National Severe Weather Preparedness Week March 2-8, 2014 #BeAForce

February 28, 2014

Photo: FEMAMost states across the U.S. set aside a week in February or March to observe their own local Severe Weather Awareness week , but NOAA, FEMA and others will be promoting National Severe Weather Preparedness Week March 2-8, 2014.

As we’ve seen year after year, March brings all kinds of wild weather and chaos like thunderstorms, tornadoes, high winds and flooding. And there are still chances of snow storms and hard freezes in various parts of the country so we all need to be prepared for Mother Nature’s mood swings.

The goal of National Severe Weather Preparedness Week is to inform the public about severe weather hazards and provide knowledge which can be used to prepare and take action. These actions can be used to save lives anywhere – at home, in schools, and in the workplace before extreme weather strikes. As NOAA says… Be a Force of Nature by knowing your risk, taking action and being an example where you live.

Facts & Figures

In 2013, there were seven weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. These events included five severe weather and tornado events, a major flood event, and the western drought/heat wave. Overall, these events killed 109 people and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted.

Globally, losses from natural catastrophes in 2013 were somewhat moderate: the direct overall losses of around US$125bn remained below the average of the past ten years (US$184bn) according to Munich Re. Sadly, in a total of 880 major disasters around the world in 2013, more than 20,000 people were killed, but this figure is significantly below the average of the past ten years (106,000).

Take the Next Step 

NOAA and FEMA’s Be a Force of Nature: Take the Next Step campaign encourages the public to take a single preparedness action during each day of National Severe Weather Preparedness Week.

For example, according to NOAA’s Social Media Plan, daily themes include…

  • Sunday, March 2nd – National Severe Weather Preparedness Week Launch
  • Monday, March 3rd – Know your Severe Weather Risk
  • Tuesday, March 4th – Build an Emergency Kit
  • Wednesday, March 5th – Make an Emergency Plan
  • Thursday, March 6th – Emergency Alert Warnings
  • Friday, March 7th – Be a Force of Nature – Take Action
  • Saturday, March 8th – Summary

In addition to the below educational resources, visit NOAA’s online toolkit page to find some materials, social media tools, a poster and more to help spread the word during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week.

Flood and Tsunami Awareness Weeks also in March

March 16 – 22, 2014 is National Flood Awareness week intended to highlight some of the many ways floods can occur, the hazards associated with floods, and what you can do to save life and property.

Visit www.nws.noaa.gov/floodsafety/ orwww.nws.noaa.gov/floodsafety/floodsafe.shtml to find tools, tips, brochures, videos and more.

And Tsunami Awareness Week is March 23 – 29, 2014 is designed to help cities, towns, counties, universities and other large sites in coastal areas reduce the potential for disastrous tsunami-related consequences using National Weather Service’s TsunamiReady program. Learn more at www.tsunamiready.noaa.gov 

Learn more

FLOOD resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mold cleanup tips

EPA’s 20-page guide, “Mold, Moisture and Your Home”

FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety Flood page

NOAA’s Flood Safety page

Ready Campaign flood safety awareness page

THUNDERSTORM and LIGHTNING Resources

National Weather Service Lightning Safety site

NWS Lightning Safety Tools for Teachers

Ready Campaign Thunderstorms & Lightning page

TORNADO Resources

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety Tornado page

NOAA Tornado safety tips

More NOAA Tornado tips

Ready Campaign Tornado page

The Tornado Project Online!

Or visit your state or local Emergency Management, Health, Fire, Police or Sheriff department’s website to find local emergency information, safety tips and tools to help you and your loved ones prepare for severe weather outbreaks.

Also learn more about our collaborative Public-Private Partnership ideas associated with our customizable book to help fund volunteers and first responders and educate local communities while saving them money! It’s a whole community approach to resilience and preparedness and can complement your Awareness campaigns. Read more

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Colorado floods (photos plus resources for victims and tips on how you can help)

September 23, 2013

flood-co homes2-smThe recent floods in Colorado destroyed about 2,000 homes in 17 counties, especially in hardest hit Boulder and Larimer counties.

Floodwaters have also damaged about 200 miles of road and 50 bridges, causing more than $2 billion in property losses and are blamed for spills of about 27,000 gallons of oil in northern Colorado oilfields.

As of today (23-Sep-2013), the confirmed death toll stands at eight and the number of missing has dropped to six, according to officials.

