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$2,480 for less than two hours of work to cover each damaged roof in New Orleans

by : Aaron C. Davis
Friday September 30, 2005 - 18:47
12 comments

NEW ORLEANS - Across the hurricane ravaged Gulf Coast, thousands upon thousands of blue tarps are being nailed to wind-damaged roofs, a visible sign of government assistance.

Construction crews working with TJC Defense, out of Alabama, install a blue tarp on a home in Kenner, Louisiana. Ian McVea, Fort Worth Star-Telegram The blue sheeting - a godsend to residents whose homes are threatened by rain - is rapidly becoming the largest roofing project in the nation’s history.

It isn’t coming cheap.

Knight Ridder has found that a lack of oversight, generous contracting deals and poor planning mean that government agencies are shelling out as much as 10 times what the temporary fix would normally cost.

The government is paying contractors an average of $2,480 for less than two hours of work to cover each damaged roof - even though it’s also giving them endless supplies of blue sheeting for free.

"This is absolute highway robbery and it really does show that the agency doesn’t have a clue in getting real value of contracts," said Keith Ashdown, vice president for Taxpayers for Common Sense, noting that he recently paid $3,500 for a new permanent roof. "I’ve done the math in my head 100 times and I don’t know how they computed this cost."

As many as 300,000 homes in Louisiana alone may need roof repairs, and as the government attempts to cover every salvageable roof by the end of October, the bill could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.

The amount the government is paying to tack down blue tarps, which are designed to last three months, raises major questions about how little taxpayers may be getting for their money as contractors line up at the government trough for billions of dollars in repair and reconstruction contracts.

Steve Manser, the president of Simon Roofing and Sheet Metal of Youngstown, Ohio, which was awarded an initial $10 million contract to begin "Operation Blue Roof" in New Orleans, acknowledged that the price his company is charging to install blue tarps could pay for shingling an entire roof.

But Manser defended his company’s contract, saying Hurricane Katrina damaged so many homes and wiped out so much infrastructure in and around New Orleans that it would be impossible to install permanent roofs quickly. The rapid response to the crisis, Manser said, required contractors to mobilize hundreds of construction crews, truck supplies halfway across the country and house and feed armies of workers - at a tremendous set-up cost.

Simon Roofing, the Shaw Group of Baton Rouge, La., and LJC Construction Co. of Dothan, Ala. - the government’s three prime blue-roof contractors in Louisiana - have spent millions to lease hotels, hire catering companies and set up computer databases to track and bill the government for their work.

"When you have 400 or 500 people staying out of town, you’re paying a whole lot more overhead than you normally do," Manser said. "I couldn’t imagine being paid any less, well, scratch that, I guess I could. People will do a lot to get work."

Jim Pogue, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, said the agency strictly followed government contracting requirements and did all it could to get the best deal possible for the roofing work, given the magnitude of the task and the need to protect vulnerable homes as quickly as possible.

Pogue also said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which by statute is in charge of the program, asked the Corps to manage the program because FEMA’s resources were spread thin.

Contractors watching from the sidelines, however, said they’d be happy to do the work for a fraction of what the government’s paying.

Mike Lowery, an estimator with Pioneer Roof Systems in Austin, Texas, said that while he couldn’t calculate how much it might be costing contractors to house and feed workers, even with astronomical overhead the companies would have plenty of room to make a profit.

In normal circumstances, Lowery said, his company would charge $300 to tarp a 2000-square-foot roof in Austin. For that same size job, the government is paying $2,980 to $3,500, or about 10 times as much, plus additional administrative fees that can’t be readily calculated.

"It sounds to me like these people are probably making a stinking killing," Lowery said. "It’s hard to imagine somebody asking that kind of money. ... It sure seems to me like somebody is getting taken advantage."

The government doesn’t pay contractors per roof, but for every square foot of blue tarp its workers tack down, according to copies of the three contracts for the New Orleans area obtained by Knight Ridder.

