Posts Tagged ‘Hurricane Katrina’

Cut Your Risks: Build – or Rebuild – Sustainably

Cut Your Risks: Build – or Rebuild – Sustainably

This article was contributed by Carrie Van Brunt-Wiley, Editor of the blog. Carrie has been writing insurance news and consumer information for since 2008. She graduated from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington in 2005 with a B.A. in Professional Writing and Journalism.

Green building practices do more than protect the environment, and smart homeowners have more than energy savings to gain when they strive to comply with LEED requirements. Homes built with sustainable, energy-efficient materials are proving to be less vulnerable to wind, hail and water, making them better investments for homebuyers and more attractive to insurers seeking to lessen risk. This could mean lower insurance premiums for homeowners who take steps to increase their homes’ sustainability.  

Shelter from the storm

Extreme weather is nothing new to Louisiana, but the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina was particularly severe.  The need to rethink building practices became all too clear overnight. If there is a silver lining to be found in the Katrina disaster, it’s that those communities devastated by the hurricane have had – and still have – the opportunity to rebuild in such a way that should make them better able to withstand the next storm that blows through.

The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports an average cost of more than $6,000 to mitigate an insurance claim caused by severe weather. According to the III, Hurricane Katrina cost $16.2 billion in insurance claims, averaging $96,821 each. Consider how much lower this might have been if more homes and businesses had been built using impact-resistant roofing materials such as aluminum or steel that can withstand not only fire but wind, hail and flying debris. Some insurance companies already offer premium discounts to Louisiana homeowners who install these roofing upgrades.

It pays to upgrade your home

Water damage claims typically cost insurance companies around $7,000, according to the III, and make up almost 25% of homeowners claims in the U.S.  In an effort to bring this average down, some insurance companies may offer lower premiums for homes that earn Indoor Water Efficiency points by complying with the LEED v2009 requirement of 20% water savings.

Following are some other upgrades that could lower your homeowners insurance costs:

  • New plumbing systems
  • Updated HVAC systems
  • Modernized electrical systems

Updating these systems in your home can help you avoid expensive water damage, mold and fire claims. Insurance companies recognize that you are lowering your chance of filing claims and are likely to reward your efforts.

The benefits of green building are so great that some homeowners insurance companies now offer green replacement coverage for standard homes.  If a non-LEED certified home is damaged or devastated by covered peril, green replacement covers the cost to rebuild using sustainable, energy-efficient materials.

Savvy homeowners know that saving energy and materials are the underlying reasons to go green. But they also understand that the value of sustainable building goes beyond those savings. One way you could realize that value is by lowering your home insurance risk, which could mean lower home insurance premiums.

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New Orleans Business Market Receives National Acclaim

Over the weekend a good friend living in New York City, sent me a link to a Wall Street Journal article which outlines what all of us here in New Orleans have been seeing over the past few years, new exciting business growth. The article by Douglas McCollam, talks about the success of the non-profit Idea Village which was started in NOLA a decade ago.

The most telling aspect of McCollam’s piece is how he sees, and how it is apparent to New Orleans residents, that the attitude and culture of business has changed. Hurricane Katrina helped to rid the city of the negative attitude and filled it with a group of forward thinking resilient entrepreneurs who want to make a difference, while at the same time making a dollar.

One of the more colorful excerpts from McCollam’s article addresses the problem with the former attitude of the city,

“We had found the root of the problem.” It’s a problem that New Orleans seems to have overcome in the years since Hurricane Katrina—so much so that Mr. Williamson can now afford a little levity.

Other positive organizations that are helping to aid in business growth and entrepreneurial spirit include the New Orleans Startup Fund. This all ties into because, NOLA startup fund recently picked as one of its featured start up companies to help grow and become a successful New Orleans and nation-wide company. was founded by Wolfe Law Group founder, Scott G. Wolfe, Jr. Scott is the embodiment of the Wall Street Journal article and the national focus on our great city.

The winds of change are among us here in New Orleans and its a great time to live in this city. McCollum points out that Forbes and have recently coined New Orleans as a harbor for business growth and young talent. Only time will tell how this will change this city, but it will be a fun ride nonetheless.

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Remembering Katrina: Stones Taught Me To Fly

Hurricane Katrina delayed my bar results, destroyed my house and changed my plans. It’s hard to believe that 5 years have gone by, and it’s been about that long since I’ve looked at these pictures. They were taken in the months after the storm, when I was starting Wolfe Law Group and getting back on track.