We’ve compiled some photos of the devastation from the National Guard and DoD archives, and including several links and resources at the bottom for those dealing with the disaster, as well as those who want to help communities impacted by the floods and landslides.

flood-co ng

U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Joseph K. VonNida

flood-co evac ng

U.S. Soldiers evacuate fifth-grade students from Firewood Elementary and the Denver public school system from Cal-wood and Balarat Camps during search and rescue operations from homes between Boulder and Lyons, Colo., Sept. 14, 2013. Colorado and Wyoming National Guard units were activated to provide assistance to people affected by massive flooding along Colorado’s Front Range. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Wallace Bonner/Released)

Floating cars

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Wallace Bonner

flood-co home fema

Jamestown, Colo., Sep. 15, 2013 — The small mountain town of 300 has been cut off because of Boulder County flood. FEMA Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) teams deployed to the state to help in Search and Rescue operations. Steve Zumwalt/FEMA

flood-co road army

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jonathan C. Thibault

Individuals in Colorado’s Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Clear Creek, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, Logan and Weld counties can apply for assistance and locate a Disaster Recovery Center

Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) and Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (COVOAD) have launched a website with data for people wanting to help those impacted by the Colorado floods and wildfires at www.helpcoloradonow.net

Also please read It’s A Disaster! Now what..? to learn more about the declaration process, tips on what to do (and not do) to help disaster victims, and more.

Our hearts go out to the families and businesses dealing with the disasters in Colorado and elsewhere around our planet. Remember … emergencies and disasters happen each and every day so learn how to prepare for and recover from various types of scenarios by downloading some free preparedness topics from our IT’S A DISASTER! book and please share them (and this post) with others.

Take care and stay safe out there, j & B

Sources: ABC News , DoD  and FEMA 


Hurricanes 101 (hurricane basics and resources)

May 29, 2013

hurricanes101-nhpw2013The National Weather Service launches it’s annual Hurricane Preparedness Week during the last week of May so we felt this was a good time to share some information about hurricanes in general.

The Seasons

As mentioned in our May 2013 enews, experts are predicting an active 2013 Atlantic season with 18 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes. A typical Atlantic hurricane season averages 12 named storms, 6.5 hurricanes, and two major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher). Some experts are even predicting a few storms may strike the northeast (like Sandy did last fall) since conditions are similar to the 1950s.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), over a typical 2-year period, the U.S. coastline is struck by an average of 3 hurricanes, 1 of which is classified as a major hurricane. And, while hurricanes pose the greatest threat to life and property, tropical storms and depressions also can be devastating.

The Pacific Hurricane Season runs from May 15th through November 30th (with peak season being July to September), and the Atlantic Hurricane Season starts June 1st ending November 30th (with peak season being mid-August to late October).

However, there have been instances where tropical storms and hurricanes have formed in May and December, plus typhoons and cyclones happen during other months in different parts of the world so our planet’s oceans stay active most of the year.

Hurricanes are tropical cyclones with torrential rains and winds of 74 – 155 miles per hour (120 – 250 km/h) or faster. These winds blow in a counter-clockwise direction (or clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere) around a center “eye”. The “eye” is usually 20 to 30 miles (32 to 48 km) wide, and the storm may be spread out as far as 400 miles (640 km)!

As the hurricane approaches the coast, a huge dome of water (called a storm surge) will crash into the coastline.

Hurricanes can also cause tornadoes, heavy rains and flooding along the impacted coastlines as well as far into the mainland states.

Did you know…

…the deadliest hurricane (cyclone) on record struck East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), flooding the low lying areas?! At least 500,000 deaths are blamed on the November 13, 1970 storm, with some estimates rising as high as 1 million.

hurricanes101-katrina-destruction…the deadliest U.S. hurricane was the Great Galveston category 4 hurricane on September 8, 1900 that caused at least 8,000 deaths on the Texas coast?!

…the costliest U.S. hurricane was Katrina (category 3) in 2005 that impacted Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee causing over $105 billion according to NOAA?! Hurricane / Superstorm Sandy is second costliest at about $50 billion.

…the 2005 U.S. season broke records with 27 named storms (previous record was 21 in 1933) and 15 hurricanes (previous record was 12 in 1969). The National Hurricane Center states this cycle could last 10-20 more years similar to the above-average activity from the 1940s through the 1960s.

…9 out of 10 hurricane deaths are due to storm surge (a rise in the sea level caused by strong winds). Storm surges can get up to 20 feet (6 m) high and 50 to 100 miles (80 to 160 km) wide!

…the northeast part (or right front quadrant) of a hurricane typically has the strongest winds and highest storm surge?! If it’s high tide when the storm slams ashore you could have serious problems.

Hurricane basics

The ingredients for a hurricane include a pre-existing weather disturbance, warm tropical oceans, moisture, and relatively light winds aloft. If the right conditions persist long enough, they can combine to produce the violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains, and floods we associate with this phenomenon.

Each year, an average of 11 tropical storms develop over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. Many of these remain over the ocean and never impact the U.S. coastline. About six of these storms become hurricanes each year.

