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  • China Floods Displace Millions

    China Floods - Via BBC China floods - via BBC

    China knows very well about extreme weather. Monsoons, typhoons, earthquakes, floods, drought…you name it. Even though extreme weather and natural disasters are something they are used to, every new disaster still comes as a shock.

    On July 20, 2016, China’s Hebei and Henan provinces were pounded by a monsoon which caused the Qili River to flood. There was no advanced warning, and not enough time to act. The floods killed over 150 people and displaced millions.

    But this isn’t the first time such chilling devastation has affected China due to flood. In fact, since the beginning of this year at least 1,074 people have lost their lives in China due to floods, winds, hail, and many geological happenings.

    China knows all about natural disasters. Throughout the years, they have seen countless floods, earthquakes, and other disasters. But if there’s one thing we learned from this most recent flood, it’s that early warning is key.

    Public officials failed to give enough warning to the people, which, had it been otherwise, could have saved lives. While it is a tragic event – one the locals had a hard time predicting – we can learn from it. When it comes to emergency preparedness, being informed and staying aware of what’s going on around you can save your life.

    Man Clearing Leaves From Guttering Of House China floods

    For example, learn whether you live in an area susceptible to flooding. Before the rain even comes, find ways to keep your home protected. Make sure gutters and storm drains are not blocked. Invest in sand bags if you know flooding has been an issue in the past, or think it could be in the future.

    Get flood insurance. Flood insurance doesn’t become active until 30 days after you buy it, so if you see rain on the forecast, chances are it’s already too late. Don’t wait until the last minute if you know you’re in a flood-prone area. Act now.

    Just like the folks in China, we can’t always rely on others to inform us of impending dangers. Sure, we’ve had reliable warnings and watches for quite some time so tuning in to your local weather alert station is always a great idea. But you know your area better than anyone, and that means you know the dangers that come with it, so even if the weather station reports “no flood watch,” you know your area might be an exception, so plan accordingly.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner - china floods

  • Severe Weather Has Its Own Timetable: Now Is the Time to Prepare

    Tornado Severe WeatherIowa’s statewide tornado drill, held on March 24, was supposed to be held the day before. It was postponed because of bad weather.

    Natural disasters don’t exactly conform to our timetables. Yet many have a seasonal ebb and flow. Although tornadoes occur year-round, most take place in the spring and early summer – hence, tornado season. Floods are common in March and April because of heavy rain and melting snow. Hurricane season peaks in August and September.

    This seasonal nature of wild weather could explain why 33 states and U.S. territories held severe weather awareness events in March. Another 21 events are planned for April.

    Events varied from state to state. Last week, for example, California sponsored Tsunami Preparedness Week, while Colorado nailed some extremes with Flood Safety and Wildfire Preparedness Week. Maryland’s Severe Storms Awareness Week highlighted a different hazard every day.

    The point of all this is, if you haven’t started preparing for a natural disaster, now’s a good time.

    One goal of Maryland’s awareness week was to highlight the difference between a watch and a warning, so people can act appropriately.

    A watch meansTornado Watch - Severe Weather that atmospheric conditions are right for severe weather to develop, but it hasn’t yet. Severe weather watches tend to last for longer time periods. A warning means severe weather is imminent or occurring, so take appropriate action now. The terminology is the same for many types of severe weather: tornadoes, flooding, severe thunderstorms, winter storms and hurricanes.

    Sometimes the National Weather Service issues weather advisories. These can refer to specific weather hazards within a storm, like a high wind advisory. They can also refer to severe weather that is imminent or occurring but won’t have quite as adverse an impact. A flood advisory, for example, is for flooding that shouldn’t really affect life or property.

    A month ago, eight tornadoes touched down in Virginia, killing five people.  Virginia’s governor referenced that disaster in a proclamation calling March 22 Tornado Preparedness Day.

    “All Virginians should know where to seek shelter during a tornado, whether at home, at work, at school, or elsewhere,” the proclamation said.

