Tornadoes and floods are damaging large areas of our country, and we haven’t really started into the hurricane season.
Tornadoes – We’ve had an unusually large number of tornadoes already. In May, at least 26 people died in Missouri, Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama. It could have been much worse, if the tornado that struck downtown Atlanta had done more damage than just ripping the fabric roof in the Georgia Dome where 18,000 basketball fans were watching the Southeastern Conference men’s tournament games. The Phillips Arena, in the same complex as the dome, where 16,000 fans were watching an NBA game, was not damaged by the tornado. The tornado with winds estimated at 135 mph, cut a 6-mile path through downtown Atlanta, blowing out hundreds of windows in and near the CNN building and crumbling a part of a nearby apartment building. (The tornado was the first on record in downtown Atlanta).
Later in May, tornadoes struck in Iowa (Parkersburg) and a suburb of St. Paul, MN (Hugo) causing numerous injuries and 8 deaths. Tornadoes also struck in Weld Country, Colo., where natural gas leaks and the associated threats of explosions, kept hundreds of residents of the northern Colorado County from assessing the damage to their homes.
Floods – Floods categorized as “one in 200 years” were affecting a large portion of the middle of our country. In June, the Cedar River flooded an estimated 400 blocks of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Thousands of residents were forced to evacuate. By June 14, half of the 99 counties in Iowa were declared federal disaster areas. And downstream, the water’s still rising. Things will get worse before they get better.
Thunderstorms brought widespread flooding to Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Storms also caused washed-out roads in Albert Lea, Minn., where people needed to be rescued from their cars.
In Wisconsin, emergency response professionals were using amphibious vehicles to evacuate residents in Baraboo, north of Madison. (The amphibious vehicles are the ones used to carry tourists on the Wisconsin River).
“We are seeing a historic hydrological event taking place with unprecedented river levels occurring,” Brian Pierce, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Davenport, told the Associated Press. “We’re in uncharted territory — this is an event beyond what anybody could even imagine.”
Hurricanes – Predictions for the Atlantic Coast hurricane season (June 1 through Nov. 30) from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said there could be 12 to 16 named storms and two to five major hurricanes. That’s all we need to have Mother Nature throw at us!
Plaudits to the Boy Scouts – In June, 93 elite Boy Scouts were attending a weeklong leadership training session at a campsite at the Little Sioux Scout Ranch in Iowa. As part of their training program, the scouts had taken part in a “mock emergency drill” with 25 staff members on June 12.
The following day, a tornado struck the campground. Four scouts were killed and more than 45 were injured. When the winds finally died down, the Boy Scouts sprang into action. True to their motto, (“Be Prepared”) they put their first-aid training to use. Some applied tourniquets and gauze to the injured; some began digging victims from the rubble of a collapsed chimney; others obtained chainsaws and other tools from an equipment shed and started clearing fallen trees from a road.
“There were some real heroes at this Scout camp,” Gov. Chet Culver said, adding he believes the Scouts saved lives, while they waited for paramedics to cut through the trees and reach the camp a mile into the woods.
Speaking of “Be Prepared,” permit me to make a personal comment. Our country has lost a great journalist, communicator and human being. Tim Russert passed away suddenly on June 14.
I would feel remiss in not mentioning his loss since I respect Mr. Russert and the work he did in obtaining critical information for the people of our country. Mr. Russert hosted NBC’s “Meet the Press” and was NBC’s Washington bureau chief. He took over as anchor of “Meet the Press” in December 1991 and turned the show into the most-watched Sunday morning interview program in the U.S. My wife and I were two of those people that enjoyed watching his shows.
I read his book, Big Russ and Me, that was written about relationship with his father. In it he said his father gave him the following advice as it related to work, “always show up, always do your job, always be prepared.” Mr. Russert followed his dad’s advice and made sure he was always “prepared.” Just as the Boy Scouts were prepared to respond to the after effects of the disaster they experienced, Mr. Russert was always prepared for his job. In fact, some of his peers feel he was the most prepared journalist of his time.
During the many hours of television time given to discussing Mr. Russert’s legacy, one comment used to describe his success caught my attention. His peers said one of his distinguishing characteristics was that he “listened” to the people he interviewed. I pass this on to you in this column, because I think the best BCP professionals are the ones that “listen” to their clients (internal or external).
Mr. Russert will be sorely missed by this BCP professional and author.
Ed Devlin, CBCP, has provided business recovery planning consulting services since 1973 when he co-founded Devlin Associates. Since then, Devlin has assisted more than 300 companies in the writing of their business recovery plans and has made more than 800 seminars and presentations worldwide.
"Appeared in DRJ's Summer 2008 Issue"