RoofViews

In Your Community

Disaster Response: How Roofing Contractors Play a Crucial Role

By Andy Hilton

September 07, 2022

Aerial view of the aftermath of a hurriane

Hurricanes and other major storms can hit a neighborhood with incredible force, leaving homes with damaged roofs in need of immediate disaster response. These events can be devastating to homeowners and their families—but there are meaningful ways that your team can help support your community through the entire process of storm recovery and rebuilding.

GAF believes resilience is the foundation of building a thriving, sustainable community. GAF Community Matters, our national social impact program, is part of our ongoing efforts to protect what matters most in the communities where we live and operate. By leveraging GAF's expertise, resources, and products, we are able to support the fundamental needs of our communities to help build resilience: Shelter, Families and Workforces.

GAF proudly works alongside three disaster resiliency partners: Habitat for Humanity, Good360, and Team Rubicon. As the leading roofing materials and waterproofing company in North America, GAF provides ways for contractors to plug into this initiative throughout every stage of the disaster response continuum.

Extending a Hand Up Every Step of the Way

We have a lot of experience working with contractors in communities across the United States through our partnership with Habitat for Humanity, so we know that roofing contractors are community-minded individuals who understand that their businesses are built on word-of-mouth and local reputation. There's no better way to connect with your community and make your value known than by stepping forward during their darkest hours—it's about making yourself a part of the fabric of the community. Time and again, we've seen that getting involved returns dividends to contractors and their businesses down the road.

Disaster response and resiliency involve a sequence of activities:

  1. Immediate needs. It begins with providing life-essential goods and services—food, water, shelter—following a natural disaster, whether that's a fire, a tornado, or a hurricane.
  2. Recovery phase. When people start to get back into their homes, they assess the damage and determine the long-term impacts of the storm. They're evaluating their livelihoods. They may have to deal with insurance adjusters, locate builders and contractors, start repair work, and navigate the landscape of FEMA and other resources to help them through recovery.
  3. The rebuild process. This is when we start swinging hammers again and, in our case, putting roofs on the homes affected by the storm. As a provider of roofing materials, our product tends to become most valuable at the very end of that continuum, when contractors are putting the roof on a new or repaired home.

Our efforts reach every phase. In that first 48 hours after a disaster when dramatic images begin to reveal the damage, disaster response is not exclusively the domain of the news media—you may see corporate donors and others rushing to the front lines to help. It's great that people come forward in that moment, but if money only comes in at the beginning, those resources could dry up before a rebuild starts.

It's a short-term view of disaster recovery. Once the cameras leave, people forget about the long trail ahead for affected communities. That's why we focus our programs on being present at all points in the continuum.

Supporting Organizations on the Ground

We know how to design, build, and deliver great roofing products. In the early stages of disaster response, GAF supports organizations that are trained to support communities in need after natural disasters. Partnering together makes for a bigger impact and allows their expertise to complement contractors' skills, time, and resources.

When a disaster occurs, organizations come forward with donated items, often in the form of diapers, water, or building materials. Good360 processes that inventory and manages the supply chain so that the right materials get to the right nonprofit organizations at the right time in the disaster process.

Habitat for Humanity expertly organizes volunteers and communities as they build and repair homes for families in need of safe and affordable housing. The GAF-Habitat for Humanity Community Contractor Program offers an opportunity for roofing contractors to team up with GAF to give back to their local communities.

We've also partnered with Team Rubicon for more than three years, allowing us to be present in all aspects of the disaster response continuum. Team Rubicon's twofold mission is particularly compelling: their volunteer pool is primarily made up of highly trained U.S. military veterans, and they also recruit first responders and civilians with unique and special skills that can help them provide an immediate response and support. This lets Team Rubicon organize quickly and efficiently deploy into dangerous and difficult situations.

The organization not only serves communities affected by disaster but also serves veterans themselves. When veterans leave the military and return to civilian life, some may miss that mission-led sense of purpose. Team Rubicon offers the noble mission of supporting veterans helping veterans by giving each other meaning, camaraderie, and kinship in service of the community.