    Part of preparing for a disaster is knowing how to respond appropriately. For example, before a tornado, pick the safest place to shelter in a building. A basement is best, but if that’s not available, go to the center of a small, interior room on a building’s lowest floor. Either way, get under something and cover your head and neck. This advice doesn’t apply to mobile homes or buildings. From those, go to the nearest shelter.

    Flooded Street of Des Plains City - Severe Weather

    Evacuating if directed is also the best course of action during a flood. But be careful. Flooding is the deadliest weather hazard, mostly because people try to drive or walk across flooded roads and bridges. Be sure to have alternate routes to get to a shelter in case the main route is flooded.

    Once you’ve got a plan, practicing it is equally important.

    Employees of the Clear Lake, Iowa, Chamber of Commerce participated in this year’s delayed Iowa tornado drill. The Chamber’s Director of Tourism, Libbey Patton, said in a TV news story that chamber members had inclement weather plans for both office and events.

    “And we have had to use it a few years ago for [a weekly event] just to get everyone home and off the roads,” she said.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner - Severe Weather

  • 5 Years After the Great East Japan Earthquake: Where Are They Now?

    The Disaster(s)

    Japan Earthquake caused tsunami U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ethan Johnson/Released

    5 years ago a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the East coast of Japan, sending a 133-foot wave of water onto the mainland. Over 45,000 buildings were destroyed, and the tsunami initiated the Fukushima nuclear disaster. More than 15,000 people were killed. Millions were instantly left without water, food, and heat.

    Since then, Japan has become something of a leader in emergency preparedness. They have taken measures to protect their people from such massive devastation should this type of event happen again. And, by preparing for the worst, they’re prepared for lesser disasters as well.

    But what has become of Japan since then? And more importantly, what of its people that were affected?

    Between the Japan earthquake, tsunami, and the nuclear disaster, hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated from their homes. Of those, 180,000 have yet to return home. The BBC reports that 174,000 people are still living in temporary housing as evacuees.

     

    Application

    Starting with the earthquake, each disaster activated something more. The earthquake brought about the tsunami, and the tsunami brought about the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. Such is the way of disasters. When one thing happens, more often than not other emergencies crop up (although perhaps not in this extreme).

    Most of us don’t have to worry about a massive tsunami or a nuclear power plant going full meltdown, but there are devastating disasters that can reach any one of us.

    Flood via Detroit Newstime - Japan earthquake Flooding in Bossier City, Louisiana - via Detroit Newstime

    For example, just within the last 24 hours, thousands have been forced to evacuate their homes due to historic flooding in the Southern United States. Something tells me they didn’t wake up last week thinking, “I wonder if I’ll be forced to leave my home in the next couple of days…”.

    These things happen, and we need to be prepared when they do.

    Take a look at what happened in Japan. Hundreds of thousands were displaced. Many still are. Those who are still living as evacuees have at least had some time to regroup and figure things out, even just for a bit. But what happens to people an hour after the tsunami warning?

    By being properly prepared, you will have what they need to get by following such a disaster. Finding a hotel room away from the devastation might be difficult, what with everyone else scrambling to get away from the flood zone. If you have a tent, it will make for a nice evacuation shelter – at least until you can find something a little more permanent. Many people in Nepal lived in tents following the devastating earthquake in 2015.

    A grab-and-go emergency kit would also be beneficial in these scenarios, especially if you only had a short amount of time to get your gear and go (such as before a tsunami).

    While we can’t imagine having to deal with such massive disasters, having emergency prep can make a huge amount of difference. In cases like these, emergency shelter is pretty crucial. A bug-out bag is likewise important, allowing you to grab the necessities (food, water, first aid, etc.) in a moment’s notice.

    The tragedy that struck Japan five years ago is heartbreaking, but we can still look back and learn from these events. Japan learned how to better prepare their people. We can learn to better prepare ourselves.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner - Japan earthquake

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