All posts by Butch

Assignment #4- Unit 8

a. Was it easy or difficult to find your community’s plan? Describe how long it took, or in the extreme case, that you never actually found it online.

It was relatively easy to find it. I do not live in an incorporated city. So I took a look at the web site for the Kenai Peninsula Borough. They are using a new web site, and I was not familiar with the new site. There was a quick link to the old one. There I was able to enter a search for “emergency management”. After that, I sifted through the “2-1-1” and fema links to find the info I was looking for that the borough created.

b. Describe one thing you think shows your community is well-prepared in case of a disaster.

Recently the borough had discovered that the early warning system was inaccurate and delayed. This discovery was made when a tsunami warning was given to everyone in the borough and not the desired targeted areas. Every cell phone and reverse 911 land line got a warning for a tsunami, when only a hand full of communities were intended and needed to have the warning. They have since found a new vendor for this service. Testing of the new system have proved it to be prompt, accurate and reliable. These warnings are used for earth quake, tsunami, volcano and wild land fires.

c. Describe one way you think an improvement could be made to your community’s plan.

The biggest threat historically to the area is wildfire. There is not any thing in the formal plan about this. The borough should work with the division of forestry to have “drive by’s” done and letters mailed to home owners with a grading of how fire wise their homes are. Fire wise is a program used by the DOF to help people keep their homes safe from wildfire. This non invasive means of helping specific residents would cost little, take little time and could lead to an improvement.

d. Answer the following question: Do you feel better or worse about how well your community is prepared after reading it’s plan?

I am indifferent. When the rubber meets the road, every one is responsible for them selves. They have the plan because they should. But I don’t trust in their ability to actually do more than inform me that something is happening as opposed to actually helping me mitigate the problem at my door step.

e. Read through all the other student’s posts and comment on the one that you think shows the best prepared community of all. =)

Disaster Resilience in Alaska

The Main point of the article is forced migration of Alaskan communities due to climate change, flooding, and erosion. The question that I feel is relevant to our topic is how does this relocation of a community effect its resilience? There are 3 key points that I have concluded from the article are: First, there are multiple communities needing re-locations. Second, each community is involved in an ad hoc process with state and federal government agencies that are struggling to provide protection to the communities while they grapple with the need to work out a relocation process. And finally, the list of rights that the relocating communities need to be afforded…which are:

  • allow the affected community to be a key player in the relocation process

  • ensure culturally and linguistically appropriate mechanisms for participation and consultation

  • ensure families and tribes remain together during relocation

  • keep socio-cultural institutions intact

  • protect subsistence rights and customary communal rights to resources

  • safeguard rights to safe and sanitary housing, potable water, education and other basic amenities

  • implement sustainable development opportunities as part of the relocation process (and thereby enhance community resilience).

Each of which would allow the community to be resilient even with all the extreme changes going on. I selected this article due to the fact that it is an on going process. One that I think relates to the idea of community resilience. I don’t believe that once prepared for a disaster that you are always defended against it. The idea of resiliency is an ever changing, ever on going process. Nature changes, as does technologies, and people; hence why a resilience effort would need to keep changing and keep improving.

Academic Article:

http://www.fmreview.org/es/node/3437.html

Case Study 2 Week 3

Sources Found that talk about the Human Impact:

The Second Case Study- Tsunami

 

My favorite resource that I found was probably the Youtube link. I chose this one because if you are looking at it wanting to know the human impact then watching a video is better than reading an article. The video will help you tap into the emotion of the people that were involved in this Tsunami (or any disaster). I think most of this information is accurate, however, due to the media involvement everything must be taken with a grain of salt.

Tsunami Game

One thing that I found that was annoying and I didn’t understand, was that people were just standing on the beach/grass. Even after the evacuation was issued they were still there. I would like to have seen this evacuation actually take place to see if it was those people that did not evacuate that were injured or if it was the people in the structures that I built.

Casestudy #2 Week 2- Mitigation

The tsunami warning service, which has at least six regional centers, currently sends signals from 180 seismic stations across Japan and about 80 water-borne sensors are monitored 24 hours a day by a computerized Earthquake and Tsunami Observation System (ETOS). To get warnings out quickly, the Japan Meteorological Agency and media have developed a system to superimpose alerts on TV screens as soon as they are issued. In addition, warnings are sent to local officials via a satellite system that acts as a back-up to land-based communications. Local officials activate sirens and loudspeaker systems, and also decide if an evacuation advisory is needed (Reuters.com, 2011). When looking at the numbers (~1000) the warning systems of nowdays versus the tsunami of 1896 (22,000), it is easy to see that the warning systems have a great impact on the number of lives saved. So I would wager to say that the warning system is an effective mitigation method.

