Damage Control: Disaster Recovery Company Puts Hurricane Victims Back in Business
Massie, Michelle K., Black Enterprise
Corey Pitts took a moment to assess the insurmountable devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast region this summer. As he stood in a heavily soiled hotel lobby in New Orleans, he says it took every ounce of his strength not to become overwhelmed by the damage. He knew that despite the lives that were lost, the homes that were destroyed, and the residents who were displaced he still had a job to do.
Pitts, 36, a native of Smyrna, Georgia, is president and CEO of International Catastrophe Solutions, a disaster recovery company that specializes in fire and water restoration, dehumidification, mold remediation, and soot and asbestos removal. Pitts and ICS technicians were in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi immediately after Katrina hit to help commercial enterprises, including several hotels, clean up their properties. ICS dried out, cleaned, and sanitized hotels so that aid workers, police officers, government officials, members of the press, and soldiers had a place to stay during the arduous clean-up and rebuilding efforts.
"It's amazing to see how that hurricane shut down whole cities," says Pitts. "When you think about it, you can become emotional. It's very disturbing to realize people have lost everything. We have to make sure these people have some place to stay. We also have to get these businesses up and running again."
In the '90s, Pitts was working as a computer operator when, fearing corporate downsizing, he decided to clean carpets to generate extra income. He started PJ Services, a residential carpet and upholstery cleaning business with his wife's pickup truck, used equipment he purchased from his father, $50 in cash, and a credit card with an $800 limit. …