Disaster Planning: How Resilient is Your Infrastructure?

By Janice Abel

Industry Trends

Disaster planning can seem obtuse at time, but the reality is the planning for tomorrow’s disaster is not enough. Worst case scenarios do and have occurred in the world today causing unnecessary deaths. The world has just witnessed three massive hurricanes and more disasters in the past five years more than what has occurred in the previous 50 years. Technology and infrastructure planning for cities and operations is important today. Companies and communities must have a plant to “weather the storm.”

Disasters are increasing

Lack of Disaster Planning is Very Evident in Puerto Rico

How can we minimize the impact of these events and prevent them from happening in the future? As I’m writing this blog, it has been months after a major hurricane hit Puerto Rico. Eighty percent of the transmission lines on the island were blown out during the storm, even though most of the power plant is still functional.

The citizens could not believe what it was like to operate without power and what it would take to get their lights back on. But new transmission lines are required to get the power into the households because of the damage. Not only is the cost an issue but the loss of power means that repairs can only be conducted during the day. Estimates were that it would 4 to 6 months for power to be restored. Why was the power knocked out so severely? Why is it so hard to restore in this day and age?

Getting supplies to restore the power lead to logistics problems. Generators, transformers and poles and extra emergency crews needed to be brought to Puerto Rico.

Will future installations plan new disasters? When the Tsunami hit Japan they rebuilt Power facilities with pumps and other infrastructure at higher elevations. Did US learn anything from the Puerto Rico disaster? What are they improving upon during recovery? Will the future infrastructure be built to withstand hurricane 5 winds since they are more common today? Can US avoid some of a category 5 problem in the future? Will building codes be improved?

We Need to Learn from Puerto Rico Disaster

The US needs to learn from this disaster and plan for future disasters. need to integrate renewables such as solar and wind power in future Concrete poles could be used in some susceptible areas For example, microgrids should be added for local resiliency. y can use concrete poles in some areas that are more susceptible to hurricanes.

As major disasters increase – the US needs to:

  • Rebuild the infrastructure to bring power back quickly particularly in areas susceptible to major damage
  • Review grid and services resiliency– reimagine the infrastructure and integrate renewable energy sources as much as possible
  • Invest in new technologies such as automation, analytics and even smart cities

Engage with ARC Advisory Group