"It's the variety," most facilities professionals answer when asked what they like about their jobs. Every day presents a whole new set of unique challenges that require individuals in this profession to be agile, flexible, and resourceful. While most people consider the unexpected to be stressful, the most effective building owners and managers have planned for the worst and mastered the art of quick thinking - working efficiently in times of adversity and crisis. This is certainly true for the professionals in eastern Iowa who accomplished amazing things this past June as record floodwaters ravaged their communities and threatened their facilities.
Their stories are near and dear to my heart. I know firsthand what happened, and I've seen the devastating effects of a river out of its bounds. Buildings magazine is published in Cedar Rapids, IA, just a few short blocks from the Cedar River (see the photo below). As the downtown area was evacuated in mid June, my team and I packed up our laptops and files, and bade farewell to our workstations, not realizing that it would be months - not days - before we would resume work from our 3rd-floor office suite.
When the waters receded, there was not only a coating of mud and sludge over much of downtown Cedar Rapids, but a new recognition for the facilities professionals who worked countless hours, made hundreds of phone calls, and protected facilities until fear for their own safety forced them to evacuate. While June 13 was no average day in the life of a facilities professional in eastern Iowa, most of the professionals who shared their experiences with us chalk their performance under pressure up to being just part of the job. Though these professionals rarely seek thanks and praise, we hope to shine a spotlight on their heroic dedication in this issue.
With rebuilding under way, it's important to reflect on what went right, what can be improved, and who acted responsibly. Read the stories. Learn about how a university, an apartment complex, a bank, a corporate headquarters, government buildings, and an industrial plant prepared for, and are now recovering from, the Flood of 2008. Let their best practices become your own, and let their achievements inspire you.