RoofViews

In Your Community

Disaster Response: How Roofing Contractors Play a Crucial Role

By Andy Hilton

June 07, 2023

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

Plants, community service and volunteering group in park, garden and nature for sustainable environm
In Your Community

GAF Community Contractor Program Celebrates Success in Seattle

When communities come together, incredible things happen. That's exactly the case in the city of Seattle, Washington, where the GAF Community Contractor Program has made lasting impacts on those in need through partnerships with Habitat for Humanity and ReBuilding Together. Both nonprofit organizations focus on working with homeowners to build new homes and revitalize communities in need of rebuilding, respectively.GAF's partnership with Habitat for Humanity began in 2011. From the start, it felt like a natural pairing. Habitat for Humanity's vision of "building strength, stability and self-reliance in partnership with families in need of decent and affordable housing" aligns perfectly with GAF's commitment to building resiliency in communities across the U.S.GAF recently became involved in ReBuilding Together in the Pacific Northwest through GAF Territory Manager Donovan Gladstone, whose involvement with the board of Roofing Contractors Association of Washington created an opportunity for community partnership. ReBuilding Together's mission of "repairing homes, revitalizing communities, rebuilding lives" is an excellent fit with GAF's commitment to helping neighbors.Helping Contractors Support their CommunitiesGAF invests in the areas where it has manufacturing operations, aiming to lift up the communities where team members live and work. This ideal extends to the GAF Community Contractor Program, where GAF certified contractors can partner with GAF and give back through the following initiatives:GAF Habitat for Humanity Program. With over 1,500 local Habitat for Humanity affiliates in the U.S., GAF-certified contractors can partner with their local chapter to provide the labor to install fully-donated GAF roofing systems. Volunteers don't work alone. Homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor into building their Habitat house.GAF Affordable Housing Reroof Program. This initiative encourages contractors to partner with any 501c3 nonprofit organization in their community for a reroof project, for which GAF will donate the shingles.GAF Roofs for Heroes. GAF-certified contractors can partner with a local 501c3 to perform roof repairs or replacements for local heroes. These heroes include healthcare workers, first responders, veterans, police, fire, and EMTs.As part of the Community Contractor Program's progress in Washington state, more than 20 GAF certified contractors were able to provide over 100 new roofs to those in need of a new roof in the Seattle region, working with Habitat for Humanity and ReBuilding Together. "Giving back is at the core of what GAF does, but bringing in and partnering with our contractors is something that makes us unique," explains GAF Director of Corporate Social Responsibility Arlene Marks.Celebrating Giving Back While Giving Back AgainMarks and Gladstone wanted to host an event to thank the contractors who donated their time and labor to install those roofs and came up with a unique and fun way to extend the spirit of giving through Welcome Home Toolkits. "This was Arlene's idea, and it was such a great one," Gladstone notes.Marks shares, "We try to make all of our events meaningful, so what was the best way that we could reach back out to these homeowners that we've already helped? The Welcome Home Kits were the answer."The contractors attending the event assembled toolkits containing basic items like screwdrivers, nut drivers, adjustable wrenches, pliers, hammers, safety glasses, and more. The kits also include a video message of encouragement from the program participants.Most of the individuals who are helped through the roof donations are first-time homeowners. Accordingly, many don't have the basic tools needed to maintain their homes. The gift of a Welcome Home Toolkit provides so much more than drivers and wrenches, it offers confidence, resilience, and peace of mind.Building Community Among ContractorsIncredible things happen when communities come together—not only for the recipients of the donations, but for the participants as well. GAF-certified contractors in the Seattle region came together to give back to the community while building new professional relationships and friendships at the same time."You're bringing together like-minded people," Marks notes. "While they are competitors in the field, they already have the compassion to help their communities. It was an opportunity to work together toward a common goal to meet, share ideas, and talk about the market in a very safe and non-competitive environment."Impacting the CommunityA representative from Habitat for Humanity attended the appreciation event in Seattle to say thank you and share how much of an impact ReBuilding Together and the contractors' work have had on the community. The Welcome Home Toolkits were provided to both organizations and have gone a long way toward welcoming and inspiring the new homeowners.Looking to get involved in giving back to your community? Visit the GAF Community Matters page to explore different opportunities and get started.

