Repeat Disasters

We know that some parts of the country are more vulnerable to disasters than others, and some communities suffer repetitive losses over the years.  The article provides an amazing amount of detail, via data and maps, showing where those events and losses have occurred in the U.S.

From the NY Times: The Places in the U.S. Where Disaster Strikes Again and Again.

In the last 16 years, parts of Louisiana have been struck by six hurricanes. Areas near San Diego were devastated by three particularly vicious wildfire seasons. And a town in eastern Kentucky has been pummeled by at least nine storms severe enough to warrant federal assistance.

Update on May 29: After trying several times to print out a useful copy of this excellent article, I contacted the NY Times. They did not provide much help, but perhaps a reprint could be ordered. I did learn that some articles appear only in their digital version of the paper and not in the hard copy.  Good to know for future reference for the researchers out there.

“The National Strike Force”

The current issue of the Coast Guard’s Journal of Safety and Security at Sea. Proceedings of the Marine Safety and Security Council features articles on the National Strike Force, but there are a host of other great articles on related topics in the issue.  For a free copy (and a free subscription) of the Proceedings click here.

The Proceedings is a nice, slick-paper magazine issued quarterly. The current issue is 98 pages long. Definitely a “keeper” for your library.

Hurricane Sandy in Perspective – updates

HURRICANE HISTORY:

Council on Foreign Relations, How Likely Was Hurricane Sandy.  Some really chilling scientific research and dire warnings about the likely frequency of future hurricanes with the same path.

“[Scientists are] telling us we shouldn’t be surprised that this 900-mile-wide monster marched up the East Coast this week paralyzing cities and claiming scores of lives…. In a paper published by Nature in February, [Oppenheimer] and three colleagues concluded that the ‘storm of the century’ would become the storm of ‘every twenty years or less.’

Hurricane Sandy in perspective, in HSWired, November 2,2012. Excellent article that provides a wealth of historic and scientific knowledge useful to our current efforts on determining H. Sandy’s place in context of  U.S. disaster experience. Comments from Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. (Univ. of CO).

Hurricane Sandy has left death and destruction in its path, and it broke a few records, but there were worse hurricanes; since 1900, 242 hurricanes have hit the United States; if Sandy causes $20 billion in damage, in 2012 dollars, it would rank as the seventeenth most damaging hurricane or tropical storm out of these 242; the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 tops the list; Hurricane Katrina ranks fourth; from August 1954 through August 1955, the East Coast saw three different storms make landfall — Carol, Hazel, and Diane; each, in 2012, would have caused about twice as much damage as Sandy

FEDERALISM:

Some sensible advice from an experienced disaster researcher at Brookings, Nov. 2.:  Feds, States, Cities — The All of the Above Disaster Response

INFRASTRUCTURE:

Insightful article from a Columbia profession in CNN today. New York’s Neglected Infrastruture Fails.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that New York’s infrastructure wasn’t up to Hurricane Sandy.  What happened in New York was not all that different than what’s

happened in other places hit by freakish weather events — the infrastructure wasn’t robust enough to withstand nature. It is not the first time it’s happened here, and it won’t be the last.

The problems in New York stem from many factors. For a start, infrastructure investment here is no more a priority than it is in other places across the country:

It’s simply not something that voters want badly. When given a choice between investing in schools, health and housing or investing in sewers, tunnels or roads, the

latter will always lose out. And that’s not just the view of the politicians, but also of the constituents who keep them in office.

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Surprising Data on Tornado Deaths in U.S. Since 1925.

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In the weather section of the Washington Post, on June 15, 2011, there was an interesting write up of the deadly tornadoes in 2011 and how problems remain, even with the advent of radar and better warning systems since 1925.  See the article : Shocking: Tornado death rates in 2011 return to pre-1925 levels.

I just located the original NOAA briefing materials, titled Spring 2011: A season of U.S. Climate and Weather Extremes  (June 15, 2011; 14 pages). I highly recommend reading the full report.