One Dam Thing After Another

Today, my house almost flooded from the rains send by tropical storm Hermine. It has been this bad before and once it was worse. Once the water actually got in. (It came in through the hairline cracks in the concrete slab.) We had to replace the carpet padding in the bedroom.

After that actual flooding event, we took stock to see why that had happened. You see, we have lived in our house for over 20 years and it had never been that bad. So, we began to look around for the causes.

We realized that the mostly undeveloped land upslope from us had become much more developed. That meant that there was less opportunity for the water to soak in and more for it to just flow on downstream. And we were in the downstream path.

Yes, there are drainage ditches to move the water along. But when they are inadequate for the volume of water, they become like creeks overflowing their banks. Additionally, when the rainfall is heavy enough, the landscape creates its own temporary creeks. And one of those creeks wants to be through our back yard. And another through our front yard.

Realizing this was the case, several years ago we built a berm that acted like a small dam and diverted the water to the drainage ditch out by the road. And it worked great! The next heavy rain saw water 18 inches deep on the upstream side of the berm and 1 inch deep on the downstream side. We were very happy with the results.

After a couple of years had passed, we noticed that the berm wasn’t as high as it had been. The materials it was made from (dirt, composted dirt, and wood chips) had settled and shrunk. So, we did what needed to be done… we peeled back the wire mesh that held everything in place and added more material. After the maintenance, we put the wire back in place and all was back to normal.

That year (or the next), more rain came and our berm did its job again.

Now, you need to understand the we get rain periodically throughout the year (except in drought years), but there is no need for the berm at those times. The berm only matters when it is an exceptional year. But when that year hits, the berm does its job several times. Otherwise it is unused.

That’s a lot like many things in our business. (Were you wondering when I was going to make a point to this whole story?) There are many things we have in our business that we have for those exceptional years… the ones that either exceptionally good or exceptionally bad. Have you kept them up-to-date and ready for the exceptional?

Now, you may be wondering why my house almost flooded today after the story above. Well, it’s simple, really. I succumbed to the same thing that your business may have. I had noticed that the berm had settled again and was a little low in a couple of places. But I didn’t do anything about it.

I thought, “I need to fix that, but it’s not about to flood. It’s been a soft rain year. There are a lot of other things to spend my time and my money on. I’ll tend to that – later.” Of course, before I did, the flooding rains came. So, today, I was out in the pouring rain creating a temporary berm on the low spots.

Did it work? Yes it did. Do I wish I had done the maintenance I knew it needed before this? Now, I do.

What about you? What is in your business (or your life) that needs maintenance before the exceptional happens? Is there something you know needs tending, but you have been putting it off? What will it cost you if you wait until the exceptional happens?

Or perhaps there are things that need tending but you don’t even know it because you been too busy (or something) to even keep up with it. If so, please take a few moments to look around and see what may be about to bite you. And then address it.

September is Emergency Preparedness Month. This might be a good time to make sure your business, your home, and your life is ready for the ups and downs that come our way.

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