(1) A new page just went up on the website of the National Hazard Mitigation Association, dealing with the Moore, OK event and its aftermath. The team has assembled a terrific list of resources on safe rooms and other related topics.
The Diva just joined the Association and urges others to do so too.
(2) The Institute for Building and Home Safety also has a number of useful resources, one of which is this page on Tornado: Construction and Life Safety Issues.
(3) American Society of Civil Engineers ( ASCE) also had a useful page of resources re Rebuilding After a Tornado. (Thanks to Chris Jones for this additional site.)
Often I rail about the mounting number of federal requirements and mandates (funded or not) regarding disasters. But today, I am wondering why more of the guidance and requirements for mitigation have not taken hold in OK.
For example, when a governor signs a disaster declaration agreement with the federal government, he/she pledges to take mitigation actions regarding the disaster agent that just caused the destruction. So if federal money, collected from us taxpayers, is going into Moore, OK, for at least the 3rd time in 14 years, wouldn’t it be smart and economic to have some of go for mitigative measures to reduce the fatalities and costs of the next disaster?
And while TV viewers are horrified at yet another disaster affecting elementary school children, shouldn’t more be done about the construction of schools and making provisions for sheltering? Last night on NPR, Judy Woodruff interviewed the Governor of OK and pressed very hard from an answer. The Governor waffled and said something about the extra cost. Yet $2B. or more of damages just occurred!!!! And the two Senators from OK are no help at all. Perhaps the federal government should grant their wish and provide no federal assistance!!!
I surely have reached my tipping point with this event. I am beginning to think federal assistance money should have more requirement for states attached to them.
I am not the only one wondering about these things. Here is some commentary from an economist on the topic: Real World Economics: Government responses to disasters raise economic questions. May 23.
Update on May 24: article in Wash. Post titled Tornado Alley needs shelter from the storms.
Religious organization often play a major role in helping disaster victims. Interesting account of some lessons learned and advice given. See How Churches Can Prepare for Disasters.
And I would like to add that Jewish institutions, such as synagogues and day schools, also have a strong interest in this topic. A great deal of work is going on in NYC regarding the role of religious institutions as supporters of community life.
The Homeland Security Forum newsletter offers some useful tips about hurricane preparations and also provides the names selected for the storms this year.
Update on May 23: NOAA just issued its annual Hurricane Forecast for 2013. The CO State Groups issues theirs several weeks ago. Sorry to say it probably will be a busy summer for emergency managers.
Two excellent articles from the NY Times today:
- Why No Safe Room to Run to? Cost and Plains Culture.
- A Survival Plan for American’s Tornado Danger Zone
And it appears that the Mayor of Moore thinks safe rooms should be required! See; Mayor of tornado-ravaged town: New law needed to keep people safe; CNN, May 22.
The mayor of tornado-ravaged Moore, Oklahoma, will push for a law requiring storm shelters or safe rooms in new homes, he told CNN Wednesday.”We’ll try to get it passed as soon as I can,” Glenn Lewis said.The ordinance would apply to single-family and multi-family homes.
Too bad it did not happen sooner…..
Update at 7pm, May 22: I have seen TV interviews of both the Governor and Lt. Governor of OK today and both dodged the question about making shelters in public buildings a mandatory requirement. Judy Woodruth of NPR really pressed Governor Fallin quite hard on the topic, but the Governor essentially said the cost ( a few thousand dollars per building) was an issue.
NBC has done a nice job explaining some of the science behind the OK city tornado outbreaks. And they provide an interesting chart that compares the current events with the deadly tornadoes of 1999, which is the frame of reference for many people in OK. The article is titled Curse or coincidence? Scientists study Tornado Alley’s past and future
- How to Understand the Scale of Today’s Oklahoma Tornado (blogs.smithsonianmag.com)
- A Brief History Of Oklahoma Tornadoes (wnyc.org)
I never get the kind of info I want from the news accounts. Since OK is centrally located in Tornado Alley, I would like to know things like:
- what type of building/construction codes were in place in OK City?
- what percentage of the population had a storm cellar or a safe room in their house?
- how much tornado preparedness information and/or training was provided locally?
It is worth citing the quote from the Christian Science Monitor that I mentioned in May 2011, right after the devastating Joplin, MO tornadoes:
Yet the stunning death tolls from tornadoes this spring raise new questions about government subsidies for storm shelters, the psychology of warning response, the possibility of limited tornado evacuations, and the argument that tornado warning and response should be considered a national security issue.