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A Little Help from Your Friends 

The Gulf Coast Building and Remodeling Expo offers hundreds of exhibitors, speakers, workshops and products to help New Orleans and other hurricane-ravaged areas recover and rebuild.

If ever there were an ideal time to hold a home expo in New Orleans, this is it. There is no question -- the need today is overwhelming. Of the 204,500 homes that sustained major or severe damage from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, 169,000 had significant flooding. Coming home to find entire neighborhoods utterly devastated, homeowners often feel overwhelmed by all the decisions facing them as they make efforts to rebuild their lives and their homes.

For those starting from scratch and those making repairs or improvements to existing structures, the Gulf Coast Rebuilding and Remodeling Expo can help. The show will be held on Oct. 20­22 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in cooperation with the City of New Orleans and the Louisiana Recovery Authority.

Attendees will have access to information and representatives from more than 300 companies in the industry -- from builders and designers to suppliers and service specialists. That's no small feat, as many locals trying to rebuild will tell you. In a city that has been through so much change over the past year, getting in touch with the right suppliers and finding needed services can be a challenge. It can be very difficult to discern which businesses are still open, which have closed or changed locations and which are new to the area.

The expo will feature all the latest rebuilding innovations -- including energy-efficient, ecologically sound supplies and materials -- as well as the prefabricated houses of the future, says show producer Robert Brett Kolinek, president of Helen Brett Enterprises.

"Since Hurricane Katrina, manufacturers in the building and remodeling industry across the U.S. have stepped up their designs on new products to combat Mother Nature," says Kolinek. "We wanted to take this opportunity to show the public the latest advances in science and technology, with a goal of rebuilding safer and smarter."

The three-day consumer show will serve the building and remodeling industry as well as individuals with products and services for the home, office, warehouse, boat house and fishing camp. In addition to showcasing new construction, building and remodeling products, the expo also will provide informative seminars and hands-on demonstrations from exhibitors and government agencies.

"Our goal is to give consumers the information needed to guide their purchases by bringing together under one roof hundreds of industry professionals in new construction, rebuilding and remodeling, including national speakers and local experts," says Kolinek.

Companies exhibiting at the expo include builders, contractors, roofers, remodelers, designers, banks, realtors, mortgage companies, insurance companies, hardware stores and pest control companies. Other exhibitors will showcase merchandise such as prefabricated homes, carpet supplies, flooring, tile, treated wood, furniture, lighting, doors, windows, window treatments, wallpaper, paint, insulation, air conditioners, hurricane fences, copper tubing, cabinets and garden supplies as well as items for the kitchen and bath.

Workshops will cover topics including mold retardation, floor installation, basic plumbing and electrical issues, house raising, wind and flood protection, FEMA's Advisory Base Flood Elevations, flood and supplemental insurance, the permitting process and how to apply for the Road Home program.

For more information on the Gulf Coast Building and Remodeling Expo, call (630) 241-9865.

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