had dealt with flooding problems of his own
in his basement, and was forced to work from
Howard Cohen, chairman at EisnerAmper,
saw differing conditions at his firm’s offices
in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
One office in Hackensack, N.J., was forced
to close because it was inside a flood zone
that remained closed, but re-opened a day
later. Another office in Bridgewater, N.J., experienced on-and-off power problems when
the server room overheated. But other locations in Long Island and Philadelphia were
open for business one day after Irene barreled
through. Cohen credited the prep work done
by the partners and staff over that weekend
with helping keep the firm running.
“They were out checking the systems during the storm,” he said. “The partner-in-charge
was here in Edison on Sunday [the day Irene
struck] because there were flooding problems
in the past. They’re dedicated and they took
measures like taking all the files off the first
floor on Friday. We also sent out a message
to make sure all the professionals were prepared, just like we do with snowstorms. It’s
always clear that safety comes first. We tell
them to prepare by telling them to take their
work home. We get through these catastrophes like a family, like a team.”
ONGOING RELIEF EFFORTS
Though accounting firms struck by emergencies like Irene and Lee have to help themselves, they can also generally be counted on
to help others — the profession has traditionally been a “first responder” in helping both
countries and communities recover from
And in response to what appears to be an
increasing rash of destructive weather events,
many of America’s biggest accounting firms
are digging even deeper to provide aid for
those in need.
Last year, for example, when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti, the profession responded with an outpouring of donations to support relief efforts.
Crowe Horwath launched an ambitious
fundraising drive that collected $109,285 for
Haitian earthquake relief efforts, including
more than $59,000 in donations from 400
Crowe employees, plus another $50,000 in
matching funds from the firm.
Seattle-based Moss Adams responded with
$150,000 in contributions to help relief efforts
by such groups as Medical Teams Interna-
tional, Mercy Corps and the American Red
Cross, while other major accounting firms
— including Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG
and Grant Thornton — launched similar
fundraising drives to assist in Haiti.
A BIG RESPONSE TO KATRINA
Six years ago, the profession responded with
hefty donations for relief activities in Gulf
Coast communities after Hurricane Katrina
caused widespread damage in that region.
Big Four firm KPMG alone raised more
than $1.2 million in firm and individual donations to assist relief activities after that mas-
been a ‘first
sive hurricane. It also moved aggressively to
help hundreds of its own employees in New
Orleans and other impacted areas, many
of whom had lost their homes. A “Helping
Hands” Web site was established to collect
donations of clothing, diapers and other essentials for displaced KPMG employees.
The American Institute of CPAs put its
muscle behind the relief effort as well, collecting millions of dollars in donations from accountants to its “Support of America Fund” to
under write relief efforts following Hurricane
Katrina and subsequent natural disasters.
Although most of the accounting profes-
sion’s support for disaster relief efforts has
come in the form of cash donations, CPA
firms have also found other ways to contrib-
ute. PwC, for example, sponsored 100 college
students who participated in service projects
to help communities and small businesses
in New Orleans recover from Katrina. KPMG
dispatched a team of 20 professionals from
the firm’s Philadelphia audit group to help
construct homes for victims of Hurricane Ka-
trina in Louisiana.