October 30, 2013

Aftermath of Superstorm Sandy - One Year Later - A Look Back

Aftermath of Superstorm Sandy
One Year Later - A Look Back

Superstorm Sandy as she heads towards NYC/NJ
Sandy started as a low pressure system that first formed into a tropical depression on October 22nd, 2012 just south of Jamaica. As it progressed north  Sandy yo-yo'ed from hurricane status to extratropical, to tropical storm conditions back to hurricane status. At peak intensity Hurricane Sandy reached sustained winds of 115 MPH, had a lowest internal pressure of 940 millibars, and was roughly moving between 10-20 MPH through the Atlantic ocean.
Sandy's Long and Variable Track to NJ
Hurricane Sandy affected a total of 9 different countries, killing at least 280 people and injuring over a dozen. The United States had at least 24 states effected in this storm, which later ends up becoming the 2nd costliest hurricane in US history, behind only Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Sandy causes an estimated 65 billion dollars worth of destruction in her wake.
Superstorm Sandy as seen from NY
Hurricane Sandy topped out at a Category 3 hurricane, it was the 10th hurricane of the year- and the second most powerful of the 2012 hurricane season. Sandy made not one but three landfalls during her travels through the Atlantic- one in Jamaica on 10/24/2012, one in Cuba on 10/25/2012, and one in New Jersey on 10/29/2012. At its widest, Sandy covered 820 miles- more than double of Hurricane Isaac and Irene combined.
Manhattan without power Post-Sandy
Hurricane Sandy also directly and indirectly killed tens of thousands of animals during the storm, the most alarming of those numbers where the research animals that were just left to die in cages by the thousands. In the midst of despair and destruction however, life continued and several babies were born. Sandy is also 'blamed' for a baby boom that took place in NJ 9 months after the destruction.
Aerial View of Damage
Hurricane Sandy was deemed 'Superstorm Sandy' because of the unusual pattern of the storm, other names for the storm included Snowicane Sandy, Frankenstorm, and Snor'eastercane Sandy. Not only did Sandy go against normal jet stream patterns because of a 'wall' over Greenland, but it also combined with a stalled Arctic front- giving us Superstorm Sandy. Along with Superstorm Sandy, the NY/NJ area saw a 13 foot storm surge which was likely increased due to rising sea levels in the last hundred years.

Aerial View of NJ Boardwalk Before and After Sandy
Superstorm Sandy caused an estimated 8,000,000,000+ homes to be without power throughout 17 states, even as far as Michigan. There were still people in NJ the day before Thanksgiving that still did not have any power. An estimated 10,000 plus turkeys were donated by City Harvest to help families in need during the holiday. It took 57,000 workers from 30 different states and Canada to finally get the power restored to New York City alone. 12 people died of carbon monoxide poising from not realizing they had to vent their portable generators fumes outside.

Flooded Subway Systems in Manhattan
FEMA received over 125,000 applications for assistance post-Sandy, and received over $100 million dollars to help those in need. The Red Cross passed out well over 100,000 comfort kits in the days after Sandy. There was also a gas shortage for a week in the Tri-State area due to the storm, and lines that ended in riots and fights. The gas ration last in NYC for 15 days, NJ for 11, and Long Island for 9.

Debris washed up along Shore line
Superstorm Sandy shut down the New York Stock Exchange for 2 days causing an estimated 25 billion worth of lost activity, an event that hadn't been seen in over 120 years. The US Supreme Court was also shut down for a day during Sandy. Travel by air, rail, bus, and road was shut down for days, affecting well over 1 million travelers, and a total of almost 20,000 flights had been canceled because of the storm. Social networking flourished in these times- with over 600 Sandy related photos being uploaded every minute, and more than 20 million tweets during the 2 days before and after the storm hit.

Cars Submerged by storm surge flooding in NYC
President Obama signed Emergency Declarations ahead of the storm, allowing some states to take extra measures against the storm. The President also put an estimated 45,000 National Guardsmen and Air Force members on alert across 7 states to help out during and in the wake of the storm. 5 US states issued both suggested and mandatory evacuation orders a head of the storm.

Sandy storm surge causing damage along coastline of NY
Sandy cancelled and/or postponed Halloween for millions of children across several states- the likes to which most had never seen. Well over 1,500 FEMA members were deployed to help out with post-Sandy related work, the Red Cross sent about 4,000 workers in as well. Federal search and rescue task forces were also sent to the Mid-Atlantic region to help out. A television music special aired to raise funds for the Red Cross and Sandy relief efforts, an estimated 23 million dollars was raised, also Disney/ABC raised 17 million for disaster relief.