The Shaw Group is getting paid the most for installing the tarps, $1.75 per square foot. Simon Roofing’s contract calls for $1.72 per square foot and LJC Construction gets $1.49 per square foot.

Dick Taylor, the roofing mission manager for the Army Corps of Engineers, said the average repair to date has been about 1,500 square feet, meaning the companies have on average been getting $2,235 to $2,625 per house.

Contractors also are billing the government different amounts for administrative costs and other types of work, such as minor asphalt roof repair, the contracts show.

For minor roofing repairs to asphalt roofs, LJC gets $250 for each 50-square-foot job; Simon gets $600 for the same work. Shaw gets $350.

The hourly fee for an operations manager varies, too.

Shaw is billing the government $155.56 per hour for its operations manager. Simon is billing $150 an hour. LJC is charging the government $65 per hour, documents show.

LJC Vice President Allan Buchanan said his company has 300 to 400 workers in the New Orleans area and is completing nearly $900,000 worth of billable work daily.

The amount of work for the three companies is also increasing, Taylor said.

The agency is receiving more requests each day from residents to install blue roofs, more than 1,000 a day in the past week.

Under the square-foot rate, contractors provide the nails, tools and wood strips to hold down the blue sheeting, but they’re also allowed to bill the government for any plywood used, at rates ranging from $2.26 per square foot to $3.50 per square foot.

On a shingle-stripped rooftop recently in Gretna, a suburb across the Mississippi River from New Orleans, a superintendent with the Shaw Group described the blue roof program as win-win as he supervised the repair of a rooftop gash - a job that usually takes 90 minutes or less.

Anthony Kearney, the superintendent, said that while the work is good for the company’s bottom line, he also finds it rewarding because homeowners are so desperate to keep their belongings dry. "To us, it’s a corporate money-maker," Kearney said, "but to these people, it’s all they got."

Calls to Shaw’s corporate headquarters weren’t returned this week, but Kearney said he was proud of the work his company was doing. The roofs, he said, can hold up for many months. He noted that some residents in Florida towns hit by hurricanes last year still have them in place.

"It lasts," Kearney said. "We joked that if they had blue roofed the Superdome, it wouldn’t have leaked."

Former government contract officials and private contracting experts charge that the Army Corps neglected to negotiate better rates when it had the chance before the hurricane season began. Once the storm hit and the vast amount of destruction became obvious, they say, the Corps failed to negotiate a lower rate for contractors, who could still make decent profits because of the sheer amount of work to be done.

Taylor of the Army Corps said the Shaw contract was one of many advance deals signed in July after the government was criticized for signing lucrative deals on the fly after hurricanes ravaged Florida last year.

But the advance deal the Corps negotiated with Shaw was for the same $1.75 per square foot rate that it was criticized for last year.

Angela Styles, a former Bush administration federal procurement policy chief, said that higher-than-normal prices are to be expected in emergencies, but Shaw’s prices for installing the blue tarps seem excessive because the contract was negotiated before Katrina hit.

"The government should have gotten a much better deal negotiating when no storm was on the horizon," Styles said.

http://www.knightridder.com/

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> $2,480 for less than two hours of work to cover each damaged roof in New Orleans
Sunday October 2 - 07:12 - Posted by 3b0f5f7694b3094f...

What is sad about this is the workers who have flocked here under various sub-contractors. The actual worker gets only 2.5 cents a square foot. For you math folks that’s 0.025 * 10,000. If the crew (four men + foreman on the roof) hit their target of 10,000 sq ft/day they earn $250.00 a day each. The foreman gets 3 cents (0.03) for a whopping 0.13 cents/sq ft. That’s what we were promised anyway and would be okay, but even that is no good if Shaw won’t give us the footage.

