Oroville & Sexy Infrastructure

The thing about infrastructure is that it’s not the sexiest thing to be investing in – so it’s been pushed back in budgeting in the US, almost universally. While both presidential candidates in the 2016 election stressed increased spending on infrastructure, it seems to be too late, too soon. The Oroville Dam Crisis is the personification of the failures of the United State’s government issues with investment in one of the things that people really don’t like throwing money at.

Maintaining a dam isn’t the most appealing thing to voters, but when dealing with a crisis like this, it reflects poorly on both political parties that have been ignoring essential aspects of maintaining infrastructure. People’s homes being destroyed by water, or people dying, is one of the biggest possible issues you can have.

According to the Time article “Oroville Dam Crisis Highlights U.S.’s Infrastructure Failures,” written by Josh Sanburn, Ron Stork, flood management expert, tried to get the state of California to address the Oroville Dam – the tallest dam not only in central California, or in the west, but in the whole US. The Oroville Dam crisis seemed inevitable – something seems to always go wrong when things are ignored.

The American Society of Civil Engineers seemed to concede – they predicted in 2012 that California would need to invest $28 million dollars to maintain and repair dams, levees and other flood-prevention techniques. The crisis, which has caused over $100 million dollars in damages so far, has spent money, it seems, based on sheer ignorance of the California government. It doesn’t paint them or any recent administration in any type of positive light, and after my previous criticism of Sean Spicer, it’s the first time I’ve heard him say something that I can even relatively agree with, or say makes him appear to be competent in direct relation to crisis in government.

“The situation is a textbook example of why we need to pursue a major infrastructure package in Congress. Dams, bridges, roads and all ports around the country have fallen into disrepair. In order to prevent the next disaster, we will pursue the president’s vision for overhaul of our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.” Spicer quote. It’s at least one thing Melissa McCarthy will probably not lampoon on Saturday Night Live.

Sean Spicer is handling a crisis better than you, California government. That’s when you know you need to step up your game.

Thousands of people were evacuated once the California government realized the danger of their dam – and once you get the Red Cross involved, you know there’s going to be a crisis. And while people in direct path of the dams floodwaters have been told Oroville can overcome the next storm, and that they’re safe, unless there’s significant looks at infrastructure in the United States, any event can potentially become more of a PR crisis than it really needs to be.
Infrastructure is far from sexy, but it’s an important thing to avoid crisis. I just hope that we can follow the advice of civil engineers, and reluctantly Sean Spicer  and invest further in infrastructure – if for the sake of maintaining good governmental PR. And probably saving people’s lives. That’s important, too.


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