In an average 3-year period, roughly five hurricanes strike the US coastline, killing approximately 50 to 100 people anywhere from Texas to Maine. Of these, two are typically “major” or “intense” hurricanes (a category 3 or higher storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale).

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

Hurricanes are classed into five categories based on wind speeds, central pressure, and damage potential. The chart below is the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale with sustained wind speeds and examples of damage (in italics) provided by NOAA:

Category 1   (74-95 mph / 119-153 km/h)  Dangerous winds will produce some damage (Untied mobile homes, vegetation & signs)

Category 2  (96-110 mph / 154-177 km/h )  Extremely dangerous winds / extensive damage (All mobile homes, roofs, small crafts, floods)

Category 3  (111-129 mph / 178-208 km/h)  Devastating damage will occur (Small buildings, low-lying roads cut off)

Category 4 (130-156 mph / 209-251 km/h)  Catastrophic damage will occur (Roofs and mobile homes destroyed, trees down, beach homes flooded)

Category 5 (> 156 mph / >251 km/h) Catastrophic damage will occur (Most buildings and vegetation destroyed, major roads cut off, homes flooded)

Naming a hurricane

Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms have been named from lists originated by the National Hurricane Center and now maintained and updated by an International committee of the World Meteorological Organization. The lists featured only women’s names until 1979, when men’s and women’s names were alternated. Six lists are used in rotation. Thus, the 2001 list will be used again in 2007. The only time there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate and the name is retired by the WMO. Retiring a name means it cannot be reused for at least 10 years. Source:WRAL.com

NatGeo vid “Hurricanes 101”

This short video further explains hurricanes, and scroll down to find more resources.

National Hurricane Preparedness Week 2013

As mentioned above, National Hurricane Preparedness Week 2013 runs from May 26 to June 1. The National Hurricane Center has posted 7 Public Service Announcements (both Youtube videos and audio files in English and Spanish) with a specific topic designated for each day of the week.

hurricanes 101-national hurricane preparedness week 2013

PSA topics include: Hurricane Basics, Storm Surge, Winds, Inland Flooding, Forecast Process, Get A Plan! and After the Storm. Learn more and find other resources and tools from NHC at www.hurricanes.gov to help educate your family and community.

Additional Resources:

Tips about Flooding, Tornadoes and more (from our IT’S A DISASTER! book)

NOAA Tropical Cyclones Preparedness Guide (12 pg PDF)

Florida’s Foundation “Make Mitigation Happen” (21-pg PDF for FL but could help most everyone)

National Hurricane Center

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (Hurricane page)

Bounce Energy Hurricane preparedness guide and resources page

How Stuff Works: How Hurricanes Work

Hurricane.com

USA Today Resources: Hurricanes


FloodSax – the sandless sandbag that is revolutionizing flood preparedness

March 20, 2013

floodsax2We included FloodSax as a “Cool Link / Idea” in our March enews, but we wanted to share more about them here since this is such a revolutionary product.

Plus, since it is National Flood Awareness week (March 18 – 22, 2013), this is a perfect opportunity to share tips about things you can do to help protect your home and property from water damage.

Floods can happen anytime and anyplace. Some floods develop over a period of several days, but a flash flood can cause raging waters in just a few minutes.

Spring brings its share of flood events due to snowpack melt, ice jams and heavy rains as the temperatures begin to rise.

Communities use sandbags as a simple, inexpensive and effective way to prevent or reduce flood water damage, but it requires an army of volunteers and massive logistics to shovel tons of sand (or gravel or silt) into burlap or plastic bags and place them strategically around homes and businesses to keep rising waters at bay.

But sandbag construction does not guarantee a water-tight seal, plus certain types of bags are not biodegradable making the disposal process a major ordeal for communities.

FloodSax is the sandless sandbag that is revolutionizing the way homeowners, businesses and agencies prevent and reduce damage from floodwaters.

floodsaxAt only one pound, FloodSax avoid the storage, transport and placement problems of traditional sandbags, keep water at bay for 3 months, and are biodegradable.

FloodSax are stored dry and flat. A case of 20 FloodSax weigh less than a single 45 lb. sandbag, making delivery to the flood barrier location much faster and easier than with sandbags, allowing for greater protection in less time. In fact, one case of FloodSax equals 900 pounds of sand.

When FloodSax come into contact with water their semi-porous inner liner has hundreds of biodegradable polymer crystals that absorb up to 5.5 gallons, equal to 45 pounds of water, in just five minutes, making them more taut and more water-resistant than a sandbag.

Plus these sandless sandbags allow agencies to deliver and deploy sandbags much faster than is possible with traditional sandbags since there is no need for large trucks, massive amounts of sand and tons of volunteers to fill bags saving communities money, time and property.

