Opinion—Contractors, the unsung heroes of disaster relief

Sep 29, 2017

By Don Wallis

Builders are always among the first to respond and the last to leave when disaster strikes.

In the past month hurricanes have ravaged Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico with unprecedented fury. Wildfires in the Northwest have done the same. Some of the Caribbean islands have suffered devastation that has made them virtually uninhabitable. Mexico has been overwhelmed by an ongoing series of earthquakes and aftershocks.

The disasters are no longer on the front page but the suffering of those who have lost their homes, and who are without jobs because their places of work are now rubble, is only beginning.

Federal and state agencies are working to house and feed the displaced in this country. The U. N. and other relief agencies from around the world are doing what they can to provide medical care, shelter, and food for the displaced in other countries.

Our industry, the construction industry, is also helping. We always open our hearts, our pocketbooks, and provide material, construction equipment, technical expertise, and on-site manpower to those in need in our country and around the world.

Without fanfare, trucks loaded with supplies, and caravans of construction workers from around the country are making their way to Houston and to the Keys. Men and women are closing their businesses, often foregoing their paychecks, to help others begin to re-establish some order in their lives.

We create order and hope where there is chaos and despair. This has been going on as long as I’ve been alive, almost certainly forever. I can provide innumerable examples of times and places where construction people have come to the aid of those sitting on the street, dirty, dazed, cold and hungry after a hurricane or a house fire.

So can you. We help in every community. It’s an unspoken duty of everyone who builds.

I salute you all. You are the unsung heroes of disaster relief.

Don Wallis has more than 40 years experience in residential and commercial construction, and land development. He also has a law degree and currently teaches Environmental Law at Santa Fe Community College.