Accel helps Gulf Coast's Road Home
BREAUX BRIDGE, La.--As part of the massive rebuilding effort continuing along the Gulf Coast, following the hurricanes of 2005, the federal government has established the Road Home program, administered by ICF International, which represents the largest housing recovery program in U.S. history. Millions of residents continue to live in temporary shelter as they attempt to rebuild their homes; Road Home has been allocated $4.6 billion to dole out $150,000 grants for homeowners whose primary residences were destroyed by Rita and Katrina.
Accel Protection and Technologies will be part of that Road Home for residents, having won the contract to provide guards, vulnerability assessments, video surveillance, access control and intrusion detection for the housing assistance centers that have been established throughout the region. "They typically used existing facilities," said Craig Noel, senior vice president at Accel, "anything from a single-story office building all the way up to occupying multiple floors of high rises in New Orleans. ... There are some in remote areas that might have been a dentist's office or something."
Accel splits its revenues evenly between guarding and installation, with as many as 400 guards working at a time and roughly a dozen technicians working in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Though its offices were largely unaffected by the hurricanes, Noel said his workforce has been decimated. "We were fortunate to team up with other contractors," he said. "We had to learn how to do business with our competitors."
"They got offices everywhere," Ron Foreman, president of the Louisiana Life Safety and Security Association, along with his own Bayou Fire and Security, said of Road Home, "but they're not giving much money to the people. They've processed 2,000 applications."
Foreman sounds angry when he talks about federal recovery efforts: "We've been given all this federal money, but it's not getting here." The result? "There's nobody here. A lot of them moved and never came back," Foreman said. Still, the LLSSA continues to train potential employees, as many as 300 people certified last year as life safety system installers.