Stephanie Abhrams, meteorologist and host of The Weather Channel’s “Weather Proof” puts FloodSax to the test in the following video…

FloodSax empowers virtually everyone regardless of age or ability to take action in protecting homes, businesses or communities from floods and accidental water damage.

Learn more at www.floodsax.us.com or contact them at 1-888-258-2142.

Update 4-Apr-2013: FloodSax is also available in Canada ~ learn more at www.floodsax.ca


Resources for those in the path of Hurricane Sandy

October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy is predicted to bring drenching rain, major storm surges (4 to 11 feet above ground level from Maryland to Rhode Island) and winds that could hit 80 mph along the east and northeast parts of the U.S.

Remember … 9 out of 10 hurricane deaths are due to storm surge so please pay attention to evacuation orders.

Weather.com is reporting the hurricane force winds may continue across multiple states for about 36 hours and the intensity of this massive storm is causing great concern. Plus you compound Sandy with two winter storms heading east and merging in with this tropical activity … thus you have the “Perfect Storm” (or “Frankenstorm” as NOAA forecaster Jim Cisco first labeled it).

Some suggested tips from Weather.com…

Everyone:

  • Needs to complete preparations by sunset Sunday
  • Needs to be prepared for extended period without power (we’ve heard up to 10 days or more)

Coast:

  • Follow orders from local officials and know if you need to evacuate due to coastal flood threat
  • Prepare your home/property for frequent hurricane gusts and flooding

Inland:

  • Prepare your home/property for occasional hurricane gusts
  • Know if you are in an area prone to flooding from rainfall
  • Beware of the potential of lakeshore flooding on the southern end of the Great Lakes as far west as Chicago

Also download some FREE topics from our IT’S A DISASTER! book about Evacuations, Flooding, Hurricanes and more … or download a 57-pg mini ebook in PDF at with Emergency Plan Checklists (including tips for pets and livestock), suggestions about assembling Home, Car or Office kits and more. And please share this post and PDFs with others.

Also visit your City or County web site to find a link to your Emergency Management, Emergency Services or Homeland Security office to stay current on latest updates. Some local and state offices offer text alerts or have Twitter accounts so you and your loved ones can stay current on warnings.

If you can’t find your local EM site, the following state offices along the east coast all had safety information about Hurricane Sandy as of Sunday 9am PDT 28-Oct-2012. Obviously other states not listed here have helpful data too and a complete list of State and Territorial Emergency Management agencies can be found on fema.gov.

Delaware Emergency Management Agency
(302) 659-3362 or Tollfree 1-877-SAY-DEMA
Hurricane Sandy Hotline – (800) 464-4357
www.dema.delaware.gov

District of Columbia Homeland Security & Emergency Management Agency (DC HSEMA)
(202) 727-6161
http://hsema.dc.gov FB http://www.facebook.com/HSEMADC

Connecticut Department of Emergency Management & Homeland Security
(860) 256-0800 or Tollfree 1-800-397-8876
http://www.ct.gov/demhs FB https://www.facebook.com/CTEMHS
Hurricane Sandy News & Information http://www.ct.gov/sandy

Maine Emergency Management Agency
(207) 624-4400
www.state.me.us/mema and www.maineprepares.com

Maryland Emergency Management Agency
(410) 517-3600 or Tollfree 1-877-MEMA-USA
www.mema.state.md.us FB http://facebook.com/mdmema

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency
(508) 820-2000
http://www.mass.gov/mema FB https://www.facebook.com/MassachusettsEMA

New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management
(603) 271-2231
www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/hsem/ ReadyNH www.nh.gov/readynh/

New Jersey Office of Emergency Management
(609) 963-6900
http://www.ready.nj.gov FB https://www.facebook.com/READYNEWJERSEY

New York State Emergency Management Office
(518) 292-2200
www.dhses.ny.gov
New York City OEM http://www.nyc.gov/oem FB https://www.facebook.com/NYCemergencymanagement

North Carolina Emergency Management
(919) 733-3825
www.ncem.org Ready NC http://www.readync.org FB https://www.facebook.com/NCEmergencyManagement

Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency
(717) 651-2001
www.pema.state.pa.us and http://www.readypa.org/ FB https://www.facebook.com/pages/ReadyPAorg/120150131052

Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency
(401) 946-9996
www.riema.ri.gov

Vermont Emergency Management
(802) 244-8721
http://vem.vermont.gov/ FB https://www.facebook.com/vermontemergencymanagement

Virginia Dept of Emergency Management
(804) 897-6500
http://www.readyvirginia.gov/ FB https://www.facebook.com/VAemergency

Additional Resources:

National Hurricane Center  www.hurricanes.gov

Ready.gov Hurricanes pg  www.ready.gov/hurricanes

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety Hurricane pg http://disastersafety.org/hurricane/

FEMA’s mobi page  or free app

American Red Cross www.redcross.org


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