Blue Roof Group

By | October 7, 2005

Blue Man Tarp Group

Although it took a month after Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, my mother has finally gotten someone to come out and put a tarp on her roof. The hurricane had ripped enough shingles from her roof to cause leaks in several places. She had signed a Right of Entry form several weeks ago with FEMA’s Operation Blue Roof (which I prefer to call the Blue Roof Group), and they finally came by last Sunday to nail a blue tarp onto the roof. Although FEMA is formally in charge of the program, the Army Corps of Engineers actually manages it.

The good new is that the blue tarps are being installed at no cost to the homeowner. The bad news is that FEMA, and therefore every taxpayer, is probably paying way too much for this service. Contractors are being paid an average of about $2,500 to perform less than two hours of work. On top of that, the contractors are being given the tarps for free. One estimator interviewed in that story said his company would typically charge about $300 to provide the same service in Austin, Texas. Admittedly, many of these companies have come in from out of state and have high expenses associated with arranging for travel and lodging expenses for their workers, but it’s hard to imagine how they aren’t making a fortune from this program.

One downside to having the tarp nailed to your roof is that enough damage is done to the roof during the process that what might have been an isolated repair will almost certainly turn into a full roof replacement. The nails used to secure the tarp will obviously leave holes that pierce through the shingles. Of course, most homeowners have little choice, as most of the the roofers now have waiting lists that are several months deep. Given the choice of suffering continued water damage through the fall and into winter versus having to talk their insurance agent into covering the cost of a complete roof replacement, most people are likely to opt to spend the extra amount of time on the phone with an insurance adjuster.

Obligatory Disclaimer: This image accurately represents neither my mother’s house nor the workers who nailed the tarp to her roof.

26 thoughts on “Blue Roof Group

  1. Kyle Woolet

    Shingle are made to self adhere any nail holes. The heat from the sun melts the tar in the shingle which covers the holes. Thats why you see steep pitched houses, which when being shingled having vertical boards nailed for the workers to use for walking.

    Reply
  2. Robert Post author

    Yet, another reason I love posting to my blog. I’m amazed by the number of people who have posted useful and/or educational comments. Thanks, Kyle! You obviously know a lot more about roofs than I do.

    Reply
  3. Jason Kimbro

    can you mobilize 800 men within a 72 hour period?
    we can. we make sure that the majority of the people within the county given to us do not recieve anymore residual damage.
    i cannot name the numerous home owners that have personally thanked me for leaving family and loved ones to come to their state and give a hand. i do get paid well, but i have to pay for a truck a camper and all my eployees to live. i haven’t seen my family or friends in 2 months.
    i work hard to help people.
    i work hard to pay my bills.
    if i make too much money for some liberal in cali, so be it.
    you figure out a better way.
    or just bring your self to FL next week and i will put you on a roof. nailing down tarp is a hell of a lot harder than typing on that keypad.
    go hug a tree.
    save a bear.
    I help fellow man.

    Reply
  4. Preston Dukes

    I can understand where you’re coming from, Mr. Kimbro and I certainly hope you are one of the subcontractors who are actually paying your workers. I was with a crew in Lake Charles and surrounding areas. We worked hard, all day everday for a month when one morning after our safety meeting our leader tells us that our pay is being delayed yet another week. Moreover, we were continually being delegated to jobs far away…few and very far between. I have a feeling that our hard earned pay is being gambled at the casinos down there.

    As for going back into that situation in Florida or whathaveyou I’ve decided that it’s safer for me to stay in Austin and make (find) a living here. If you do pay your workers and are fair to them then you are definately an anomoly.

    Hug a tree, save a bear, pay your workers.

    Reply
  5. Robert Post author

    Firstly, I’d like to thank both Josh and Preston for helping to save the houses of people who were in the path of one (or more) of the recent hurricanes. I know it’s not easy to pack up and be away from home for weeks, if not months, at a time.

    All I’m saying, Josh, is that if it’s true that the government is paying nearly ten times the going rate for a service, that seems a little excessive. There are a lot of rescue workers, doctors, nurses, etc., who have also gone into these areas to help out. I doubt that they are being paid a huge amount extra to provide their services. I don’t have any hard data on this, but it just seems unlikely.

    I’m not saying it’s the contractors’ fault, either. If the government offers way above the going rate for a service, I suspect that most companies are going to sign on. The problem, though, is that this money has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is almost certainly the taxes we all pay.

    If the demand exceeds the supply by so much that the government really does have to offer that much in order to attract companies to provide this service, then so be it. I just think that FEMA could have done a little better job of negotiating. Then again, the last few years the reigning theme of the government has been fiscal irresponsibility, so I’m not sure why I should be surprised.

    Preston, I hope things work out for the best for you in Austin. It’s a great city.

