Tuesday, September 2, 2008

ERM-BC-COOP: Validation is wonderful

Validation is wonderful, especially if lives are saved.

I don't know if the folks at DHS/FEMA visit my Web site, but after Katrina I posted three Katrina-related articles to my URL:

  1. The "What if" game after Katrina (http://johnglennmbci.com/Kat-1.html) - Sept. 4 2005
  2. All aboard (http://johnglennmbci.com/evac.html) - Sept. 25, 2005
  3. Applying Katrina lessons to Business Continuity planning (http://johnglennmbci.com/KatrinaLessons.html) - Nov. 30, 2005

Much of what I wrote was put into action.

It was interesting, and satisfying, to see buses taking people to Amtrak trains bound for safe haven.

It was good to see the mayor apparently in control and making what I consider the "right" decision in ordering evacuation.

It was good to know that people coming down to assist were in place at selected staging areas, not just for New Orleans LA (NOLA), but other cities and towns in the threat area as well.

It was not good to learn

  • the levees weren't ready

    I know it takes time, but could the effort have been expedited?

  • that a politician was encouraging his followers to descend on the threatened area to offer help

    This encouragement was later tempered by the politician's decision to tell all to wait and see what help was needed

  • that of the fatalities linked to Gustave, most were the result of an auto accident in Georgia when a driver apparently fell asleep

    If the car was traveling on I-10, there are rest stops; if on US 90, there are towns where evacuees could pull over; I doubt any cop would tell someone escaping a hurricane threat to "move on"

  • that a couple of (scrapped?) Navy vessels were "loose" and might threaten the levees

But, all-in-all, NOLA and communities along the Gulf coast escaped with little damage. Then again, Gustave, while threatening as a Cat 4 or 5 storm, came ashore as a Cat 1.

I'm a Floridian and, trust me, I do NOT denigrate any hurricane.

I know that most damage is caused by flooding, and if the TV pictures I saw are accurate, there was substantial flooding, but not as it was in Katrina.

And again, although there still were too many, the hurricane-related fatality count was minimal.

Is there room for improvement?

Of course.

Will some of the folks who evacuated this time think the mayor - whomever is in office at the time - is playing "Chicken Little" crying "The sky is falling" and elect to "hunker down?" I'd bet on it.

Will the mayor be critized for ordering an evacuation?

Of course.

Was it the right thing to do?

I think so.

A tip of the hat to the presidential candidate who proposed that we respond as Americans, rather than as members of this or that political party. (His appeal probably will be mocked on The View, but that won't surprise anyone.)

Nothing's perfect, and I expect a post-event critique to point out ways to improve, without, I hope, the finger pointing prevalent after Katrina.

My only complaint is that the focus was totally on NOLA. Granted, it IS below sea level and it IS "the" city in the area, but there are other folks in cities, towns, hamlets, and farms along the Gulf coast that also are in danger from storms - hurricanes and otherwise.

My only remaining question: Will The Feds bail out - literally and financially - those people who insist on building where common sense tells us not to build, and - worse - who, as they did before Katrina, fail to insure.

John Glenn, MBCI, SRP
Enterprise Risk Management/Business Continuity
Planner @ JohnGlennMBCI.com

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