Observations about 2018…

Observations about 2018

By Greg Sitek

The construction markets enter a year that will most likely offer more opportunity than in decades.

“The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season will long be remembered as one of the busiest and most destructive hurricane seasons on record.  This placed 2017 among the top 10 most active Atlantic seasons on record, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach, a tropical scientist at Colorado State University.


“California firefighters started the year still fighting blazes from 2017, including the Thomas Fire, the single largest wildfire in California history.

“Even as the Eastern United States braces for a massive winter storm, fire conditions still linger in Southern California, and only a light drizzle is in sight this week to quench dry brush in one of the driest seasons on record for the region.

“Officials report that the Thomas Fire burned nearly 282,000 acres across Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, about 1.6 times the size of New York City…

“The fire destroyed more than 1,000 structures; it also claimed the life of a firefighter on December 14 and is blamed for two other deaths. Soot and ash from the flames led to record-high air pollution in the region, making it too dangerous to even be outside.

It’s a tragic finale to what has already been California’s worst fire season, as several huge, deadly infernos burned uncontrolled for days across the state. (https://www.vox.com/2017/12/27/16822180/thomas-fire-california-largest-wildfire)

As noted above the Eastern United States was subjected to severe winter/snow storms while California took another hit as mudslides caused even more damage. John Trotti, editor at Forester Publication, lives in Santa Barbara posted on his T-Gram Thomas Fire Blog the following:

“According to California Attorney General records, there are 12,000 businesses in Santa Barbara County with 150,000 employees. In my estimation, two-thirds of these (8,000 and 100,000 respectively) are situated on the county’s south coast. Of those 100,000 employees, my guess is that 20,000 live in the North County and another 30,000 in Ventura County or points south, this latter cluster pretty well locked out from their jobs and with some exceptions their paychecks. True, there is the recently restored train service capable of transporting 2,000 people per day, along with hastily initiated charter boat services, good for another several hundred passengers.

“For the vast majority of commuters, however, the only option is a four hour (minimum) drive east to Interstate 5, up over the Grapevine to Bakersfield, west to Paso Robles, and then South again to Santa Barbara, Such a sojourn makes no sense unless its participant has a place to stay in the Santa Barbara area…

“As for business owners, the situation requires decisions, some with dire economic consequences in answer to such questions as, “Can I get along without a portion of my staff,” and, “Can I continue to pay salaries for those who can’t get to work?” Being a tourist destination of some renown, much of the area’s economy is dependent on the 200,000 per day traffic load on Hwy. 101, the month and a half disruption of which has had severe consequences on nearly all its retail establishments, a goodly number of which have already closed their doors.

“My point in this is that what is missing most from news portrayals of the Thomas Fire/Flood disaster is the sense of the turmoil that underlies the day-to-day lives of not just the people directly affected, but those on the periphery whose lives have been impacted in ways over which they exercise no control or perhaps even comprehend.”

All of these plus other disasters throughout the country are demanding attention putting the need for waste, debris and rubble removal, and processing at an all-time high along with infrastructure repair and replacement, commercial, institutional, industrial buildings and housing at an all-time high.

Overcoming the shortages – materials, equipment, and people — will be among the greatest challenges the industry faces in 2018.