The reality is there is work everywhere but we’re only getting issued 700-1500 sq ft a day by Shaw and their sub A-1. We have crews living out of campers, RVs, tents and lawn chairs in the parking lot. Folks quit their jobs to come do this and earn some money. So far we’ve spent far more than we’ve made. I’m talking thou$ands to get to this point. With only 1500 sq ft of work issued to a crew that’s only $37.50. We haven’t even covered gas the last three days much less food. If it were not for the relief centers and MRE’s we’d have many very hungry people.

There is little to no organization / information on the ground here. No one seems to be in charge at this site. The term "Charlie-Foxtrot" is an understatement. If someone IS in charge they need to flogged, then fired. Our crew is staying at Shaw’s "Disaster Response Site" of Veterans in Metairie. It’s pathetic. Gross. I wouldn’t let my animals stay in these conditions of filth. As a soldier in the field I never experienced conditions this bad. I’ve asked questions, and worked the chain of command but Shaw points at A-1, A-1 points at Shaw, Shaw points at the Corps of Engr. and the Corps tells Shaw they need to do their job and everyone tell us (workers) to just be patient. In the mean time the "re-construction" crews are living in un-hygienic, pathetic squalor. Too few porta potties. We took pictures of them over flowing and the effluent covered street everyone has to walk thru. Shaw’s definition of a shower is a porta pottie with a garden hose stuck through the ceiling and the water running all over the parking lot. Shaw could have pumped the human waste out of it first. I refuse to let my men use it. I drive them west on I-10 back across the bridge to the nearest truck stop to use the showers.

With work all around us Shaw and A-1 have give our 8 crews about 1500 sq ft a day. Most of the crews are worried and ready to cut their losses and head home. What a waste of our money. Somebody’s getting rich but it ain’t the guys who show up to do your roof. $1.75/ft to Shaw, $0.025 to the worker. We’re willing to do the work, if they would just give it to us.

ttfn




> $2,480 for less than two hours of work to cover each damaged roof in New Orleans
Monday October 3 - 07:10 - Posted by 080d2c17a94caadc...

I feel for those of you that have already left for Louisiana and Miss. if those conditions still exist. I have spent the last 3 weeks buying supplies and recruiting friends and family to form crews. The promise of at least 3 months to a year of work, all day 7 days a week has put our lives on hold. Having been told to be ready with as little as 24hrs notice, every day for 3 weeks I have become more and more dependant on this opportunity. Just as you, I keep hearing the word "Patient". I hear of the thousands of homes damaged and my sub-contractor sent a total of 8 men/2 crews to tarp roofs. I keep hearing how much work there will be and until now I couldn’t understand why he only sent 2 crews when so many of us are begging for work. I cannot imagine getting there and finding out what you have learned about the disorganization and complete lack of regard for the hundreds of men and women who have sacrificed so much and were willing to work all day, all week, month after month to help those in need and their own families. As I read your post I began to realize that what seamed like an answered prayer may take from me more than I have to give. To the 3 contractors getting over $2500 a home, it may seem like nothing more than an inconvenience for those of us who needed the work they were offering. I am sure there are many who may feel that way. But, for a resident of Louisiana who is now jobless, homeless and poor this opportunity was an honest way out of an impossible situation. For me the inconvenience may have taken more than I have to give. To see your family hurting is rough. To be offered a way to stop the pain and then have it taken away is devastating.

I did not intend on sharing the personal and emotional impact this situation has had on my life and that of my family. In fact, I don’t know why I did. I don’t do feelings and I have sure never talked about mine. I think that’s the point. If just one contractor who is responsible for the way you guys are being treated would happen to come across this post,

I wish they could realize their selfish, greed driven decision caused real people, significant and in some case irreparable loss. If they could live the life of every person they take advantage of I believe you guys would get the work you expected. I don’t think they would offer work to more people than they need, knowing that if you refuse to work in terrible conditions that they will always have someone to take your place. And the ones who never get the call they quit their job for? Not their problem. Or the ones who took loans from family members for supplies and now have no foreseeable way to pay it back. I am beginning to understand how that will feel. Embarrassing does not begin to describe what that will be like.

