What The Great Blizzard Of 2016 Taught Us About Strategic Crisis Management

Vantage Points Header Joel ElvesonTHE SNOWFLAKES STARTED DANCING in the pale nighttime sky hours earlier than had been expected. The National Weather Service made “miscalculations.” Flake after flake settled on the sub-freezing frozen ground ever receptive to the blanket the flakes would soon provide. One after another the flakes fell before long creating a surreal scene of white.

By dawn on a sleepy Saturday morning things had begun to deteriorate rapidly as the fierce wind began blowing snow everywhere creating blinding conditions. Road were impassable. Walking was treacherous. Buses couldn’t get through. Vehicular accidents galore. Pedestrians were getting killed. And the snow kept coming down with increasing intensity as the day wore on. 30” became the popular predication as to how much snow particularly New York City would get.

Early afternoon brought Emergency Alerts that all non-emergency vehicles had to be off the road by 2:30pm or you would be faced with arrest. Buses would be taken off the street. Elevated trains were stored for their safety. Strategic Crises Management was in full force and effect. If you were stuck in a snow drift in your car you would face arrest. If your car (minus you) was stuck in a snow drift on the road it could be towed away even though tow trucks couldn’t reach them.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York in partnership with New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio held joint separate new conferences dressed in their finest Strategic Crises Management gear with official emblems on them to make the official word of what stopped just short of martial law. Alerts were sent out over many cellular networks.

Roads clearly had to be cleared so this was their only real recourse. The only thing they failed to figure out is what the punishment that would be doled out for this violation of the law and where all these “criminals” would be brought to and what courts were assigned to adjudicate not to mention if the judges couldn’t drive (they were non-emergency personnel) and facing arrest if they did drive what was going to be. Nothing like well thought out Strategic Crises Management.

The plows that had been dormant much of the day (why nobody knows) started to rumble down streets creating mountains of snow that almost rivaled Mount Everest in height and beauty except they created impasse after impasse. Woe would be the poor pedestrian who dared to venture out in need of food or other essentials. If the blinding snow did not befall them the magnificent mountains did. Walking was non-essential.

With the words of the tough talking dynamic duo (Cuomo & DiBlasio) we were assured that despite this being the worst storm this city has ever had to weather we would get through this. Of course knowing these two were safely ensconced in their “Command Centers” with no worries about food or anything else we all were supposed to feel safe.

On into the night the snow plows plowed as countdowns started as to when more snow would begin to fall. The new ballet of the dancing snowflakes never took the stage. The city would be shut down tight so that only terrorists could get through. Can a would be terrorist be detained for violating orders to get off the road? Fortunately we never found out.

Finally at 7:30am on Sunday (why 7:30 am nobody knows) as the sun (so that’s what that yellow circle was. Even at my age I could learn something new) ascended into the sky the rule of law was lifted. Roads were deemed fit for cars again never mind the fact Sanitation did their best to make sure two lane streets were wide enough for two bicycles headed in opposite direction could pass. The strategy had worked as a bigger mess was created but at least somebody else had to figure out this problem. Now if we only knew who.

As the snow started to undergo a transformation into slush the idea of salting the streets to prevent slipping was not thought of. Now as the “cleanup” (aka creating more mountains) continues garbage collection will be “suspended.” Letting mountains of garbage rest majestically on mountains of snow creating a feast for rodents poses no concern as handling a potential health crises after an epic snow storm may be too much to ask.

In days to come more melting will occur helping to ease the strain on the public who are still struggling shoveling to dig out. The elevated trains are once again rumbling ( I missed the sound of the screeching brakes on the trains) which is good news except for the fact when the okay to let the trains roll again somebody forgot about shoveling and salting the staircases leading up to mezzanine level. Must have been an oversight or due to the foreboding our two brave leaders were living under I guess this oversight was understandable.

So let the law suits rain down from communities whose sanitation trucks forgot to plow. If your community was Republican orientated you may have started to feel like an unloved step-child. Was the Constitution (remember the days when we had one?)violating by arresting people who were on the road BEFORE the cease and desist order was given as they tried to get to a destination of some sort or to safety.

Cleanup efforts are estimated already to be in the billions. Taxes will need to go up as this money will need to come from someplace. Some services may need to be cut. It’s okay as the pain will be shared by all except if you work for the city or state.

All in all Cuomo & DiBlasio did the best they could to keep the public safe. They did what they felt what was the right thing to do for ALL concerned. We cannot and should not fault them for that. Now as the snow melts into oblivion (by Spring it will be gone providing there is now more snow which is far from a given) questions will still linger. The success of our Strategic Crises Management team and lessons we learned about the “nerve center” of our city will be judged on the final tallies of each event generated by the storm.

New Yorkers being the hearty entrepreneurial people are already making heft profits of the “seasonly adjusted” price of shovels and rock salt. Whose idea was it though to raise the price of now-shrunken Snickers candy bars ? That’s gouging already or so I think. Stay warm and stay safe.


Joel Elveson
Joel Elveson
INDEPENDENT Executive Recruiting By Joel is an "up and coming" Executive Search Firm formed and headed up by Joel Elveson whose visionary ideas, leadership & creativity have brought to life a more "user-friendly" approach to recruiting. His clients and candidates form powerful strategic partnerships that we use to help you. Joel’s Firm offers Permanent, Temporary (case by case), & Temporary To Permanent staffing solutions for all of your Human Capital Requirements. Contract IT/Consultants are available if needed. Above and beyond they are experts (by way of their personal industry work experience) with mortgage, mortgage banking, middle-market banking, accounting, along with many others under the vast financial spectrum of disciplines. Their business goes beyond candidate recruiting as they also train, mentor and develop your internal recruiting staff with an eye towards helping you reduce the cost of hiring. They will also work in areas such as compensation, effective onboarding processes and alike. In other words, their business is to help your business by becoming an extension of you by filling in gaps that cause delay or waste. The recruiting methods employed by Joel’s team are time tested that results in a high rate of successful placements. Joel was trained in the art of recruiting by some of the top staffing industry executives in addition to the best recruiter trainers who to this day drive me to exceed the lofty goals he has set forth.

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