Community Disaster Recovery–Asking the Right People the Right Questions

I was pleased to see this post over at the Mountain Steps blog: A letter to our county commissioner about emergency preparation for hyperinflation. It is commendable to make such inquiries, but it is essential to ask detailed questions. Especially when contacting elected officials, vague, general questions tend to elicit vague, general answers, and hence most likely no action will be taken.

It is also essential that you do some research first, to direct your inquiry letter or phone call to the right individuals. Flunkies don’t create or change policy, they just implement it. You need to direct your letter to someone that has the authority to make policy, and has the budget to implement it. (In some cases, this will mean separate contacts to whomever controls the purse strings.)

I recommend that you ask detailed questions, such as:

Do you have a back-up generator, and how many days of fuel do you keep on hand? What is your contingency plan to implement before that fuel runs out?

Can you continue to operate without grid power? If not, then what contingency plans do you have?

Is the city’s water supply gravity fed, from end to end? If not, then what contingency plans have been put in place to provide water to utility customers, in the event of a grid power interruption longer than 48 hours?

And ask:

Are electrically-pumped filters used, or traditional gravity filters?

Then, if you discover that the water system is mostly via gravity, but it uses electric pumps only for pressurized filtration, then ask: If electrically-pumped filters are used, then has a disaster contingency waiver been established with the USEPA, (for turbidity and other standards), to allow bypassing of filters in the event of a grid-down emergency situation?

Similarly detailed letters or phone inquiries should be made to your local irrigation district, your fire department, power utility, phone companies (both cellular and land line), refinery, hospital, kidney dialysis clinic, coal mine, National Guard, grocery store, et cetera.

Do not expect the grid to magically stay up and running, Assume the worst case, and plan accordingly.

OBTW, one key word to search for when estimating the resiliency of your community’s infrastructure is co-generation. Find out where the co-gen plants are, and their capacity!