. 9, 2005 -- "FEMA CHIEF SENT PACKING" read the headline at the New Orleans Times-Picayune homepage Friday. Even Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott was critical of FEMA's Michael Brown, who was relieved of command of Gulf recovery efforts in favor of the U.S. Coast Guard chief of staff after bearing the brunt of criticism of the federal response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Brown, who was suffering as well from reports he may have "padded" his resume, was said to be leaving the agency soon.

President Bush signed a $51.8 billion additional relief package passed by Congress on Thursday, while "finger pointing" continued apace in the nation's capital, according to the Hattiesburg American and Wall Street Journal, as the White House and both political parties called for investigations.

The New Orleans paper went into further detail on a disaster response simulation exercise for a mythical Hurricane Pam, whose report was finalized a year ago this month and predicted an even worse scenario.

Meanwhile, Risk Management upped its estimate of economic damage due to the hurricane to $125 billion, including $60 billion in insurance claims -- well over the previous record storm, 1992's Hurricane Andrew, which caused nearly $21 billion in insured losses.

After having passed out $2,000 debit cards to hurricane victims in San Antonio, Houston and Dallas, FEMA unceremoniously halted the program two days after the quick financial relief effort began in favor of the prior routine of online registration for bank deposits, the Mobile Register reported.

In water news, there were mixed messages. The Biloxi Sun Herald reported that officials were saying rumors of dysentery and cholera outbreaks were unfounded in Mississippi. FOX News was saying, however, public health officials still were warning Friday about infectious diseases due to waterborne contamination.

Among water and wastewater industry equipment players, Thompson Pump reported that it had seven pumps up and running as of Friday morning to help pump floodwater out of New Orleans proper and back into the canals toward Lake Pontchartrain and eventually the Gulf. It continued to work to get another 23 pumps operational as soon as possible.

Michael Arceneaux, the Association of Muncipal Water Agencies' deputy executive director, relayed over a dozen photos of the devastation along the Gulf Coast to us from Scott Kelly, who is water, wastwater and reuse treatment director at Jacksonville, Fla., area utility JEA.

"Our experience is along the Gulf in Mississippi," said Kelly. "Florida utilities have responded under the FlaWARN organization and we are now in the majority of towns and cities along the coast providing what I liken to triage for water and wastewater utilities."

In addition, ABB North America issued a news release on its efforts to help the COG market and industry back on its feet in the Gulf region, announcing a Katrina Task Force to coordinate its response and that all employee contributions would be matched.

Ken Graber, of ABB's LV Drives in New Berlin, Wis., noted that the company's response was structured in stages. First, the Task Force has established hotline phone numbers in order to log and capture immediate customer needs.

The task force, operating as a single ABB team, is now mobilizing logistics to get parts, products and personnel into the gulf coast area. This ABB equipment, along with technicians and service personnel will provide and support the whole breadth of products - from transmission and distribution of power, to commercial industrial electrical automation control. This commitment is immediate and will be sustained, the company said.

See below for additional headlines. A link is also provided at the bottom for earlier "After Katrina" reports dating to Aug. 31.

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If you would like to assist financially, to contribute directly through the American Red Cross and for the latest news on Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, see: www.redcross.org/news/.

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CH2M Hill Issues Status on Hurricane Katrina Relief and Recovery Involvement -- DENVER, Sept. 9, 2005 -- CH2M Hill, a global full service engineering, construction, and operations firm, provided the following summary of its current engagements relating to Hurricane Katrina recovery and reconstruction efforts including Kaiser-Hill Levee Repair Operation, New Orleans Infrastructure Rehabilitation, Restoration of Coastal Louisiana, Water Monitoring...

Integrated Environmental Technologies Announces Placement of EcaFlo Equipment to Aid in Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief -- LITTLE RIVER, SC, Sept. 9, 2005 -- Integrated Environmental Technologies, Ltd. has plans to incorporate its EcaFlo™ equipment as a bacterial control component of a mobile response unit which contains an integrated system capable of providing drinking water for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The mobile water treatment system designed and built by Water Systems Integrators of Englewood, Colo., can produce drinking water from contaminated flood water. IEVM's equipment produces environmentally responsible biocides that are injected into the treatment system to destroy waterborne pathogens...

