Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Reflections on the Oil Spill

In 1987, there was a big rain storm in Minnesota in July. On the 20th, we received 9 inches of rain. Then, three days later, on the 23rd, 11 inches fell on the already saturated ground.

We remember this day for several reasons. The fun reason was that we had a party at our house that night because Terry's brother Ken was visiting. No one could leave, so we had 15 or 20 unexpected overnight guests! "Here's a pillow, you get the couch." "Here's a sleeping bag, you're on the floor."

It was a fun memory, until Ken got up off the couch in the basement in the morning and his feet went "squish, squish". Then it turned into lots of work and cost us a few bucks. We sucked up water, we removed destroyed carpet.

We thought about what we had to do to solve the immediate problem and prevent a future problem.

A few weeks later, another storm hit. It wasn't as bad, but the water had found a way to come in through the foundation and Terry and I spent the night on the couch in the basement with the wet vac all night taking turns getting up every 20 minutes sucking up the water.

So what does this have to do with oil? A lot, I say.

Our water problem had several aspects. The immediate one was sucking up the water as it entered our house. We really couldn't control the flow of it in our house since we can't control the rain. All we could do was try our hardest to minimize the damage till the water flow stopped.

Solving the problem was an issue of managing it. It was an issue of looking at the problem and prioritizing the solutions. It was an executive issue.

We knew we had to wait for the rain to stop before our problem would end, but we didn't just sit there. We used the wet vac. It was exhausting work, but was something we could do, so we did it.

A few weeks later, we made a plan. We called up the nice people who do basement water-proofing and they came in with jack hammers and chiseled out around the perimeter inside our basement, put in drainage tile and a sump pump.

Now back to the oil problem. The leak is kind of like the rain. Rain is generally good and necessary, but not when it is out of control. Oil is also good and necessary, but not when it is out of control. Right now, the leak can't be stopped. I'm sure no one wants that leak stopped more than BP. They have the most incentive and they know more about oil, they need to work on this.

In the meantime, oil from the spill is invading our country. The role of the President is "to preserve, protect, and defend" the United States. I have no idea why he didn't "stay up all night with the wet vac", so to speak. It would have prevented a lot of damage.

Passing laws, increasing taxes, stopping drilling on land or in shallower water is not helping this situation. The hole needs to be plugged, the mess needs to be cleaned up. Laws and taxes are more like putting in a sump pump. You have to get the water out of your basement before you move on.

My theory is that this is a case where some executive experience, rather than legislative experience, would have been a big help. In the meantime, all of us who love vacationing on the Gulf hope the clean up goes well and the hole gets plugged really soon.


Teacher/Mom said...

I remember that July as well. We were living in a rental home because my parents had sold our hobby farm (which I'd love to move to if it should ever go up for sale) and were building a home in the same city. The basement walls had been constructed when the first storm hit and the walls caved in. They beefed up their staff for two days, cleared out the blocks and started over. During the second storm, they again caved in. It delayed our moving in by over a month. As such, when I began high school for the first time, I was living in a rental home with most of my clothes and possessions in boxes. (Do you know how difficult it is to find just the right outfit for the first day of high school when everything is in boxes?! Thank God for homeschooling and my girls won't have to go through that.) We finally moved into our new home six days before my 16th birthday. That was the home we lived in when my Dad received his eternal reward for a life of service to his LORD. I will always remember that summer of 1987 when his patience at the delays, and increased costs, spoke to me. Wish I could remember that in the moment when it would really count. Blessings.

Linda said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing. It's neat how your dad's reaction to trouble speaks to you today. Precious memory.