I grew up in the heart of "Hurricane Alley" on several small islands in the Caribbean. For us, hurricanes were just another part of life.
Now that I live in the northeast region of the U.S. where hurricanes are viewed as unusual and frightening events, I sometimes get the question: "Why didn't your family move out of danger's way?" The answer is simple: Hurricanes or no hurricanes, the Caribbean was our home.
I used to get that question a lot more often. But with global warming and climate change playing havoc on weather patterns everywhere in the world, more and more people understand that no matter where you call home, you can't outrun the unpredictable side of Mother Nature.
Weather events and the resulting water emergencies are the new reality. According to 2014's National Climate Assessment – put together by more than 300 climate experts and guided by the National Academy of Sciences and other members of a federal advisory committee – climate change is increasing the number and strength of extreme weather events.
Over the last 50 years, much of the U.S. has seen increases in excessively high temperatures, droughts, heavy downpours and severe floods. We just saw it happen again when a tropical low-pressure storm system fed by Hurricane Joaquin led to a devastating "1000-year" flooding event in North and South Carolina.
Where we used to be able to rely on dependable weather patterns like hurricane season for planning and preparation, now we have to be on guard 24/7. At Xylem, we are here for our customers whenever they need us.
We have sites all over the U.S. geared up for emergency pump rentals, and are ready to move pumps wherever they are needed in a hurry. As Joaquin changed course during its trip up the Atlantic Ocean, our pumps did the same – with most of them ending up in the Carolinas to help keep businesses from drowning under the deluge. We were even able to help keep a reservoir filled to allow drinking water to continue to flow to local communities.
It's getting harder and harder to predict weather emergencies, so the best plan is to be on high alert at all times. Have an up-to-date business continuity plan in place. Make sure your plan includes portable power and pumping systems. Create an emergency response network with current contact information for everyone, including experienced partners – like Xylem – who have the products, expertise and sense of urgency you are going to need when Mother Nature unleashes her fury on your facilities.
When I lived in the Caribbean, we expected weather catastrophes. That's the mindset we all need now. At Xylem, you have a partner who is "always on and close by" because we understand there is no downtime when it comes to weather disasters.