FL Is “Ticking Time Bomb”

From Scientific American: Hurricane Irma: Florida’s Overdevelopment Has Created a Ticking Time Bomb. Disaster risk expert says intense population growth and urban coastal development have created a huge danger.

The title is a bit dramatic, but the message is one we are seeing in many articles these days. Both FL coastal cities and Houston have been growing with inadequate attention to risk.

A Tragedy Made Worse by Human Action

Explosion That Killed 15 at Texas Fertilizer Plant Is Ruled Intentional

The fire that set off one of the worst industrial disasters in Texas history — the deadly explosion of a fertilizer plant in West, Tex., in 2013 — was intentionally set, federal officials announced on Wednesday.

The announcement by investigators with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives came three years after the explosion at the West Fertilizer Company plant on April 17, 2013. In the years since, law enforcement officials had never revealed a cause. They had previously said three possibilities were under consideration, including faulty electrical wiring, a short-circuit in an electrical golf cart and an intentional act of arson.

” To Reduce the Impact of Disasters, Increase the Focus on Children”

From the HuffPost, an interesting article by the head of UNICEF. See: To Reduce the Impact of Disasters, Increase the Focus on Children.  Here are some numbers that indicate how big this segment of the population is:

The number of children affected every year by disasters is projected to reach 175 million over the next ten years — a figure that will have nearly tripled since the early 1990s. Children represent more than half of all people affected by disasters, and not surprisingly, the children at greatest risk are typically the poorest and hardest to reach.

Disasters and Poverty – new international report

Natural disasters ‘making poor poorer’ warn ODI is the heading for an article about a new report issued by the Overseas Development Institute. The data and the graphics in the report are quite sobering.  Some excerpts for the article:

The ODI has revealed 319 million poor people will be living in the countries most exposed to natural disasters by 2030

Natural disasters in some of the poorest parts of the world pose a terminal threat to success in the global battle against poverty, says a new report.

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) research, costing around £60,000, estimates that around a third of a billion extremely poor people will be living in countries highly exposed to natural hazards such as drought and flooding by 2030.

… the lead author Tom Mitchell, the ODI’s head of climate change, warned that by 2030 around 325 million people will be living in countries acutely vulnerable to volatile changes in the weather.

“We know that disasters entrench poverty – they don’t just end lives, they destroy shops, roads, crops, houses and hospitals in places where there are no safety nets such as insurance or social security,” he said.

“Without meaningful change, talk of the end of extreme poverty is pie in the sky.”

The Full text of the report, which it titled Geography of Poverty, Disasters and Climate Extremes in 2030, is 88 pages and the executive summary is 6 pages.

Disaster Aftermath – changes in personal behavior, more “short fuses”

This article about Christchurch, NZ highlights some of the results of stress and anxiety from a major destructive earthquake and thousands of aftershocks. As you might expect, those conditions do affect people’s behavior.

And if you read some of the descriptive information, or see some of the post-quake videos, you will understand why people are so stressed. [Some of these articles are listed on the NZ page of this blog.]

See: Christchurch Fuses Shorter in Wake of Quakes. October 13.

Aftermath of September 4th Earthquake in Chris...

Japan Disaster Victims — returning and rebuilding decisions are fraught with conflicts

Decisions to return and rebuild, or not, in Japan are similar to those experienced in the U.S after major disasters. The article Too Late’ for Some Tsunami Victims to Rebuild in Japan presents some of the conflicts inherent in that decision; NY Times, March 19.  A week after the tsunami obliterated most of this northern Japanese city’s seafront and not a little of its inland, some of the shopkeepers and their employees were outdoors shoveling mud and hauling wreckage from their businesses, the first signs of restoration.  Will they stay and rebuild or not?  Among the factors to consider:

“These are declining areas. With an exogenous shock like this, I think it’s possible that a lot of these communities will just fold up and disappear.” Some have been hollowing out, albeit slowly, for a long time. Japan’s population as a whole is shrinking and graying, but the Japanese prefectures hardest hit by the tsunami — Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate — often outpace the national trends, and their workers’ average incomes are shrinking as well.

“There’s really no economic engine in these communities,” said Mr. Aldrich, whose 2010 book “Site Fights: Divisive Facilities and Civil Society in Japan and the West” details the government’s strategy for locating reactors in struggling areas. “These facilities bring $20 million or more to depopulating, dying towns. Many people saw these power plants as economic lifelines at a time when their towns are dying.” And they were, until an earthquake and tsunami changed the economic equation last week.

Now at least one of the Fukushima complexes appears destined never to reopen. Part of the prefecture could remain off limits for years because of radiation. The future of similar plants could be thrown into doubt, along with the jobs and supporting businesses that sprung up around the nuclear industry.

… the tsunami wiped out thousands of businesses and tens of thousands of homes, many of them owned by retirees who lack the spirit or money to rebuild. And Mr. Aldrich — also the author of a long-term study of the societal impact of major disasters like Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans — says the dislocation caused by the tsunami threatens to permanently rend the social fabric that keeps many coastal villages afloat in hard times.

“We faced exactly the same question after Katrina,” said John Campbell, an expert on aging at the University of Michigan and visiting scholar at the University of Tokyo. “There was a big discussion about whether we should rebuild the Ninth Ward, since it was below sea level, and so on. In terms of economic rationality, it didn’t make any sense, really. But on the other hand, it’s where these people lived, and there were emotional reasons to do it. “These villages may not have the same sentimental attachment. Nonetheless, there’s an emotional argument that’s going to be made, and I think it will be a potent one.”

Thanks to Bill Cumming for pointing out this article.

See also another NYT article, same date, titled Reeling from Crises.

New Manual on Recovery Focuses on Psychological Aspects

New Orleans, LA., 10/17/2005 -- Disaster victi...

Image via Wikipedia

A new, free manual on disaster recovery, titled How to Help Your Community Recover from Disaster: A Manual for Planning and Action, is available for download.  (104 pp.) Some information about its development follow:

According to the authors,  development of the manual began after Hurricane Katrina. It was part of a large-scale, multi-year, and 25-member collaboration by the Task Force for Disaster, Community Readiness, and recovery within the Society for Community Research and Action of the American Psychological Association.  A distinctive feature of the manual is its grounding in psychological knowledge and in psychological principles closely linked to successful disaster recovery.

… the Manual is designed to guide both lay and professional readers through the steps required to understand the potential effects of disaster, organize the community, assess its needs, make an action plan, choose a strategy or strategies for intervention, reach out to various constituencies, track results, and share lessons learned.

We believe this Manual provides practical guidance to natural and potential community leaders about how to help their communities recover from disaster. We think it will be a useful resource in efforts to strengthen the capacity of communities to make informed choices, marshal resources, and facilitate post-disaster recovery.

The Diva has not yet had a chance to read the full text. She welcomes comments and reviews by readers.

Special Report on BP Oil Spill in National Geographic

National Geographic Map Indexes

Image by retro traveler via Flickr

For those of you with an abiding interest in the oil spill and its ramifications, the Oct. issue of National Geographic has an excellent series of articles and a fascinating map insert as part of its Special Report on “The  Spill.” The map offers a unique graphic of The Gulf of Mexico: A Geography of Offshore Oil.

This special report provides great retrospective documentation of the largest oil spill in history.