By Jeanethe Falvey
Nature and what we build in it has a way of redefining our notion of worst-case scenario. What more can we do, but forge ahead hoping it doesn’t happen to us?
‘Deepwater Horizon,’ ‘Katrina’, ‘Yellowstone River’… The list goes on. We live on a dynamic planet and while we have masterfully become creatures of comfort, we still live in an environment. The same environment that provides rain, earthquakes, oil, also brings sunshine.
When something devastating happens to our known space and our livelihoods it’s hard to comprehend much beyond each unfolding moment.
When it does, suddenly many things so often in the background of our lives are at the forefront needing to fix everything, yesterday.
The confusion that sets in at a disaster response is something that individuals working in all levels of government, from local enforcement officials to many of us within state and federal agencies having been trying to improve together since September 11.
Each time is emotional, each time is different, each time it can’t be fixed fast enough, if ever.
The time to get better is in between. The best we can do is learn, improve and communicate. From the day I started at EPA, communication has been at the forefront of my expectations, a responsibility I do not take lightly.
This week, I was joined by a roomful of my colleagues at EPA as well as the U.S. Coast Guard, to learn from one another as we discussed how communication can be improved during an incident – whether drums have been found in a field, or oil is gushing freely.
From public meetings, on door steps, behind EPA’s social media, I find myself constantly wanting to improve my, and EPA’s connection with the public. What we practice and strive to improve behind the scenes could become a direct part of any of our lives at any time. If it were me, I would desperately want help and expect information that I could easily see and understand.
EPA deals with complex science about our lives on a daily basis that is never easy to explain, especially when emotions are high.
Awareness of our surroundings, connection to our environment, thinking a little ahead is all a part of getting through something together. In the in between, take a moment to not only revel in our incredible environment, but consider how you too could be more prepared.
About the author: Jeanethe Falvey writes from EPA’s Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education, as the project-lead for Pick 5 and the State of the Environment, two projects geared towards learning, sharing and gaining a greater collective connection to our environment.