Ever tried to get on Twitter only to find that frustrating white whale floating in a sea of blue with the message that the network is overcrowded and you should come back later? In the social media world, this is known as the Fail Whale. During yesterday’s mini emergency in Washington, when a 5.8 earthquake shook the city and sent scared and confused folks fleeing from buildings, we experienced a Fail Whale on the part of the Washington DC, government. Increasingly, citizens aren’t turning to government officials for disaster management but to one another. And they’re doing it through social media.
In our first major test since the Hurricanes of 2005, America is making the grade and so far, we’re passing. The very places and organizations that showed our nation the painful lessons of disorder and dysfunction three years ago are now the same places and organizations that may become the models for the culture of preparedness that we desperately need to take root in this country.
There’s been a lot of talk lately from a lot of different voices about ‘resiliency.’ We’ve had a month’s worth of Congressional hearings on the subject that put real substance over the usual finger-pointing we so often see displayed. Thanks in large part to House Homeland Chairman Thompson, the Committee Members, the excellent witnesses and most certainly the Staffers who made it all happen, we have a much better understanding of what resilience means to many different constituencies.
If timing is everything, the House Homeland Security Committee could not have picked a more interesting or appropriate time to begin a month of hearings focused on ‘resilience.’ Recent events – ranging from the devastating cyclone in Burma to skyrocketing gas prices – lend themselves quite nicely to the central point that was discussed by hearing witnesses and Committee Members: “Are we ready to bounce back from a blow when it happens?”