The Bridge – Highlights From How Proper Planning Can Lessen the Impact of a Crisis

As the nation is dealing with the devastation from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria; Jim Mc Carthy the host of The Bridge  (televised on October 8th) spoke with Hart Brown (Firestorm) and Charles M. Vieau (HUB International Insurance Services) about how proper planning can lessen the impact of a crisis.

Jim McCarthy:  “With respect to the emergency plan, just cut through it all, were authorities ready for the hurricanes or not?”

Hart Brown:  Yes. I think the challenge of how you look at a storm like this, how people respond, just because an individual was put into office and have taken over the responsibility for taking over the city, it doesn’t necessarily give them the skills and the same set of resource they need to manage a crisis. I think from that perspective we have historically been behind the events we’ve been seeing, there’s a constant process of having to relearn lessons. 

Charles Vieau: I would echo what Hart said, there most undoubtedly was a plan Jim, and the execution of it is really critical. To frame this up the conversation in Houston being there physically is one of this was a big storm, you know there’s a 500 year storm, the 800 year and so on, this was categorized as a 1000 year storm; nothing Houston has ever seen before I don’t believe. Very much akin to what New Orleans experience with Katrina. I don’t think Katrina was a 1000 year event but in terms of the flooding aspects, there are some distinct similarities. I think it’s about putting the right people in the right place. Having a plan and then having the people to execute on that plan.

Jim McCarthy: “If you can help clarify, how were some of these storms different and how were they similar?”

Charles Vieau:  From a numerical standpoint, some of the analysts project Harvey having a 40 to 60 billion dollar economic loss impact. About 20% is an insured component. Similarly, I think Irma is a little higher than that about 45-50 billion on the low end and 75 billion on the high end.  What I observed as a major difference is Harvey sort of came over Houston and parked itself, from the weather reports there was a pressure system from the north causing it to stall out and it just rained for 6 days over the city. Irma, on the other hand, came across the land and like a normal hurricane rolled through Florida and Georgia. That played into the distinction between what kind of losses people experienced in Houston as compared to Florida.

Hart Brown: As you look at the three storms even though they are all hurricanes, Harvey hurricane came on shore but the secondary event was the flooding. When we look at Irma, the real damage came from storm surge. In Maria, the damage was related to wind more than anything else. So while we are talking about the same type of event, the risks related to all three of those were quite different, and you see that in the aftermath

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