Early in the morning on April 13, 1992, basements in Chicago’s downtown central business district…

Early in the morning on April 13, 1992, basements in Chicago’s downtown central business district…

Early in the morning on April 13, 1992, basements in Chicago’s
downtown central business district began to flood. A hole the size of an
automobile had developed between the river and an adjacent abandoned tunnel.
The tunnel, built in the early 1900s for transporting coal, runs throughout the
downtown area, When the tunnel flooded, so did the basements connected to it, some
272 in all, including that of major retailer Marshall Field’s. The problem was
first noted at 5:30 a.m. by a member of the Marshall Field’s trouble desk who
saw water pouring into the basement. The manager of maintenance
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Early in the morning on April 13, 1992, basements in Chicago’s
downtown central business district began to flood. A hole the size of an
automobile had developed between the river and an adjacent abandoned tunnel.
The tunnel, built in the early 1900s for transporting coal, runs throughout the
downtown area, When the tunnel flooded, so did the basements connected to it, some
272 in all, including that of major retailer Marshall Field’s. The problem was
first noted at 5:30 a.m. by a member of the Marshall Field’s trouble desk who
saw water pouring into the basement. The manager of maintenance was notified
and immediately took charge. His first actions were to contact the Chicago Fire
and Water Departments, and Marshall Field’s parent company, Dayton Hudson in
Minneapolis. Electricity—and with it all elevator, computer, communication, and
security services for the 15-story building—would soon be lost. The building
was evacuated and elevators were moved above basement levels. A command post
was quickly established and a team formed from various departments such as
facilities, security, human resources, public relations, and financial, legal,
insurance, and support services. Later that day, members of Dayton Hudson’s
risk management group arrived from Minneapolis to take over coordinating the
team’s efforts. The team initially met twice a week to evaluate progress and
make decisions and was slowly disbanded as the store recovered. The goal of the
team was to ensure the safety of employees and customers, minimize flood
damage, and resume normal operations as soon as possible. The team hoped to
open the store to customers 1 week after the flood began. An attempt was made
to pump out the water; however, as long as the tunnel hole remained unrepaired,
the Chicago River continued to pour into the basements. Thus, the basements
remained flooded until the tunnel was sealed and the Army Corps of Engineers
could give approval to start pumping. Everything in the second-level basement
was a loss, including equipment for security, heating, ventilation,
air-conditioning, fire sprinkling, and mechanical services. Most merchandise in
the first-level basement stockrooms also was lost. Electricians worked around
the clock to install emergency generators and restore lighting and elevator
service. Additional security officers were hired. An emergency pumping system
and new piping to the water sprinkling tank were installed so the sprinkler
system could be reactivated. Measures were taken to monitor ventilation and air
quality, and dehumidifiers and fans were installed to improve air quality.
Within the week, inspectors from the City of Chicago and OSHA gave approval to
reopen the store. During this time, engineers had repaired the hole in the
tunnel. After water was drained from the Marshall Field’s basements, damaged
merchandise was removed and sold to a salvager. The second basement had to be
gutted to assure removal of contaminants. Salvageable machinery had to be
disassembled and sanitized. The extent of the damage was assessed and insurance
claims filed. A construction company was hired to manage restoration of the
damaged areas. Throughout the ordeal, the public relations department dealt
with the media, being candid yet showing confidence in the recovery effort.
Customers had to be assured that the store was safe and employees kept apprised
of the recovery effort. This case illustrates crisis management, an important
aspect of which is having a team that moves fast to minimize losses and quickly
recover damages. At the beginning of a disaster there is little time to plan,
though companies and public agencies often have crisis guidelines for responding
to emergency situations. Afterwards they then develop more specific, detailed
plans to guide longer-term recovery efforts.

1. In what ways are the Marshall Field’s flood disaster recovery
effort a project? Why are large-scale disaster response and recovery efforts
projects?

2. In what ways do the characteristics of crisis management as
described in this case correspond to those of project management?

3. Who was (were) the project manager(s) and what was his or her
(their) responsibility? Who was assigned to the project team and why were they
on the team?

4. Comment on the appropriateness of using project management for
managing disaster recovery efforts such as this.

5. What form of project management (basic, program, and so on) does
this case most closely resemble?

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