"GAF's commitment to Team Rubicon's mission has allowed us to continue to serve the hardest-hit communities following disasters," said Art delaCruz, Team Rubicon's President and COO. "Not only does GAF's team show up during the immediate aftermath of a storm, but they are also committed to providing expertise to help us get these homeowners back into their homes and to keep them safe. No matter the size of the crisis, GAF is there with our teams."

Roofing contractors have an opportunity to support Team Rubicon by donating or through volunteering.

Involvement starts before a disaster strikes in your area—by making it known that you're willing and able to volunteer, and going through their training courses to ensure you're prepared to deploy. From there, Team Rubicon will be able to locate you and organize their efforts in response to a natural disaster. In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, they may tap volunteers to help with activities such as tarping, which provides temporary relief where water has penetrated the home.

It's important for contractors to be long-term sources of support during disaster recovery. Partnering with organizations such as Team Rubicon and Habitat for Humanity can show local homeowners and future customers just how much you're committed to your community.

About the Author

Andy Hilton is chief communications officer for GAF, responsible for internal and external communications, community engagement, and crisis and issues management. He is also responsible for designing and leading the company’s corporate responsibility program with the intention of maximizing social impact while growing the business.

Related Articles

One of the new GAF manufacturing plants set to open in 2024
In Your Community

GAF Expands Manufacturing Footprint, Positively Impacts Communities

GAF is expanding its footprint with new manufacturing facilities, increasing its plant network to over 30 locations nationwide.Summer 2024 is kicking off with the construction of a 275,000-square-foot residential shingle plant in Newton, Kansas—the first GAF location in the state. In Peru, Illinois, the new polyiso plant recently sent out its first shipment of GAF EnergyGuard™ Polyiso Insulation, the new TPO plant in Valdosta, Georgia, is gearing up to begin production this year, and in Avon Lake, Ohio GAF partnered with a third-party plant to support the research, development, and production of silicone products.New state-of-the-art facilities such as these allow GAF to continue innovating and "meet growing customer demand for our market-leading roofing product," says GAF CEO John Altmeyer. These developments also offer benefits to the surrounding areas. For instance, regional plants can help shorten product haul times (benefiting customers and the environment) as well as bolster local economies and support the communities where GAF employees live and work.Expansion to Help Meet Increasing Customer DemandThe Newton, Peru, and Valdosta plants will help meet ever-growing residential and commercial market demand, enhance best-in-class GAF service to customers, and help strengthen the overall construction industry by increasing manufacturing capacity.Currently, one in four US homes is protected by a GAF roof. To better meet residential demand, the GAF shingle plant in Newton will produce Timberline HDZ®—America's best-selling roof shingle—and Timberline® AS II shingles. Timberline HDZ® offers homeowners a high-definition look with patented GAF features like the StrikeZone™ nailing area, GAF Time-Release algae protection, and LayerLock™ Technology. For hail-prone markets, the Timberline® AS II is a UL2218, Class 4 impact resistant shingle that can also help protect roofs from wind, and algae discoloration.To better meet commercial and residential demand, the GAF plant in Valdosta, Georgia will manufacture TPO, one the most popular products for low-slope roofs. Nearly 2 billion square feet of TPO are installed annually, making up over 50% of single-ply roofs installed today.Meanwhile, the plant in Peru is helping to better serve commercial customers by manufacturing a full line of EnergyGuard™ Polyiso Insulation and EnergyGuard™ NH Polyiso Insulation. Additionally, the plant will soon offer new composite polyiso insulation boards. Polyiso Insulation is used on more than 70% new and retrofit commercial buildings, and is the highest R value per inch of any board stock insulationThe Opportunity for Economic and Social BenefitsGAF expansions can generate local, good-paying jobs and empower surrounding areas through meaningful community involvement. These benefits have been seen in the locations where GAF currently manages its workforce of 4,800, and the organization hopes to continue its progress. GAF actively invests in community resilience through its Community Matters initiatives. Community grants, in-kind donations, and hands-on support through employee volunteer efforts allow GAF Community Matters to build meaningful area relationships and help address the area's unique needs.Another benefit of adding manufacturing plants closer to end markets is the potential to reduce operational carbon emissions. Shipping products shorter distances and with fewer packing materials could positively impact energy efficiency and further support GAF sustainability commitments.Here's a look at how GAF is having