    Reply
  6. Shelia

    Robert did you have any problems getting paid from Fema? My husband has been in Mississippi nearly a month now with no pay.Always going to be next few days. Just wondering? They get some staffing pay but nothing from Fema.

    Reply
  7. Robert Post author

    Shelia, I’m not involved in installing tarps or in having a tarp installed on my roof. My mother had one installed on her house in Biloxi, though.

    Preston, however, appears to be an installer who had been working in Louisiana. I’m not sure if he ever got paid what was due to him.

    I hope your husband gets fully paid and I thank him for helping out in my home state.

    Reply
  8. Rebecca

    My brother is just coming home from Mississippi after spending two months there. My terminally ill father and 24 hour caregiver mother had to send a large amount of money to my brother while he was there because he was never paid. He finally got a check yesterday but it’s a fraction of what he should be paid and will only cover the cost of what my parents sent him. Someone is making a lot of money but it doesn’t seem to be the workers.

    Reply
  9. Dustin H

    I was a worker on one of the contracts that started out in Kenner (near New Orleans) and then went to Port Arthur/Beaumont area. I just got home for thanksgiving after working the past 7 weeks. For most of this time, I have been living in a tent in an abandoned Mexican restaurant parking lot. We were not always sure when we would be able to get showers or wash clothes. I knew that I would face some rough living conditions and working 7 days a week sun up to sun set. I didnâ??t expect not to get paid. The only pay that I have seen has been a small $123.33 check. I would really love to know were the money is stopping and who is responsible. I would be happy to use their hide to cover some damaged roofs. Iâ??m sorry if I seem a bit violent or frustrated, but Iâ??ve been a bit stressed over the passed few weeks.

    Reply
  10. shawn hill

    i guess i was an unfortenet one il left san antoino tx to go to miami fl. to do blue tarp and so did 30 others we all got the shaft and hung out to dry by our contacter no food no shelter no mony no nothing so be carfull too all that want to go blue tarp in miami bad contracting im owed ofer 10,000 dallers our lives were thretend and left for homelesness tooo if you have any info on what we can do plz send email too stonyrooste[email protected] thank you all be carfull out there

    shawn hill

    Reply
  11. shawn hill

    dusten i know how you feel man i went to miami and the same thing is happeing to 30 other of my fiends weve lived in parking lots no showers no food or any thing just a lot of lies we all need to fing out who we can talk to labor boar: all they can do is get back owed moneys, but what about all the pain and suffering we went through lives thretend un fair living conditoins all that stuff we as a hole need to find answers if you do plz pass them on i well do the same to all the brothers who went im soory for all the misfortinet miss haps i too am in the same boat ,i hope we all can get passed this and move on

    Reply
  12. SHIRLEY L. LANDRY

    WHEN RITA CAME I HAD PROBLEMS WITH MY ROOF BUT RITA TOOK WHAT LITTLE COVERAGE I HAD PUT ON IT. NOW IT RAINS IN IT. A BLUE ROOF WAS PUT ON IT BUT BEGAN TO LEAK SOON AFTER, I DID REQUEST THAT THEY COME BACK OUT BUT NO ONE CAME. I AM 62 YEARS OLD AND CAN NOT CLIME TO REPAIR THE ROOF AND I HAVE NO ONE I CAN TURN TO AFTER MY HUSBAND MILTON DIES, MY INCOME IS SUCH THAT I JUST CAN LIVE OF OF IT. I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO, FEMA WILL TAKE THE TRAILER IN AUG. AND I WILL HAVE TO GO BACK IN TO THE HOUSE, IS THERE ANY ONE THAT CAN HELP OR PUT ME IN COMTACT WITH SOME ONE AND NOT GIVE ME THE RUN AROUND.

    Reply
  13. Rocky Newton

    Hi, I think the price of the “Blue Roof Project” is on target. It is extremely hard to mobilize the amount of people necessary to handle things on a scale of this magnitude. Also, one thing you can’t overlook is that these crews work from sun up till sun down every single day to help secure these homes from more water damage. And, after a storm hits, most local contractors are swamped! I’ve seen 6-9 month waits to get a contractor to install a permanent roof system and pricing out the roof. No food, clean water or living arrangements drastically add to the cost of doing this job for the Prime and lower tier contractors. I’m surely missing some other costly points but there’s a few to chew on! Have a great day,
    Rocky

    Reply
  14. bruce l. streeter

    On October5,2005 I and my 4-man crew left central N.Y. and spent 10 days in Lake Charles and Beaumont and did not get a stinking cent for all the hard ,hot work we did. I alone spent $9,700.00
    to outfit my men for the jobs. The Corp and Fema don’t have the co-ordination between entities to get anything done. It is October 29,2006 as I write this note and we still have not been compensated for our effofts.