Fukushima Japan 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami

  • Name, location, and when the disaster happened: Fukushima Japan 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami (Fukushima Disaster)
  • Type of plate boundary or basic weather process involved:This quake occurred in a subduction zone between the Eurasian and Pacific plates meet. Lasting 5 minutes, the 9.0 earthquake was so powerful that it altered the Earth’s axis. This was Japan’s strongest ever. This energy caused a change in elevation of the sea floor. At 24.4 km deep, this was a very shallow earthquake.
  • Specific type of event (type of earthquake fault, type of volcano hazard, etc): Subduction type earthquake followed by a Tsunami which change the sea elevation.
  • Most interesting thing I learned so far about the event or type of hazard: Is that the initial tsunami was only 4 meters high, yet the friction from the seafloor against the lower wave speed caused the tsunami height to increase.

Week 3 Case Study 1

All of these resources cover many of the same things, yet they all highlight important differences:

http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/fires/article192402749.html

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-california-fire-seasons/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/05/us/california-fire.html

http://abcnews.go.com/US/31-dead-horrific-california-wildfires-hundreds-missing/story?id=50383162

https://phys.org/news/2017-10-california-wine-country-destructive.html

My favorite resource that I found was from the LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-california-fire-seasons/

This is my favorite resource because it talks about the Urban/Wildland development mix. Without an Urban mix into the Wildland Firefighting realm the loss of lives would greatly reduce, the importance of “putting out” the fire is nearly gone, and firefighting resources could be moved to a more endangered place. One thing that was said in this article was the proactive thought process from stopping a repeat of this 2017 fire season: “We could do better on land-use planning and how we build communities and where we place them,” said Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science at UC Berkeley. “In Northern California, there’s an underappreciation of communities’ vulnerability to fire.” One of the things that our mortgage lender pointed out to us when we were looking to buy our house was “Is it firewise? What fires have been in the area in the last ten years?” Etc… I have not heard of this being asked in the lower 48, I think that this would be a very wise thing to encourage being gone over before purchasing a house in an area that is extremely prone to wild/urban fires.

For those of you doing Wildfires in your first case study I’d love to here your thoughts on these articles (or at least my favorite one).

So-Cal Fires Week 1 Assignment 3

Name, location, and when the disaster happened:

Southern California Wildfires of 2017

Type of plate boundary or basic weather process involved:

The fires in So-Cal were classified as stand-replacement fires.  Preventing frequent natural caused ground fires can increase the fuel load of a particular area. When in especial times of drought occur, this sets the stage for a stand-replacement fire.

Specific type of event (type of earthquake fault, type of volcano hazard, etc):

This is a stand-replacement wildfire.

Most interesting thing you learned so far about the event or type of hazard:

The most interesting thing that I have learned so far is that this area is one where wildland firefighting was born and yet the residents are some of the least prepared to deal with a wildfire.

Wildfires and Tsunamis

My first case study that I have selected is the wild fires of California in 2017. This topic in general is one I am passionate for personally. There are many personal opinions I have in the matter that are backed by science and some are personal opinions. There are several main topics that I will be selecting to learn more about as I write. These three topics include; fire regimes, wild land urban interface and fire response. Wild land fires play an important role in ecology. They also pose a threat to human life and quality of life. Wild land fire management is extremely expensive and can be very dangerous. Hard lessons are learned when disasters strike. Many known facts are often overlooked until it is too late. The 2017 wild fires in California are no exception.

In 2017, California had nearly 1.4 million acres burn. For the most part, wild fires do not cause fatalities. This year was particularly deadly. 45 civilians perished. One line of duty death occurred when a bulldozer operator rolled down a hillside. 199 civilians were injured as well as 12 firefighters. from October through the end of the year there was a very high intensity of wildfires. Several thousand homes were lost. Southern California has a very important roll in how wild land fire fighting is managed. During the 1960’s So-Cal experienced some of the greatest like disasters on record. Wild land urban interface fire fighting was born there. Great efforts were had to mitigate future disasters. These included building codes regarding types of non native plants, proximity of vegetation to structures, building construction etc. So-Cal has taught the world how to best mitigate loss of human life and property during wild land fires. So-Cal also has a higher population than 43 of the United States. Albeit the high number of structures there, a large amount of wild land exists and is managed by the State of California.

