Another Storm, Same Recovery Challenges
By Robert C. McCue, PE
MDCSystems® Consulting Engineer
Fully two weeks after Hurricane Sandy, the recovery efforts are still frustrated by the lack of fuel and communication. These scenes are all too familiar. There must be a better way to truly prepare for these events and to avoid the familiar storm after effects.
In my personal experience, gasoline lines (fuel shortages) and communications problems have been predictable after effects of major storms for fifty years. My first storm recovery effort was Hurricane Agnes in 1972. At the time I was a student at Penn State University (recently released from four years of active duty) and a Captain in the Pennsylvania National Guard based out of Lewistown, PA. During the storm we performed rescue and evacuation work in and around Lewistown and then food distribution and fuel delivery to local municipalities on the I – 80 corridor from Altoona to Scranton. Many roads were destroyed in Central Pennsylvania and many bridges were missing resulting in isolation for many communities.
A significant problem in coordinating logistics was the lack of communications between the various state and local governments. We had supplies at point A but the folks at Point B could not request what they needed. We attempted to solve this problem using mini-convoys of National Guard trucks and fuel tankers. We also escorted commercial semi-trailers of foodstuffs to communities along our supply routes.
Similar state and local actions took place after Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and now we are watching comparable recovery efforts in New York and New Jersey. But why wasn’t the expected emergency response to Hurricane Sandy better planned and timelier? After all, the weather reports gave us plenty of time to prepare. The day after the storm all the right signals (TV interviews and speeches) were sent and promises were made to restore the situation to normal. However, the reality is that weeks later many communities still lack commercial power, communications and fuel -predictably making a bad situation worse.
Risk Management: Recognizing & Prioritizing Project Risk
By Michelle N. Delehanty, PE, PMP
MDCSystems® Consulting Engineer
One of the biggest components in successfully managing your capital program is a strong risk management plan. A project risk assessment is usually performed during project kickoff with all stakeholders contributing to the list of risks because the earlier in the project you plan for certain events, the lower the chances of the associated risks tend to be. In order to successfully mitigate risks, they must be prioritized based on their overall effect on the project. If every item that poses a potential risk to the project is considered high-priority, then the result is that nothing is a high priority because everything is considered equal. The major keys to reducing the impact of any risk to a project are to recognize, prioritize, and control.
Any event, large or small, can be considered a risk to a project if there is a chance it will impact the scope, schedule, or budget. It is important to examine all programs that are running concurrent with your project as well as within the project itself for any effects they may have. Common ways that project management veterans recognize potential future risks is to look into the past, starting with lessons learned.
The lessons learned list is usually comprised of items that may not have been considered during the previous project planning but affected the outcome of that project in some way. Remembering the effect these issues had on previous projects and preparing for similar outcomes will keep you from repeating comparable missteps on project after project.