Hurricane Katrina Catastrophe Felt in Alarm Industry

NEW ORLEANS — The effects of Hurricane Katrina are sure to stretch beyond the hurricane zones in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. The billions of dollars in damage and the more than a thousand lives lost makes the catastrophe’s effects on the alarm industry pale in comparison. Nevertheless, Katrina will impact the industry through lost customers and companies in the affected areas struggling to stay in existence.

With power outages likely lasting months, customers are without any form of protection despite what is becoming a dangerous situation in many of the affected areas with looting of commercial establishments and armed thugs at- large.

In New Orleans, where the city is 80-percent covered in water and a mandatory evacuation has been ordered, it is unclear about the fate of the alarm companies that do business in the city. Calls made to New Orleans-based firms like Home Protection Services Inc., Nuko Security and A- Superior Alarm Inc. do not go through.

The same goes for ADT Security Services Inc.’s branch in New Orleans, while other large alarm firms face uncertainty about many of their customers.

Protection One Inc. has conducted a preliminary assessment of Katrina’s impact on its operations and found that 1 percent of its revenue base comes from homes and businesses in affected areas where service is not expected to be restored anytime soon. “While the impact on our consolidated account base does not appear to be material, our thoughts are with our employees, their families and friends, and our customers who are dealing first hand with the unprecedented impact of this natural disaster,” said Protection One CEO Richard Ginsburg, in a statement.

Also uncertain is the status of security manufacturers and distributors based in the New Orleans area, such as Home Automation Inc. (HAI) and CCTV Imports. The headquarters for both companies were in areas under several feet of water and both firms’ Web sites are down.

Meanwhile, efforts have already started among system manufacturers, distributors and customers to help raise relief for hurricane victims.

The National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) is collecting donations from its members for victims of Katrina. In an E-mail, the NBFAA urges members to either make an individual donation, a corporate donation or collect donations from co-workers and send checks made out to “American Red Cross 2005 Hurricane Season Relief” to the NBFAA by Sept. 16. NBFAA will then make a donation on behalf of the association to the Red Cross.

Checks can be sent to the following address:

    Attn: Hurricane Katrina
    2300 Valley View Lane, Suite 230
    Irving, TX 75062

With communication at a premium, National Electronic Security Alliance (NESA) has put online a free Web user forum to allow members of the electronic systems industry help each other in the aftermath of Katrina. The forum is available at

To donate directly to the American Red Cross’ hurricane relief efforts, go to form.asp.

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