Crisis Management Lessons from Tsunami Study

A reminder to plan for “rare, but predictable” crises

If a monster earthquake struck off Alaska’s coast, tsunami waves would rush toward California, crippling the nation’s busiest port complex and flooding coastal communities, a report released Wednesday suggests.

The potential impacts, based on a hypothetical magnitude-9.1 jolt off the Alaskan peninsula, were detailed by a team led by the U.S. Geological Survey to help emergency responders prepare.

Tsunamis are a rare but real threat in California. After the 2011 Japan disaster, tsunami waves raced across the Pacific and damaged boats and docks in the commercial fishing village of Crescent City.

Scientists said a closer offshore quake would create more havoc. The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach could be shuttered for at least two days because of strong currents, potentially losing $1.2 billion in business. The Oakland Airport would be flooded. Coastal communities would face mass evacuations, the report said.

This quote, from an AP article by Alicia Chang, published by ContinuityInsights, offers us an opportunity to discuss the “rare, but predictable” class of crises using an example from our home state. While it’s pretty well accepted that organizations in California need crisis management plans in place for events such as earthquakes or wildfires, far fewer have considered what would be the best course of action in a tsunami.

Why not, though? We have a good number of businesses that would be completely put out of commission by a large tsunami (think anything on a pier, fishing and whale-watching tours, cruise industry, international shipping lines, etc.), and even more would be devastated by a decrease in orders or interruptions in supply chain created by such an event. Heck, the fact that two of the biggest ports in the world would be closed for at least 48 hours alone would put incredible financial strain on a frightening number of organizations.

Every niche, region, and even each individual location has its own set of rare, but predictable crises. Don’t fall into the trap of overlooking them in the course of your crisis management planning, or you may not survive the next unusual occurrence.

The BCM Blogging Team
http://www.bernsteincrisismanagement.com

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