The cost of inaction

Written by pete


We’re in the middle of the first storm of the season on the West Coast. As I write this I’m looking at a pile of industrial hairdryers that are going to be used to deal with our soggy office: a couple of blocked drains on a patio at the top of the building caused a pretty severe flood in the early hours of the morning.

I’m not qualified to suggest (and don’t intend to imply) that this particular storm is any worse than usual. The reality is that if we didn’t get flooded today, it would happen in a month or two when the winter storms blow through.

As the Water Remediation company (it’s what you look for in the Yellow Pages when your floor is too wet for a mop) plugs in the various dryers and dehumidifiers I’m seeing the miniature version of climate change disaster-response unfolding in front of my desk.

– There’s a lot of money being spent. Thankfully it’s our landlord’s insurance that pays for the cleanup and repairs. In the big world it is taxpayers and society that do it.

– We’re using a lot of energy. This kit is going to do bad things to our energy bill. It doesn’t matter how many CFLs we’ve installed and how conservative we were with the A/C this year, three days with the dryers and dehumidifiers running will dwarf those savings.

– There’s a tremendous loss of productivity around the office. As a company we’re well adapted to people working remotely, so I suppose it could be much worse. But bailing out patios with recycling bins isn’t going to get us funding a carbon reduction project at a dairy farm any quicker is it?

Simple and concise then: more expense, more energy and huge loss of productivity.

And all avoidable, if there was a little money spent earlier. Reminds me of something… I wonder what that could be…

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  1. deb

    I am familiar with the water damage restoration and mold remediation industry (family in the biz), and you are correct, a lot of these instances can be avoided. It sounds like your particular situation is a solid example of poor maintenance leading to minor catastrophy.
    While your current situation is a shame and very frustrating, know that it is necessary to prevent the second part of the process: mold remediation. I am from Iowa, and last year showed us that any amount of proper maintenance is no match for mother nature when she unleashes her fury. If you want to see true loss, cost, and waste, check out some photos of downtown Cedar Rapids from a year ago. Water left standing breeds crazy mold toxins; some structures need to be completely gutted before they pass inspection. Picture huge dumpsters of toxic waste and giant front-end loaders pushing slime down city streets. Can I get an “Amen!” from my friends in New Orleans?
    So hang in there, it’s not as bad as it could be… but may be grounds for finding a new maintenance crew.

  2. Emma

    A good pair of rubber boots, Pete, might prove slightly more effective (although less visually dramatic) than recycling bins.
    For a mere $13, I got mine a few years ago up north, where we know how to deal with real weather:
    Spending a little money earlier can avoid such footwear blunders 🙂

  3. John in Easton

    One thing to be said for disasters: They create Jobs, boosting the GDP! That’s why unemployment in New Orleans is lower than the average in the US.
    So, poor disaster planning (for example, failing to avert global warming) equates to promoting “economic growth” in the long run.
    Isn’t economics wonderful! (Why is it called “the dismal science”??)