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When Disaster Strikes: A Venue's Perspective




Events come with complications but have you ever thought about what the venue staff encounters when disaster strikes? We asked Jason Walley from UCLA to share with us their experience with their own disaster this past summer.

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one”

― Bruce Lee

Bruce said it, but changing it isn’t easy. However, think about how “it” (your perspective) changes your life. Sort of like the glass is half empty or half full type of perspective. The physical aspect of a 16 oz glass with 8oz of liquid is a physical state in time. Only your perspective changes the equation from one of subtraction to one of addition.

UCLA didn’t have a glass big enough to hold the 1.3 BILLION ounces of liquid pouring out of a 93 year old water main in the middle of Sunset Blvd. 900+ cars were inundated in an underground parking structure along with athletic fields and the newly renovated Pauley Pavilion with its brand new wooden court. The deluge attracted live coverage by national news agencies. In CA it remains a hot topic as the state deals with a multi-year drought.


(Picture via www.ibtimes.com/Reuters)

Personally, I was oblivious to the chaos unfolding. I could hear helicopters overhead, but I was inside one of our ballrooms trying to appease the UCLA Fire Marshal. A large high school leadership group (400+) was on a break giving the fire marshal an opportunity to visit the room and point out all of the violations. I was in the middle of responding and hoping we could get it all fixed before the group returned in 15 minutes. When out of nowhere his radio goes off and he subsequently ran out of the building. I thought, OK……..is he coming back?
I went out on the balcony to see if the hovering helicopters were connected to the fire marshals hasty exit. It was, indeed. So, I had two thoughts going through my head…

“Crap! Campus is flooding.”

“That fire marshal will be busy and not coming back anytime soon.”

The fire marshal eventually came back the next afternoon. And, of course we hadn’t made all the adjustments to his liking. He almost shut us down again. Geezsh!! Like the girls in the image below, our perspective remained positive. We didn’t go swimming, but the Pauley floor will be ready for basketball season, we had cheerleaders on the field three days later and we eventually got the fire marshal to sign off on our room set up.

(Picture via usatoday.com/Assoc Press)

Well, the moral of my story is that when the weight of the world is on your shoulders and you don’t know how you will carry on, just wait it might get heavier. Or, you might catch a break. Or, it might just be the weight you carry around for the next millennium or so “Atlas”. Regardless, it is all about perspective.

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