A lot of our family, friends and colleagues have had a very difficult half-decade. Hurricane Katrina’s effects are fading, but they aren’t gone. Just from my own personal experience in the legal profession, I can see the storm’s impact lingering as the subject of on-going litigation.

The city is, however, making it along. And I feel quite lucky to have a great staff, great clients and great family and friends, who without which, Wolfe Law Group could not be the success it is today. Thanks to all of you.

Click on any photo in the main window to see description. For great professional photos, see this story from

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4 Years Post-Katrina Construction Outlook in New Orleans is Optimistic

Just last week, New Orleans marked the 4 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  Coverage of the anniversary looked back on the somber experience, and then looked forward to the city’s continued progress.

Construction Outlook is Optimistic

The construction market in New Orleans has managed to largely avoid the national recession, giving Hurricane Katrina a silver lining.  As four years have now passed since the storm, many are wondering:  can the construction boom continue?

Fortunately for regional contractors, the answer seems to be yes.

In July, we reported at the Construction Law Monitor that the Army Corps of Engineers were seeking more contractors to perform federal levee projects.   Just last week, the Corps reported more good news for infrastructure projects in Louisiana stating plans to spend $1 billion to restore wetlands.

And while much has already been spent to rebuild the Crescent City, on Katrina’s anniversary President Obama vowed to speed the nation’s recovery effort.  In the New York Times article covering the topic, it was reported that the government has freed up “hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance that has not been distributed.”

Legal Information About Public Works Projects

There’s a lot to be optimistic about in the South Louisiana construction industry…but, most heavy spending projects are publicly funded.   Those who have experience working on public projects aren’t concerned about this, but many companies who ordinary focus on private work may be shaking in their boots.    There’s no need to be concerned.

While public contracts certainly have unique requirements and details, it doesn’t need to be foreign territory.   Here are some blog posts here at the Construction Law Monitor to help the private contractor better understanding public contracting:

  • The Public Contracting Category.   You can start by reading the articles posted in the “Public Contracting” category.
  • The Stimulus Package and Your Construction Business.   This blog posts discusses the difference between public and private contracts, and explains how your company can get federal and public work.
  • E-Verify.   A hot topic in federal contracting, your company should read and learn about the new e-verify requirements when preparing work on a federal contract.
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Katrina’s Silver-Lining and Why It’s Good for Contractors Nationwide

Katrina’s Silver-Lining.  Three words New Orleanians didn’t ever expect to hear, yet uttered this Sunday in print by both the Seattle Times and the New York Times.

While the rest of the nation’s construction industry and real estate market has steadily suffered over the past 12 months, in New Orleans real estate prices hold firm and the construction industry is ‘booming.’   Here is a quote from the Seattle Times article about the NOLA construction market, and even a quote from local contractor Landis Construction:

The recovery dollars are paying for projects large and small, including an $800 million replacement of the damaged “twin span” bridges over Lake Pontchartrain and thousands of homes being fixed under the state-administered Road Home program. The Army Corps of Engineers continues to use contractors to strengthen the levee system. In working-class neighborhoods such as the Ninth Ward, laborers are pounding away on small-scale renovations.

“Katrina was a horrible nightmare, but the reality is that, for the construction industry, it’s been a blessing,” said Theresa Leger, a vice president of Landis Construction, a local firm that has remained busy since the hurricane.

The New York Times article looked at the city’s sustaining economy from a different angle; as evidence that a stimulus package can work to improve economic conditions.

The article calls the federal government’s $51 billion injection into post-Katrina Louisiana an “unintended trial rune” of the $787 billion national stimulus bill.

And what are the results?

The New York Times says the results are good – and especially for the construction industry.  Here’s a quote from the piece:

State economists specifically mention what one called “the ongoing building boom” from federal dollars as a main reason for the numbers. Largely a result of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, construction projects have not dried up as they have elsewhere, and a few can even be seen in downtown New Orleans.

Construction has “really hung in there and done very well,” said Loren Scott, an emeritus professor of economics at Louisiana State University. “In most states construction is way down, but in ours it has been up.” The relatively low unemployment rate in Louisiana “tells you that the stimulus can have an effect,” Mr. Scott said.

Read more about the Stimulus Package and how it relates to the Construction Industry on the Construction Law Monitor here.

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