It seems that large-scale tragedies often come to be historically remembered on a first name basis. Much like two simple numbers - 9-11 - conjure up memories of a traumatic day in September 2001, Katrina won't need a lengthy introduction.

Though blown through our country days ago, she continues to churn up a daily litany of devastation, material loss, and death. Headlines in newspapers, magazines, and Web sites announce the latest tragic consequences of our nation's worst natural disaster in decades.

However, much of the news is too slow in coming. As many of you have already found, repeated attempts to make contact with those in the disaster areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama are often turning up no response. Several industry associations have notified this magazine that some members who lived and worked in the path of the hurricane cannot be reached. Manufacturers that we have spoken with haven't been able to comment on the well being of many distributor and contractor customers.

As information gradually becomes available, The News has launched a Web log, or blog (, which is a primary location for information related to Hurricane Katrina and the HVAC industry. The blog will be updated as information is provided for posting, and contain resources for HVAC contractors, as well as news and updates on how contractor, distributor, or manufacturer businesses have been affected and what the industry is doing to aid relief efforts.

There has already been an outpouring of sympathy for fellow HVAC contractors from such organizations as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, Mechanical Contractors Association of America, and Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association. In addition to these comments, there are offers of employment coming in from around the country for anyone permanently displaced.

Supplier companies have begun to waive finance fees, and made offers to replace flood-damaged training libraries. This and more can be found at the blog site.

The blog will remain in operation as long as it serves an industry need. Please send any Katrina-related announcements, notifications, press releases, or other information to, with the word Blog in the subject line of the e-mail.

For those industry personnel who worked in the most devastated areas, and who may be forced to start thinking of a new life ahead, HVACR job seekers can already look for a new job for free via our Career Center. The Career Center button is on our home page directly under the cover story. This service is free to all - you don't have to be a subscriber to access it.

At a time when essentially too little is known about the lasting after-effects of Katrina for the HVACR industry, The News encourages the use of this free information service for contractors, distributors, manufacturers, consultants, suppliers, and friends of the industry. The blog will help spread the word about major fundraising efforts, employers trying to contact employees, and personal accounts of contractors affected by the devastation.

However, it might also, in some way, let those in our HVAC community know that others are thinking about them and are willing to help.

As Barbara Checket-Hanks, service and maintenance editor of The News, said, "When people are allowed to return to their communities, hopefully they will be able to rebuild. Some will probably relocate out of necessity. We pray that contractors and distributors whose businesses were not affected welcome those whose businesses were. Our industry cannot afford to lose such a large portion of its talent base. ‘No work and no money' ought not drive our people away, looking for survival in another line of work."

Mike Murphy is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446, 248-244-2905 (fax), or

Publication date: 09/12/2005