The fires in So-Cal had different origins ranging from human caused to natural. From a lost hunter firing a signal flare to dry lightning strikes. Whatever the cause, the devastation was enormous.

The basic concept of how wild land fires behave, the size, intensity and affect is called a fire regime. The study of past and future fire regimes tell us a great deal about the affects of how the fire spread, what vegetation burned, what was salvaged and how the ecosystem recovered. Particularly for So-Cal, there are many steep sloping hillsides full of grass and brush with homes scattered throughout. Grass and brush can spread with the intensity of a gasoline fire. Coupled with high speed winds, low humidity levels for an extended amount of time, drought and a high fuel load, these contributed to the intensity of the fire. One of these fires in particular happened at night. Nation wide, ground crews rarely fight fire at night. This is a huge safety precaution. Air support typically attacks these fires at their source of origin as a part of an aggressive initial attack. By morning, this fire was out of control and fire crews were not able to contain it before destroying homes.

As population grows, the greater the strain on fire departments to respond. There is a high cost associated with providing fire suppression. Municipal fire departments can cost around 12 million dollars to build a single fire station and fill it with apparatus to respond. State resources are especially stretched thin with apparatus. One of the most affective means of fire suppression in rough terrain is air craft. Helicopters and air tankers dump expensive fire retardant that is harmful to aquatic life. In an area where natural water sources are rare, these aircraft are often impeded by needing to return to be filled manually with water before making a return to the fire line.

Many residents in the most affected areas reported having lived there for several decades and generations. There was no memory of a significant wild fire. Forests have a need to replenish them selves. The fires in So-Cal were classified as stand-replacement fires. The entire forest canopy was destroyed. All dominant species were killed. This totally changed the landscape and will welcome a new dominant species. When large trees such as Ponderosa Pine are the dominant species, often as man and nature permit, ground fires occur and maintain a healthy forest. The ground duff, including leaf litter, many invertebrates and small shrubbery are destroyed to allow new growth that supports animal life. The tall pine trees help hold moisture in the soil and shade the area. When no ground fires occur to clear out the undergrowth it is possible to affect the entire ecology of that area. Preventing frequent natural caused ground fires can increase the fuel load of a particular area. When in especial times of drought occur, this sets the stage for a stand-replacement fire.

Studies of the importance of fungi, invertebrates, young plant life are being done to show how they relate to fresh water animal life. Can over managing forest fires be the cause of these high intensity, destructive fires? What of the unknown affects on the aquifer? These are questions that could be a big help in successful wild land management.

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My second case study is the Japanese Earthquake and tsunami. The three things I would like to learn are; What kind of earthquake caused the tsunami? What did Japan do to mitigate the affect of the tsunami? What were some tertiary affects of the tsunami after the event ended?

Japan sits at the conjuncture of several tectonic plates. The North American, Pacific, Eurasian and Philippine plates all come together at Japan. Even parts of Japan sit on different plates. This quake occurred in a subduction zone between the Eurasian and Pacific plates meet. Lasting 5 minutes, the 9.0 earthquake was so powerful that it altered the Earth’s axis. This was Japan’s strongest ever. This energy caused a change in elevation of the sea floor. At 24.4 km deep, this was a very shallow earthquake. Early warning signals worked perfectly. Just seconds after it was detected, centers around the world were alerted. Text messages were dispatched, alerts interrupted political broadcasts and sirens alerted people to take cover. Initially the tsunami was only 4 meters high. A Japanese coast guard ship hit it head on. A camera recorded two waves, one right after another. As the wave raced at jet airliner speed toward land, the sea depth became shallower. The friction of the sea floor against the wave lowered the speed, but increased the overall height of the wave. At 5 meters, Japan had built the world’s tallest sea wall. Despite this, the tsunami overcame the sea wall and destroyed the lives of everyone in its path.

Inland, where a small river had been, a salt water lake formed. The tsunami brought the water into a valley located above sea level. The salt lake remains today. Liquefaction of the ground affected the aquifer. The stability of the earth to rebuild was made inadequate from the liquefaction. The most significant hazard that remained after the tsunami was gone was the Fukushima nuclear meltdown. This would become the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Initially after detecting the earthquake, the plant shut down, diverted to alternate diesel generators to pump coolant to the reactors. Soon after the shaking stopped, the tsunami hit the plant. Fukushima was located right against the sea shore. Uncontrollable fires burned, radiation leaked into the ocean and surrounding area. The true data of people getting cancer, affecting the fisheries and agriculture may not be obtained. Non-bias studies should be performed to determine this.

References

The First Case Study

The Second Case Study