South Florida Businesses Mobilize to Aid Storm Victims

The Sun-Sentinel
By Alexandra Navarro Clifton (Staff Writer)
Published September 02, 2005

David Eller’s phones started ringing Monday. As the head of one of the country’s largest water pump companies, he knew his employees and equipment would be called upon in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

MWI Corp., based in Deerfield Beach, already has sent three engineers and two truckloads of equipment to the New Orleans area, Eller said. The company is coordinating with the Army Corps of Engineers and analyzing exactly what types of equipment will be needed. Before that can be determined, the city’s broken levees have to be repaired, a job that could take weeks or even months, he said.

“If we started pumping now, the water would just go out the levee,” Eller said. “We’re trying to assess what we need.”

Eller said his company has already sent 30-inch diameter pumps that can remove up to 25,000 gallons of water per minute. The company will contract with the Army Corps to provide the rental equipment. Last year, MWI contracted with the state of California to pump water out of a 25,000-acre area on the Sacramento River.

Local companies are not only donating money. Some, like MWI, are also providing much-needed expertise and equipment to the recovery efforts in the affected areas. Nationally, contributions for victims of the storm have reached $93 million. Corporate giving makes up a significant amount of the total, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Lake Worth-based American Coach Lines is sending 75 buses to the Gulf region, most of them contracted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to move victims and relief workers. The company owns about 650 buses used from Miami to Baltimore. The 75 buses represent a majority of the company’s charter fleet, said Adam Binder, the company’s corporate director of sales and marketing. Binder said the company will likely charge for fuel, driver costs and boarding costs for drivers. He said FEMA has requested thousands of buses from companies around the country.

“Our philosophy is that we have to help,” Binder said. “However we need to work out the details, we will.”