Most coastal states are in the midst of the 2015 hurricane season, and, as Chip Kline, Louisiana’s Director for Coastal Activities, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “It’s a time when people in this state, they worry, and I think their anxiety levels can be a bit elevated.”

Weather forecasters have predicted 2015 to be a less active hurricane season but with stronger storms. Forecasters expect roughly eight tropical storms, four hurricanes—one major storm and three that will come ashore. Additionally, the FEMA Louisiana Recovery Office Director Mike Womack warns that major hurricanes have struck during past less-active seasons.

Despite the prediction of a below normal Atlantic season for this year, state and local governments in storm prone regions are always preparing for the next hurricane to arrive and contractors can benefit by strategically planning their government sales around the seasonal uptick in tropical storms and hurricanes.

Responding to Disasters

State and local governments plan ahead to ready themselves for the five-month-long hurricane season. Contractors should note that in the months leading up to hurricane season, agencies release bids and requests for proposals (RFPs) for disaster response and recovery services, such as clearing debris and restoring eroded beaches.

In the construction and building industries alone, Onvia’s Project Center data showed 68 solicitations for hurricane disaster-related services in 2014. 36 of those bids & RFPs, or 53%, were issued between the start of the year and June 1, 2014, which is typically regarded as opening day of hurricane season.

The pattern of front loading of disaster-related solicitations in the months leading up to the start of the season appears to be holding true this year, with 41 bids & RFPs already published from January to June 1, 2015.

To highlight where the most opportunities are published regionally, look no further than Florida, Texas and Louisiana, three states with some of the longest Gulf Coast shorelines. From 2013-2014 government agencies in these states issued 73% of all hurricane disaster related service solicitations. That pattern is holding true this year as well, where solicitations from these states represent 63% of all bids & RFPs published through June 2015.

Awarded contracts in January 2015 to four companies—AshBritt, Inc., Ceres Environmental Services, Inc., Crowder Gulf and DRC Emergency Services, for hurricane debris management and removal services.

Repairing Hurricane Damaged Roofs

As hurricanes blow in, roofs are often “blown off” or damaged by flying debris. In the first six months of 2014, state and local agencies released 73 solicitations and 89 in the first six months of 2015. Last year 55% of hurricane roof repair solicitations were published by the gulf states of Georgia, Texas and Florida.

Released a bid in May 2014 for roof repairs on its detention facilities. The department wants preventative and proactive maintenance, for instance, raising the standard of air-conditioner units to aluminum hurricane stands, as city codes require.

In the second half of 2014, the State of New York, as well as New York City, issued the most RFPs related to the upgrading of roofs to withstand major storms, such as 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. The “superstorm” caused an estimated $68 billion in damages along the Atlantic Coast; New York City sustained approximately $19 billion worth of damage.

Issued an RFP in December 2014 for construction management and design-build service, including clean-up, to help homeowners in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Contracting for Storm Shutters

As roofs can collapse, the debris blown around by violent winds can shatter windows. In 2014, state and local governments issued 367 solicitations for hurricane shutters, comparable to 2013, when 362 solicitations were issued.

Released a bid in April 2015 for the purchase and installation of two roll-down hurricane shutter packages for its engineering department located in the town hall.
Issued an RFP in April 2015 for a home rehabilitation and repair program, part of a community and economic development effort. The contract would be centered around construction management, including the replacement or installation of hurricane shutters or panels.

Preventing Loss of Critical Services

After the storms have rolled through communities, public officials have to ensure that vital services, such as utilities, are up and running again. Until that happens, officials must plan for the downtime to prevent issues like in 2012 when millions of people—as well as critical facilities such as hospitals—went for days without power as the result of Hurricane Sandy.

In 2014, city and state governments announced 38 bids and RFPs for emergency rental services, such as portable toilets, showers and restrooms.

Issued a bid in October 2014 for rental services for frame tents, portable showers, restrooms, hand-washing stations, rollaway beds, tables, chairs, portable air-conditioning and heating units to be used after a hurricane or other disaster.

Since 2012, cities have outpaced both states and counties in soliciting contracts for power and diesel generators to ensure that critical facilities like transportation offices and hospitals don’t lose power again.

Awarded a $198,469 contract in January 2015 to McDonald Electric Inc. to install a bi-fuel generator at the Port Coordination Center at Turning Basin Terminal.
Issued a bid in January 2015 for a diesel generator and a five-year service agreement. The winning vendor was expected to have the generator in place by the start of hurricane season.

Takeaways for Contractors

Hurricane season is typically defined as running from June 1 to November 31, but the violent storms can leave communities rebuilding for years after they have torn through town. Following a hurricane, state and local government needs run the gamut—from personal sanitation to cleaning up debris. The construction industry, as well as industrial suppliers can identify opportunities to win government business by helping these coastal states and further inland communities prep for and repair the damages that come with the hurricane season.