The end of the year often is a good time for reflection and resolutions. It’s an opportune time to look at the past year and take inventory of what actions or mindsets can be adjusted for the new year ahead.
Record weather events dominated the headlines in 2017. From Aug. 29 to Sept. 30, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria dropped record rainfall across Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and other portions of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and left unprecedented damage in their wakes.
These dramatic storms shone a spotlight on both the increased frequency and severity of devastating weather events and the need for resilience. The storms took mere days to wreak havoc and billions of dollars in destruction, but it will take years to repair all of the damaged infrastructure.
The SWS editorial staff visited Houston in September, and I have spoken to some of those directly involved in recovery efforts, and many of them have the same advice: prepare for the worst.
“None of us ever thought we could get 50-plus in. of rain over four days,” said Matt Zeve, chief operations officer for the Harris County Flood Control District. “It’s just something that’s really hard to imagine until it actually happens.” For more from Zeve, including his experience during Hurricane Harvey, as well as his advice for other municipalities facing natural disasters, turn to page 34.
In the 2017 State of the Industry report (page 10), we asked respondents about their greatest challenges and the important industry topics that will affect their businesses in the next two years. As always, regulations dominated the responses to these questions, but increasingly we’re seeing climate change and flooding listed. It’s possible the events of the past year have put these topics top of mind for those in the industry.
If climate change, flooding and resiliency are of growing concern for your business or municipality, now would be a good time to reflect. What kind of emergency response plans do you have in place? Are you prepared for something worse than the worst? Are you expecting the unexpected? The methods you used in the past may not be effective in the near future.
As we look toward the future, this will be my last editorial letter as managing editor of SWS, as I am moving on to a role with one of SWS’ sister publications. My time spent immersed in the storm water and erosion control industry has been eye opening, and I will keep in mind the things I learned about this dynamic market as I switch my focus to the residential and commercial water treatment industry. I leave the magazine in capable hands, and will still be nearby, keeping up with the SWS and the latest storm water and erosion control news.