By Authors Karen L Edwards

March 01, 2024

Community Matters GAF Employees and Volunteers
In Your Community

2023 Social Impact: GAF Roofing

As industry leaders, we have a responsibility to use our expertise and resources to leave our communities and our planet better than we found it. We are making strategic investments to achieve our goals and have made great progress in partnership with our employees, non-profit partners and contractors. Visit gaf.com/sustainability to learn more and join our efforts.

By Authors GAF Roof Views

December 12, 2023

Actor Anthony Mackie demonstrates nailing in a roofing shingle for a GAF Roofing Academy class.
In Your Community

Re-Roofing 500 Homes in the Gulf Region with Anthony Mackie and GAF

The Gulf Region is growing more resilient thanks to a meaningful partnership between actor Anthony Mackie, Marvel Cinematic Universe's next "Captain America," and GAF. Over the last year, as part of the GAF Community Matters initiative, GAF and Mackie partnered to re-roof 500 storm-damaged homes and empower local workforce resiliency through tuition-free GAF Roofing Academy trainings.The 500th roof was recently installed in New Orleans, Mackie's hometown. "A year ago today we started this," he notes, "And to say that, exactly 365 days later, we finished our 500th roof is pretty astonishing. It shows the commitment of everybody who has been a part of this project and made this dream come true."Rebuilding Roofs and Empowering CommunitiesFollowing Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Gulf Region suffered a string of devastating natural disasters, and many residents found themselves unable to make the needed repairs to their homes before the next storm caused more damage. Ending this cycle and building more resilient communities is a main focus of the GAF Community Matters initiative."We're not only putting roofs over the heads of people that need them," GAF's Chief Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility Officer Andy Hilton explains. "We're also building those roofs in a way that can sustain through the next storm, using state-of-the-art roofing materials that will provide the sustainability, the comfort and the security these families deserve."Safe roofs mean greater resilience, both for the homes and businesses they shelter as well as the individuals who inhabit them. Rebuilding and restoring damaged roofs fosters long-term resilience.Strengthening the WorkforceIn addition to re-roofing 500 new homes in the Gulf Region, GAF committed to provide community members with training around essential roofing skills through the GAF Roofing Academy. The program helps train individuals to support future rebuilding efforts in communities impacted by severe weather and acts as a pipeline for skilled labor, which is currently in high demand."The labor trade is in desperate need of bodies," notes GAF Roofing Academy Instructor Gary Pierson. This is especially true in the storm-ravaged Gulf Region.Mackie joined the GAF Roofing Academy training in New Orleans, which consisted of both classroom and hands-on instruction. As the son of a roofer, he has lots of prior experience and understands the transformative power of skilled work. "Learning a trade like roofing is one thing that can help a community come back, that can help a neighborhood come back, that can help a family come back," Mackie says.The courses are open to anyone looking to enter or re-enter the workforce, including the underemployed, formerly incarcerated, veterans, and others who may face career barriers. The GAF Roofing Academy offers tuition-free, hands-on roofing training to those interested in learning the trade from industry experts. Ultimately, students are equipped with the skills needed to enter the roofing trade and the program assists in placing them in well-paying jobs upon graduation."Teaching the next generation the roofing trade not only helps GAF Community Matters toward their mission, it helps the neighborhoods and the regions they're in," Mackie notes."Knowing the roofing trade provides the opportunity for financial security for you and your family."Looking ForwardThe Gulf Region project hit a milestone when Mr. Joe, a New Orleans resident of over 60 years, had the 500th roof installed on his long-time family home. But it's certainly not the closing scene."This is only the beginning," Mackie shares, after sitting with Mr. Joe on his porch to celebrate the new roof. "Even though we've hit our 500th house today and the stories of all these homeowners are so amazing, there's still so much more to do."The efforts will be ongoing. GAF will continue to strengthen the region by helping residents feel safe in their homes and comfortable in their communities.Curious to learn more about this project and other initiatives GAF is involved in? Explore GAF Community Matters.

By Authors Annie Crawford

December 11, 2023

Don't miss another GAF RoofViews post!

Subscribe now