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Rising from Ruin is an on-going MSNBC.com special report chronicling two coastal Mississippi towns, Bay St. Louis and Waveland, as they rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

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This project is evolving. Our daily dispatches coverage has been retired. Click here to see what happened in the area between mid October and January 1, 2006.

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Of the dozens of building contractors punished by the state of Mississippi for preying on victims of Hurricane Katrina, one stands out from the crowd of mostly small-time, fly-by-night operators: Call Henry, a Florida-based firm with hundreds of employees that each year earns tens of millions of dollars from contracts with the Department of Defense, NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The company boasts on its Web site about its rosy prospects for new federal business. But at the same time, it has closed up shop in the hurricane zone and is ignoring customers there who say that their homes are falling apart after Call Henry repaired or rebuilt them. The state Attorney General's Office is considering launching a criminal investigation against the firm. And the company is appealing a $10,000 fine that the Mississippi State Board of Contractors levied after finding that Call Henry exhibited “gross negligence or misconduct” in its contracting business.

“They shafted people right and left,” said a sobbing Mary Bobbitt of Waveland, Miss., who hired Call Henry to fix her three-bedroom, one-bath ranch-style home after it was inundated by Katrina’s deadly flood tide. “They came in from Florida thinking they could make a whole bunch of money and then they left. They just left us.”

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34 COMMENTS

Another chapter in the saga of Crony-ism. Now it's time for Call Henry to relocate offshore a la KBR. November can't get here soon enough!

For every bad contractor there are hundreds of good contractors who need the work and are listed with FEMA who never get a chance.

Call Henry obviously has some patron Saint connection crony that has helped him to get government contracts lending the company credibility in the process.

This type of contractor is the new breed of Carpet Bagger.

At the same time homeowners should have performed their due diligents before hiring Call Henry not afterwards.

Even if the victims win in court it will be very difficult for them to collect the award.

There are of course Carpet Bagger Attorneys as well that are willing to sell hope.

From the descriptions given of the subcontractors in the story it seems like they were found behind bars to begin with, drinking bars.

To be fair there are also homeowners that work scams on contractors as well or work with the contractor to pocket damages and accept less quality.

Some homeowners want the home fixed just enough to cover up the visual problems so that they can dump the home on some other unsuspecting party.

This is perfect example of the republican trickle down economics
When the top dogs are ripping the country off the rest of the like minded follow.

No one will go to jail, no one will have to pay, except of course the poor home owners who lost everything! Typical government screwup.

Having knowledge of the contract Call Henry has with NASA I can say that thier work is the same across the board it seems. I am not suprised in the least to hear of this news out of the Gulf region. The supervisors with the company as well as the ownership couldn't care less about the quality of work performed, only profit. A typical cut and run outfit that leaves its clients and employees high and dry.(except when there's a flood)

Marc said, "We really would have done a great job for these people but all of the jobs seemed to go to "buddies" or "friends" of the Bush administration."

(Marc) This is why you did not get any work - it is because your either an idiot or uninformed. The Bush administration does NOT control everything in this country. The same problems will be present when Obama or Mr(s) Clinton occupies the space in a year.

The bottom line here is you or your company did not invest in the time and effort to get to Mississippi or any other Katrina ravished area. If you would have went down there and filed the paperwork locally (i.e. business license, Insurance, etc.) you would have had the opportunity to at least SELL your company to these individuals who were taken care of by a sham artist.

In each case it was the homeowner who "picked" Call Henry - the pickings probably were very slim, but the bottom line is that they were taken in by this guy.... not the President or his "Posse". It is no solace for these homeowners now, but eventually, if these allegations are true, Call Henry will have to explain this to someone in the justice system.

I am in this industry, I am in it to make an honest living AND be a safe haven for individuals from the few sharks that are always out their preying on people. Moreover, local contractors are usually reputable, because we live in that area - if we are not on the "level", we would not last long... But in these outstanding situations it is inevitable that those affected will have to be even more diligent in their dealings with outside companies.

One last note folks - If sub-contractors are not used, the price of your repair job goes up 25-50% immediately. Why? Because of an entitlement system designed for the few, but misappropriated by the many... It is our workers compensation system. So if you have a $10,000 roof that is NOT sub-contracted to QUALITY sub contractors - you will pay around $15K for the exact same roof...

My roofing sub-contractor (I believe) is one of the best in the country - I have tried dozens, fired most, but kept him as my "top" sub-contracted roofing crew... This is what is supposed to happen - I (the general contracting company) weed out the uneducated and poor sub-contractors and keep and pay handsomely the ones that do an outstanding job.

This process saves everyone thousands of dollars in premiums and still provides a quality product. If this methodology gets removed by overzealous individuals who do not understand or work in the industry - Everyone can just double or triple their premiums across the board.

Bottom line everyone is - pay double due diligence on anyone you hire. Pay them S L O W L Y as each phase is completed/inspected/finalized. It is your project, you control the money - in our capitalist society that is a pretty good motivator for Call Henry or any other company to make sure the job is done right the first time.....

It seems to me, at least based on this article, Call Henry fired no one - and kept spending good money for bad work... Trust me when I say that even the bad labor was not free, nor was the materials that these seemingly unskilled laborers used.

Remember, sub-contractors are often used in many industries. From ship building, defense contracts, educational initiatives, lawn care, etc.. It is in our financial best interest to use them wisely…..
I do not MAKE THE RULES, but I do have to live with them....

This is just the type of America that MUST END!!! We all can stop this. I AM SO ANGERED! They Knew the fines that they'd face before they entered Miss.,Because the people of Miss., would never do you as wrong, they are honest and trusting. We must hold our Government Responsible for allowng this company to continue to exist-Mississippi must raise their fines accordingly (to equal the amount, double and triple for each time these people changed crews). And they call themselvs Americans? Can't we FLOOD THEIR OFFICE W/E-MAILS? SO THEY CAN'T COMMIT CRIME TO ANOTHER OF US? HOW LONG ARE WE GONNA LET THIS HAPPEN to other innocent struggling people? These people have already weathered the storms and devastation of Katrina. SEEMS LIKE a GOV'T CONSPIRACY to me.It keeps happening. THINK about it. They let those people die in New Orleans. Now the people of Arkansas and Missouri are in floods. They need to be forwarned and told DON'T CALL HENRY!

Claudio from Malibu says:

For the future use small decent and knowledgable contractors, who are hands on, on the job, with whom you can speak every day at your house, and resolve your problems. Find and use hard working people directly. Avoid the big add's and websites, publicity with word's like "FREE".....there you can already recognice it's trap to come. You need to do your research better, and learn to listen to your instincts, and before you sign a big contract observe first a smal asigned job for a couple of days to see how it evolves. Only if you like it than you continue.


This is very easy to say. But you weren't there. If Katrina put a big hole through your roof and you've no one to help fix it before the rain, then Call Henry is looking pretty good.

It's all well and good to talk about what people should do from a place far away. It's a little different when the hole in your roof is staring you in the face and the next rainstorm's a'coming.

Context is everything.

Why did this company get this federal contract then in the first quarter of 2008?
CALL HENRY, INC $2,793,590
Maintenance, Repair or Alteration of Real Property -- Other Non-Building Facilities $1,393,090
Facilities Operations Support Services $1,066,000
Maintenance, Repair and Rebuilding of Equipment -- Instruments and Laboratory Equipment $334,500

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