Once again, everyone was glued to the television watching with horror something that always happens to other people, somewhere else in the world; everyone, of course, except those actually fleeing from our Gulf Coast states and what was left of their lives there. "Somewhere else" feels a lot closer to home this time.

Rick Schwolsky, Editor-in-Chief
Rick Schwolsky, Editor-in-Chief

The images of Hurricane Katrina were shocking. They still are. And as hard as I try I still can't imagine what it must feel like to have lost so much all at once. Then there's the knowledge that among the devastated buildings, businesses, and vehicles floating in the floods, are the thousands of homes, shops, and work trucks of people just like you and me. Imagine what it will take to go back and start over, to rebuild a business at the same time as they try to rebuild their home, their family, and their faith.

If you're like me, your first instinct was to load your truck with tools, tarps, tents, generators, gas, and water and head south. If you did, then you were probably on the ground before many of the agencies entrusted with that kind of response, and we commend you for your quick response. If you held off to see better where and how to jump in, there are and will continue to be lots of opportunities to share your time, energies, skills, and, yes, money.

One reason I'm addressing this here is because as a country and an industry it's going to be a long haul. In this business especially, we have a responsibility to respond–and most of us already have. Across the board, building product and tool manufacturers and distributors took inventory of their own personnel in the affected communities, assessed the damages to their own properties, and then got busy directing aid and assistance to the stricken areas. They sent truckloads of materials, tools, and generators, of course, but also launched convoys of 18-wheelers loaded with water, clothing, canned food, and toys. Then they started collecting donations from their employees and customers nationwide in an outpouring of compassion that is still growing and is still needed.

Contractors groups have rallied just as strongly, forming relief funds for local affected members, temporary housing for displaced families, and volunteer networks for cleanup and rebuilding crews. To the left is a list of some of the industry organizations you can hook up with if you want to pitch in. All of these can link you to other resources that match your intended level of participation. Think about what you can do, line it up, and then commit. Many of your fellow Tools of the Trade readers will be on the other end of whatever help you can give. Thanks.

National Association of Home Builders Home Building Industry Disaster Relief Fund

Associated General Contractors of America Hurricane Katrina Construction Workers Fund

National Association of the Remodeling Industry NARI/NRF Hurricane Relief Effort

Associated Builders and Contractors

National Roofing Contractors Association Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund

National Precast Concrete Association Katrina Precast Relief Fund

National Electrical Contractors Association NECA Cares