Flooded Streets in NY
Scientists later found that the energy released by Superstorm Sandy would be that of a 2-3 magnitude earthquake. NJ closed all of its Atlantic City Casinos, and a 50 foot piece of boardwalk is ripped off their shoreline. 10 billion gallons of raw sewage was released into the waters surrounding NY/NJ during Sandy- the East River overflowed its banks as well as the Hudson River in NJ. 
Destroyed Roller Coaster on Pier in NJ Shore
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Ohio lost its siding, Lake Huron saw 23 foot waves, and a foot of snow fell because of Sandy in Kentucky. Hundreds of flights were cancelled in Canada, and thousand lost power. A huge amount of people were affected by Superstorm Sandy, and because of that it will never be forgotten. the World Meteorological Organization retired the name Sandy in 2012- replacing it with Sara for future storms. To this day over one-fourth of the people displaced by Sandy haven't returned to their homes. Remember that the next time the big one rolls through.
 If you live in the Tri-State are please read:
The Big One - Aaron Naparstek

&& Remember, always be prepared!

xoxo disaster girl

October 25, 2013

Stephen King's Under The Dome Comes to Life - Houston Plans Dome City

Houston wants to build a big ole' dome to 'protect its citizens', of course. Houston should probably let neighboring towns like Sugarland, Pearland, Pasadena, and  La Porte know that they'll be breaching a couple city land boundaries to make this all possible though. While the idea of finally protecting infrastructure that is greatly hindered by natural disasters and severe weather, I still firmly believe that there are other ways to shelter and save without going to the ridiculous length of cutting off an area of civilization from the outside world. This isn't the first time that a dome city was proposed here in the US, and actually this will be the third time that it was suggested and (more than likely) forgotten, at least one would hope.

The first time a desire to dome a city for its own well being came out was back in the 1960s when President Buckminster Fuller (Yea, I know.. Who?) suggested that Midtown Manhattan be domed for weather reasons and pollution reduction. Obviously that idea was shot down, as Midtown doesn't have a dome nowadays- but it's pretty interesting to think about what would have happened to the city if it was approved. The second time it was suggested was in Winooski, Vermont where the locals wanted to reduce heating costs in the winter months, it was later decided that it a pretty extreme idea to cut costs. Now Houston wants one, so that they can protect the city and its people from severe weather, natural disasters and infrastructure damage.

Elsewhere in the world, where stupidity is obviously very lacking, a dome has only been suggested once. And as luck would have it the Siberians who thought of it were smart enough to know that it wasn't a people protector, but rather a pretty useless protector of a large hole that no one was really bothering with. *Ahem.. Houston, Do you copy?*

Apparently though someone from Houston was pretty impressed when China placed a 'dome' in the Olympics to save on energy costs (Okay, I know, it was a cube.) and since China pretty much owns us anyway- Houston said 'Hey! Let's Give it a Go!". Hopefully they really think this stuff out though, and if not I'm sure Steven Spielberg can make it a movie- and Disney/Epcot can make it a theme park.

Discovery Channel Houston Dome Coverage

 Which big city facing common natural disaster threats will be domed next?

xoxo disaster girl

P.F.S. Links for the Curious
Concerns about Dome Project Voiced
Houston Plans to Dome City
Domed City Wiki
Beijing National Aquativs Center (Summer 2008 Olympics)

October 20, 2013

Disaster Kit Recommendations - Duct Tape, Duct Tape, and More Duct Tape!

There's no such thing as having too much duct tape!

Duct tape is literally the worlds most versatile product that I can think of with its uses being literally boundless, and countless new ideas flooding reality daily. Personally, I can think of at least a couple dozen situations where duct tape helped me out greatly. The last being the giant spider on my 12 foot ceiling, combined with a swifter dry sweeper.. well let's just say that spider had seen better days. Below is a ridiculously long list of the survival uses of duct tape, and a few notable ones I threw in for good measure. Be forewarned though, using duct tape on a regular basis can lead to strange things..

The Many, Many, Many Uses of Duct Tape
  1. Fixing tears/holes/breaks in just about anything. (Tents, boats, glasses, pools, clothing, roofs, house siding, garbage cans, screens, arrows, window cracks, minor car issues, poles, sleeping bags, water bottles, boxes, backpacks, etc.)
  2. Make a rope, clothesline,cords, ETC.
  3. Create butterfly bandages, and regular band-aids when in a bind. You can also use rolled up sections to pad/prevent a blister!
  4. Use duct tape to line the interior of clothes/boots/shelter when extra insulation is needed! Exterior when waterproofing is needed!
  5. Making/adding/attaching shelter elements to where you're staying. (I.E. stringing lights, attaching hidden weapons, etc)
  6. Make cups, plates, hats, clothing, handcuffs, shoes, sandals, CPR masks, paddles, reflective signaling, harnesses, sandbags, sunglasses, wallets, utility belts, first aid slings, containers, etc.. this list literally goes on and on.
  7. Resealing packages/containers- especially FOOD packages when camping outdoors!
  8. Use duct tape to reinforce knots when unsure of their durability.
  9. Use it to write with (by making the letters out of tape) or to write on!
  10. Hanging tape works great as a fly and mosquito catcher! You can attach small dots of sugar to attract them as well!
  11. Spear making! Use duct tape to attach your knife to a study stick and you now have a spear!
  12. Wrap a sprained ankle, broken wrist- use it to attach a stick to splint broken bones to keep them stabilized.
  13. Use duct tape to mark a trail when hiking and traveling (or a fake trail if you think you're being followed :)
  14. Wadded up duct tape can be used as a fire starter when you have no other options!
  15. Use it to seal off clothing cuffs to prevent nasty tick bites, and more.

