By Wes May ECA Executive Director, Email: [email protected]

It will stop raining this year and even now the silver linings of the storm clouds that crossed California this winter are coming into view.

Not to put too fine of a point on it, but there are many ways of looking at disaster. We deplore the human costs of events like floods or earthquakes. We despair about the costs of replacing homes, businesses and infrastructure. We grumble about the time it takes to return everything to “normal”—the state of being between disasters.

In the construction industry, particularly the heavy civil construction industry, we express concern about rain delays adding to completion times on our existing projects.

But, many of the ECA’s members mobilize and make ready for the call from local and state officials to swing into action fixing the broken pieces of our communities, restoring water, sewer, electric and gas utilities as well as roads, bridges and stormwater systems.

Being Prepared for Emergencies

These officials don’t just go to the phone book and start calling contractors for help, they go to their “emergency work” lists for prepared contractors who can swing into action to help them recover from disaster. These lists are made up of companies who have the foresight to offer their services before emergencies arise, who are able to negotiate the paperwork required to demonstrate their ability and availability for this kind of work.

The payoff for this extra effort is the fact that most emer- gency work is performed on a cost plus 10 percent basis—far better compensation than the typical margin these days for most construction work.

If your company isn’t already on the emergency list with your local government, we can help. ECA, with its emphasis on local government activities, is uniquely positioned to help our members navigate the intricacies of getting contractors prepared for emergency work applications. We know officials at hundreds of cities, counties, water districts and other local government folks and knowing who to talk to about these opportunities.

And, if you missed the boat for this deluge, there will always be another one coming. The U.S. Geological Service says that California is especially prone to disaster. Earthquakes, while not predictable, are a common occurrence in our state and floods are a regular problem as well. As the Boy Scouts remind us, we must always“Be Prepared.”