Disaster Response: How Roofing Contractors Play a Crucial Role

By Andy Hilton 12-02-2020
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Hurricanes and other major storms can hit a neighborhood with incredible force, leaving homes with damaged roofs in need of immediate disaster response. These events can be devastating to homeowners and their families—but there are meaningful ways that your team can help support your community through the entire process of storm recovery and rebuilding.

As part of GAF's ongoing efforts to protect what matters most to the people in neighborhoods where we live and operate, our national social impact program, GAF Community Matters, centers on helping people in need. Through three core areas of focus, we provide resources to local nonprofits meeting essential needs in our communities, invest in physical spaces that bring communities together, and engage in disaster response and resiliency.

GAF proudly works alongside three disaster resiliency partners: Habitat for Humanity, Good360, and Team Rubicon. As the leading roofing materials and waterproofing company in North America, GAF provides ways for contractors to plug into this initiative throughout every stage of the disaster response continuum.

Extending a Hand Up Every Step of the Way

We have a lot of experience working with contractors in communities across the United States through our partnership with Habitat for Humanity, so we know that roofing contractors are community-minded individuals who understand that their businesses are built on word-of-mouth and local reputation. There's no better way to connect with your community and make your value known than by stepping forward during their darkest hours—it's about making yourself a part of the fabric of the community. Time and again, we've seen that getting involved returns dividends to contractors and their businesses down the road.

Disaster response and resiliency involve a sequence of activities:

  1. Immediate needs. It begins with providing life-essential goods and services—food, water, shelter—following a natural disaster, whether that's a fire, a tornado, or a hurricane.
  2. Recovery phase. When people start to get back into their homes, they assess the damage and determine the long-term impacts of the storm. They're evaluating their livelihoods. They may have to deal with insurance adjusters, locate builders and contractors, start repair work, and navigate the landscape of FEMA and other resources to help them through recovery.
  3. The rebuild process. This is when we start swinging hammers again and, in our case, putting roofs on the homes affected by the storm. As a provider of roofing materials, our product tends to become most valuable at the very end of that continuum, when contractors are putting the roof on a new or repaired home.

Our efforts reach every phase. In that first 48 hours after a disaster when dramatic images begin to reveal the damage, disaster response is not exclusively the domain of the news media—you may see corporate donors and others rushing to the front lines to help. It's great that people come forward in that moment, but if money only comes in at the beginning, those resources could dry up before a rebuild starts.

It's a short-term view of disaster recovery. Once the cameras leave, people forget about the long trail ahead for affected communities. That's why we focus our programs on being present at all points in the continuum.

Supporting Organizations on the Ground

We know how to design, build, and deliver great roofing products. In the early stages of disaster response, GAF supports organizations that are trained to support communities in need after natural disasters. Partnering together makes for a bigger impact and allows their expertise to complement contractors' skills, time, and resources.

When a disaster occurs, organizations come forward with donated items, often in the form of diapers, water, or building materials. Good360 processes that inventory and manages the supply chain so that the right materials get to the right nonprofit organizations at the right time in the disaster process.

Habitat for Humanity expertly organizes volunteers and communities as they build and repair homes for families in need of safe and affordable housing. The GAF-Habitat for Humanity Community Contractor Program offers an opportunity for roofing contractors to team up with GAF to give back to their local communities.

We've also partnered with Team Rubicon for more than three years, allowing us to be present in all aspects of the disaster response continuum. Team Rubicon's twofold mission is particularly compelling: their volunteer pool is primarily made up of highly trained U.S. military veterans, and they also recruit first responders and civilians with unique and special skills that can help them provide an immediate response and support. This lets Team Rubicon organize quickly and efficiently deploy into dangerous and difficult situations.

The organization not only serves communities affected by disaster but also serves veterans themselves. When veterans leave the military and return to civilian life, some may miss that mission-led sense of purpose. Team Rubicon offers the noble mission of supporting veterans helping veterans by giving each other meaning, camaraderie, and kinship in service of the community.

"GAF's commitment to Team Rubicon's mission has allowed us to continue to serve the hardest-hit communities following disasters," said Art delaCruz, Team Rubicon's President and COO. "Not only does GAF's team show up during the immediate aftermath of a storm, but they are also committed to providing expertise to help us get these homeowners back into their homes and to keep them safe. No matter the size of the crisis, GAF is there with our teams."

Roofing contractors have an opportunity to support Team Rubicon by donating or through volunteering.

Involvement starts before a disaster strikes in your area—by making it known that you're willing and able to volunteer, and going through their training courses to ensure you're prepared to deploy. From there, Team Rubicon will be able to locate you and organize their efforts in response to a natural disaster. In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, they may tap volunteers to help with activities such as tarping, which provides temporary relief where water has penetrated the home.

It's important for contractors to be long-term sources of support during disaster recovery. Partnering with organizations such as Team Rubicon and Habitat for Humanity can show local homeowners and future customers just how much you're committed to your community.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andy Hilton is chief communications officer for GAF, responsible for internal and external communications, community engagement, and crisis and issues management. He is also responsible for designing and leading the company’s corporate responsibility program with the intention of maximizing social impact while growing the business.
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