30 August 2011

Floods and stuff....

One of the few good things in SF, the Golden Gate

From the Soldier side: Again our country has been hit by a form of terrorism on the East Coast..…this time it was something predicted and something there was knowledge of…a Hurricane! 

If you check out all the damage since Sep 11th 2001 that has happened in the US, you’ll see most of it was caused by “natural” or “manmade” disasters.  Earthquakes, floods, fires, natural gas fires, other chemical leaks etc.  In none of these incidents did some terrorist cause any damage. 

Some of the things I’ve seen and heard in the network news that took place in the East of the US, it appears that some government agencies were very well prepared for the hurricane and flooding.  However, others chose to not take any action and then go into the worst mode of disaster preparation- panic.  “Call the National Guard!  Call FEMA--- save us!”

I know a major disaster can be difficult to prepare for and then work through after it hits… I’ve been to a few rodeos and saw how many leaders had to learn things the hard way—while some others did very well and we felt good with them leading us.  Then when I had to lead and decide when or when not to put troops into danger--- for what?  I would look at what we were asked to do and see if it was really needed, or if somebody just thought the National Guard could do anything…with nothing.
The vintage 5 Ton Dump Truck

If you just take one disaster- flooding.  Flooding can happen in almost anywhere in the world.  Even places where it may not get much water it can flood.  To plan for floods you should see where the water has gone in the past floods and plan on the worst case. 

One of the floods I went to with the California Army National Guard in the 1990’s was in the Russian River area of California.  We responded with our B.A.A.Ts’ (Big Ass Army Trucks) a few days BEFORE we knew it was going to flood.   We took the team leaders out and drove around with the locals and they showed us what roads would flood and which we could drive out on to evacuate those whom we knew would ignore the evacuation orders.  There are always a few who either don’t think the rules apply to them or that it won’t really be that bad.  These knuckleheads end up putting the emergency responders at risk when the call and say: “come and save me, this shit is worse than I thought.”   I think I’ve written about this in the past, so I won’t go on. 

Another very important part of emergency workers and “volunteers” who respond to an emergency—the MUST be properly trained and guided by those with some experience or at least a lot of common senses.  Without one or both of those qualities, failure becomes a big option. 

Several years ago, after I had just been home from Iraq for about a month, I went back to work at my old Police Department.  We had a lot of very good officers in that department.  We did not have a lot of good top leaders though.  And what always scared the shit out of us is when one or more of those top leaders showed up on the ground at a critical incident.  They would tend to try and fu—things up with lack of common sense.  One of them had been in law enforcement for over 25 years, so he should have had experiences to help, but whatever he had learned in the past was wasted.  (God I’m glad I’m retired so I can talk about this stuff now.)

On the morning of a big flood, I was one of the few cops who made it to work and actually had a loaded pistol with me.  Our locker room was under a few feet of water along with all of our personnel gear and duty guns.  I had an off duty (.380 auto and spare magazines) with me at home, so I brought that.  If we had an armed encounter, there were only a few of us with a gun.  Turned out we were lucky and never needed to use guns, but we had enough other stupid shit going on. 

Our entire down town was a raging river.  As we were standing on high ground and watching I told the Chief: “did you see what floated by?”

The Chief looked at me and said: “No, what?”

Me: “Our next raise.” 

A few minutes later, one of the other big bosses came over to me and said I needed to walk across the river which had been our main street down town and get to an apartment where an elderly lady was waiting to be rescued. 

Now, here’s the difference between me and one or two of my former bosses…I had common sense.  The water was 3 to 4 feet deep and moving at over 10 MPH…a lot of force.  There was no way I was going to walk across that river and drown myself…so I walked over, 20 feet away to where the “Swift Water Rescue” guys were staged with their cute little wet suits and boat.  I explained the problem and they told me that the water was moving too fast.  I told them to change their names to “Slow Water Rescue” and be honest. 

That  boss had heard the conversation and then actually said one of the few smart things I ever heard come out of his mouth: “Maybe we should wait for the water to go down.”

No shit. 

Then yesterday, as I watched the news on the flooding from Hurricane “I”  on the east coast….I saw some brilliant New Jersey Army National Guard troops destroy 2 LMTV trucks.   I’m sure somebody will get an ass chewing over that…we learned long ago to NEVER drive big trucks through water deeper than the running boards or moving faster than about 3MPH.  I once drove a  28,000 pound Army 5 ton dump truck into moving water.  It was below the running boards…but moving so fast it started to move my truck sideways.  I drove out at a nice slow steady speed before I went any deeper.  If a little flood water can move 28,000 pounds, just think what it can do to a small car or a person.

 Watch some dumbass stuff here:  These guys give the Guard a bad name

  Note: I’ve been told a few times that I’m “too negative”.  Well, I suppose that’s right.  How could I not be.  However, I try to just report the story as I saw it, and let others judge: “was that person a dumbass or not?”

3 comments:

Suz said...

Wow. What were they thinking?

CI-Roller Dude said...

they weren't

Paxford said...

Hey CI

So your recent experiences - Fire & Flood.

You do realise you would be right at home in Australia - don't you? :)

Pax
[trying to do her bit to increase the average intelligence of the Australian population - one friend at a time]