Tuesday, August 28, 2012

From Hurricane Irene to Hurricane Isaac

We are now marking the first anniversary of Hurricane Irene that had a devastating impact on the Northeast and our area of western Massachusetts with flooding of schools, farms, and businesses that we all hold dear.

Deerfield Academy, my daughter's alma mater,  is even marking the first anniversary with a benefit  concert tonight entitled, "Goodnight Irene."

The impacts of Hurricane Irene resulted in a once in 500 years flood in the Deerfield area and affected not only Deerfield Academy, the much-loved Bement School, but also the Deerfield Inn, and the neighboring farms. The impacts resonate to this day.

Now the states along the Gulf Coast are preparing for Hurricane Isaac, and, hopefully, the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina, which marks its 7th anniversary, ironically, this Wednesday, have been learned.

From the prepositioning of supplies to disaster communications to the evacuation of residents -- let's hope that the impact this time is nowehere at the level of pain, suffering, and economic losses as in the past.

Such disasters inspired me to teach a new course at the Isenberg School of Management on Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare and Katrina also, in part, inspired a workshop that I led on Humanitarian Logistics at the Rockefeller Center's Bellagio Center in Italy.  

Professor Emmett Lodree at the latter gave a presentation on "Inventory Planning for Hurricane Events," in which he spoke of his personal experiences with Katrina, which is grandmother survived but which flooded her home and showed how science in the form of weather forecasting and operations research modeling could enhance emergency preparedness and disaster relief.