Log in

No account? Create an account
Disaster Watch

> recent entries
> calendar
> friends
> profile

Monday, December 10th, 2007
8:45 pm - Deadly ice storm sweep across the US


So far 15 deaths have been blamed. I really hate crap like this! It's moving across the whole eastern-half-of-the-nation from Texas to New England. Or, well at least it was New England as of yesterday. Looks like it died down a bit. Beware.

[...Open The Flood Gates...]

Sunday, December 11th, 2005
11:42 pm - Explosion registers on Richter scale?

Not sure if this falls into the 'disaster' category, but couldn't find a more suitable community...

Oil depot explosion(s) near Hemel Hempstead, England.

I wanted to see how it registered on the earthquake sensors, as it seems to have been a HUGE bang. It MUST have registered somewhere at a reasonable level on ye olde Richter Scale. But unfortunately I've been unable to find what I want as the nearest station seems to be down. D'Oh!

Anyone able to find anything better? (than this see 6.03am)

current mood: geeky

[...2 Gallons of Floodwater / Open The Flood Gates...]

Wednesday, September 28th, 2005
2:13 am - Another disaster community

I just found this community, and see that it isn't that active - folks might be interested in disasterporn, which is more active.

current mood: helpful

[...Open The Flood Gates...]

Monday, April 4th, 2005
7:33 pm - Bird Flu

Channel Four News is claiming there is evidence of human to human transmission of Avian Flu in Vietnam. If true, a global flu pandemic could be very close.

Avian or Bird Flu is particularly nasty: thirty people have died, about half of those who have contracted it. But until now, the assumption was that all the case were caught by people from birds. But the clusters of cases are now showing worrying signs of mutation to a form that could be readily transmitted from person to person. The scenario is that normal human flu combines with bird flu to create a highly virulent, highly deadly flu virus. If this happens, it will make SARS look like a minor problem.

Flu pandemics have happened before, and experts say they will certainly happen again. Some even say we are 'overdue' - the last one happened over 30 years ago. Deaths in the past have numbered in the millions worldwide. The flu epidemic that occurred at the end of WWI killed more people than the war itself. In the modern era, air travel will spread the disease faster, but improving general health may help us fight it.

Modern medicine should help, but when the outbreak comes there will be no vaccine available. The vaccine will need to be made specific to the virus, and until it appears it cannot be manufactured. It will take scientists some months to isolate the virus, and find the vaccine. And in the meantime, anti-virals (which help you fight off the virus) will be in short supply. Stockpiles are worryingly low, and there will be a scramble for what stocks there are.

The scenario is quite gloomy: travel restrictions, school closures, hospitals full, and deaths on an huge scale. Yet where are the resources? The budget for 'the war on terrorism' is vast, yet terrorism does not threaten us on this scale at all.

[...Open The Flood Gates...]

Sunday, April 3rd, 2005
12:38 pm - Australian Journal of Emergency Management

Essential reading... latest issue of the Australian Journal of Emergency Management can be accessed here.

[...Open The Flood Gates...]

12:08 pm - Back again

I started this blog so I think I ought to show rather more commitment to it. The last post pointing to the lack of commentary on the Asian Tsunami was quite apt. But no time for further embarrassment. I'll try to post rather more often.

The tsunami focused minds for a short time, but already globally attention begins to wane. How much of the promised aid money from various governments around the world will really get through? And how much of it is merely being diverted from other aid programmes.

Much of the discussion of the disaster has focussed on a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean. The recent 8.7Mag quake shows both the need for such a system, but also the problems. It shows that this area is perennially quake prone, but also that it is very difficult to know whether a quake will result in a tsunami. A variety of experts came on TV to ponder why there was no tsunami, and succeeded only in show how little we understand. Amongst the most preposterous statement was that an 8.7Mag quake was so weak to cause a tsunami. Nonsense. 8.7 is absolutely enormous, and tsunamis have resulted from lesser earthquakes than that. More probable is the depth, the direction of displacement of the ocean floor... but we have much to learn.

There are issues with too many false alerts, but these are surely outweighed by the failure to warn. But just as warning is not merely detection, and alerting governments, being prepared is not just about issuing warnings. It is also about getting the message to isolated communities, explaining the issues, and involving people in preparing their plans. This is slow painstaking work with real people at grass roots level. It is also about sustainable livelihoods, that are diverse and resilient that will hold up in bad times as well as good It requires funding. It requires donors, agencies and governments to have real commitment to it.

[...Open The Flood Gates...]

Tuesday, December 28th, 2004
1:02 pm

So I take it no one was "watching" and so hasn't noticed a Mag 9 earthquake that's generated a tsunami perfectly placed to hit around the Bay of Bengal and beyond. Hmmmm, must be Xmas or something, everyone's dealing with RL. Well I've been putting my ponderings in my own LJ.

[...Open The Flood Gates...]

Sunday, October 17th, 2004
9:20 pm - hurricane water

Ahoy! A friend of mine is selling water from all the storms that hit Florida recently. Check it ou: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3935115094

[...7 Gallons of Floodwater / Open The Flood Gates...]

Friday, September 3rd, 2004
12:48 am

Hi I just joined, though I've been eyeing this community.

I found a folder on nasa's site with incredible images of hurricanes from the last few years. (I suggest viewing the folder by file size and looking at the bigger stuff.)


