Temp Work in Disaster Relief


Even before Hurricane Fiona devastated Puerto Rico on September 21, 2022, and the gigantic IAN Hurricane that slammed into the west coast of Florida on Sept 25, 2022, FEMA had already declared 10 other US disasters in the U.S. just between August 1 and Sept 15th!

The total major disasters declared by FEMA in 2022, as of today (Oct 4, 2022),now stands at41, and, we still have 3 months to go!

There have been major disasters declared in 21 states plus Puerto Rico, including severe storms and flooding in 12 states,wildfires in California, and New Mexico, tornadoes in Nebraska, Kentucky, and Tennessee, landslides in Alaska and Hawaii, plus the devastating hurricanes in Puerto Rico, Florida, North, and South Carolina.So, there is plenty of disaster relief work to do.

The costs are staggering and easily will be more than$100 billion for restoration of the current 2022 damages! CoreLogic estimates that the insured losses alone in Florida from hurricane Ian will be between $28 and $47 billion!

The Role of Staffing Companies

A single natural disaster is almost always a “temporary”event and so is the recovery. Even though it can take a year or more to accomplish the many faceted elements of a recovery,especially from something like a major hurricane, recovery is still a “temporary” event.

These multi-faceted recovery elements translate into the numerous human skills required to facilitate it. This, together with the temporary nature of the recovery process,seems to be a natural for temporary staffing companies.

But are they doing it? Are they organized to work with municipalities, public work’s operations, federal agencies, teaming up with other area staffing agencies, etc.to put together time-sensitive problem-solving proposals that can help so many localities get quickly back on their feet? Do they have the necessary flexibility to respond to disasters like a fire company.

When you do a search for “temp staffing companies doing disaster work” you will get pages of results (Called SERPS for “Search Engine Results Pages”) Although a company like “Indeed” is not a staffing company they still come up twice on page one of Google results for that search phrase(and “organically” i.e., not paid ads) If you click on an Indeed listing, mine shows 4,500 disaster relief jobs, you can then enter a specific location to see who is hiring in that area.

Many times, it will bring up local staffing companies. Many staffing companies use “Indeed” for Job postings, and it seems a lot of them post individually on their own websites and on other job boards for disaster relief jobs.

In the Google results listings, you will also find first page results for other entities which are also not staffing companies for the same reason that “Indeed” comes up, i.e. they all post lots of disaster relief jobs.

For example, you will find FEMA and SBA (Small Business Administration) on page one of Google search results, because, like Indeed, they post lots of disaster relief jobs all over the USA and Puerto Rico.

(Note: It is very hard for a local staffing company to compete with “Indeed”, FEMA, and SBA, even with a local search, because of their size, numerous local job listings, and existing Google page rank, traffic, etc..

But it is VERY possible for a local staffing company in a smaller market area to compete with them for free organic positions in search results using a key phrase like “20 Disaster relief jobs, Cape Coral, FL.” Then,create one or two pages on the agency’s website with heading text using the same phrase and, at least, 250-300 words of additional text with job descriptions, pay rates, info on Cape Coral, bus and taxi info, office and building pictures, directions, etc.)

So, it seems there are a lot of staffing companies doing disaster relief work. It is “a natural”, but it takes a lot of energy, resourcefulness, and the ability to work well with a complex set of circumstances. It is necessary, profitable, and rewarding but difficult.

Assuming there are staffing companies who do not do this kind of work,I would add a few notes to encourage them to do so.

Unless you are very small do not be afraid of a job that needs a hundred or even two hundred workers. If you have the basic structure,payroll system,staffing management software, intake workers and supervisors (or account execs) it’s just as easy to have 200 workers as 25 or 50.

In some major disasters, there will be thousands of workers beyond the resources of the local communities playing important roles.For large jobs you can always partner with other staffing companies. Your staffing software can keep track of all your workers, locations, contact persons, communications, safety equipment, pay rates, hours submission/verification, and worker payments.For much easier payments,especially to many day laborers without checking accounts, a good debit card system is very helpful.

Your other staffing company partners (if any) can simply manage their contributions to the effort (contract) by having you as their client and can bill you accordingly.

Your normal good business reputation will be helpful here as elsewhere. You should have good political contacts, business community, local government,and banking relationships, etc. These will serve as excellent references for FEMA, SBA and local government contracting.

Be careful on pricing. Get a good price for what will be hard work but know that FEMA and SBA have a local labor pricing at their fingertips. They allow sufficient profitability but avoid extravagance. You do not want to get blackballed in the future.

So, get some good advice, maybe a couple of partners, and jump in. You will be doing yourself and your community a great service.

As always, Stay Safe and Pray for Ukraine!