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 extremely easy to find Juneau’s emergency plan. All I had to do was google “Juneau emergency plan” and the first link was to the City and Borough of Juneau’s Emergency Management plan.
b. Describe one thing you think shows your community is well-prepared in case of a disaster
Juneau has an extremely accessible, organized and informative webpage ran by the City. Compared to other cities, not only do I feel like Juneau does a great job of informing the people of what the risks are but also providing them information for them to prepare for the risks. For example Fairbanks’ emergency management page appear outdated and hard to find vital information.
c. Describe one way you think an improvement could be made to your community’s plan.
Recent papers have showed that submarine landslides around Juneau are posing a higher threat of generating a tsunami than previously thought before. The website however never mentions anything about a submarine landslide triggered tsunami. With the right circumstances, a large tsunami could directly hit Auke Bay, an important area to fisherman and tour companies, as well as the airport which is located almost very close to the ocean.
d. Answer the following question: Do you feel better or worse about how well your community is prepared after reading it’s plan?
I feel much better about how Juneau is prepared. As far as I knew, the only addressed disasters throughout the community was the threat of avalanches off of Mt. Juneau and Mt. Roberts, both of which are directly adjacent to the downtown area. As it turns out, the City & Borough have spent an extensive amount of time on assuring the people of Juneau have the information they need regarding the risks of Juneau and the mitigation methods that should be executed.
To better prepare my home for an earthquake, I relocated my fry cooker to a lower area. Incase of a large earthquake, such as the Denali Fault earthquake in 2002, one doesn’t want large items falling off from the tops of shelves or out of high cabinets, especially ones that can cause extraneous hazards. My fry cooker was previously located in one of my tops shelves. Because of the odd and circular large shape that the cooker has, I wasn’t able to fully close the cabinet door that it sat in. If an earthquake hit earthquake intense enough to knock things off of high shelves, I certainly don’t want a quart of oil splattered all over my kitchen floor, which is the most efficient exit path. Furthermore, I replaced the fry cooker with tupperware. Tupperware is a good thing to store in high kitchen cabinets because if they were to fall out of the cabinets, it would do virtually no damage to anything or anyone hit by them.
My favorite resource is also a case study of the Armero Tragedy. This resource is useful primarily because of the organized and obvious facts it presents. A lot of the information that I have learned in my various research so far on this tragedy parallels the details given in the case study. Not only that, but there is additional information given that I did not previously know. Ultimately, this resource presents useful and new facts in a “to the point” and efficient manner.
Something I learned from this week was that there actually was an evacuation issued for the surrounding towns of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano. Previously, I though the Colombian government was notified of the risk of eruption and mudslides, and they simply just brushed it under the rug. Actually, the government did contact Red Cross to notify an evacuation, but due to stormlike conditions mixed with the heavy ashfall from the eruptions, there was a power outage in that particular area. Regardless, the Red Cross could’ve sent units out there to spread the word once they realized their messages were not being received. This would’ve gave the residents at least three hours to get to higher ground before the series of lahars decimated Armero.
My second case study is focused on the Armero Tragedy – the deadliest lahar in recorded history. Seeing as the volcano mitigation game focuses primarily on the actual eruptive aspect of a volcano and not the landslide/lahar aspect, I decided it was best to play around with the flood game as well as come up with a few ideas for a landslide game.
The most useful thing about the flooding game was the little bits of information and advice they would periodically bestow on you as you progressed through the game. The more the game advised me, the more comfortable I was with making decisions regarding the safety of the town.
Something that got annoying to me was the time it took to preform upgrades on buildings. Realistically, if a town had to put up new buildings in preparation for a known destructive event, one would think that the proper “upgrades” would be included with the building originally. It would make the experience more worthwhile if there was an option that included the appropriate upgrades upon each time you built something, for more time could be focused on protecting and developing other areas.
In my eyes, a fun and engaging landslide mitigation game would follow nearly the exact format as the various mitigation games: as time went on, the towns risk of a landslide would increase ever so slightly. One would be assigned a budget and a number of people in need of protection and/or displacement due to their location in relation to an area likely to give way or act as a channel for a landslide. The budget would be used to build new homes for people to move out of landslide prone areas, as well as things like walls to catch sliding debris or chain-link meshes encasing slopes or anchors driven into rock faces. As one would progress through the game, they would be given hints that might help them in their future decision making upon their timing and strategy as far as when and where to conduct certain upgrades. Eventually, the landslide would ensue and the player would a receive a report card of sorts including information on casualty rate and number of homes destroyed.
On November 13, 1985 the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia erupted and triggered the deadliest lahar in recorded history. The presence of the volcano is due to the convergent margin formed by the Nazca plate subducting beneath the South American plate. Again, the eruption wasn’t the deadly factor, but the lahar that the eruption generated is responsible for burying 25,000 people. The most interesting thing that I have learned thus far is that the Colombian government was actually warned about an eruption here and chose not to evacuate. This evacuation without a doubt would have saved thousands of lives, so it is still a mystery to me why it wasn’t executed.
The human rights impact of Hurricane Katrina
My favorite resource that I found is :
One reason I enjoyed this resource because it tells the path of Katrina after passing through New Orleans. I had no idea that this storm eventually delineated into a frontal zone that moved across the Great Lakes. Although that system has little to no chance of causing any significant damages, I still thought it was interesting. Additionally, this articles touches on the health hazards present during the flooding periods of Katrina, such as potential spread of West Nile virus and mold. On top of that, the extended period of time that New Orleans spent underwater created an optimal breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Maybe one of the biggest mitigation failures in history, the biggest reason why Katrina was such a devastating, destructive and costly was directly due to the failures of the levees bordering New Orleans. With a storm surge as high as 28 feet in some places, the levees failure allowed water from the Gulf of Mexico to directly pour into New Orleans and decimate the city. To adjust for future mega storms, I see three options. One is to elevate the city so that it’s entirely above sea level (way too costly), another being the entire displacement of New Orleans (too far fetched and will naturally happen eventually anyways). Lastly, replacing the levees with towering walls would be the most ideal way to keep a storm surge out, however that would have drastic environmental impacts on the shallow waters of the coast. It seems like eventually, New Orleans will have to move inland whether it be from persistent large storm surges in hurricane season or the rise of sea level.
One thing that this mitigation simulation helped me better understand is the anchoring of basic items such as telephone poles, street signs, and oil drums. Not only are telephone poles necessary for communication, but they can be destructive if uplifted from the ground due to the gale force winds. Not to mention, an oil drum could be a fire hazard during a hurricane, which sounds like the absolute recipe for hell on Earth.
Something that I thought was unrealistic about the simulation was the time limit. Sure, disaster can strike with little to no warning, but you’d think that all of these renovations and preparations would be conducted in the hurricane off-season, not 20 minutes before a storm hits.
Aside from that, I love the idea of the game and the learning experience that comes with it.