Tag Archives: emergency plan

What if the Unthinkable Happens–Again?

By David M. Feehan

On July 30, 2016, a 1,000-year flood devastated Ellicott City, Md., wiping out sections of the historic downtown, carrying cars down the flooded street, and closing down businesses for months. No one predicted a flood of this magnitude, which dumped a total of six inches of rain on the town in less than two hours.

Then on May 27, 2018, less than two years later, an even worse flood dumped eight inches of rain on the town, again flooding Main Street. How could this happen? The only explanation local officials could give was “the effects of climate change.”

What does this have to do with parking? Plenty, if you think about it. First, there were many cars parked on Main Street and nearby surface lots that were washed away or damaged so badly they had to be scrapped. Second, Main Street was closed for months while buildings were demolished or restored, meaning parking revenues were affected. And even after Main Street reopened, there were fewer stores and fewer customers, so longer term parking revenues were lost.

A few years ago, I helped develop a strategic plan for the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District, in downtown Washington, D.C. One of the key elements of the plan was an emergency preparedness plan. In the District, every organization needs to be prepared for emergencies, natural and man-made. I was just starting my job at the International Downtown Association when a jet flew into the Pentagon and we were told that another was headed for the White House or the Capitol. We had no emergency plan in our office.

If you manage parking facilities in your town, how good is your emergency preparedness plan? Or do you even have one? What would happen if your town were hit by a tornado or hurricane? What would you do in the event of a 1000-year flood? What would you do if, heaven forbid, someone exploded a truck bomb in your garage? Do you have plans to mitigate human damage? Do employees have clear instructions and training in what to do in an emergency? Do you have necessary supplies—bottled water, blankets, etc.—in the event something unexpected occurs?

Expect the unthinkable and develop an emergency plan now before disaster occurs. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

David M. Feehan is president of Civitas Consultants, LLC.

Emergency Preparedness

By Kevin Emert, MEd, CAPP

After Hurricane Michael, most of the southeastern U.S. is thinking about emergency preparedness. How prepared are you? Do you have a plan if something were to happen where you live or where you work? Does your workplace have a known plan in place in case of a tornado, fire, or, even worse, an active shooter?

We think about these things often, but we don’t always sit down and develop a tentative plan. Most police departments will help you develop plans for each of these scenarios and IPMI offers a free guide for parking and mobility professionals. However, even if we have a plan, many of us don’t practice it to ensure it will work. Having a plan to get your family out of a house fire can be critical; on the same note, so is the plan at a university or workplace to get all students/staff out in case of fire or active shooter or other disaster.

Emptying a large academic building and a 1,500-car parking deck in a very quick manner can be quite challenging, right? For a plan to be effective, everyone must know what the plan is and the plan must be practiced and adjusted on an as-needed basis. Yes, it may sound silly to have family time spent practicing evacuating the house and we all hated fire drills in school, but it is much better than the alternative.

Kevin Emert, MEd, CAPP, is assistant director of the Georgia Building Authority.