Back in 1973, a rock band by the name of REO Speedwagon released its third album, entitled “Riding the Storm Out,” and it became a huge hit. Last night, as the 70 mph winds from super storm Sandy galed outside, shaking the house, this song, “Riding the Storm Out,” began to roll around in my head:

Riding the storm out

Waiting for the fallout

On a full moon night in the

Rocky Mountain winter.

Well the season isn’t right, but riding out the blasting winds certainly felt the same. Plus it’s a pretty catchy tune.

During those few lucid moments when our satellite was able to grab digital pixels, the Weather Channel, highlighted how Hurricane Sandy was wreaking havoc across the East Coast and throughout the Midwest. That’s when it dawned on me that the fallout from the storm will impact air travel, health and safety, and the construction industry for some time to come.

It’s a dangerous time. It’s also a time when people are reaching out to each other for help. It’s a time when contractors in this industry need to work with their customers to make sure their mechanical systems are safe to use.

Many parts of the country, not just the East Coast, have suffered severe flooding from the storms. Any residential or commercial HVAC equipment that’s been submerged in water is NOT safe to use. This is an opportunity for the HVAC industry to rise above the flotsam and set the stage to re-establish comfort and productivity in their individual marketplaces.

It’s a time to be on the look out for price gougers and scam artists, and to set ourselves up as experts intent on helping in the recovery after a severe storm, such as this.

A number of resources have information for consumers and contractors alike regarding how to handle flood-damaged equipment and systems. For example, the Air-conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) has an article online entitled, “Floods and HVACR Equipment” (bit.ly/AHRI_Floods) that provides very brief but specific information for homeowners as to what to do and who to call. The article provides links to the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) website for consumers to find qualified HVAC contractors to do the work.

Believe it or not, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has a website with information for commercial building owners and managers as to what they should do to remediate flood-damaged HVAC systems. Read it here: bit.ly/HVAC_Flood. Share this information with your commercial customers.

Some cities have even gotten involved with prescriptive suggestions for homeowners on how to protect their HVAC equipment before a flood happens. The city of Wood River, IL has this page on its website and the information is pertinent to any homeowner along the coast or in a flood plain: bit.ly/CityFlood_HVAC.

The city of Charlotte prepared an interesting web page to explain how flooding damages equipment and what homeowners should do to correct the situation (bit.ly/Charlotte_Flood). Even though this and some of the other pages I recommend you look at may be a few years old, the information in them is still pertinent everywhere.

And for those of you who are members of HVAC-talk.com, the industry’s largest and most active discussion forum, there’s an entire thread dedicated to the flooded equipment issue at bit.ly/Htalk_Flood.

The point is, now that we’ve ridden out the sound and the fury of this storm, this industry has another opportunity to shine. The last thing we need is for the headlines to focus only on rip-off artists who take advantage of homeowners and building managers in a time when they need help.

There will be other storms. By setting the stage for excellence, we become a trusted resource, not a negative headline. From where I sit, that’s good for everyone.