I will pray for you guys and ask that your situation will improve if it has not already. I hope you will post again soon and let us know how things are progressing. I do not know what I will do if I happen to finally get the call I have been waiting on. Any advice you can give based on your current situation would be greatly appreciated.

Jay



> $2,480 for less than two hours of work to cover each damaged roof in New Orleans
Monday October 17 - 01:39 - Posted by 7df30e43f4d4d5fb...

my boyfriend left 3 weeks ago for new orleans, and was in the same conditions you describe. they have no ROE’s, no food, nothing open (walmarts, grocery stores). they were sleeping in a parkinglot outside a home depot, showering with a hose in a porta potty. if it wasn’t for the military rations, they’d probably go hungry. he left to lake charles with a slight pay increase (3.3 cents per sq, ft,) but worse conditions. not only was there no place to shower, they were sleeping on a basketball court, and now in their cars in random lots each night. most of the men had their belongings stolen, and now, after 3 weeks, they still have not gotten paid one dime. the only shelter requires a FEMA badge to enter, and none of the men have badges. i am tired of hearing all these reports about how much companies like shaw and A-1 are getting paid, about how they cater the men and provide hotels. The men out there have qit their jobs and spent all their money and they don’t have one thing to show for it except for public criticism! it’s about time somebody wrote an article about what is really happening out there. i don’t care what a contract says, that’s not what’s really happening!



> $2,480 for less than two hours of work to cover each damaged roof in New Orleans
Tuesday October 4 - 00:34 - Posted by 6dc10db44db45cf1...

I bet most of them have Bush/Cheny stickers in their vehicle windows




> $2,480 for less than two hours of work to cover each damaged roof in New Orleans
Wednesday October 19 - 19:30 - Posted by 07608adfbcef9a68...

I brought a crew to Lake Charles L.A. only too find out that the workers that had been there before us had not been paid in three weeks. After seeing the lack of organization from this company (Farmers Roofing) who was contracted out by LJC, we got cold feet and left too find another contractor. We found another guy in Lake Charles that promised us the world, but again talking to the workers there we found there was no work and a lot of sitting around waiting for ROE’s. We ended up leaving Port Arthur where we got in contact with a QA named Tim with whom we originally spoke with before we left Dallas, he too worked for Farmers Roofing. The story changed however from not enough work to so much work they couldn’t get caught up. Now the problem that we are finding out here is the simple fact that this is a huge scam. They promised us before we left Dallas Texas and spent several hundred dollars on supplies needed, that we would would make a minimum of $250 a day. We also have paperwork to prove this! However the scam comes into play where the only way you can make even close to $250 daily, is by doing 10,000 sq ft a day. I along with the rest of my crew have several years of construction experience and we were able to fly through all the jobs they give us. Now by the time you figure in driving, eating and waiting around for materials each morning you only have about 7 hours a day too work, if that. With 7 hour days I challenged Farmers to show me the fastest and most experienced crew they had to come close to 10,000 sq ft a day. After several discussions with one of the top QA personnel, he admitted that 10,000 sq ft would be an impossibility to attain every day. In fact the figures come out to 80% of your week you would only make about $70 working 12hrs a day. This being said we had a meeting with the owners of Farmer Roofing only too be told that "this is the game if you want to play, play if you don’t we can find another crew. If anybody is or had experienced this problem please email me at abmsmu@safe-mail.net. We are going too take action and get this problem fixed, not only for us but for the people that are there now or are thinking about taking part in the blue roof project. I encourage everybody to step up and help make this right.




> $2,480 for less than two hours of work to cover each damaged roof in New Orleans
Thursday October 20 - 05:23 - Posted by 21d603ef441a6845...