a positive impact on its newer communities with the expansions.Newton, KansasIn the city of Newton, Mayor Rod Kreie notes the greater region is "excited about the significant economic and community impact this GAF expansion will bring." In addition to the jobs created through the investment GAF is making in Newton, the plant is anticipated to stimulate broader growth."We believe that this [plant] could possibly spur more development," says Erin McDaniel, director of communications for the city of Newton. "GAF is going to be a high-quality corporate partner for Harvey County and make a big positive difference in our community."The Newton plant is expected to have far-reaching impacts across the state. "The career opportunities this [plant] will provide for Kansans right now—and for future generations—will help us continue our unprecedented economic growth by keeping more of our young talent right here at home," notes Kansas State Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland.With construction work underway, shingle production is anticipated to begin in 2027 and reach full capacity by mid-2029.Valdosta, GeorgiaGAF commercial roofing operations continue to grow alongside the residential roofing business. In Valdosta, GAF has committed to purchasing 130 acres for a future GAF thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roofing manufacturing plant. The plant will bring 135 jobs to Lowndes County over the next six years—adding to its Georgia operations in Savannah, Statesboro, and Cumming that collectively employ 225 residents."We are dedicated to creating a more innovative future for Georgians," says Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson. "GAF is a great partner and addition to our community, creating new opportunities for residents and the region for years to come. We deeply appreciate the collaboration from Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority and Georgia Power on bringing GAF to Valdosta.""GAF strives to become an integral part of the communities in which we operate, and supporting the city and its residents is a top priority for GAF," explains Daniel Duston, plant manager at the Valdosta facility. For example, during the 2023 Thanksgiving for Thousands, 22 GAF employees volunteered with Second Harvest Food Bank to help distribute pantry boxes to over 865 cars and direct traffic to help keep everyone safe. Many local residents were greatly impacted by Hurricane Idalia in 2023, and participating in the food bank distribution alongside other community volunteers helped local folks who were still "displaced from their homes or recovering from the damage," Duston says.Peru, IllinoisGAF bought over 100 acres of land for the facility site in Peru and ensured over 70 advanced manufacturing and engineering jobs new to Bureau County, Illinois. Today, the 450,000-square-foot polyiso plant in Peru manufactures EnergyGuard™ polyiso products. These polyiso products have all received GREENGUARD Gold certification, verifying they have low emissions of volatile organic compounds."As a leader in modern manufacturing, we know GAF will be a great asset to this community bringing high-quality jobs and a true commitment to innovation that will benefit the city for years to come," Peru Mayor Ken Kolowski notes."GAF is dedicated to becoming a proud member and employer within the community and is excited to support the positive work happening in Peru," says Gary Ashley, plant manager at the Peru facility. One way GAF has demonstrated its commitment is through a donation to Maitri Path to Wellness in October 2023. Wellness and Recovery with Maitri is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to providing individualized, quality care for individuals struggling with addiction and mental health issues. GAF donated all the roofing materials needed for the installation of new roofs for the facility and its addition."GAF's involvement is catalyzing profound change in the lives of those on their recovery journey," explains Kelly Jones, LCSW CADC at Maitri Path to Wellness. The new roofs will help protect the facilities where the organization "offers individuals the chance to access support, cultivate relationships with peers, secure employment, pursue education, and flourish within their own community," says Jones.GAF team members in Peru have also hosted meet-and-greet community events with local nonprofit organizations within the community and continues to explore future partnership opportunities.Silicone Production in Avon Lake, OhioGAF recently partnered with a third-party plant in Avon Lake to support the research, development, and production of silicone products, expanding GAF roof coatings manufacturing capabilities. In addition, GAF is creating a CARE Training room at the site to help equip participants with hands-on skills, product knowledge, and business expertise.As North America's largest roofing and waterproofing manufacturer, we are committed to our brand promise to protect what matters most in the communities where we live and work. "Bringing world-class manufacturing plants online strengthens our ability to deliver best-in-class service and innovative solutions across the country," said John Altmeyer, CEO of GAF.Learn more about the products we manufacture, the culture of our people, and the communities we call home with this interactive map.

