The State of Texas and Disaster Recovery

From the Texas Public Radio website, this article titled Emergency Management Chief Says State Is Missing Out On Billions Because Of Poor Planning.

Although the title would lead one to believe that the state should improve its disaster recovery capability, my take on this article is that the quoted comments focus more on how to capture more federal money and to do so more efficiently.

In my view, Texas, which is a wealthy and populous state, has shown time and time again that it does not want to mount a significant effort to mitigate threats/hazards or use state money to pay the costs of the many disasters it experiences. One example is chemical plant explosion in the city of West in 2013. See the posting in this blog on that topic, from April 2013.

If any readers know more about this matter, I would like to hear from them.

Basic Info on CA Drought

Slow-onset disasters usually do not get much attention, and the CA drought is no exception.  But for those of you who are concerned with such matters and are in for the long term, here is a website that the State of CA set up that provides ongoing information about the drought.

Thanks to Martin Kalis for the link.


In CA Drought and Fires Worsen – 3 takes on the topics

In today’s Washington Post there is a compelling article titled West Coast Girds for Record Forest Fires.  Whatever the causes of the drought may be, the implications for fire fighting are significant and wide ranging.  Some excerpts follow:

Across the Western United States, officials tasked with fighting forest fires worry that a confluence of factors, including climate change and human development, are conspiring to create conditions ripe for a landmark fire year. That would mean hotter fires that burn longer and threaten more homes, sapping already-strained budgets and putting at risk the lives of thousands of firefighters.  * * *

The consequences of climate change encourage wildfires in three ways, firefighters and policymakers say. First, even modest rises in temperatures change forest ecologies and allow invasive species to take root. Second, changing weather patterns can stem much-needed precipitation. And third, global warming is extending the fire season. * * *

In parts of California, the cost of defending a single home can run as high as $600,000 — far more than many of the homes are actually worth. And while homeowners are able to get out before a fire sweeps over them, the firefighters who have to defend those homes wade into danger.

A truly scary article comes from the National Geographic.  It is titled Could California’s Drought Last 200 Years? Clues from the past suggest the ocean’s temperature may be a driver.

Drought in CA – updated

The seriousness of the drought in CA really hits home when you realize that many cities may not have a supply of drinking water in a matter of months. See: California drought: Clock ticking on 17 communities’ water supply

Gov. Jerry Brown huddled Thursday with water managers looking for solutions to California’s worst drought on record. The 17 communities could run out of water in 100 days, the state warned.

On January 31, the state government made it clear that it may have to stop providing water to some localities. See this HuffPost article.

Drought and Dust Bowl Concerns – 2012


Drought of 2012 conjures up Dust Bowl memories, raises questions for tomorrow


From dry rivers to dead deer, drought’s impact felt everywhere. Nothing in U.S. history can compare to that calamity of eight decades ago, including the historic drought now gripping much of the country.

That doesn’t mean, though, there isn’t considerable suffering and devastation now in most of the United States. Or that dire conditions could well persist for several years, as they did during the 1930s — compounding negative impacts of drought, thus ruining even more livelihoods and lives despite technological and agricultural advancements of recent years.

“Mother Nature holds all the cards,” said Mark Svoboda, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center. “You roll the dice … every year. Nothing will make you quote-unquote drought-proof.”




Positive Outcome of H. Isaac = drought relief

Two articles on the likely positive effects:

  1. From Accuweather; August 29, and
  2. From the Christian Science Monitor: Could tropical storm Isaac actually help break US drought?

Tropical storm Isaac is bearing down on the Gulf Coast, but once it gets inland, it is expected to bring much needed rain to drought-hit farmlands.

Although tropical storm Isaac is causing evacuations and is expected to lead to power outages when it comes ashore, there may be a silver lining for drought-pressed farmers farther inland.

High Heat and Drought Are Serious Threats

Two new articles in the past few days highlight the heat and drought threats.

Disasters: Forget blizzards and hurricanes, heat waves are deadliest

Tornadoes, blizzards, and hurricanes get most of our attention because their destructive power makes for imagery the media cannot ignore; for sheer killing power, however, heat waves do in far more people than even the most devastating hurricane; Hurricane Katrina and its floods, which devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005, exacted a death toll of 1,836 people; the heat wave which enveloped Europe during the course of three excruciating weeks in August 2003 of that year, killed an estimated 70,000 people

Lately a lot of people have been comparing the current U.S. drought situation to the Dust Bowl, which occurred in the 1930s. . For a full account of that disaster see  chapter 3  of  “Emergency Management; the American Experience, 1900-2010.”  It is available from The Disaster Bookstore, our sponsor.

Is Chronic Drought the New Normal?

From the Homeland Security News Wire, July 30. Chronic 2000-4 U.S. drought, worst in 800 years, may be the “new normal;”

 The chronic drought that hit western North America from 2000 to 2004 left dying forests and depleted river basins in its wake and was the strongest in 800 years, scientists have concluded, but they say those conditions will become the “new normal” for most of the coming century

The chronic drought that hit western North America from 2000 to 2004 left dying forests and depleted river basins in its wake and was the strongest in 800 years, scientists have concluded, but they say those conditions will become the “new normal” for most of the coming century.