Tehran Successful Test in Crisis Management

  2012 April 22 Sunday:

According to Tehran SAMA, although with speedy measures of relief workers the city turned to its normal situation soon, the fissure in the wall of one of the water passages of the Kan River flooded water into the tunnel under construction at Line 4 of Tehran Subway. After the flood water flown into the subway stations quick measures were taken to cut off electricity and a number of adjacent stations were evacuated in order to prevent any possible mishap.

The rainfall which was unprecedented in the past 50 years did not cause any loss of life and instead turned into an experiment for the control of urban infrastructures and management. The method of management, under circumstances in which Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and his deputies and executive managers were directly involved, was hailed in the first open session of the City Council this week. This incident which could have caused heavy financial damage and loss of lives, like in many other parts of the world and even in modern megalopolises, turned into a practical workshop for the assessment of efficiency of the planning in the past few years and demonstrated its strong and weak points.

Natural disasters such as running flood waters would occur in all parts of the world, but the difference rests in the style of management of such incidents and the extent of damage they could cause. World cities, especially megalopolises which are home to a large number of people, employ various measures to prevent such incidents and reduce their impacts. However, the print media are covered with reports about such incidents and their losses of lives, even in metropolitan areas. 

In March 2011, flooding in Maryland and southern parts of New York caused some casualties. In January 2012 hail rains as high as 5 mm and twice a day created problems for the residents of Montreal, caused the temporary closure of the city and damage to city infrastructures. Inefficiency of the public transportation system closed down schools for two days and temporarily delayed flights and caused serious problems for thousands of passengers in the city. Cleaning streets in a length of 4 km as well as pavements of the city lasted for three days with workers being present round the clock.

According to the Associated Press, in February 2010 ten people lost their lives in the floods in Australia while 200,000 others sustained damage. Meanwhile, Bloomberg, quoting a report by the website of the Crisis Prevention Center of Thailand, said at least 253 people lost their lives in the monsoon rains started since 25 July 2011.

Also, according to Anatolia news agency five people lost their lives as a result of heavy rainfall in southeast of Turkey on Friday 27 October. Scotland also suffered heavy rainfall in January 2012 which caused traffic and infrastructural disorders to such an extent that the rainfall was named “January flood”. The intensity of the rainfall was such that the red alert was declared and a number of buildings, hundreds of vehicles and parts of the transportation system were damaged. Even five people were injured as a result and were hospitalized. The railway system stopped movement of a number of trains which caused thousands of passengers to wander. The situation was so grave that a state of emergency was declared not only in Glasgow but in four other cities. The “Network Rail” Company which was in charge of the railway management closed down all the establishments in the stations in order to save lives of the passengers. Under such circumstances the city airport was forced to cancel all incoming and outgoing flights.

Two years ago the London rail system sustained 40 million pounds in damage due to heavy snowfall. London authorities were forced to repair hundreds of roads and railways which required several weeks to handle. In the same year destruction of road equipment in “West Berkshire” due to heavy snowfall and winter condition sustained damages in proximity of one million pounds.

In the course of the incidents caused as a result of the unprecedented recent rainfalls in Tehran, 101 crisis management centers actively launched their operations and thanks to such efforts the city returned to its normal situation after a few hours. The only point in Tehran, which critically needed additional measures, was the subway station in Line 4, which was closed due to the flood. Residents of the houses close to the flooded area were settled in one of the hotels of the city and a number of trains were derailed which prevented the possibility of any mishap for the passengers and other parts of the metro. The concluding hours of the day and the next day were spent to prevent flow of the flood into the metro stations while the Tehran mayor and his deputies were closely monitoring the operations.

Management of recent incidents that emerged as a result of heavy rainfall in Tehran indicated that round the clock efforts and extensive collaboration of various sections of urban management could control the crisis, although development of facilities and coordination among organizations would further improve such operations. Therefore, an incident provided practical situation for testing the previous arrangements. Planning in the past several years for the establishment of crisis management centers and previous training were put up for assessment.

Control of the effects caused by this incident demonstrated acceptance of urban management. In the meantime, the ceaseless efforts of the mayor and collective urban management were welcomed to the extent that it overshadowed other aspects of the issue. Naturally, the city of Tehran is exposed to various natural disasters, but recent experience, while increasing public confidence in macro planning in crisis management, emphasizes the need to continue such activities as well.






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