Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Disaster Planning and Dumb Luck

Every city has a disaster plan. At least they say they have one. With this in mind, the incompetence of the leaders of the cities in the hurricane-swept areas surpasses all expectations (and mine were fairly low).

As the one-time disaster coordinator for a small company (under 100 million in sales), I have some experience from which to make observations. We had four major locations. Each had a computer that was interconnected with the other three at its manufacturing or warehouse site. What kinds of concerns did we have to worry about? One was that headquarters was on the flight path of low-flying jet planes that landed a a fair-sized airport. Another concern was that the Toronto installation was near an atomic energy facility which could release radioactive particles in the air, or worse. A third was that trucking strikes could shut us down. A fourth was that the wipeout of certain bridges on main highways could easily close down one or two facilities. A fifth was that a digging machine could easily break a fiberglass cable anywhere in this country or lower Canada and shut down the computers.

The list goes on and on. We developed contingency plans for each potential problem as we uncovered it. And we distributed the plans to each affected area of the company. Of course, problems did occur and we were able to cope with them.

One disaster occurred that we did not count on. It wasn't our disaster, it was our competitor's. He fired all his manufacturing staff suddenly and moved his manufacturing facility about a thousand miles away. We responded with a massive increase in inventory because we knew he wouldn't be able to provide items for delivery for six months. It turned out to be a year, but we were ready.

No amount of planning makes up for dumb luck.

The leaders of cities and towns and counties and even states that were affected by Hurricane Katrina did not find any dumb luck. They appeared to have blundered into a very bad situation with a very good plan but no execution. Unless, of course, they planned to do nothing and blame the federal government.

Citizens who paid their salaries did not get much for their investment.

This is another case that tends to prove that reliance on government to solve your problems is a fool's errand.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cool blog, I have added it to my list and will check in often!

Best Wishes,
Read Twice as Fast