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Monday, August 16, 2004

Project Management and Disaster Planning

Had you been a Floridian this past week living on the southwest Gulf coast like I was, you would have quickly realized that Disaster Planning was something you should have completed months if not years earlier. It turned out that Hurricane Charlie was a major disaster for thousands of families in our area. I wonder how many might have lessened their troubles if they had done some disaster planning prior to this tragic event.

As my wife and I scrambled around the house on Thursday night taking pictures and recording serial numbers of our possessions, I quickly realized I should have prepared a disaster prepardness plan long ago.

As most of us know, one of the most important things to have when planning for any project is a scope statement. My scope statement for this hastily started project was simple: "keep my family safe and protect our property". I live in a new house, and with the strict Florida building codes that were enacted over the last several years I felt we were safe staying in our home. But, like most projects, my plan was full of risks, and I needed to perform some serious Risk Mitigation. Did I have fresh batteries for the flashlights, a portable radio, a designated safe area of the house to escape to in case things got bad?

On Thursday evening the kids filled the bathtubs with water (in case we lost our water supply), we made sure there were candles and matches (in case the electricity went out), my wife took the time to ensure the propane tank for the gas grill was exchaged for one that was full, and she went to the store and purchased plenty of canned goods and bottled water. To further mitigate risk, my wife and I filled our cars with gasoline and began clearing the yard and lanai of objects that could become flying missiles in a strong wind.

Having said all this, it would have been much better to have had a well thought out plan, or checklist prepared ahead of time so that no important task would be left undone. While our immediate area wasn't impacted much by the hurricane, the lesson learned from this experience is that early planning is not only important, but it can save a lives!

God Bless the families impacted by Hurricane Charlie!

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