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  Guest Editorial

Hurricane Katrina: Year and a Half Later

Posted 3/1/2007
By John Scully, AAM

"Don't forget us" was the strong message imparted by survivors of Hurricane Katrina during ASA's recent trip to New Orleans.

Special
Spray painting cell phone numbers on previous places of business or residences is a fairly common sight throughout the New Orelans area. This unconventional communication tool allows people who have been displaced to try and keep in touch with customers, friends and even family.
Recently, Angie Wilson, vice president of marketing and communications; B.J. Johnson, membership and affiliate relations director; and I visited the ASA affiliate that serves the Greater New Orleans area.

The purpose of our trip was to work, and I don't mean the administrative kind. The kind of work I'm talking about was good, old-fashioned, roll-up-your-sleeves assistance to help a shop owner take one more step toward reopening his business. We were outfitted in our work clothes and safety equipment.

Tim Gilthrope, president of ASA-New Orleans, assigned us to Metal Menders for painting walls or whatever else Ray Dauterive, the owner, needed us to do. Before the end of the day, we finished our assignment and felt that we had made a difference. But I truly believe we benefited more from the experience than Ray.

Special
Tim Gilthrope, president of ASA-New Orleans, speaks with Louisiana state Rep. Shirley Bowler, District 78, R-Harahan. Bowler, who has been a member of the Louisiana Insurance Committee for 13 years, was the keynote speaker at a recent affiliate meeting.
There are many other repair facilities still not in operation a year and a half after Hurricane Katrina. And everyone we talked to had a story. So if you plan on providing assistance, or if you talk to a member in the Greater New Orleans area, make sure you leave time to listen and appreciate the situation our members are in today.

Imagine spending a day at your job and then going home to a FEMA trailer issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency parked next to the home where you were raised. (It's not uncommon for their parents and other relatives to be in the same situation.) Some individuals who have had their homes restored haven't moved in yet because they are busy helping others get back on their feet. One shop has placed all of its equipment on rollers and purchased a delivery truck in case there is a need to evacuate again. There are many stories of this nature in the New Orleans area today, but, most likely, you aren't hearing about them.

Members we met with suggested we develop a disaster recovery manual to share with other members. That process will get under way in June of this year. Shared experiences will be compiled into a document that everyone will benefit from, regardless of which region of the country they live in.

Special
Steve and Michele Salinger (center,right) are active board members of ASA-New Orleans. They own Ole Metairie Car Care Inc. in Metairie, La. They are pictured with their counterperson, Angie.
The courage and resiliency of our members under trying circumstances is remarkable. Their dedication to this industry goes without question. No one expects or wants a handout, but they do need tools and equipment. For instance, one member needs a new paint booth and replacement bulbs. He would be willing to pay for the freight to ship the equipment. If you have plans to upgrade your shop equipment in the near future, you may want to consider helping out this member. It's important that we start a network for these members and help them in whatever way we can.

Please join me in assisting our members return their businesses to working order so they may serve consumers in the Greater New Orleans area again. The same holds true for our colleagues in the Gulf Coast region. Direct your suggestions and offers of assistance to B.J. Johnson at (800) 272-7467, ext. 295, or to my office at ext. 247. If you are a supplier and have an interest in helping, please contact me directly. ASA will coordinate the assistance through our office. We simply cannot forget these individuals.

John Scully John Scully is the executive vice president of ASA. He can be reached by e-mail at johns@ASAshop.org.

Editor's Note: In September 2005, ASA launched a Hurricane Katrina blog that was designed to help collision and mechanical shops that were affected by the storm. To participate in the blog, please visit asashop.blogspot.com.


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