Hazardous Weather Forecast

The sixth grade band trip is a spring rite of passage for beginner band students, and for my son and his group, it was no different. After all, the band trip is not about competition and showcasing the acquired skills with an instrument they hardly knew how to hold properly a year ago, it’s about the destination, the water park, in this case, Schlitterbahn. As a chaperone, it’s about the destination – the reward for the kids’ hard work.

The students began to assemble at 4:15 a.m. which was framed with a greeting by the assistant band director, “The band director had an emergency and won’t be here today.” The assistant band director stepped up, had a plan, and communicated effectively with her limited chaperone team. This much was within her control.

The morning of looming clouds, humid spring air, and impressive radar images gave pause. Should we, or shouldn’t we? The kids have worked so hard, they earned it, and after all they earned a grading of “exceptional” at the competition. We would proceed from the competition, trophy in hand, on the short drive to the water park. Enroute, and comparing radar and weather sites, we were trying our best to assess the situation and make the correct call, or is it the best call.

Signs posted at the water park already acknowledged the forecast, 50 percent chance of rain.  The assistant band director assembled the chaperones for a meeting. So many considerations; refunds or wait and hope the kids could go later. When would that be? What are the logistics? What are the risks of staying and enjoying the water park? What will the parents say? You know the drill. As city managers, assistant city managers, and other key staff in various roles, we have to consider these things on a grander scale. What will the parents say becomes, what will the taxpayers say, or what will the council say? Will they say you made the “correct” call?

Our roles are tantamount to keeping our communities safe and our citizens engaged. No one has all of the information at the right time to make decisions. We have to gather enough information, and confer with others, so that at the appropriate time we can make the best decision, because most of those affected don’t have the benefit of the information you see, only the decisions you make. I was reminded today, that no matter the forecast, there is a 100 percent chance of risk in all that we do, and our communities and our ethics require us to communicate, engage and lead so that when decisions are needed, the best decisions result.

(Article submitted by Trey Fletcher, Assistant City Manager, Pflugerville. If you have interesting news or helpful topics to share, please submit them to Kim Pendergraft at [email protected]. Please keep the information to fewer than 300 words.)