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Disaster Preparedness Takes Resolve

July 12, 2005
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From the Caribbean it came, born of pressure, moisture and heat. Arlene it would be named, this first fury of the season. The weather boys and girls snapped to, breaking out charts and graphs backed with sharp graphics and catchy tunes.

But the predicted disaster never came to pass, and Tropical Storm Arlene was soon downgraded to Tropical Depression Arlene (what makes the weather sad, I wonder?). Windows were un-shuttered, boards came unscrewed from exterior walls, and small pets once again ran free without fear of suddenly becoming airborne.

In the aftermath of the 2004 hurricane season, disaster preparedness became all the rage: "We were caught off guard!" "Our plan needs updating!" "Clear up these channels of communication!" "Where are my shoes?" And just in case you missed it, CNN and its offspring showcased day after day what they intimated could only be the obvious lack of resources available to deal with such problems.

Weeping homeowners standing in the gaping maw where their home once stood get ratings; competent organizations performing due diligence in preparation for such events do not. Lost amid all the stories of loss and despair in the mainstream media were the tales of excellence, of disaster-restoration companies sweeping into areas mere hours after disaster struck, going above and beyond to try and bring some semblance of hope to the grief-stricken, to deliver a feeling of humanity and compassion to the desperate.

Firefighters drill on a daily basis, getting the moves down, honing the edge. Companies and organizations that specialize in storm-disaster restoration do the same: making sure the necessary equipment and personnel are available at a moment's notice, checking schedules and weather reports and forecasting just when their services may be required. The most mundane tasks often become the most important when the chips are down, and the companies whose day-to-day preparations make watching paint dry an event to remember are, more often than not, those you want on speed dial. It's not as though there are warehouses stacked full of equipment just gathering dust until the first big blow of the season; the 500 dehus being set up in Miami-Dade today may have been on flood jobs in Ohio and Indiana last week. It takes flexibility, competence and organization to make all the pieces fall into place. It takes a special type of company and a special type of person to make it happen.

The season is upon us. Stay tuned.

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