Walking the Walk, Even When it Floods

Blogger: Lynette Cardoch, Director of Coastal Resiliency | Miami, FL, USA
September 27, 2016

I can’t imagine my street becoming a river...  seeing my house fill up with water... being rescued by the Cajun Navy...

That’s precisely what happened to my friend and colleague, Wes Jacobs, when heavy August rains soaked southern Louisiana.

In my profession, I work with scientists and engineers every day, and we do our best to prevent these sorts of floods. We take pride that our work makes the world a better place. We look to protect communities, restore environments, and create beautiful and safe spaces. Yet when flooding happens to one of our own, it puts a whole new perspective on the profession. 

There is the academic aspect of what caused the event. But fundamentally, it’s about the people. And in this case,  “one of my own,” was not a relative or my next door neighbor, it was a workmate. Someone I know because we share a respect for design and nature, and we happen to work for the same company.

Someone who, just last month, placed his kids in a boat while standing waist deep in flowing water from his driveway.

This event has really opened my eyes to the fiber of HDR culture. I have been amazed at the way my company, as individual people and as an organization, has stepped in to help Wes. It’s incredibly inspiring to work in an environment where we talk about taking care of each other and then we “walk the walk.” HDR employees have donated their time and skills to help gut and clean the house. The company has donated to his recovery through our employee-funded HDR Foundation. We have helped spread the word to bring in donations to help his family.

Though I can’t imagine being flooded out, losing my home and cars all in one day, I can imagine what the best of HDR looks like—because I’ve seen it.

I am just completing my second year at HDR where I focus on creating resiliency in our built and natural environment. This event, my coworkers’ reactions, and the generosity of our communities remind me of what is important in our profession: the people. What we do to create resilient environments makes a difference in people’s lives.