Relationships – build them before you need them.

I was reminded again how important it is to build the relationship before you need the relationship.

Last week, we experienced massive flooding in Colorado.  The community I work for only experienced moderate damage from the storm event with a few flooded streets even though we are only 20 miles from some of the worst hit areas in Boulder Colorado.  As the City’s floodplain manager, I was called into an emergency preparedness meeting to deal with the potential of what could happen and who would be impacted if our reservoirs were overtopped. 

These are the times that we train for – predicting the worst case scenario and what actions to take in advance that can mitigate the most damage before it happens.

By far the most important aspect of this whole experience came down to one thing: having the right relationships before I needed them.  When I got the call at 8pm Thursday night to let me know one of the reservoirs above my community was at risk for breaching, I didn’t question the information I simply started working on what I could do.  I made a few phone calls to the right people who could help assess this information.

One of the calls I made was to a colleague of mine that works for the City where the reservoir of concern was located.  Within minutes I was talking to the superintendent who oversees the reservoir and we discussed the specifics of the water elevation and potential flood impact. 

For the next six hours, our team of engineers, geographic information specialists, public works crews and emergency response team mapped out what roads would be washed out, which homes would be flooded and how we would evacuate people from the potential danger.

Everyone working together harmoniously in their area of expertise.   

The greatest part I found was in what I didn’t hear.  I didn’t hear people say things like: “that’s not my job” or “who’s going to pay for this”.  Instead what I heard was “what can I do to help”.

This was so refreshing and truly increased my faith in people that they really will rise to the occasion when they need to.

Thankfully for us the reservoir never did overtop but we were ready just in case.

So think today, what are those relationships that you would need most in an emergency situation?  Don’t wait until you need them, start building today.

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