2015 Hurricane Season – In like a lamb, out like a lamb?

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This week in history: September 21, 1989 – Hurricane Hugo crashed ashore South Carolina, U.S.

A year ago, I wrote an article depicting the 25-year anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, the storm that destroyed many parts of historical Charleston, South Carolina. The deadly hurricane roared to shore at a rapid 135 mph and was classified as a Category 4 storm. Hugo was the strongest storm to hit the U.S. since Camille in 1969. It was the worst to hit South Carolina since 1872.

The storm left the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and North Carolina in states of disaster.

Last year, I took a field trip to the areas that were destroyed, took real-time photos and compared my photos to images taken almost 3 decades prior. The comparative photos showed how much change occurred, the rebuilding of a city and community resilience.

As predicted by the NOAA in May, the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane season has been mild in comparison to other years, including the 1989 season. Although two months remain, this year’s storm count falls under the average. A total of 10 storms have been predicted, falling just short of the average 12. John Cole, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service Office, advises people to stay resilient and prepare for a strong storm, even this late in the season. “You really never know,” he said. “You have to be vigilant every year. You have to take every year seriously no matter what the forecasts are. It only takes one.”

Although hurricane season is relatively quiet this year, other areas of the country are experiencing weather-related abnormalities, specifically the West Coast.flash flood Utah

Flash Flooding: Utah

Last week, Tropical Depression Sixteen-E brought the deadliest flash flood to Utah history. Zion National Park received .063 inches of rain within an hour, causing the Virgin River to rise at an exponential rate. Twenty people are believed to be dead because of the storm, while one child remains missing.

The deadly flash flood occurred just days after Envision Utah released a study focusing on disaster resiliency. In the survey, ‘Your Utah, Your Future’ involved,” nearly 53,000 Utah residents were asked to weigh in on scenarios crafted for 11 key issues.

The key findings: Utah residents are willing to pay more upfront to be more resilient and prepared for a disaster. Seventy-eight percent of the survey’s participants said they are “willing to pay more for a house and their utilities if it means disruptions to their lives and community well-being are lessened after a disaster.” Respondents also noted recovery time needs to be lessened. This includes the recovery of utilities and the time it takes for businesses to reopen their doors.

In response to the survey, Lisa Sun, co-chairperson of the disaster resilience working group, said “I don’t think we have done as much as we could to prevent and mitigate disasters in the first place, before they happen.”

Unusual Rainfall: Los Angeles

Hurricane Linda brought an unusual amount of rain to Los Angeles. The California city typically sees .24” of rain in September. On los angeles rainfallSeptember 15, it received 2.39”. That is almost ten times as much rain in ONE day than in a full month. As you can imagine, the day was not typical. Three water rescues were conducted and a three-story apartment building in West Hollywood was evacuated after water entered the roof.

Steps to follow post-disaster

Like the citizens of Utah, at Firestorm, we strive to help you and your business prepare for crises; to take a proactive approach as opposed to reactive. Certain scenarios, however, call for disaster recovery – as was needed after Hurricane Hugo and the most recent West Coast flooding and torrential rainfall.

The following resources include an excerpt from the Firestorm Book, Disaster Ready People for a Disaster Ready America by Firestorm founders: Harry Rhulen, Jim Satterfield and Suzy Loughlin. You may download the entire ebook for free.

AFTER A DISASTER

Look at the recovery in post-disaster stages, so as to not get overwhelmed.

