In an article in Washingtonian Magazine this past summer, How DC’s First Chief Resilience Officer is Planning for Disaster, Kevin Bush was interviewed about his job. As the DC’s first Chief Resiliency Officer, he works to strengthen the different systems in the city so that if we are faced with a catastrophe we can absorb the shock and/or have a plan in place to respond effectively. Here are some interesting excerpts from the article.
What types of risks are you looking at in Washington?
Shocks and stresses. Shocks are the big, acute, sudden things. A terrorist attack, a hurricane, and also non-emergency-management shocks: If there is a 2½-week federal-government shutdown, that’s a major shock to the system. The stresses are things you might think of as the everyday disasters—things that weaken our fabric. In DC, that’s the high cost of housing and stressed transportation networks.
What about flooding?
I don’t think most people in DC realize this, but we are a deltal city, so we have to deal with sea-level rises. The Potomac and the Anacostia are tidal rivers, and 70 percent of the land is coastal plain. Because DC was developed along a major fault line, we have a rate of soil subsidence. Those factors come together, and we actually have the fastest rate of sea-level rise along the East Coast. That’s important because if a hurricane makes a westward turn, like Sandy did, that would mean that storm surge would come up the Chesapeake and into all of the tidal rivers.
What’s your personal emergency plan? Do you have some kind of bunker under your house?
No, but when we bought our house, the first thing I did was air-seal and insulate it with R60 insulation. We also put in a wood-stove insert. The most common thing that might happen, perhaps during a derecho storm, is that the power would go out. If the power goes out in the winter, you’re welcome to come over to my house. I have a fully stocked liquor cabinet and plenty of heat.
Want to find out what you can do? Attend the Designing for Extremes: Building a Resilient City symposium, Feb. 07, 2019, at AIA|DC.
Visit Washingtonian Magazine for more articles about the area.