Tag Archives: natural disasters

  • Deadly Twisters in New York

    Tornados are in the news again. This time it’s the Northeast that’s getting the worst of it. Just this month, four people were killed in upstate New York as a twister whipped through the small town of Smithfield. NBC news is calling it the “state’s second deadliest” tornado since the 1950s—truly off the charts for a state that typically sees smaller category tornados and rarely sustains this kind of damage from them.

    According to the AP, Smithfield’s tornados were actually part of a larger storm system battering the region and  leaving more than 350,000 homes without power. You can see a slideshow of the damage to New York and even some parts of Pennsylvania here.

    Apparently, storm and tornado season varies from region to region, with twisters showing up most frequently in the spring down South, and moving up to the Midwest and Northeast through the summer. I’ll let the smart people at weather.com explain why. The same smart people also have a super cool map of tornado risk by month and region, in case you want to check on your area or nail down vacation plans.

    Anyhow, we’re keeping a weather eye on the storms with NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center, reading back up on “Preparing for a Tornado,” and hoping everyone’s staying safe!

     

    --Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Tornado, tornadoes, natural disasters

  •  Thailand Natural and Not-So-Natural Disasters

    Some parts of the world seem to experience more than their fair share of hardship. Consider typhoon and tsunami-prone Thailand, whose recent months of political unrest have heaped threats of violence on top of an already naturally precarious region.

    When news broke of the recent coup, travelers and expats were warned to expect everything from flight cancelations to a shutdown of English language news sources. At the beginning of June, CNN reported that “Normality Resumes: Curfews lifted in three Thai hot spots,” but many experts encouraged most people to prepare for any number of disaster scenarios.

    For example, Expatsblog.com noted that in the event of an Internet blackout, travelers and residents would be unable to draw cash from an ATM, and vendors could not process credit cards. An article from AsianCorrespondent.com, a specialized news outlet, passes along recommendations from foreign institutions within Thailand, reminding people to keep electronics charged, to plan on delays in travel time, and to keep in contact with their embassies.

    The US embassy even offers a program to American citizens abroad called the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which helps disseminate safety instructions in case of an emergency.

    And, of course, in the midst of all this uncertainty, we’re headed into tropical storm season. Predictions for the 2014 season in the Central Pacific, according to the US State Department, anticipate a normal to “above-normal” season. The same agency (and the same link) provides a useful set of protocols for travelers visiting areas like Thailand in the event of a hurricane or typhoon.

    Weather Underground gives us a nice preparedness checklist for the same situation; and our Hurricane Preparedness mini series (along with a great collection of related resources) can be found in the links at the end of our article, “How to Prepare for a Hurricane.”

    Whether the disasters we experience are natural, man-made, or both, we can be prepared to ride out the worst.

    To learn more about what’s going on in Thailand, check out the Businessweek article, “Thai Junta Ends Curfew, Puts Out Welcome Mat for Tourists.”

     

    Do you have any experiences dealing with disasters abroad?

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: natural disasters, travel

  • Severe Flooding Follows Tornadoes in the Southeast

    Natural disasters can sometimes cause a domino effect of other disasters: an earthquake can cause a long-term power outage, a drought can cause a wildfire, and the high-speed winds of a tornado can quickly turn into a raging flood.

    Many in the Southeast are learning that one storm can cause another as the tornadoes that sprawled across over a dozen states this week have not only left behind twisted cars and destroyed homes, but also brought on severe floods.

    Florida was one of hardest-hit states, where Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency after 20 inches of rain fell in 24 hours, killing at least one and leaving others stranded, according to Fox News

    “There’s a lot of water on the ground,” the governor said to Yahoo News. He also anticipates that more flash flooding is still a real threat.

    In some areas, flooding reached up to four feet, other locations flooded more. Across numerous states, floods trapped people in homes, vehicles, and other buildings. Yahoo News reports one elderly woman dying in Escambia County after being unable to escape as the high waters surrounded her vehicle.

    "We were rescuing people out of cars, out of ditches, out of homes," said Mitchell Sims, the emergency management director for Baldwin County. "We are still getting reports of people trapped."

    When preparing for an emergency, it’s common to overlook the fact that one disaster can trigger another. It’s important to prepare as well as you can for all types of disasters. Are you prepared for a tornado and a lightning storm? Do you have duct tape for your windows for a hurricane and sandbags for flooding? As you stock your supply, are you thinking of how to prepare for multiple disasters?

