For some firms, the biggest challenge is helping employees adjust to temporary surroundings in the aftermath of a horrible experience.
"We have talked to nearly all (employees) and believe they are all in safe areas," said Carter Dunkin, senior vice president at Advantage Capital Partners. Advantage, a private equity firm that manages $650 million and has 18 employees in New Orleans and Metairie. Many will relocate temporarily to the firm's St. Louis office, although none has arrived yet, he said.
"We are looking into housing and schools," Mr. Dunkin said. "The simple part is finding places to put computers and laptops."
Officials at the $380 million City of New Orleans Employees Retirement System; the $170 million New Orleans Firefighters Pension & Relief Fund; and the $165 million New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board Employees' Pension fund could not be reached because phone lines in the city were still down late last week.
Joseph Meals, executive vice president at Consulting Services Group LLC, Memphis, consultant to the New Orleans Firefighters, said people at the fund are safe. "We heard from two of the trustees to tell us that everyone is OK," he said. "As far as what the condition of their homes is and what damage was done, I couldn't tell you at this point."
Meanwhile, institutional investors in real estate also took a hit from Katrina.
The Alabama Retirement Systems, Montgomery, for example, owns 10% of The Grand Hotel Marriott Resort Golf Club and Spa, Gulf Point, Ala. That hotel is closed indefinitely because of flooding, said David Bronner, chief executive officer of the $29 billion pension fund, which had invested about $60 million in the resort.
"We just did an on-site visit yesterday," Mr. Bronner said in an Aug. 31 interview. "The hotel is totally out of commission. Everything ground level is underwater, so we don't know when it will be operational. It could be two weeks or six months, we don't know."
Pyramid Advisors LLC, Boston, an institutional real estate manager, owns the New Orleans Lakeside Hotel and the Maison Deputy Hotel, both in New Orleans. In July, the firm also acquired the DoubleTree New Orleans Lakeside hotel in Metairie, along with seven other DoubleTree hotels around the country, for $280 million. John Hamilton, a principal at Pyramid, said executives there do not yet know the extent of the damage to the hotels. He declined to say how much the properties are worth. Pyramid has about $750 million under management.
And as the extent of the damage became known, financial services companies started assistance programs.