O P I N I O N
Leadership in action
Communication, decentralized decision-making, and rapid assessment and implementation are key, in both disaster response and your business.
I was sitting across from a former platoon sergeant of the U.S. Marine Corps Special Forces. Now, Elmer Roman is Secretary of State of Puerto Rico. He was 40-something, wearing a rain jacket and fit, but I could see fatigue in his face. After all, he oversaw the overall response for the 6.4-magnitude earthquake that hit the island on January 7. The earthquake and subsequent aftershocks damaged almost 10 percent of building stock, cut power to two-thirds of the island, destroyed key roadways, and made more than 8,000 people homeless.
It was Puerto Rico’s first earthquake in more than a century, but just two years ago, the commonwealth endured Category 5 Hurricane Maria that killed more than 3,000 people. The government response to the hurricane disaster was slow at best. The U.S. Congress allocated billions of dollars, but only a fraction was distributed. Citizens took to the street and mass demonstrations forced the governor to resign. Subsequently, a new cabinet was formed, including Mr. Roman who had just returned from some 20 years of service in the Marines.
and after their failure to act after the Maria disaster, I totally understood their frustration. The media’s attention was also largely focused on daily demonstrations and unrest. When our team arrived on the island a few days after the earthquake, the public was panicked. After all, earthquake damages are completely different from hurricane damages. With hurricanes, there is a warning, a beginning, and an end , but not with earthquakes. Aftershocks can last weeks. Anyone can see when a hurricane blows off a roof, or water causes damage, but earthquake cracks are
See KIT MIYAMOTO, page 10
Citizens’ distrust of the government was intense,
THE ZWEIG LETTER MAY 11, 2020, ISSUE 1344
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