    As you work on your preparedness, check out the following Insight Articles for some helpful tips for staying safe in a variety of disasters:

    Have you ever been caught in a “secondary” disaster triggered by a first? What happened? Share your story and expertise in the comments

     

    --Kim

     

    Sources:

    http://www.foxnews.com/weather/2014/04/30/forecasters-downplay-tornado-predictions-as-storm-system-weakens-in-south/

    http://news.yahoo.com/u-tornadoes-kill-34-threaten-more-damage-south-043914845--sector.html

    Photo Courtesy of Fox News

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency preparedness, natural disasters

  • Caught in a Mudslide: Survivors' Stories from Washington state

    Imagine hearing a crack and then sliding from zero to 20 miles per hour in half a second while sitting in the front room of your home. That’s how many described the massive mudslide that crashed through a neighborhood in Washington state on Saturday, March 22.

    As the mudslide rushed towards the homes below, people frantically cried for help. Evacuation teams immediately worked to rescue people from their homes, airlifting them from destroyed structures.

    One survivor spoke with the Washington Post about her experience:

    “I looked out the window, and I saw this huge wall of mud – must have been 20 feet tall. We went moving, and we were tumbled. I had a mouth full of mud, and nose full of it. We were under everything, and we had to dig our way out,” said Robin Youngblood.

    “To all my family and friends in many parts of the world – we’re all OK,” Youngblood wrote on her Facebook page after the event. “We don’t have a home at present, its only matchsticks, the landslide took it out with Jetty and I inside. It was a wild ride. We were airlifted out by helicopter after about an hour. The only thing that survived besides us is a painting called Night Warrior…”

    Read more stories from survivors from the Washington Post here.

    The rescue effort is still underway as volunteers search through the rubble. Right now the death toll is at 14, although emergency officials expect it to rise, and there are 176 people unaccounted for. Our hearts go out to all those suffering from this natural disaster.

    Landslides can be fast-moving or slow; they can cause damage gradually or destroy property and take lives in an instant. They can happen anywhere and for a variety of reasons (heavy rain and snowmelt, shaking due to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, erosion, and gravity, etc.).

    So what should you know about avoiding or preparing for landslides?

    The Red Cross shares three tips to help you avoid or prepare for landslides.

    1. Learn about your area’s landslide risk. Landslides tend to repeat in places where they have occurred in the past. If the home you’re hoping to build or buy is in an area where a landslide has occurred before, think seriously about choosing a different location.
    2. During severe rainstorms, avoid roads that may be in the path of a land/mudslide. Heavily saturated ground makes the chances of a mudslide more likely.
    3. Generally, landslide insurance is not available. However, some flood insurance companies may cover damage caused by debris flow. Check with your company and see how you can protect your home and personal property in the event that a mudslide does happen in your area.

     

    Have you ever been caught in a mudslide before? What was your experience? What would you do differently if you could?

    Photo Courtesy of the Washington Post

     

    Sources:

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/03/24/2-killed-in-big-wash-mudslide-sheriff-office-says/

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/03/24/the-fatal-mudslide-in-washington-what-was-it-like/

    http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/landslide

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency preparedness, natural disasters

  •  The Shamrock Shake: California's 4.4 Earthquake

    Imagine waking up, not to your alarm clock, but to a magnitude 4.4 earthquake! What could you do to protect yourself if you were still groggy in bed when the quake started?

    This was a question many California residents had to ask at 6:25 a.m. PDT on Monday, March 17th, when a magnitude 4.4 earthquake was reported in the southern California area. This monumental earthquake was quickly labeled the #Shamrockshake by California residents and news teams on Twitter in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

    According to Robert Graves, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, this quake was the biggest shake in southern California since a magnitude 5.5 earthquake in Chino Hills in 2008. This unexpected quake reminds us of the importance of emergency preparedness, especially since Graves suggests that earthquakes of this magnitude often act as preludes to equal or stronger shakes.

    In fact, Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti, suggests that "today's earthquake is a reminder that every L.A. family must be prepared with food, water, and other essentials, as well as a plan" even though there was no major damage reported in the area. But preparations don't just stop at food and water; there are also things you can do to prepare your home like bolting down furniture or securing bookcases.

    To find out the latest about California's 4.4 earthquake, check out the L.A. Times article, " Earthquake: 4.4 quake strikes Los Angeles; 6 aftershocks so far." Also, follow the #Shamrockshake Twitter hashtag for continual updates.

    As we suggest in our article “Preparing for Earthquakes”, if you're ever caught in an earthquake while you're in bed (like many in California were), hold on, stay there, and protect your head with a pillow.

    For more cool tips about how to prepare for Earthquakes, check out our Insight articles, blog posts and our Preparedness Checklists to start making an emergency plan today.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency preparedness, natural disaster, natural disasters