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  • 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

  • 5 Ways the Chile Earthquake Affects You

    Epicenter - Telegraph - Chile Earthquake via The Telegraph

    Yesterday afternoon, Chile was struck by an 8.3 magnitude earthquake causing tsunami watches from California to Hawaii, Samoa, and New Zealand. A 15-foot tsunami was generated along the coast of Chile near where the earthquake went off, forcing over a million people to leave their homes and head for higher ground.

    The powerful Chile earthquake slammed the country, toppling buildings and knocking out power. Near the epicenter was widespread power outages, and cellular networks essentially collapsed in some areas. Running water is still off in some places. The entire city of Illapel, Chile was dark Thursday night, and, with their homes destroyed, thousands of citizens were forced to sleep outside.

    Earthquakes are a devastating disaster that are hard – if not downright impossible – to predict. When an earthquake strikes, the time for preparing is over. While this recent Chile earthquake is a real, heartbreaking disaster to those effected, we can still learn how to prepare from their experiences.

     

    Power and Light

    Chile Earthquake CNBC via CNBC

    The Chile earthquake knocked out power in widespread regions following this earthquake. That means if those people don’t have another source of light and electricity, they may be left in the dark for quite some time. It was already late in the evening in Chile when the earthquake struck, and the sun had probably finished setting. An earthquake is dangerous enough in the daytime. When it’s dark and the power goes out, things can get even worse.

    In preparing for an earthquake, make sure you have extra light sources handy. Flashlights, head lamps, and other emergency lights are a must-have when it comes to earthquake preparedness. Tripping over rubble and debris in the dark can cause hurt and injury. If the earthquake doesn’t hurt you, other things very well could.

     

    Communications

    Cell phone service became absolutely useless following the Chile earthquake. Networks were down, so there was no way to contact family, friends, or even emergency services. Without cell service, I’m sure many people were unable to receive the information they needed.

    Emergency communications, such as radios, can provide essential information when other forms of communication drops. Having an emergency communications plan can also help you find your loved ones following a disaster. If everybody knows where your family’s emergency meeting place is, then you will all be able to meet up afterwards. Plan ahead, because you won’t always have cell service when you need it.

     

    Water

    According to Reuters, running water was also hard to come by. Make sure you have a way to get water in an emergency. This could be from a water barrel, emergency water in cans, or by water filter. There are other options available, so do your research and know which method works best for you in your situation.

     

    Shelter

    Chile Earthquake Shelter via Reuters via Reuters

    Thousands of people were forced to sleep outside after their homes were destroyed or badly damaged. Sleeping outside without shelter can put you at the mercy of the elements, and we've seen this before in Nepal and the city of tents that sprung up after their massive earthquake. If you’re forced out of your home due to natural (or other) disaster, the last thing you want is for more natural elements to give you a hard time. Tents, both large and small, can be a great asset to your emergency preparations. If nothing else, emergency ponchos can at least keep you warmer than your shorts and t-shirt. Again, research your options, and choose what’s best for your situation.

     

    Warmth

    Crowd and Fire - Telegraph - Chile Earthquake via The Telegraph

    With the power out, you may be in for a cold night. In some raw video of the aftermath of this earthquake, people are shown around a large fire in the middle of the street. While it’s great that they were able to start a fire to stay warm, that might not always be possible. Earthquakes may also hit during the winter, and a fire might not be good enough (although it would most certainly be better than nothing).

    From big heaters to emergency blankets and other sources of heat, you should have at least something on hand to keep you and your family warm should the power go out.

     

    In just a few moments, the people of Chile went from comfortable to out on the streets. Things can change in the blink of an eye, but if you’re prepared with the gear and prep you need, emergencies such as this Chile earthquake won’t be so bad. They will probably still be unpleasant, but at least you can be comfortable, safe, warm, and taken care of.

     

    What is your must-have piece of emergency prep for an earthquake?

     

    Chile Earthquake Banner

  • The Desolation of Cascadia...and How to Prepare

    So, the Pacific Northwest is going to get pummeled by a super-massive earthquake followed by a monstrous tsunami. Worst case scenario, everything West of Interstate 5 will be unrecognizably devastated.

