"This one was a beast," Coast Guard Reservist Percy Jenkins recalls. "The whole island was a mess."
Rebuilding was a mess, too, as numerous contractors began to bump elbows. It was Jenkins' job to create order.
Jenkins in 2008 was a reservist and former residential builder in Kalamazoo. The Coast Guard had called him back to active duty in Galveston for his construction background, but this would be his first experience with large government contracts.
When he found he could navigate the labyrinthine world of federal construction contracting, "that started the wheels spinning." He saw that with enough hard work, he could become a successful government contractor.
"I knew at that point I needed to step up my game," he said.
It wasn't the first time he had to step it up.
'Should have been in prison'
Growing up in the 1970s and '80s near San Antonio, Texas, Jenkins was on a fast track to nowhere.
"I represent that statistic that should have been in prison," he said. From public intoxication at age 16 to poaching deer a couple of years later, "I got in trouble for so much."
In court on that poaching charge, Jenkins caught a break. His mother vowed military service would shape up her son. The judge said OK, and Jenkins signed up for the Coast Guard. Four days after his belated high school graduation in 1985, he was in boot camp.