Everything is now “before Katrina” or “after Katrina” — unless he's talking about during Katrina, when the roof blew off his office and most of his properties were flooded or suffered severe wind damage. “I wasn't prepared — no one thought anything like this would happen,” says Jonathan Wallick (Big50 1990). Facing financial difficulties during the early '90s, Wallick pared down his remodeling business and began acquiring rental properties, a mix of residential, commercial, and institutional buildings that his three-person company renovates and maintains.
Despite being evacuated, Wallick never stopped working. On the Web, he looked at aerial photos of New Orleans to assess the hurricane damage. He returned 11 days after the storm, and by working 80-plus hours a week had most of his properties ready to reoccupy within three to five months.
Wallick has begun acquiring more property, and recently purchased and renovated a 10-unit apartment building for seniors. “Eighty percent of these residents were still homeless one year after the storm,” he says. He's also better prepared: He bought a laptop, had his CPU backed up on it, and is backing up the main computer to an offsite flash drive. And, he says, “I now have all my insurance records in one place and portable.”