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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Flood Follies



Well, once again, an interesting week in the world of crisis and disaster. At this time, several Manitoba towns and municipalities are frenetically trying to add more height to dikes and are frantically sandbagging to keep roads open. Several Manitoba homes have already been flooded due to a higher than expected flood waters.

It was already known that it was going to be a wet, dangerous year for flooding, but today it was announced that that the Assiniboine would crest up to two feet higher than predicted because of a flow gauge failure on the Qu’appelle River. This gauge gave lower readings than it should have, throwing off flood predictions badly. Assuming that a faulty gauge was indeed the case (I’m not a conspiracy type: I believe human ignorance, stupidity, and laziness are far more likely as a causative agent than secretive cabals.), it illustrates a point.

The point is: small failures have big consequences. A single small failure has thrown the preparedness planning of several local governments into the trashcan. These municipal organizations are being forced to revamp plans and cope with a rapidly changing (dare I say fluid?) situation. For the most part, they are doing pretty well.

The lesson we should learn from all of this is: Can I do the same? Almost every thing done in preparedness, whether government or personal, is done by developing likely crisis scenarios, and then prepping to meet those likely crises. It tends to lead us into well worn paths in our thinking, where we are using the same old set of what ifs and assumptions as the parameters that we use in our preparedness plans.
What the plan is really not important. It could be your bug out plan, your bug in plan, it might be your plan to raise and grow X amount of food. I guarantee, however, that in each and every plan there is the possibility of a single, small failure that will upset the most elaborate preparations.

If we are serious about being prepared, we need to scrutinize our preparations, looking for vulnerabilities, potential failure points, and invalid assumptions. It needs to be an ongoing process, but not an obsessive or fearful one. While you are looking for problems and trying to fix them before they become critical, remember that you can’t think of everything. Accept that there will always be something you haven’t thought of, even if you’ve thought of one hundred things that might go wrong.

Knowing that your plan is the best it can be, and that you have done everything you can do will give you the confidence and flexibility to react properly to that one hundred and first something that comes along.

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