For those in Austin, we had some serious thunderstorms roll in May 23rd. It was about 4:00 Saturday afternoon and I was hammering away on my home workstation. A booming clap of thunder sounded. It was like the storm cell was hovering directly over my home. All of the lights in our house immediately flickered and I heard a gunshot-like blast from my computer speakers. I immediately thought…we have been struck by lightning.
The 100 meter race kicked off and I started sprinting throughout the house looking for evidence of a strike. The adrenaline kicked up 10 notches when my wife and I started noticing a burning electrical smell coming from our washer and dryer room. Although I couldn’t see any smoke, the smell seemed to get slightly stronger. Now darting through the house like a Texas jack rabbit, I ran upstairs where our little one was slumbering peacefully. Opening the attic door right off of our little dude’s room, I saw a very ominous cloud of still gray smoke.
I immediately called 911. My wife corralled our boys and our dog out of the house. Within seconds the house on both floors had traces of smoke. I was told I had a couple of minutes max to get the important things and get out of the house. The dispatcher calmly told me the smoke can “really tear you up.” I had to think – how can I maximize my two minutes? Setting new land speed records, I darted to our home office and with the same focus of Bobby Flay from Iron Chef, I unplugged computer equipment like I was in the speed cook-off of my life. Making two dashes to my car in the garage I safely removed my wife’s computer, my computer and our Drobo storage unit which has all of our digital pictures, videos and files. Then, in Dukes of Hazard style I slid into my car and backed it out of the garage far from the house and waited for the cavalry with my family all safe outside.
Hitting the fast forward button, the Austin Fire Department was incredible with the fire. What happened was the lightning struck our dryer’s exhaust which protrudes from the back middle of our roof’s slope. The lightning super heated the exhaust pipe causing a fire between the walls running down the second to the first floor.
I saw about three different groups of firemen enter the house in a very orderly, controlled fashion. I watched big red and yellow fire hoses snake into my house. My heart dropped and I knew it was go-time when the group of hoses jumped up and immediately straightened from the intense water pressure. The fireman had to wield their mighty axes and expose the wall fire on both floors and unload their fire hoses. When all was said and done, it was quite an experience walking through my house with an inch of water in my living room. I also noticed the care the firemen took with covering our furniture and electronics with huge black sheets of plastic – a first class job.
What was most memorable was that I had about five firemen apologize to me for having to damage our house to control the fire. I shook their hand and thanked them for protecting my house – warriors they were.
Fortunately, our home builder Plantation Homes did such a good job building the house the fire didn’t spread beyond the wall. The main firemen in charge commented about how well the house was built after all of the action. I passed along the compliment to Plantation. Even the person in charge of the fire restoration mentioned they had never seen a fire so well contained in their career.
I also must say our neighbors were all so incredibly helpful…our street really pulled together.
Okay, so how does this post in any way remotely intersect with custom web development?
Well, I knew I would have to find short-term shelter for my family. We knew it would be some time before we could get back into our house. When the dust settled, I started a search for “corporate housing.”
Helping to build web sites over the past 14 years, I have a pretty high standard when reviewing sites. When I did my house search, I was surprised to find the top grouping of organic and paid search results didn’t have a clear visual leader. All of the sites were either okay with many sub-par. We now have some prospective clients.
The more interesting point is that I narrowed the list contacting two – one through email and one through their site. I was expecting to get a prompt response – especially in this economy. Do you know when I was contacted? I wasn’t. Not at all.
So what is the moral to story? The answer is two fold:
1. If you are a homeowner – have really good insurance. Fortunately I paid a slight premium for our home insurance policy getting the best policy USAA offers. I am glad I did.
2. If you own or manage a web site, make sure that every month you check and verify all inbound forms of communication work. Does your online form work properly? Are all of the listed emails on your site still active? Have you tested your voice mail system calling after hours each month?
Back to my online search experience, building premium, high-quality custom web sites that lead the competitive environment is what we do really well. If you don’t have a leading site – contact us and start seeing the results.
Remember to set a monthly task to guard and protect your web site investment and your online brand experience by verifying all inquires over all mediums are met promptly and professionally. You never know when lightning may strike.
Steve C. Kahle
White Lion Internet Agency