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  • Flipping the White House in 5 Hours: How Long Does Your Emergency Plan Give You?

    Inauguration day news was dominated by pomp and circumstance on the one side and protests on the other. Yet behind the scenes, all over the city, months of preparation were coming to fruition.

    It’s a lesson everyone can use in their own emergency preparation.

    The White House in Washington DC, United States

    Imagine flipping your house in five hours. It can take that long to get a kid’s room clean. On inauguration day, White House staff members had about five hours to turn the Obama White House into the Trump one, according to stories in the New York Times, USA Today, and Time.

    It’s a mad dash involving decorators, carpenters, cleaners, painters, and electricians. Although the public rooms are mostly off limits by law and tradition, the family’s private quarters are pretty much fair game, according to USA Today.

    Everything from rugs to curtains to shower heads can be replaced. Furniture can be the family’s own or taken from a warehouse of White House historical furniture. They can even add or remove walls, according to Kate Andersen Brower’s book The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

     

     

    The process of preparing the White House for the transition started almost 18 months ago, when the White House chief usher compiled a book of staff members and information about the building.

    Once the first family decided what they wanted, staff members choreographed the transition like a military operation, according to the New York Times.

    As soon as the old first family leaves, White House staff packs their things. Right after the new president is sworn in, two moving trucks pull up: one empty, one full.

    "The outgoing president sees the house the way he always saw it," Dean Mercer, a former Secret Service agent for President Clinton's and President George W. Bush's details, told USA Today. He added the new president "walks in and everything that is his is there."

    By the time the incoming president arrives, favorite snacks are in the fridge, toothbrushes are in the bathrooms and clothes are in the closets.

    Emergencies often involve deadlines. A fire or flood can force you out in five minutes. That’s why it’s important to have an emergency evacuation plan and practice it, so you can carry it out with military-like precision.

    Do you have everything you need quickly accessible? Are all your important documents stored in a safe place, or away from your home?

    As soon as President Trump was sworn in, the White House online communications – Twitter, Facebook and a web site – became active, according to Time. Do you have a communication plan and an emergency contact that everyone in your family knows?

    Also in preparation for the Inauguration, about 28,000 security officials from many agencies turned Washington, D.C. into an anti-terror fortress.

    USA Today described the efforts.

    They included closing streets and bridges, setting up barricades to limit access to the National Mall and bringing in construction equipment and Dumpsters to prevent vehicle attacks. The Secret Service planned how to deal with protesters, for both Inauguration day and the women’s march the next day.

    Jimmy Rivera works in downtown Washington, D.C. He slept on an air mattress at work on Thursday night rather than make his way home through all the barricades and closures. On Friday night, he had to travel out of his way and face numerous delays to get home.

    “I just want my bed,” he said.

    Flipping the White House - Evacuation Plan

    When making an evacuation plan, think about your family’s needs and comfort.

    Where will you sleep? Do you have something to sleep on? It’s winter. Can you keep warm? Do you have spare blankets and clothes?

    What will you do to entertain yourself? Rivera had his phone. He could communicate with family and watch movies.

    Rivera uses a CPAP machine. He took it to work with him on Thursday along with his prescription medication. If you need prescription medication or medical equipment, is it readily accessible in an emergency? He could plug his machine in. Do you have a backup power source?

    Do you have pets? Many emergency shelters and hotels won’t allow animals.

    All in all, Inauguration weekend went fairly smoothly. Although more than 200 protesters were arrested, compare that to the hundreds of thousands of protesters and visitors who showed up over the weekend. There was some damage and rioting in one part of the city, but Rivera said the most disruptive thing he saw was a woman who flashed him. And the Trump family hasn’t complained about their new housing, so it’s a reasonable supposition that they got in OK.

    Planning and putting plans to work helped continue the 200-plus year U.S. tradition of a peaceful transfer of power. Think about applying it to your emergency preparedness efforts.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner White House

  • Liberals are Preparing for the Trumpocalypse (What are You Preparing for?)

    Trumpocalypse

    Throughout the years, plenty of Americans have always worked hard to be prepared for whatever emergency may arise. As time went on, more people joined in the prepping fun. Many of these people prepared out of fear for the future under their current political leaders. Others prepared because they didn’t know what the future held, and just wanted to be prepared for anything, including political, natural, and other disasters.

    In fact, it was estimated that at one time “there were 3 million preppers in the United States,” according to an article on The Economic Collapse. Now, however, that number has fallen to an all-time low. Speculation as to why this is ranges from a lack of catastrophic natural disasters to the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. Many people feel good about the future, finding safety in the man they elected.

    Others, however, don’t feel the same.

    While Donald Trump has eased the fears of many, countless others believe the same man will bring economic and other hardships upon them (aka the Trumpocalypse). With these thoughts in mind, more and more U.S. Liberals are preparing with food, water, gear, and guns. In the last eight years, those aligned more towards the right were the in the majority when it came to prepping. Now, many left-wingers are joining the prepping fun, while the right-winged preppers are dwindling in number.

