NEW ORLEANS -- The National Disaster Reconstruction Expo & Conference at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, June 17-18, drew to a close Thursday.

NDR emcee Barry Pruitt

A first-run event, the NDR Expo opened at a time when many might think twice about unveiling a new show.  But a lot of planning and preparation went into its development.

Jim Holland

“With all of the events available to the disaster professional, it would naturally beg the question ‘Why?’” Imago Trade Show President Jimmy Mouton said. “Why launch yet another event? When reviewing the disaster industry, one thing was glaringly obvious: there were numerous ‘disaster-related’ events throughout North America, yet very few (if any) were focused on providing a forum for all disaster professionals to convene together.”

With the city of New Orleans as the backdrop, the NDR Expo’s main focus was on education. Bringing together some of the premier figures in the industry, as well as those in government and other related organizations, to share their experiences and insights was paramount to the event.

Dr.'s Michael Pinto and Randy Rapp

FEMA’s Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office Director of External Affairs Robert Josephson opened the event as the first keynote speaker of day one.

Robert Josephson

“The private sector has a tremendous has a tremendous role in recovery from all disasters, but specifically here in Louisiana,” Josephson said. “The important part is, how do we partner together, meet current codes and standards, to build back smarter and more efficiently, so we’re not doing this all over again when the next storm comes.”

Kelly Cressy

A diverse cross-section of attendees had the chance to listen as WonderMakers Environmental’s Michael Pinto discussed “Cleaning of Sewage/Flood Contaminated Soft Contents,” while it was standing-room only in “Show Me the Money,” a session co-hosted by Paramount Disaster Recovery’s Steve Slepcevic and Tom Thornhill of Thornhill Law Firm.

Down the hall Joy Dell’Aringa of EMSL Analytical conducted “Environmental Microbiology: Introduction and Overview of Sampling Options and Considerations.”

Day two saw Paul Rainwater, the director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, take the stage, laying out the challenges and efforts of the state in working with Federal authorities to rebuild the Gulf Coast.

Paul Rainwater and BNP Publishing Director Tim Fausch

“What people in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast know, and many of you here in the private sector, when you’re talking about government contracts, you’ve got some very strict rules,” Rainwater said. “What you had is, the government’s here and the private sector is over here, and what we found is that you had to have a nexus between government and the private sector if we were going to rebuild from the largest catastrophic disasters in American history.”

Taking flight in difficult times, the NDR Expo & Conference made the first step in showing the entire disaster restoration preparation, response and recovery industries how open dialogue and a sharing of ideas, technologies and abilities can help everyone involved work together and become better prepared for the next disaster-related challenge.