  • Immediate recovery
  • Short-term recovery
  • Long-term recovery

Immediate Recovery

  • First and foremost, remain safe. Is the event completely over? For example, the earth no longer quakes, but damaged buildings may continue to fall; the hurricane no longer dumps rains, but the levees then fail.
  • In some cases, law enforcement officials and emergency personnel may be in a position to tell you it’s safe to re-enter certain structures. In many cases, however, the aftermath of a disaster is as chaotic as the disaster itself, and they will not be available, at least initially. Don’t panic; use common sense.
  • Gather your family—this is your mutual support system; make plans together.
  • Handle immediate medical needs—check everyone for wounds or injuries. Use your first aid kit and/or seek additional treatment.
  • It’s during this time that outside help will probably begin to arrive. Local emergency services people will probably be first on the scene, followed by state representatives, and, if the disaster is large enough, eventually FEMA and other Federal resources.
  • Remain alert, as there will still be a great deal of confusion. The various assistance agencies might not be communicating and coordinating well with each other, which means you may get conflicting instructions and information. If DRPDRAsomeone, even an official, tells you something that doesn’t make sense, if at all possible, wait before you act on that information. Before long, the situation will begin to clarify itself.
  • Avoid obvious hazards—downed electric lines, the smell of gas, standing water, etc. Make sure everyone remains alert and knows how to spot and stay away from danger.
  • Listen to your emergency radio—use it to determine your next moves, which may be to remain where you are. Be careful of rumors; they can exacerbate a disaster, leading to unnecessary risk or pandemonium.
  • Defer making major decisions—focus on the present; when your life is suddenly in upheaval and your status quo is interrupted, you will not be in the frame-of-mind to make sound decisions. But, don’t worry, for the emphasis now should be on your immediate needs. You will not gain anything by deciding or feeling pressure to decide something under duress.
  • Expect emotional reactions—emotions run high after a disaster and swing back and forth. Some people are elated, because it’s over; others are depressed, because things are such a mess. Fear is likely to continue for some time. Do not ignore these feelings and reactions as they come up; address them with love and understanding.
  • Take in enough food and water—provided you still have your reserves, stay hydrated and nourished in order to maintain energy and stay as comfortable as possible.
  • Stay off the phone—lines will be jammed, if they are working at all. Conserve your cell phone batteries.

Short-Term Recovery

  • Once you’re sure the disaster is over, you move into the short-term recovery phase. Again, your first job is to stay safe. During this period (which could be anywhere from a few hours to several weeks), keep providing emotional support to each other, as the healing process is gradual.
  • Depending on the kind of disaster you’ve gone through, at this point, you’ll need to start making some decisions.
  • Do you or can you return home?
  • Do you need to find temporary housing? In doing so, do not rush to any conclusions. Calmly and rationally assess your situation. Now may be the time to activate your contact list.

Long-Term Recovery

  • For a particularly severe event, recovery can take time, and lots of it. In fact, it can take years before a community regains a sense of normalcy. Emotional reactions really set in at this stage. Children, even some adults, may suffer from nightmares or depression. The disaster preparations you made and practiced will help through this tough time. If the concerns persist, seek professional guidance; there is no shame in doing so.
  • Again, keep your cool, yet stand up for yourself when that’s required. Be as flexible and resourceful as the situation warrants. Speed-up/Expedite the recovery process with your identity papers and financial records. If for some reason they are not in your evacuation kit, access those that you mailed to a friend and start things moving forward.

Today in history: September 21, 1989 – Hurricane Hugo crashed ashore South Carolina, U.S.

A year ago, I wrote an article depicting the 25-year anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, the storm that destroyed many parts of historical Charleston, South Carolina. I took a ‘field trip’ to the areas that were destroyed, took real-time photos and compared my photos to images taken almost 3 decades prior. The comparative photos showed how much change occurred, the rebuilding of a city and community resilience.

Twenty-six years ago, the low country was hit hard with extreme weather, but currently, other cities around the country are experiencing their own weather crises.

Flash Flooding: Utah

Last week, Tropical Depression Sixteen-E brought the deadliest flash flood to Utah history. Zion National Park received .063 inches of rain within an hour, causing the Virgin River to rise at an exponential rate. Twenty people are believed to be dead because of the storm, while one child remains missing.

The deadly flash flood occurred just days after Envision Utah released a study focusing on disaster resiliency. The survey, ‘Your Utah, Your Future’ involved “nearly 53,000 Utah residents who were asked to weigh in on scenarios crafted for 11 key issues.”

The key findings: Utah residents are willing to pay more upfront to be more resilient and prepared for a disaster. Seventy-eight percent of the survey’s participants said they are “willing to pay more for a house and their utilities if it means disruptions to their lives and community well-being are lessened after a disaster.” Respondents also noted recovery time needs to be lessened. This includes the recovery of utilities and the time it takes for businesses to reopen their doors.

In response to the survey, Lisa Sun, co-chairperson of the disaster resilience working group, said “I don’t think we have done as much as we could to prevent and mitigate disasters in the first place, before they happen.”

Unusual Rainfall: Los Angeles

Hurricane Linda brought an unusual amount of rain to Los Angeles. The California city typically sees .24” of rain in September. On September 15, it received 2.39”. That is almost ten times as much rain in ONE day than in a full month. As you can imagine, the day was not typical. Three water rescues were conducted and a three-story apartment building in West Hollywood was evacuated after water entered the roof.

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