No one loves the smell of natural gas in the morning. Especially when you're outside, the gas leak is three blocks away and the stink is still overpowering--and you can hear it too. That means you're in the kill zone if someone should light a match. The best risk management tactic at that juncture--run 'til you reach fresh air.
That's what Risk & Insurance®staff and friends faced in New Orleans on the Saturday morning before the conference of the Risk and Insurance Management Society Inc. They had planned to volunteer all morning for Habitat for Humanity. Arriving on-site in the single digits of the morning, they joined hundreds of other volunteers and were sent off on their individual duties--painting, supply hunting, roofing, providing color commentary.
Then a utilities crew on location punctured a gas main and all smells broke loose. Volunteers were in the kill zone. Being risk adverse--at least to having all their volunteers blow up--the Habitat staff evacuated the workers.
Their new job--picking up garbage in this Upper Ninth Ward neighborhood in the now heavy heat, which the Risk folks did with the help of local children.
Just as the trash and the heat threatened to wear down everyone's good humor, a faintly familiar canned melody could be heard. It was at first distant, but it got closer and closer. And as the melody repeated over and over, everyone knew who it was. The ice cream man! Like school kids themselves, the volunteers dashed--or skipped in some cases--to the big white truck plastered with photos of cold treats of all colors.
A dessert--and then a lunch--later, and the Risk folks were back on the job. The gas leak was fixed. And much sawing, nailing, lugging and burning was done by all in the afternoon sun. Thanks to Allison Deane for organizing the whole event.
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July 1, 2007
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