FEMA Preferred Vendor Springs Into Action After Hurricanes

Proper preparation and a good location allowed Five Peaks to help thousands of people affected by Hurricane Harvey when it hit Houston and its surrounding areas earlier this month.

Last year, the Muskegon, Michigan-based company opened a 9-acre storage area in Waco, Texas, to store holding tanks, stand-alone sinks and portable restrooms. After Hurricane Harvey hit, those supplies are easily routed to their customers, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, says Ryan Harris, national sales manager for Five Peaks.

“With hurricanes, there is time to prepare. You know a storm will likely hit a certain area, and you can prepare your inventory,” he says. “After the storm hits, you can then deploy what is needed.”

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Holding tanks and portable sinks are normally requested first, followed by portable restrooms.

“We expanded into Texas since it is already a strong market for our business,” he says. “It is also closer to areas where some hurricanes hit and supplies like this are needed.”

Five Peaks first made contact with FEMA following Hurricane Katrina, which devastated parts of Louisiana and Texas in 2005. FEMA was looking for portable restroom operators to supply vital items following storms. Harris says Five Peaks went through a bidding process so it could be added to a preferred list of vendors.

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When a disaster strikes, FEMA contacts vendors asking what they can provide and at what cost. Once a company works with FEMA a couple times and officials are familiar with offerings and pricing, the agency may automatically call.

“We have been a huge help to the Houston area — not only in supplying FEMA, but also our regular clients who are there,” Harris says.

Holding tanks, stand-alone sinks and portable restrooms weren’t the only products provided by Five Peaks. The company is owned by KL Outdoor/GSC Technologies, the world’s largest maker of kayaks. Walmart approached KL Outdoor/GSC Technologies about donating 2,000 kayaks and johnboats to areas hit by Hurricane Harvey so they could be used in rescue operations or to help people visit their flooded homes.

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“Residents can use the kayaks and johnboats to easily navigate where they need to. Plus, there is storage space available if they take it to their home and need to come back with a few items,” Harris says. “We are thankful Walmart approached us about doing this.”

When hurricanes hit other parts of the country, such as when Hurricane Irma hit parts of Florida, Five Peaks will send inventory from either its Waco yard or Michigan headquarters. It takes about the same amount of time to move the items from either location to Florida, Harris says.

“When storms hit, we are ready to go and assist our custom operators and FEMA with what they need to help the people affected.”

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