This is now my desktop:

And this is an amazing image of flooding:

I just came back from Punta Gorda, FL a little over a week ago, where I was helping clean up after Hurricane Charley. Unfortunately I didn't get many intersting pictures while I was there....I was too busy removing wreckage. Frances looks like it's going to be twice as bad. Part of me wishes I could be down there to witness it. I wasn't in FL when Charley hit - and I know the house can stand 145mph winds now. :) Not to minimize the damage or suffering to everyone down there, but I love violent storms and it would be awesome to see this bad boy first hand.

[...3 Gallons of Floodwater / Open The Flood Gates...]

Friday, April 23rd, 2004
8:12 am - North Korean Explosion

The North Korean explosion, from South Korean reports, sounds to have been an explosion on a catastrophic scale. The figure of 3,000 casualties has been mentioned but certainly be treated with extreme caution. There is no way to verify this number, and only sources on the scene with full site access could provide an accurate number.

North Korea's secrecy here is completely backfiring. It is counterproductive in two ways. Firstly, by refusing to even acknowledge the tragedy it invites speculation, such as the rumour that this was an assassination attempt. Secondly, a social system based on secrecy and fear is itself the breeding ground for disaster, as problems cannot be acknowledged or reported. So they go unnoticed, connections are not made, and so a number of small errors, such as signalling failures, or brake failures, combine to create a major disaster. This happens even in relatively open cultures, but the more the pressure for 'good news' the more this happens. Finally, in such a culture, what hope is there for learning from disaster? More likely, scapegoating will take place.

Finally, it is a sobering thought that in the recent history of North Korea, this tragedy hardly registers. The recent famine in North Korea cost the lives of over 1 million. The suggestion that this event will provide the impetus for change is likely to be wishful thinking.

[...Open The Flood Gates...]

Monday, April 19th, 2004
9:52 am - Sleepless about Seattle

I want to record some thoughts from my three visits out to Seattle. Its a beautiful city, but the whole place worries me. People think only about the day-to-day for the most part, and when they think about the past or the future, in general they are concerned about their own life-time. The trouble with that is that some things work on a totally different timespan. So when we build our cities, and they sprout up from nothing in not too much over 100 years, then this is a blink of an eye in geological time.

Seattle sits on a seismic fault. It has occasional earthquakes, that are strong but not ruinous. But evidence suggests that sometimes, just sometimes, they can be far worse. Somewhere not too far, is a sunken forest, where an entire area of land subsided during a quake.

Looming over the city on a clear day you can see Mt Ranier. It looks pretty, magnificent and serene. Just like the next great volcano in the chain, Mt St Helens. Mt St Helens is now famous for its great eruption of 1980, but the fact is that Mt Rainer is a far scarier prospect, and not only because it is certainly with striking distance of Seattle. A quote from USGS

"History of massive debris avalanches and debris flows. Occasional very shallow seismicity. ... Largest of the Cascade volcanoes. A mudflow caused by steam explosions about 5,700 years ago was one of the largest known in the world. Expected to erupt again within the next few hundred years; hazards consist mainly of mudflows, floods, and fallout of tephra."

That's the kind of unspecific information that allows you to roll over and go back to sleep. When you read on and find it is "the most dangerous" of all the Cascades volcanoes, and that they really don't know much about when it will erupt, that is concerning. The reference to mudflows and floods, is an acknowledgement that when Rainier next erupts (and it is when) it will melt the glaciers on the top, and this will send a torrent of mud, ice, rock and water rushing down the slopes. Unfortunately, the evidence is that Seattle is built right in the path of some the historic flows from Rainer. Tacoma is even more vulnerable. Read more here

Then I look at what people have done since they came in such numbers in the last 100 or so years. I worry about all those skyscrapers in an earthquake zone. At least building codes enforce seismic resistance, but a really big quake would certainly test that out. I worry at all the houses build on steep slopes: they look so precariously perched. Elsewhere in world, such buildings have simply slid down the hill. And I worry about the buildings built right on the waterfront, with no protection at all. It would only take a small landslide into the Puget Sound, to set off a wave that would cause huge damage. Much of the tree cover that holds those slopes together remains, fortunately, but when people build on those slopes it adds weight that the soil has to support. That stress could prove fatal. Any scenario like that would be appalling.

I don't know too much about what is being done the state government/FEMA about these issues. I'm not saying they are remiss in any way. I want to make that clear. I just see bad possibilities.

I see all this, as a morbid outsider. The people of Washington seems either unaware or unconcerned of these risks. Perhaps that is essential for psychological survival. If you really knew what might happen, and you really thought it a good possibility, it would be almost intolerable. So people put their faith in gods or science, and focus on the here and now. Its only us outsiders that need to worry, it seems.

[...2 Gallons of Floodwater / Open The Flood Gates...]

Sunday, April 18th, 2004
2:40 pm - First things

This community is here for people who are interested in disasters, how they happen, how people respond to them, and so forth.

I hope to post lots of information about disasters, debate about causes of disaster, good practice for responding, and so forth. And I particularly want to hear personal accounts of how disaster affect people.

All that's needed now is some people to join!

Other matters, like making this place look good... that will have to wait. I'm not that great at stuff like that!

[...1 Gallon of Floodwater / Open The Flood Gates...]

> top of page