By Authors Annie Crawford

July 15, 2024

GAF worker applies StreetBond®, a solar-reflective pavement coating, to an asphalt court.
In Your Community

GAF Partners with the Orlando Magic to Revamp a Sports Court

A newly renovated basketball court at Chambers Park Community Center in Kissimmee, Florida, is a slam dunk for local children and families. GAF is proud to have partnered with the Orlando Magic, AdventHealth, and the city of Kissimmee to make this community's hoop dreams come true.The Chambers Park Community Center is a focal point of the Kissimmee community. The facility offers after-school programs, community events, and camps. It also features a popular neighborhood playground and basketball court where friends and families gather.The collaborative work involved in upgrading the sports court—which reopened on January 10, 2024—is just one example of how the GAF Community Matters program supports and celebrates neighborhoods nationwide.Renovating the Court's Coating and DesignThe inspiration for this project came from wanting to enhance the quality of life for the residents of Kissimmee and provide a safe, vibrant place for families to play outdoors. GAF understands the importance of building resilient communities, so the company donated cutting-edge materials and covered the cost of installation labor to ensure the Chambers Park Community Center's new sports court was a perfect outdoor place to play. To make the asphalt court as safe and durable as possible, GAF used StreetBond® solar-reflective, durable pavement coating with Invisible Shade™. The product can help reduce pavement surface temperatures by an average of 10°F while also helping to protect the pavement from premature degradation due to heat and UV rays.In areas where heat collects, also known as "urban heat islands," there tend to be few trees and minimal shady vegetation, so blacktops and hard surfaces—including parking lots, roadways, concrete recreation areas, and roofs—absorb and release heat well into the evening. Over time, these excess temperatures may contribute to heat-related health effects and negatively impact quality of life for local area residents. This wasn't the first time GAF deployed pioneering cooling strategies to enhance a community's experience. As part of the GAF Cool Community project in Pacoima, California, StreetBond® was used to help diminish urban heat island effects. GAF quickly completed the work in Kissimmee and the facility was opened to the public shortly afterward. The sports court's vibrant design uses custom-made colors inspired by the blue retro logo honoring the Orlando Magic's 35th anniversary court.Celebrating the Court's OpeningCurrent and former Orlando Magic players and Kissimmee's Mayor celebrated the court's unveiling. Team mascot STUFF the Magic Dragon joined the festivities to the crowd's delight.Sixty youth from the Chambers Park Community Center after-school program also attended the court's reopening. The students were thrilled to join in a fast-paced basketball skills clinic. The newly launched court was their chance to meet their sports heroes up close, take photos with them, and enjoy their new playground.Investing in Communities of the FutureThe Chambers Park Community Center's sports court is an important gathering space where youth and their families can safely play, build relationships, and develop their skills.With this project, the GAF Community Matters initiative continues its longstanding partnership in neighborhoods across the country. GAF is committed to making a positive difference by offering roofing expertise, resources, and products to help build more resilient communities.Providing safe, high-quality sports courts where residents can gather helps build resilient communities while promoting active, healthy lifestyles—and GAF is proud to play a role. To learn other ways GAF supports communities across the country, visit www.gaf.com/communitymatters.

