East Coast Handles Blizzard.


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Were authorities crying “Wolf?”

Snow Plow, emergency preparednessTragically, there were deaths as a result of the weekend’s blizzard – mostly from car wrecks, some from heart attack. And the flooding in New Jersey apparently took some people by surprise.

The clean-up is just starting. According to the Wall Street Journal, it costs $1.8 million per inch for snow removal alone!

But by and large, it sounds as though millions of people (60 million under blizzard, winter storm or freezing rain warnings Saturday!) did a pretty good job of getting through. Here’s what it looked like from my desk, here in California.

What worked well?

  • The weather reports were accurate and timely. And they were updated. Maybe reporters learned something a year ago when they forecast the Mighty Blizzard of 2015. That one fizzled!We have all now learned that there are different weather models. The European model looks at the big, long-range picture. The National Weather Service uses its own, short-range models. Not one model is perfect, but taking input from each, and being willing to make a change as things develop, seems to have added credibility to this forecast.
  • Authorities took prompt action. In at least 11 states, Governors declared states of emergency. This helped position resources (over 2,200 members of the National Guard) before the snow actually hit. Schools closed in New York as of Thursday. City government offices closed as of Friday noon. Travel bans were declared – and enforced – up and down the whole Eastern Corridor.
  • Political leaders repeatedly got on T.V. to emphasize city actions and the need for citizen responsibility. Whatever the party, political leaders’ words and actions draw attention. NY Mayor De Blasio was warning people of the storm as early as Wednesday morning. By Saturday, Chris Christie had cut short his campaigning in New Hampshire to return to New Jersey because of the blizzard. People noticed.
  • Citizens got the message and were smart. On Thursday evening I got a call from my friend Teri in Maryland. She was laughing– weakly–as she reported how hard it had been to get home and that “There was absolutely no meat left in the grocery store!” People either had what they needed or got it by Thursday. Then they prepared to hunker down.

Did preparedness pay off?

Cities and politicians are pretty much required to promote preparedness. You and I promote preparedness because we believe in it as a lifestyle.

Nowhere, however, have we found a formula that shows just how much our investment is worth.

But the Boston Consulting Group’s 2015 study for Unicef and the World Food Programme (WFP) added more understanding to why to prepare.

Their study of 49 activities aimed at cutting costs and reducing response times during emergencies showed that an investment of $5.6 million is expected to deliver $12 million in savings.

To be clear, the study analyzed actions in the countries of Chad, Pakistan and Madagascar. I’m not sure what the ROI would be for actions taken in the U.S. – but it surely wouldn’t be worse!

If you want to read the whole report, here’s the link: https://www.bcgperspectives.com/content/articles/development-business-social-sector-big-payback-emergency-preparedness/

What next for Storm Jonas?

It will be interesting to watch for the follow-up reports on the East Coast Blizzard/Storm Jonas – on its costs and hopefully on the value of everything that went into getting ready for it.

I’ll let you know what I find out. In the meanwhile, if you are in the blizzard area, let us know what you experienced and how well you fared. For example, are you among the thousands without power right now? (Which means you are reading this on some portable battery-driven device!?)

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. As you know, we’re waiting here in California for the next storm to roll in from El Nino . We’ve had only one. Do you think OUR weather forecasters have cried wolf?

 

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