Communicating about Gustav

September 2, 2008

Gustav has blown by for the most part and most are breathing a sigh of relief–even as we look warily at Hannah, Ike and beyond. Even though I write this safely ensconsed in the far reaches of the Pacific Northwest, these storms affect all of us at PIER very much because of the large number of clients we have who rely on PIER for communication–the bulk of our clients are in Houston and Atlanta areas.

A couple of quick comments:

– all the agencies came across as ready and prepared–FEMA made a strong point of demonstrating they were on the job and would not get caught like they were in Katrina.

– how do we avoid the inevitable cycle–this time the story was on how much preparation. The media reports almost had a tinge of disappointment that with all the evacuations and preparations, the actual event was a bit of a let down. How soon will it be before citizens start complaining and media reports start focusing on the inconvenience, cost and wastage of the agencies over-reacting to a threatening storm. Then we will again be lulled, and then another will hit without evacuations and sufficient preparation and the cycle will start again.

– If urgency is applied to preparing, there is less urgency in the response. By that I mean we have several clients who were just not pushing the deployment of their systems with sufficient energy and urgency. Then, when the storm comes, they realize they are not ready for prime time and quickly fall back on what is comfortable and familiar. We have to learn to put urgency into the preparation efforts but everyone who faces these now very predictable situations needs to get their ducks in a row first so when it hits, they are not caught from behind and unable to use the very tools needed to make their lives easier when it counts.

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