Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Life is Like...A FEMA Floodplain Project

These always start out slowly. You begin by gathering data. Survey the landscape. Understand the rainfall and run-off patterns. Learn the design criteria and how to apply it. Get your act together, access FEMA's application, fill it out, get a higher authority to sign it, and send it off with a steep check for the fee.

Then, you wait to see if your application for whatever it is you want to do to will be accepted by FEMA. Most of the time it won't. After waiting what seems an inordinate amount of time, more often than not your application will be denied until you have given more information, or changed something to match how FEMA wants it matched. So, in order to pursue your goals, you change what was needed to satisfy that higher authority and FEMA, submit it again, and wait. This will go on until you have a submittal acceptable to FEMA. They will then approve your application.

Now you can pursue your real work, the work for which you have to do something in the floodplain. Maybe it's build an $80 million museum of American art with two buildings spanning and three buildings hugging the creek. Maybe it's make improvements to four roads, all of which cross the same creek. Maybe it's improve another road that crosses two creeks, except you find that the floodplain was incorrectly mapped by others of lesser ability, and you will have to fix all their mistakes along with gaining approval for your own changes.

At last, sometime out there, far beyond when you thought it would end, your project will end. You will assemble your files and archive them. You will send your last billing out and receive payment in full for all that you have done.

Yes, life is much like a FEMA floodplain project.

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