    Trumpocalypse Many disasters happen so unexpectedly that if you're not ready prepared, the time has already passed.

    Is it good that more people are preparing? Of course! Is it also good that many are no longer afraid for the future? Indeed it is. However, to sacrifice preparedness simply because of a more stable future is folly. Whether Donald Trump will make the economy better or not is still yet to be seen. So it is with natural disasters. Nobody knows when the next hurricane, earthquake, or tornado will come through. Water mains might break and power may go out for an extended amount of time. Donald trump has no control over such things. But you have control over how you will live when those events happen.

    There are fears amid liberals, among others, that Donald Trump has mobilized hate crimes and other deplorable activities. According to the BBC, this is why many supporters of Hillary Clinton are buying firearms and taking to the gun range. Personal safety is a concern, and one of the ways to feel safer is to become proficient with guns and be prepared for an uncertain future.

    In the past, the majority of those preparing with food storage, water, and gear have been those associated with the right-wing. Now, however, preppers on the left are increasing in number. Regardless of your political viewpoint, the value of preparedness is the same. The effects of what happens tomorrow and in the near and distant future can be mitigated by the way you prepare today.

    Natural disasters are all too common to ignore. Financial crises can come without warning. Job loss, accident, and other personal emergencies are unpredictable. But when you’re prepared for anything, the negative aspects of those emergencies and disasters can be lessened, and your life can continue on just as seamlessly as before the disaster happened.

    In the end, it doesn't matter if you prepare for a Trump administration, natural disasters, or even zombies. The fact is, being prepared for one event will prepare you for another.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner Trumpocalypse

  • Drought Buster: Atmospheric Rivers Bring Drought Relief - and Disaster - to California

    Look at these two pictures from the United States Drought Monitor. This first is from a year ago. The entire state was in some level of drought, and almost half was in the highest level (exceptional drought – rust colored).

     

    California Drought 2016 atmospheric river California Drought as of January 12, 2016
    California Drought 2017 atmospheric river California Drought as of January 10, 2017

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Compare this year’s map. Everywhere north of Sacramento is drought-free. Only 2 percent of the state is in exceptional drought.  Since January 1, Lake Tahoe’s water level has risen almost a foot – 33.6 billion gallons, according to the National Weather Service.

    The January storms that brought this remarkable turnaround also wreaked havoc. They:

    Caused at least five deaths.

    atmospheric river Pioneer Cabin Tree toppled in storm - image via Mercury News

    Toppled the "Pioneer Cabin" tree in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Calif. The still-living giant sequoia had a tunnel, cut in the 1880s, that tourists could walk through.

    Caused the Truckee River to overflow its banks, flooding Reno, Nev. suburbs and polluting drinking water in Storey County, Nev.

    Closed ski resorts in California, Nevada, and Colorado when too much snow created hazardous driving and avalanche conditions.

    Dumped 35 inches of rain on California’s central coast. San Francisco has already seen more precipitation in 2017 than it did in all of 2013.

    Caused blizzard wind measuring 174 mph at Squaw Valley in the Sierra Nevada mountains on Jan. 8.

    Forced evacuation of several northern California towns because of flooding.

    Forced managers of the Yuba River to manually open a dam’s floodgates for the first time in 10 years to prevent flooding in downtown Sacramento.

    All of these events are is the product of a common weather phenomenon that drives between a third and a half of the precipitation in the western United States: atmospheric rivers.

    Imagine a high-altitude fire hose. It’s not constant, but once it forms, it can stretch thousands of miles long (and tens to hundreds of miles wide). It can carry water vapor equivalent to 15 times the flow at the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    As this flow interacts with a low-pressure storm system or runs into a mountain range, it brings a blast of precipitation that can last for days. Frequently, these systems follow each other.

    One NOAA author called atmospheric rivers “drought busters,” because just a few such storms can break up droughts.

    So this year’s series of atmospheric rivers have been a great boon to bone-dry California. Yet they haven’t brought as much rain to the southern part of the state. And they bring devastating flooding.

    In 1861, rain started falling on Sacramento, Calif., on Christmas day, and stopped 43 days later, according to a story from a NBC Bay Area affiliate. The state legislature had to move for six months because the city was submerged under 10 feet of water. California’s Central Valley – its bread basket – flooded, and the San Francisco Bay filled with so much fresh rainwater that its wildlife struggled, according to the story.

    It was an extreme version of the most common atmospheric river to affect the western United States: the Pineapple Express (no relation to the movie), nicknamed such because it often forms in the Pacific near Hawaii.

    Another atmospheric river storm that began December 29, 1996, dumped more than two feet of water in many northern California locations, killed two people and caused $1.6 billion in damages.

    They’re not just confined to the west. An atmospheric river was behind massive flooding in March 2016 in Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma.

    And two more are forecast to hit California this week.

    Atmospheric rivers can bring all kinds of wild weather. So look around, think about what one might do to your area, and plan accordingly.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner Atmospheric River

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