I know someone down there and they called me and asked me to bring 300 guys down and they would pay me $10 a square. Now I dont know if this is going to work or not but I think I may try it out.I know the guy very well.and he told me they have ROE’s in hand right now. so we will see



> $2,480 for less than two hours of work to cover each damaged roof in New Orleans
Thursday October 20 - 18:39 - Posted by 1474197340925315...

I want to thank all y’all for warning me about what I was about to get caught up in , I was ready to go to lake charles too .I borrowed money from my family counting on that "$250 a day" and rounded up a crew who all did the same . We have all decided after seeing what people down there are sayin that it does in fact sound like a "scam" that we dont want to get involved in .If I was you I’d be furious . To tell you the truth I would have probably hurt somebody ! Anyway thanks for the info and good luck to ya’ll!



> $2,480 for less than two hours of work to cover each damaged roof in New Orleans
Saturday October 22 - 22:08 - Posted by 1f787ec48d4a6912...

I just came back from lake Charles with three crews. I heard they needed 300 men for blue roof work. we left from s.c. I borrowed money. The work was not there, we mainly stood around doing nothing. The little work which was there was given to certain crews. we stayed in tents and I ended up spending more money than we made. Anyone who is thinking about going beware. Also if anyone knows where there is legitimate blue roof work please post.



> $2,480 for less than two hours of work to cover each damaged roof in New Orleans
Wednesday November 30 - 04:18 - Posted by b2f96783dc593490...

My crews have been blueroofing for 9 weeks and are fast. We can only average 5-6,000 per 10 hour day, and then only if the ROE’s are available! I’ve worked for 3 different subs, 2 of them
LJC. We have been paid less than 30% of our gross and the last partial payment was 3 weeks ago. Now we are out of roofs, but still no pay. They say the Corps won’t pay them until all roofs are inspected. I’ve checked with the inspectors that I’ve met while working, and they all say that all roofs have been inspected. There is no chain of command, noone to talk to, and 2 of the subs have moved out of the area. No one answers the phone numbers that we have. I will be eager to assist your cause in any way I can. I’ve been working in Southeast Texas, from Port Arthur north to Jasper and west to Galveston. I’ll look for your reply. Good luck!!



> $2,480 for less than two hours of work to cover each damaged roof in New Orleans
Saturday January 21 - 04:42 - Posted by 9d767b6b7dd2e607...

hello all i worked neworleans and in ft.lauderdale fl. try this one for size was a crew leader over 10 (5)man crews and was pulling 15 to 20 thosand sq foot a day per crew. not a joke these guys were super fast. they where only getting .12 cent a foot. they werent getting harness pay for 2 story or better.we were on some 3 to 4 story buildings.im sorry but high risk jobs should get high risk pay.these people lived in tents for 3 months TENTS whats up with that. so i want to know where these roofing companys payed millions to house these people?we ate MRES for 2 months. and had to fight to get payed for what was done. remember these people came there to help but they do have bills at home.the person i was working for shafted me 2 thats why im tellin to all about what was goin on. i left when i started to see what was goin on. but you know what was the worst? the guy i started working for was a great friend but no longer.i could go on for hours b ut lets say it wasent a good thing. OH YEA WAS SIMON I WAS WORKING FOR AND LJC let me know if you want to hear more GOT LOTS MORE TO SHARE.




> $2,480 for less than two hours of work to cover each damaged roof in New Orleans
Friday May 12 - 04:22 - Posted by 5d58ef3e26413c1b...

Hey dude,

It’s hard to believe each of your crews were knocking down that kind of square footage per day. You need to contact these 10 crews and contract directly with LJC next time. LJC did indeed pay all their first tier subs and when they knew of a lower tier that wasnt getting paid they took care of it. Hope things work out better for you next hurricane season.



> $2,480 for less than two hours of work to cover each damaged roof in New Orleans
Friday December 29 - 23:15 - Posted by f19e287da993de95...