Invensys, Wonderware and Business Associates Offer Special Assistance to People and Companies Affected by Hurricane Katrina -- LAKE FOREST, CA, Sept. 8, 2005 -- Wonderware, a business unit of Invensys Systems Inc. and one of the world's leading automation and information software providers, announced that it's collaborating with its hardware and services business associates to provide special assistance to companies that need to rebuild their operations in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. This support offer is intended to assist companies involved in power generation and distribution, water and wastewater treatment, oil and gas production, refining, chemicals and other industrial manufacturing businesses...

Titan Piping Company and Transair Pledge Disaster Relief for Hurricane Katrina Victims -- BALTIMORE & MESA, AZ, Sept. 8, 2005 -- In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, construction products companies Titan Piping and Transair, which manufactures an aluminum pipe system for compressed air applications and stainless steel pipe for industrial water applications, have joined forces to offer disaster relief for hurricane victims. The companies, which have over 150 years of fluid connection expertise, are offering rebates and donations to aid the rebuilding efforts. Rebates from sales in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida will go directly to the American Red Cross for direct disaster relief. Both companies also are offering substantial product discounts in areas affected by the hurricane and making direct contributions to the Red Cross' disaster relief fund. The disaster relief program will run through March of 2006...

Miller Brewing Company Boosts Water Commitment to Aid Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts -- MILWAUKEE, Sept. 8, 2005 -- Miller Brewing Company will produce 15 truckloads of 32-ounce bottles (13,440 bottles per load) of water per week over the next month to support the ongoing Hurricane Katrina recovery effort. Miller is working with various state and federal relief agencies to determine the greatest needs for additional donated water. In the first week of the relief effort, Miller shipped 20 truckloads of water from its Albany, Ga., brewery to impacted areas, plus an additional two truckloads from its Irwindale, Calif., brewery to Houston in anticipation of evacuee needs there. Locations receiving Miller water over the past week include the FEMA center in Baton Rouge; Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg; and Miller distributors throughout the area...

Fluor Launches Hurricane Relief Work in Support of FEMA -- ALISO VIEJO, CA, Sept. 8, 2005 -- Fluor Corp. announced today that it is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in response to the immediate needs of those impacted by Hurricane Katrina. The company has headquartered its operations with those of FEMA in Baton Rouge, La. The value of this initial contract is up to $100 million...

FEMA Engages CH2M Hill to Manage Alabama Temporary Housing for Hurricane Victims -- DENVER, Sept. 8, 2005 -- CH2M Hill, a global full service engineering, construction, and operations firm, has been tasked by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to identify and manage temporary housing solutions for more than 7,000 people in Alabama displaced by Hurricane Katrina. It will coordinate all logistics and ensure essentials including electricity, water and sewer systems are in operation. The company has begun immediate work and deployment of field teams...

ASFE launches Gulf Coast Engineers and Scientists Emergency Assistance Project -- SILVER SPRING, MD, Sept. 7, 2005 -- Effort to assist in Hurricane Katrina relief involves serving as forum and clearinghouse for engineering related assistance at group's website, www.asfe.org. "Every engineer and environmental scientist in the United States can help the Gulf Coast restoration effort right now, just by passing on information about the Gulf Coast Engineers and Scientists Emergency Assistance Project at www.asfe.org," said Daniel L. Harpstead, P.E., president of ASFE, a not-for-profit association established in 1969...

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For earlier hurricane relief reports, see: After Katrina: N.O. drainage, evacuations continue as Congress mulls $51.8B in Gulf aid (Sept. 8, 2005) -- Veolia Water would like to hear from employees from its wastewater facilities in New Orleans or Kenner, La. In addition, Thompson Pump and Peerless Pump both pledged immediate assistance to helping flooded areas, hospitals and other crucial infrastructure get back up and running in affected areas. Meanwhile, criticism of disaster preparedness and the immediate response continued as evacuees were shuttled to cities around the country...

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