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Wearing hard hats and surgical masks, employees salvage equipment and documents from LJA’s damaged offices.

HOUSTON—In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, Houston-based LJA Engineering & Surveying, Inc. (LJA) survived devastating damage to its corporate headquarters, but is conducting business as usual from a temporary location. On late Thursday, Sept. 11, LJA closed its local offices to let employees prepare for Hurricane Ike. The company fully expected to reopen on Monday, Sept. 15, at its West Houston headquarters. The corporate office, however, was severely impacted by Ike, and suffered extensive water damage to portions of every floor LJA occupied, forcing the company to seek temporary office space.

"Hurricane Ike left our office in shambles, but it demonstrated our company’s spirit and strengthened our business relationships," said Calvin T. Ladner, P.E., president and CEO. "Our employees pitched in to help during a very difficult time, juggling professional and personal adversity due to the hurricane."

LJA established a "war room" at a nearby Hilton Hotel, where employees, many without power in their own homes, gathered to keep the company running. Departments ranging from MIS to Human Resources to Office Services worked 24 hours straight to get the company back on track. Project managers continued to work with their clients in the field and even dispatched teams to client offices to make sure projects stayed on course.

In addition, employees returned to the damaged West Houston office (as allowed by the landlord) in small numbers to carefully salvage equipment and vital documents. Wearing hard hats and surgical masks, LJA employees climbed up and down six flights of stairs carrying boxes and crates because elevators in the building were out of order.

LJA secured temporary space for its 240 West Houston employees approximately one mile from the permanent location. By Monday, Sept. 15, LJA had in place its phone system and network access at the temporary location. On Monday, Sept. 22, LJA’s 240 West Houston employees officially reported to work.

As Houston’s largest employee-owned civil engineering firm, LJA says it has built its reputation based on teamwork and focusing on customer satisfaction. Ladner said the firm owes a debt of gratitude to its employees and vendors for what the company was able to accomplish after Hurricane Ike hit.