xoxo disaster girl

October 15, 2013

Future Troopers - The Human Interference Task Force - Protecting Humanity from Stupidity Since 1981

The Human Interference Task Force

The Human Interference Task Force or HITF is just as it sounds, a group of people who are tasked with coming up with ways to protect humanity from itself. HITF was commissioned by the US Department of Energy and Bechtel Corporation in 1981 after it became apparent that long term efforts would be needed to protect future humans from nuclear waste leftover and 'hidden' on Earth specifically the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in the US. Based on the fact that some radioactive isotopes can survive for 24,000 years (I.E. plutonium), HITF was created to come up with ways to continue warning people of the dangers of these nuclear waste repositories long after 'we' (the current and next generations) were gone. Since language has changed so much even in the last 1,0000 years with many dying or already dead, the DOE gathered scientists, linguists, archaeologists, engineers, science fiction writers, anthropologists, nuclear physicists, futurists, behavioural scientists, as well as many others to come up with ways of getting the message across in the long term. The 'long term' of course differs between groups of specialists working on these ideas: the smallest being 10,000 years and the highest being One millions years. Below are some of the ideas that the HITF has come up with so far, they currently have another 15 years before plans are submitted to the US Government in 2028.

The Ideas

  1. Atomic Priesthood - Thomas Sebeok - A panel of experts who would be replaced by a council when needed
  2. Satellites - Stanislaw Lem -  Artificial satellites that would transmit messages to Earth for a thousand years
  3. DNA Coding - Stanislaw Lem - DNA with mathematical coding embedded in them, designed to reproduce automatically
  4. Information Plants -  Stanislaw Lem -  Plants designed to only grow near nuclear sites, coded with locations & dangers
  5. Radiation Cats - Francoise Bastide & Paolo Fabbri - Cats that would change color dramatically near radioactive danger
  6. Warning Signs - Vilmos Voigt -  Signs added (never removed) every so many years with the evolution of language shown
  7. High Tech -  Emil Kowalski - only house in buildings that require a high tech generation, they will likely understand more
  8. Marking Deep Time Studio - Jamie Kruse & Elizabeth Ellsworth - signs marking every nuclear site ever

But that's just the future plans, here's what they already have underway in this facility:
Waste Isolation Pilot Plant - Carlsbad, New Mexico

 Passive Institutional Controls -  
  1. Outer perimeter wall that covers 4 square miles made of granite that is 25 feet high, that wall surrounds another 'earthen' wall 33 feet high, which also surrounds another wall of granite pillars. At the center is another smaller room also made of granite that gives all information needed to protect future generations from exposure.
  2. Legacy - Distribution of all necessary information to all archives and libraries around the world.
  3. Approved Languages: English, Spanish, Russian, French, Chinese, Arabic, Navajo, Modern Radiation Signs
  4. Considered Languages: Pictograms, Stick Figures, Future Languages

That's some great prep work right there, DOE. Good work.

xoxo disaster girl

P.F.S. Links for the Curious

October 11, 2013

String Theory & The God Particle as explained by Tim Blais

A Capella Science

McGill grad student Tim Blais is officially my new favorite youtuber. The videos Tim creates are genius mixed with unabashed silliness, the likes to which we've only seen once before in Einstein. Tim, if you see this- please keep making more! 

For the rest of you, Enjoy!

xoxo disaster girl

October 3, 2013

Gulf Threats - Tropical Depression Karen - Updated 10/7 12AM

Tropical Depression Karen

Tropical     Storm     Karen
Max Ssd.  Winds:   30  MPH
Moving: North East at 2 MPH
Min.  Pressure:   1009  MB-
Last Updated: 10/ 07/ 2013
US Land  Impacts:  LA, MS,
AL,  GA,  FL,  - Gulf  Coast

Storm Related Events
-FEMA is doing a "limited recall" of workers in affected areas, over 80% were furloughed in recent government shutdown.
-Mississippi declares State of Emergency in preparation of storm-This storm is expected to make two landfalls, one in Louisiana and another in the Florida Panhandle
-Alabama declares State of Emergency due to likely impact from Karen.
-New Orleans & Louisiana declare State of Emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Karen
-Hurricane watches for coastal cities no longer in effect as of the morning of 10/5.
-Evacuation orders in Louisiana eased as storm loses punch.

All warnings discontinued as Karen dissipates and becomes a remnant low.

xoxo disaster girl