    Reply
  15. Brian Ross

    Instead of whining, why did you not take your ass to Home Depot, buy some tarps and do the work yourself if it’s your mom’s place instead of bitching about what a bunch of strangers did that did not cost your mom a dime! People like you that sit on the sidelines and bitch did not build this country. Thank GOD!

    Reply
  16. Robert Post author

    Because I live a couple thousand miles away. I wasn’t whining about them not coming to tarp the roof. I was disappointed that she was told several times that people were coming, and then they didn’t show up. If she hadn’t been repeatedly misled about how long it would take, I would have considered helping her with other options.

    My real complaint, though, was that the amount of money that US taxpayers were paying for this service was excessive.

    People like you that sit on the sidelines and cluelessly and obnoxiously criticize others did not build this country. Or perhaps you are one of those corrupt contractors and don’t like being criticized.

    Reply
  17. Tina

    My husband is thinking about doing this “blue tarp project” They pay $250\day.The contact name is Keith Simon. I found the ad on Craigslist.What questions should we ask?

    Reply
  18. Robert Post author

    Based on the comments here and what I’ve read elsewhere, the most important question he can ask is “When do I get paid?” Ideally, he’ll get paid weekly. Daily is probably too much to hope for. If the contractor won’t commit to a clear payment schedule or misses payments, I’d be very worried.

    A classic trick (and I’m certainly not implying this guy would do this) is to miss payday and claim that the contractor above him hasn’t paid him, yet, so he can’t pay the workers. The excuses build up until he skips town with all the money that he really did get paid.

    I’d also ask about travel to the worksites. If they’re drivable, but distant, gas costs will eat into his pay if he has to drive himself.

    If the sites are really remote, you want to know where he will be living. Some of the people who did the work after Katrina had to live in really terrible trailers or tents. You’ll also want to know whether he would have a place to store cold food and beverages and be able to cook. If he has to eat out for most meals, that also obviously cuts into his pay.

    Reply
  19. Mark

    ‘Blue Roofing’is not ‘Big Easy Money’ as the many of these lower ‘tier’ subcontractors indicate. Stay away fromn ‘disaster profiteers’. Expect a hard days work for reasonable pay. Don’t accept anything less then what you know to be reasonable. Its important you contact ‘primary’ contractors. Many lagitimate concerns have been raised with the lower teir subcontractors – some skip out without paying at all. While there have been oportunities – good firms are hard to find. Protect yourself – go into primary contractor searches. This registration can be frustrating and time-consuming and inefficient experience to say the least. We can help. We have found the better contracts have developed the most cost-effective support resources. We have developed contact lists with resources that include active co names, numbers and ‘dust off’ locals for primary starts. We have resources for all requirements like insurances, payrolls and logistics (lodging and or base camps.) Prior relationships and history with primary contractors are the key. Give us a call. We can help. N.D.R.T. Inc a Disaster Recovery Company (727) 585-8650

    Reply
  20. mckinneymetals

    i am thinking of taking a crew to sub from this co. but says i need to be able to take care of my crew for 1 – 2 mnths lmao. if i were that financially set i wouldn’t be considering the hassle sounds like a set up to me but i have 1 advantage the guy i’m talking to lives close to me in atl.ga. area but still can’t take thaT chance monetarily

    Reply
  21. christina

    There are some subcontractors out there (Texas) that are not even providing a place for the crews to camp. I have 3 sons who are out there with friends ( 2 four man crews). They say the conditions are horrible and they pay is not great either; especially considering fuel costs for 2 trucks and generators. They work 15+ hrs a day, no regular access to showers or a place to pitch their tents; they have spent many nights sleeping in the trucks.
    Of course they all went for the job opportunities (decent work is hard to find everywhere these days) and expected to be roughing it; but what they are going through is ridiculous. It is difficult to think of what they go through each day; I’ve had sleepless nights worrying about them. I am so far away (Florida) which makes it even worse.

    Reply
  22. Robert Post author

    I’m really sorry to hear about the conditions where they are working, Christina. I’ve got relatives in Texas and one of them suffered damage to a nursing home she owns southeast of Houston. I certainly appreciate people like your sons who are working hard to help repair buildings in the area. I hope your sons eventually do get compensated appropriately.

    Reply
  23. mike d

    Its a scam i went to texas for 1 month and never got any pay i worked 4 blue print roofing and lived i a tent at a dirt and rock retention field,no toilets or running water.worked from 5am till dark 7 days a wk with no way to wash any closes or shower.do not do it!!!!!!i could go on and on ,we came from florida with the promise 2 be paid in 1 wk,we all(5 four man crews)ran out of money and had no food until we finelly found some of those free box meals.we finelly left when we were told the person who was in charge of giving us our work took off in the middle of night with our pay

    Reply

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