A 4-Step Process to Restoring Order after a Disaster
This quarter, HR Green is focusing on the concept of resilience and how municipalities recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. Communities are much better positioned to deal with disasters, retain a healthy position and regain normalcy when properly prepared.
There are few natural disasters more devastating than flooding.
Water, a vital life-force, is contradictorily destructive and devastating. After an event – or events like our country saw during last fall’s hurricane season – the effort that must be expended in recovery from the damage can be overwhelming, to say the least.
Take Hurricane Harvey, a devastating mix of water and wind. Harvey inflicted at least $125 billion in damage, primarily from catastrophic flooding in the Houston metro. The rainfall totals over the course of four days exceeded four to five feet of water above the area’s annual rainfall averages. When that much water overtakes a populated area, concerns arise about building integrity, transportation structures, electrical and mechanical systems, functionality of water supply and wastewater infrastructure; the list goes on.
This is all dauntingly bad news.
Here’s the good news: there is a process that can help you bring life back to normal after an event. Certainly, there will be things to address that you can’t even anticipate just after a disaster event. But, there are plans to be made now and requirements to meet to restore order.
The process developed by HR Green helps you to think logically through your challenges:
- Identify and solve immediate challenges
The safety of people is top priority. Immediate challenges and the most important ones to address all tie back to safety. You’ll want to quickly identify when structures are compromised, sites are contaminated, or water supplies are potentially hazardous. Ideally, plans are already in place with key stakeholders (government, community, health) and simulations and drills have been completed.
- Assess facilities and services
You have to think both building envelope in and building envelope out in these situations. Assessing mechanical and electrical systems and their integrity is important. Are necessary services being provided? Are facilities under water, for instance, like they were in Houston for days? What does that mean as days pass? You need to understand this.
- Develop and prioritize solutions
Understanding the difference between “have to do now” items and “okay to do later” items is also helpful as you address priorities. Do you have contamination issues? If so, this would be a higher priority item than starting the design on a flood control system, for instance.
- Program longer term improvements
Longer term you may be looking at mitigation work, setting policies on property buy-outs, performing revised flood modeling, pavement management or asset management, plan check or plan review services for future rebuilding efforts. It’s important to program these realistically to help them come to life.
HR Green has helped communities nationwide through each step of this process through a variety of disasters. Examples of our work can be found here:
- HR Green Working with Coralville, Iowa on Flood Mitigation System
- Illinois River Flood Protection
- Flood Protection Program Management
- Efficient Public Works Departments Build Community Resilience