To let you know I’m not a full time cynic or complainer. 30 years ago I traveled the United States developing disaster recovery programs and systems for major corporations and governments. I ask many questions from this spot because I see issues stemming secrecy and lack of transparency coming from poor planning processes. Some of the projects I developed solutions for allowed major banking institutions to survive and operate during the 1989 and 1994 CA earthquakes and more.
I sent all of you a Press Release last week asking three basic questions:
1. Is Sioux Falls ready to handle a major catastrophic event?
2. Have we done preparedness drills?
3. Do we have mutual aid agreements in place with surrounding communities for fire, police and ambulance services?
So far our review says we don’t have a yes to any of these questions. It’s time for the citizens to ask the town to make major leadership changes in this election before it’s too late.
Last Monday as I left downtown, I stopped to assess the train derailment under the 11th Street viaduct. What I saw shocked me and should cause everyone in Sioux Falls to consider the ramifications and lack of benefit we get from our mayor’s $27 million rail relocation project.
The events this week should shock and scare us to the point of action.
The train derailment missed becoming a mass casualty incident by a razor thin margin.
Fortunately, these rail cars contained grain.
However, other hazardous substances able to quickly gas or burn downtown Sioux Falls are regularly transported on the same route through our downtown.
The derailment of a car containing more hazardous substances like ammonia fertilizer could destroy or paralyze several square miles of Sioux Falls very quickly.
Potentially thousands of people would have had to be evacuated if they had not been killed.
I took the accompanying photos during the early and post derailment clean-up process. Photos show four rail cars on their sides with grain spilling out. Workers were already cleaning up the grain.
The photos also show how the railcars slid within a foot or so of taking out a pillar holding the bridge up. It was very likely the viaduct would have collapsed.
The 4 fully loaded railcars weighed about 1,000,000 pounds, that’s 1 million pounds of kinetic energy pushing into the ground, possibly moving the pillar’s foundation.
What would happen not if, but when, several million pounds of rail cars land differently next time?
As it is, have the footing been inspected by a reputable state highway inspector?
Once the pillar support can be inspected, the viaduct may yet be closed. Get answer to the question: Did the sliding rail car disturb the bridge foundation?
At several city meetings we ask to see City disaster recovery plans for disasters.
My requests for disaster plans seemed to be reasonable given how many full time disaster recovery planners are paid high City salaries.
Regardless, in answer to my requests for the plans, only blank stares or claims of computer simulation games are given.
Now we’re back to when will Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County get real mutual aid ambulance agreements? We never receive a straight story from this administration; will we get one from the next?
Secret agreements, deals and no transparency is all we find as we get when we dig into Sioux Falls city government. The released SDPAA training exercise project being portrayed by our administration as a real report shows how little our current government cares for the real health and safety of the public.
We got very, very lucky this time. What will happen when the next derailment or tornado happens?
No doubt the people who were paid to plan for these events will blame it on everyone else and claim it was the fault of the administration who happens to be in office at the time of the disaster.
Why is it always an act of God?
Where is this discussion in the current campaign?
Why does someone have to die for action to happen?