    When I last left you following my latest post about the forthcoming destruction of the Pacific Northwest thanks to the Cascadia subduction zone (check out that article here), I promised to come back and talk about the implications such a disaster could cause. But before we jump into that, let me sum up what we’ve discussed thus far:

    • Cascadia subduction zone - Japan tsunami 2011 Japan tsunami, 2011 - Australian Geographic

      The Cascadia subduction zone is 72 years overdue for a super-massive earthquake, bigger even than what the San Andreas Fault could dish out.

    • FEMA asserts that everything west of the I-5 will be destroyed from Northern California up into British Columbia.
    • A monstrous tsunami will come about 15-30 minutes after the earth stops rumbling.
    • Devastation

    Now that you’re caught up, let’s talk implications.

    Cascadia subduction zone - Hurricane Sandy Power Poles Hurricane Sandy left millions without power

    As reported in the New Yorker article, if this quake were to happen, “the I-5 corridor…will take between one and three months after the earthquake to restore electricity, a month to a year to restore drinking water and sewer service,” and the list goes on. Not taking into consideration the amount of time it would take to rebuild the major infrastructure, it will require an estimated 18 months for health care facilities to come back online. During that year and a half, you’ll want to be prepared to take care of yourself and your loved ones, because emergency services are going to be reserved for the worst-case patients.

    But that’s just around the I-5. Towards the coast, things will be even worse. With a one to three year wait for drinking water and sewage systems to be back in action, you will definitely want a few alternate sources of water. In this case, water filters and desalinators would be a great option, as they are portable and can supply you with clean drinking water even if you have to evacuate your home (which you more than likely will).

    But the setbacks don’t stop there. With that much damage, FEMA expects that U.S. taxpayers will have to cover at least 75% of the damage. They wouldn’t be surprised if taxpayers even had to pay 100% of disaster recovery. Because of this and other massive expenses, “the economy of the Pacific Northwest will collapse.” Even if you live in the worst-hit location, having an emergency food storage will help see you through a season where you may not have any income for quite some time.

    I’ll be honest, the New Yorker article referenced here and in my last post was pretty disheartening. The author went into great detail as to the nature of this disaster, the history of the Cascadia subduction zone, and how the adjacent regions would be effected. It was a well-researched piece of writing, however, and it most certainly stirred the pot. But did it achieve its purpose?

    You betcha.

    It got people talking. As the good men of G.I. Joe say, “Knowing is half the battle,” and that article provided you with 50% of what you need to win against a devastating earthquake. The other 50%? Implementation.

    Cascadia subduction zone Cascadia subduction zone - Carleton College

    In response to the New Yorker article and all the hullabaloo surrounding it, FEMA released a statement in which they didn’t apologize for a single word that was published. Instead, they gave it their proverbial stamp of approval. They also agreed with the masses of commenters in that “the science in the article isn’t new” regarding the Cascadia subduction zone and its threat. This is something we’ve been warned about again and again. Most importantly, however, they are glad the article got your attention. That’s “the first step to get better prepared,” they said, “because you are better informed.”

    Don’t let this discussion be just another meal-time conversation that’s forgotten by tomorrow’s breakfast. FEMA admonishes people everywhere to “take it further by making a family emergency plan and starting your emergency supply kit.”

    You know what’s coming, now go do something to prepare.

    As FEMA suggested, get an emergency kit. We have plenty to choose from, as well as individual items to help supplement your already-existing kits. Do you have an alternate energy source? You should, because it’ll be a long time before you get power back if you’re stuck in the effected region.

    Aside from the traditional preparations – including food, water, and power – one commenter queried how many people knew important phone numbers should they lose their phone? It may be hard to memorize all the numbers you need to know, but there are free apps you can download for your devices, such as CS Matrix It for Android and Contacts to Excel for iOS. These apps will help import your phone contacts to your computer, and from there you can print out your contacts list so you can always have them with you should you need them.

    The Cascadia subduction zone is a real threat, but once again, if you’re prepared you’ll be in a much better position than if you’re caught unawares.

    FEMA did not apologize for the forward nature of the New Yorker regarding this looming disaster, nor should they. They want you to know what to expect, so you can be better prepared. In light of that, I would like to reiterate the importance of acting on what you know. You read the article because you were interested. Now that you are aware of what could happen, go and prepare for it.

    Even if you don’t live near the Cascadia subduction zone and the area in question, there are plenty of other disasters that could affect you. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Start preparing today!

     

    Are you preparing for “the big one” in your area? Let us know how!

     

    Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake Banner

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