By Authors Wendy Helfenbaum

May 28, 2024

Aerial shot of roofers repairing homes in the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha community.
In Your Community

Helping the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha Tribe Protect What Matters Most

The Louisiana coast has seen several severe weather events in the last decade, which has made it difficult for many people to rebuild their homes and prepare for future storms. This was the case for the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha tribe, a small community accessible only by boat.The group Rebuilding Together New Orleans recognized the impact a joint effort could have on the region. Together with the GAF Community Matters initiative, and roofing contractor Sunbelt Roofs, the group collaborated with the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha tribe to replace five hurricane-damaged roofs in the tribe's coastal Louisiana homeland.Sowing ResilienceThe week-long roof rebuilding initiative was part of the GAF Community Matters commitment to repair or replace 500 roofs throughout the Gulf region. The goal was to further strengthen and empower the resilience of the families, shelters, and livelihoods of the coastal Atakapa Ishak Chawasha tribe.The Timberline HDZ® RoofCycle™ Series Shingle, which is made with recycled material, was used to protect these homes.Adapting Environmentally"We are stewards of the environment," said Rosina Philippe, a tribal elder of the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha tribe, as she spoke with GAF during the week-long rebuilding initiative. Over a millennium, the tribe has resided in the region, finding all it needs to feed and sustain itself from the environment.However, man-made conditions have significantly impacted the tribe's way of life. The once-forested coastal region is now a salt marsh area, devoid of fresh water and trees, due to levees along the Mississippi River and canals cut through the coastal landscape.These changes have made it "more of a challenge to find the food and plants and medicines that we depend on for our livelihood. But we have been finding them, propagating them, and sharing them with other tribes," said Philippe. "Our way is to accept the natural processes, not change them."Fortifying against Unpredictable WeatherIn addition to the tribe's changing landscape, "what we're dealing with is the unpredictability of the weather," said Philippe. Climate change can cause dramatic temperature swings, which can impact everything from the life cycle of the tribe's crops to the protection of its homes.Situated at the southeasternmost lands of Plaquemines Parish, fingerlike marshland trails out into the Gulf. The homes in the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha community are built on stilts along these watery paths and are accessible only by boat. These homes are often the first line of impact with hurricanes that rip through the Gulf of Mexico.Hurricane Ida—the fifth most expensive hurricane in US history—dealt the water-based community a devastating blow. For nearly two years, the hurricane's impact on tribal homes compounded with each subsequent storm because there wasn't an opportunity to repair its damage.Partnering for StrengthFortunately, through collaborative efforts between the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha, Rebuilding Together New Orleans, GAF, and Sunbelt Roofs, the opportunity to build tribal community resilience through new roofs became available. Bringing in roofing materials and roofers by boat, the Sunbelt Roofs team removed the storm- and hurricane-damaged roofs, repaired roof decking as needed, and installed new GAF roofing systems on the five homes.The roofing materials installed are designed to protect against volatile weather like hurricanes. To provide long-lasting protection against leaks and wind-driven rain, Sunbelt Roofs installed StormGuard® Film-Surfaced Leak Barrier and FeltBuster® Synthetic Roofing Felt. To help prevent shingle blow-off due to high-speed winds, Sunbelt Roofs installed Pro-Start® Starter Strip Shingles.The Timberline HDZ® RoofCycle™ Series shingles that were installed have Dura Grip™ Adhesive, which provides advanced protection from shingle blow-off and wind-driven water creating leaks or water damage.Building Communities TogetherThe initiative with the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha tribe is part of a comprehensive $25 million GAF commitment through 2025 to leverage roofing expertise, resources, and products to help support and empower resilient communities' fundamental needs. Through grants, in-kind donations, and hands-on support, GAF Community Matters is partnering with area organizations that know their communities' needs best.In the Gulf region, GAF partnered with organizations such as Rebuilding Together New Orleans, SBP, Good360, Habitat for Humanity, and Team Rubicon to rebuild or repair 500 Gulf region roofs, train a skilled workforce, and empower communities hard-hit by severe weather.Moving ForwardDespite the challenges of climate change and the changes in their physical landscape, Philippe said, "We still live a rich life here." As the environment changes, the tribe adapts, a demonstration of its resiliency. "These are the new norms that we are having to learn and document and chronicle, this is the information we'll have to pass onto our future generations so that they can continue to inhabit this area," she explained.To learn more about the resiliency work at GAF or to get involved, explore the GAF Community Matters initiative. Special thanks to the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha tribe, a member of the First People's Conservation Council of Louisiana.

By Authors Annie Crawford

April 16, 2024

Don't miss another GAF RoofViews post!

Subscribe now