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Billy Ward knows home building, especially in Louisiana. Past president of the LHBA and current second vice chair of single-family builders committee for National Association of Home Builders, Ward says it makes no sense not to have the home building community involved in emergency preparedness planning.

The rebuild process in Baton Rouge will most likely take years.
The rebuild process in Baton Rouge will most likely take years.

The NAHB committee of which he is a part should put together an emergency preparedness plan for housing, he says, adding, “It’s critically important that we do.”

Since flood disasters are similar, Ward says, there should be a plan in place to rebuild communities efficiently and intelligently. “You have to get people back in their houses and we have to have a plan to do that,” he says. “It can’t be reinvented every catastrophic event. Recovery plans are always different.”

He wants to do away with the “conventional construction methodology” where each contractor gets simultaneously get hired for jobs in a bunch of different neighborhoods in a given region. Rather than a contractor taking two-to-three hours to install sheetrock in a home, then drive an hour to his next stop, it’d make more sense to have the contractor focus on one neighborhood at a time, he says.

If a subdivision floods that was not in a flood zone, like many in Baton Rouge, that means just about all of its residents won’t have flood insurance and will be relying on FEMA to rebuild their homes. Ward says it’d be best to have a program in place where licensed contractors are assigned specific neighborhoods to concentrate on and those homeowners who elect to take FEMA funds will have someone reliable to work on their home.

This way, he says, less time is wasted and fewer people are ripped out by unlicensed workers.

“When you’re uninsured every cent counts,” he says. “The housing industry must take over recovery.”