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Disaster Recovery at Marshall Field’s

Early in the morning on April 13, 1992, basements in Chicago’s downtown central business district began to flood. Ahole the size of an automobile had developed between the river andan adjacent abandoned tunnel. The tunnel, built in the early 1900s for transporting coal, runsthroughout the downtown area. When the tunnel flooded, so did the basements connected toit, 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 andimmediately 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 the15-story building —
would soon be lost. The building was evacuated and elevators weremoved above basement levels. A command post was quickly established and a team formedfrom various departments such as facilities, security, human resources, public relations, andfinancial, 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 wasslowly 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 aspossible. 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 remainedunrepaired, the Chicago River continued to pour into the basements. Thus, the basementsremained flooded until the tunnel was sealed and the Army Corps of Engineers could giveapproval to...
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