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Remember: People Are Not Paying Attention to the Weather

New York City is a great example of that.

The recent surface water flooding that happened in New York City is a great reminder that people don’t automatically connect what is happening with the weather to the impacts that the weather might cause to the “as built” environment.

The NYC administration was accused by some of not providing enough warning to people of the possible impact of record rainfall. That is possible, but it is also true that many people are not plugged into what the weather will be for any one day. They certainly don’t understand what a rainfall like that will do when it comes to surface water flooding in a concrete environment like you find in NYC.

Remember, once again, the “failure to warn” or perception that you did not warn will get you in trouble from the get-go.

On the other hand, if you keep issuing warnings where nothing happens, you will be accused of “shouting ‘wolf’” too many times and then people won’t pay attention either. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. Life in the emergency management lane!
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.