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Being better prepared for the next hurricane to come in North Carolina

By Archive User posted Wed April 17, 2019 08:45 AM


Originally posted by: Th. Mühge

“The question is not if another Hurricane will come. The question is when it will come again and how big it will be”.”

I can’t believe how quickly the 4 weeks in North Carolina had flown by. Now I am back in my office at IBM in Kelsterbach and already quite busy again with my all-day "normal" job as an IBM  storage crit-sit manager. Looking back what where the main experiences for me?

The CSC Team:

It was a great pleasure to be able to work with 11 wonderful colleagues from 6 countries (Philippines, India, Germany, UK, Brazil, Costa Rica). I never worked with such a diverse group before. For me the entire team was very inspiring and I think I was able to learn a lot from my colleagues.

The Mission:

North Carolina is located along the Atlantic Seaboard making the state prone to landfall from tropical cyclones and hurricanes. The State was hit by three major Hurricanes within the last 20 years. The last two Hurricanes, Florence and Matthew, occurred during the last three years. These storms caused a large range of destruction, from loss of property to loss of life.

The Method:

We were using the IBM design thinking framework throughout our project. The following two quotes came across my way when reading about design thinking:

"We can’t solve problems using the same thinking as we did to create them…"

"Fall in love with the problem, not the solution…"

So what is this framework all about?

It basically is a loop where you constantly switch between observing, reflecting and making.


My colleagues and I were visiting areas in North Carolina, that were very heavily impacted by Hurricane Florence. The devastation was still tremendous, although it was already 6 months after the storm.

The area was hit by two major century Hurricanes in two years. 2016 by Hurricane Mathew and 2018 by Hurricane Florence, while rebuilding of the homes was still ongoing.

When I got out of the car and realized the damage I could not believe it. To meet the families, that had lost basically everything brought us to tears.

Despite all this darkness we could also see, that very many people were helping this survivors as volunteers. People from all over the country take their vacation in order to help rebuilding houses. To see this extraordinary solidarity was a great experience.

We from the CSC team are hoping, that we can improve the overall ecosystem around volunteer engagement and donations. I am very confident, that this is worth the effort.


The North Carolina disaster management ecosystem is built by multiple, partly mutual independent entities. These are e.g. State Commission, Department of Public Safety (DPS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Local County Emergency Managers, Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD).

We performed multiple interviews with representatives of each group. In addition we performed a joint Design Thinking workshop.

We discussed e.g. "Hopes" and "Fears" of Disaster Management, We jointly analyzed "What went well" and things that were "even better if".

As an outcome of this activities we were able to identify pain points. Finally we co-created recommendations for the NC disaster management eco-system.

External Response:

Finally all our findings were presented to the majority of the stakeholders as well as to the press. The initial feedback was excellent !