Was the Simon you worked for of Liberty Roofing? We know lots of people left hanging by them... there are good reputable subs out there who did pay their workers.






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Friday 28 September
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
PART I PART II PART IV Disillusioned with the machinations of so-called “traditional” colleges, I became an adjunct instructor at several “for-profit” colleges. Thanks largely to the power and pervasiveness of the Internet, “for-profit” colleges (hereinafter for-profits) have become a growing phenomenon in America. They have also been the subject of much political debate and the focus of a Frontline special entitled College Inc. Unlike traditional (...)
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HIGHER EDUCATION IN AMERICA: DREAM OR NIGHTMARE? PART II
Friday 28 September
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
PART I PART III PART IV Several years ago, a young lady came into the college where I was teaching to inquire about a full-time instructor’s position in the sociology department. She was advised that only adjunct positions were available. Her response was, “No thanks. Once an adjunct, always an adjunct.” Her words still echo in my mind. Even as colleges and universities raise their tuition costs, they are relying more and more on adjunct instructors. Adjuncts are (...)
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HIGHER EDUCATION IN AMERICA: DREAM OR NIGHTMARE? PART I
Friday 28 September
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
PART II PART III PART IV When The Bill of Rights was added to the United States Constitution over two hundred years ago, Americans were blessed with many rights considered to be “fundamental.” One conspicuously missing, however, was the right to an education. This was not surprising given the tenor of the times. America was primarily an agrarian culture, and education, especially higher education, was viewed as a privilege reserved for the children of the rich and (...)
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ONE SOLITARY LIFE, PART TWO
Monday 30 July
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
3 comments
If there is one universal question that haunts all human beings at some point in their lives, it is, “Why do we die?” Death, after all, is the great illogic. It ultimately claims all, the rich and the poor, the mighty and the small, the good and the evil. Death also has the capability to make most human pursuits—such as the quest for wealth, fame and power—vacuous and fleeting. Given this reality, I have often wondered why so many people are still willing to (...)
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HOW MUCH CORRUPTION CAN DEMOCRACY ENDURE?
Thursday 28 June
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
6 comments
How much corruption can a “democracy” endure before it ceases to be a democracy? If five venal, mendacious, duplicitous, amoral, biased and (dare I say it) satanic Supreme Court “justices”—John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy—have their way, America will soon find out. In several previous articles for Pravda.Ru, I have consistently warned how the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision is one of the (...)
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DEMOCRACY IN THE HANDS OF IDIOTS, PART TWO
Tuesday 12 June
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
1 comment
Imagine, if you will, that the United States government passes a law banning advertisers from sponsoring commercials on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show or Rupert Murdoch’s Fox (Faux) “News” Network. On one hand, there would be two decided advantages to this ban: The National IQ would undoubtedly increase several percentage points, and manipulative pseudo-journalists would no longer be able to appeal to the basest instincts in human nature for ratings and profit while (...)
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DEMOCRACY IN THE HANDS OF IDIOTS
Thursday 7 June
by : David R. Hoffman, Pravda.Ru Legal Editor
4 comments
LIVE, from the State that brought you Senator Joseph McCarthy, Wisconsin voters now proudly present, fresh from his recall election victory, Governor Scott Walker! At first glance, it is almost unfathomable that anyone with a modicum of intelligence would have voted to retain Scott Walker as Wisconsin’s governor. This, after all, is a man who openly declared he is trying to destroy the rights of workers through a “divide and conquer” strategy; who received 61% of the (...)
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PEOPLE WITHOUT SOULS
Tuesday 13 March
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
2 comments
A question I’ve frequently been asked since I began writing for Pravda.Ru in 2003 is, “Why did you become disillusioned with the practice of law?” This question is understandable, particularly since, in most people’s minds, being an attorney is synonymous with wealth and political power. I’ve always been reluctant to answer this question for fear it will discourage conscientious and ethical people from pursuing careers in the legal profession—a (...)
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