Orange County Branch Newsletter

January 2023

President's Column

The Invisible Heroes

By Jennifer Marks | ASCE OC Branch President

The Invisible Heroes

Happy New Year!

December certainly went out like a torrent and, for a good part of January, continued to overwhelm us with unprecedented rainfall, atmospheric rivers, and storm conditions. As professionals in the Civil Engineering community, these are exciting times!

While Orange County was largely spared the brunt of the storm systems compared to our neighboring counties and up into Northern California, we still received a record amount of rainfall over a short period. Thanks to everything you all do, the Orange County infrastructure system continues to operate with minimal impact. Our roads, highways, and freeways were a bit treacherous at times, but they were not inundated. Our storm drains continued to drain, and our rivers stayed within their banks. The sewer and water systems continued to serve the public. Bridges stayed in place, and buildings did not topple. Although several areas lost their footing due to erosion, efforts are underway to strengthen and rebuild.

These are the times when the public should really understand and appreciate all that civil engineers do - they should understand that we were kept safe and dry and healthy because of the systems and improvements that all of you work so hard to implement and maintain every day. The newspapers and online media should be filled with stories about young and old engineers who put in hours, days, weeks, and months to ensure that failures don’t happen in a storm event like this one. There should be acknowledgments for all engineers who were called out into the storm to inspect, modify, and improve in real-time.

That should be how it goes, but in my time working with Civil Engineers, I understand that you are a humble crowd of folks who are okay with having your hard work go largely unnoticed. After all, you know you did your job well when the problems don’t happen, and systems and structures remain, despite all the elements battling against them. And when everything works as it should, no one notices, which is precisely how it should be.

However, I appreciate these gentle reminders as I look around, and most of our communities show little damage from the past several weeks, that what you do impacts how we live and that Orange County would not be what it is without you. So even if you don’t hear it from anyone else, and the newspapers are not headlining your efforts, and social media is not calling you heroes, I thank you for all that is in me for your time, efforts, and creativity, and your problem-solving. You are the backbone of Orange County, and I look forward to reflecting on all of your successes that brought us through these times!

In Gratitude,   

About the Author:

Jennifer Marks is a Vice President/Environmental Services Team Leader at Psomas and the 2022-2023 President of ASCE Orange County Branch. Jennifer can be contacted at


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