Let’s be honest. We’re really not prepared for much today. Emergency Preparedness is low on peoples agendas. Clearly, this is a mistake.
Hurricane Harvey And Emergency Preparedness
Hurricane Harvey was a Category 4 storm that hit Texas on August 25, 2017. It caused $180 billion in damage. As the rain unfolded, the intensity and scope of the disaster were so enormous that weather forecasters, first responders, the victims, everyone really, couldn’t believe their eyes.
We’re all – Governments, organisations and people – very poor it seems at predicting and being prepared for events outside of the normal. The outliers that, while very uncommon, nether the less have catastrophic consequences.
Harvey was a 1-in-1,000-year flood event that overwhelmed an enormous section of Southeast Texas equivalent in size to New Jersey. Harvey made landfall three separate times in six days. At its peak on September 1, 2017, one-third of Houston was underwater. Two feet of rain fell in the first 24 hours. Flooding forced 39,000 people out of their homes and into shelters. Flooding and rain topped almost 50 inches in some areas — more than Houston receives in a year. There were 300,000 people without power. Tens of thousands of homes were either damaged or destroyed.
What is it about the human condition that makes us disregard the unlikely events, all the while deep down knowing that they could happen. Is it perpetual hope, disinterest or simply foolishness?
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits jumped to a more than two-year high and claims could stay elevated for the next few weeks. Gasoline costs edged up following the most destructive storm since Hurricane Sandy in 2012 — and analysts said prices at the pump are likely to rise. Thousands of people in Southeast Texas still don’t have safe drinking water, including in Beaumont, a city of 118,000 to the east of Houston. Harvey is expected to have a considerable economic impact. The Houston metro area is the nation’s fourth-largest city with 6.6 million residents. “We expect the effects of Harvey to be substantial and lasting,” UBS economists have stated.
We don’t blame the people of America currently going through this event and our hearts go out to them. Most of this country and Europe is equally unprepared for upcoming disasters that are becoming all the more frequent.
Hurricane Irma And Emergency Preparedness
Now hurricane Irma has ripped through the Caribbean, leaving flattened landscapes, flash floods and loss of life. Barbuda was the first island to feel the force of the hurricane laying waste to 90% of the buildings and 50% of the population homeless. “The biggest problem in Barbuda now is the fact that you have so many dead animals in the water and so on, that there is a threat of disease,” said the island’s foreign affairs minister, Charles Fernandez. Critical facilities including roads and communications systems were ravaged, with the recovery effort set to take months or years.
In Anguilla “police stations, hospitals, school facilities, three or four emergency shelters, a home for the infirm and the aged, as well as the fire station” along with many homes, had been damaged or destroyed according to the executive director of the Caribbean disaster and emergency management agency. The French part of St Martin was “95% destroyed”, according to Daniel Gibb, a local official, who called it “an enormous catastrophe”. The Virgin Islands experienced extensive damage to buildings and of land entirely stripped of vegetation. Governor, Gus Jaspert, declared a state of emergency.
Many roads have been blocked and communication is limited. More than a million people in Puerto Rico were left without power and tens of thousands without water. Dominican Republic show widespread damage: flattened buildings, downed trees and power lines. Cuba experienced its first category five hurricane since 1924. Damages reported were mostly in the form of torn-off roofs, damage to buildings, downed trees and loss of electricity.
Let’s remember that being prepared takes a clear thinking mind. We don’t expect disasters to hit us, and we hope they never do, but, like insurance, the wise individual prepares and covers themselves against catastrophic lose – just in case.
Now it has reached Florida and has been declared as the ‘most catastrophic storm ever’. Gov. Rick Scott warned that Irma is “a deadly storm and our state has never seen anything like it.” and has pleaded residents to seek safe shelter. “Once the storm starts, law enforcement cannot save you,” Scott stated. Bank of America estimates that Irma could threaten $1.2 billion worth of crops. It will have an impact on two segments of inflation: wage inflation and food inflation. Economic damage will spill over into the final three months of the year, extending the volatility the U.S. was set to experience in the third quarter from Hurricane Harvey.
Houston, Florida, and the Caribbean aren’t built to withstand these once-in-a-lifetime floods and no one was ready for them. These types of storms are occurring more frequently and happening more often. If you think about it, Houston has experienced its third ‘500-year’ flood in 3 years: Memorial Day floods in 2015 and 2016, followed by Hurricane Harvey’s torrential rains this year. In any event, Harvey puts an exclamation mark on the pattern of disastrous rain events in recent years and may be a harbinger of more such events in the coming decades. “Expect #HarveyFlood record will be broken in 5, 15, 25 years from now — sooner rather than later,” tweeted David Titley, professor of meteorology at Penn State.
Things are likely to get worse, not better. As individuals, let’s hope we are fortunate to escape such disasters in our own lives. However, this does not mean we should live as if they will never happen. Now, more than ever, it’s imperative we are prepared for this every more frequent events.
Climate Change And Emergency Preparedness
Human caused climate change can be attributed in several different ways. Sea level rise caused by global warming increased the storm surge and therefore the coastal inundation and flooding from the storm. Warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, which intensifies extreme precipitation events. Warmer ocean waters essentially act as hurricane fuel, which may have made Harvey and Irma more intense than it would otherwise have been. “We expect everywhere that flooding rains will increase,” said Ken Kunkel, an official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, following deadly 2015 flooding in South Carolina. “You can build it now for today’s climate, but you may not be quite in tune to what the climate will be in 50 years.”.
With all of that being said, we can never be too prepared for what the future lies ahead of us. We recommend have a minimum of a 3 Months Emergency Food Supply and at least some water filtration to hedge against disasters they hopefully don’t happen but would have catastrophic consequences if they did.