12/16/2011 06:36 pm ET | Updated Feb 08, 2012

South Pasadena's Perfect Storm

Today, it is a perfect clear winter morning and the sun is, once again, warming our balcony. Only last week, in many parts of L.A., we experienced the biggest storm since 1888, with wind speeds of over 100 miles per hour through the mountain passes.

Over the weekend our yard was littered with debris and in our little town of South Pasadena, trees had tumbled over, some falling on cars and houses. Now, as I look out at our neighbors' manicured garden, it is hard to imagine that anything unusual actually happened here.

We all scream and complain about the price of gas, traffic jams and global warming and it is easy to forget to give thanks for how fortunate we really are. Hurricane force winds blowing though most cities would have taken months, if not years for recovery. Here, within hours, water runs though the faucets again and in a couple of days, we have our electricity, wifi and cable back. The biggest inconvenience was relocating frozen goods to friends with power and to make sure we frequented restaurants with power outlets to charge our iphones.

Creativity, productivity and progress have resulted in more than just growing consumerism. It has provided us with a buffer, a safety margin that enables us to withstand or rebuild quickly after earthquakes, forest fires, mudslides and storms. During this storm, no riots broke out, no looting or plundering took place. In an orderly and well-organized manner, fallen trees were cut up and removed, fences repaired and lawns moved. It is not just good fortune that makes life run smoothly and avoids bumps on the road. Continued, shared investment in our infrastructures, preparedness and prevention is the key to long-term sustainable progress.

Not all disasters are immediately apparent, show instant devastation and motivate urgent action. Some are insidious, systemic and nearly impossible to detect and reverse. We all know that the mounting debts and obligations that have been allowed to accumulate are the next financial storm waiting to visit us. We all know that a growing gap in wealth is the seed of the next riot. Just as high-pressure fronts tells us that a storm is on its way, these signals let us know it is time to take steps to improve infrastructures and to prepare to secure long-term progress.

It is noteworthy that my generation was the largest in Denmark's history and eighteen years later, there was an acute lack of university spaces and small inexpensive living accommodations. How could this be a surprise to the country's county and city decision-makers? Let's not get caught here in a perfect storm but instead prepare to turn it into an opportunity for future growth.