New Orleans VAR Reaches For Lifeline In Hurricane's Aftermath

Reseller's disaster recovery plan blown aside by Katrina, but firm manages to aid some clients while worrying about the future.

Scott Campbell, Contributor

September 2, 2005

3 Min Read

Hurricane Katrina may have knocked at least one solution provider out of New Orleans permanently.

William Luketich, vice president of New Orleans-based Restech, safely evacuated the city, but he is pretty sure his home has been destroyed and his office looted. Indeed, dismayed over the sights he has seen on TV, Luketich said he may move his family—both personal and professional—to another location.

“Although we believe that our company office building didn’t sustain any physical damage, we are quite concerned at the possibility of the rampant and widespread looting that is beginning to take place,” Luketich wrote in an e-mail to CRN. “We have over $50,000 in equipment at our office that survived the hurricane, but we have the possibility of the entire contents being stolen from us,” he wrote. “From what we understand from people that didn’t evacuate and reported to us on the condition of our homes … the situation is becoming worse by the hour.”

One of Luketich’s neighbors walked five blocks through waist-deep water to survey the damage to their houses. The neighbor told Luketich a large oak tree had fallen through his roof.

“We just completed renovations to our house, as my wife and I just had a baby boy,” Luketich wrote.

For now, he can’t get to his house so he’s focusing on his business. Restech’s staff has reunited in locations in Lafayette, La., and Houston and has helped set up remote offices for several clients, who have likewise relocated to Baton Rouge, La., and other nearby communities.

“Our staff has been wonderful as we are gathering steam to assist those businesses which have evacuated. We have rallied together, had a good cry thinking about all of our hard work lost and [are] getting back to what we do best—serving our clients,” Luketich said.

Restech actually developed a disaster-recovery plan for itself and its clients after Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, but Luketich wrote that even his best-laid plans were not enough. In this case, the company simply didn’t have enough warning.

“The unfortunate thing is that we got word on Friday at 5 p.m. that the hurricane was heading straight for us,” Luketich wrote. “We tried to contact clients but were unsuccessful, as people were leaving early for a nice weekend. The limited-time window and [it] being a Friday caused some problems with our internal plan, as our staff had already left for the day,” he wrote.

Still, as of last Wednesday, Restech had managed to get some clients up and running. “We are beginning to breathe life back in the company … and we are beginning to get the basics of doing business completed,” Luketich said. “I never thought of—and definitely took for granted—how a mundane task of having a mailing address, phone number and/or processing a credit card could be such a monumental event.”

But those are the short-term challenges. The long-term impact of Katrina could be devastating to the city’s economy. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has said it will take several weeks to pump out the water, several more weeks to remove debris, and up to two months before electricity is completely restored to the city.

“As far as New Orleans, I don’t know what will happen,” Luketich wrote in his e-mail. “The environmental, economic and health impact that it will have on the city might limit the growth over a long period of time. I have heard from some clients that they are not moving back into the city because of the problems associated with the conditions that are present,” he wrote. “As a small company, we cannot afford to be out of work for six to eight months, so we may start a new life in Baton Rouge or Lafayette. We are considering Houston as a possible place to relocate as well.”

Luketich is fearful that images of widespread looting will damage hopes of rebuilding the city, and he is unsure there is enough “big money” in New Orleans to restore the Big Easy to its former self.

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