Disasters

  • DHS grant buys gear for Ohio fire department

    A DHS grant will allow the Lancaster, Ohio fire department to upgrade aging equipment and purchase a sophisticated new wireless tracking system; the new system will allow commanders to track firefighters on the scene and can send out distress signals if the firefighter becomes trapped or is impaired; the DHS grant covered $57,000 of the total $62,000; another $300,000 DHS grant will pay for a new fire truck to replace an aging truck that dates back to 1983; Lancaster has suffered from budget shortfalls and was forced to lay off firefighters

  • Weighing the costs of disaster

    Different people react differently to disasters; individuals exposed to disaster may experience a number of psychological problems including PTSD, grief, anxiety, and increased substance abuse, but the evidence shows that less than 30 percent of adults experience severe, lasting levels of these problems; there may be a number of factors that influence how people react following disasters, such as age and socioeconomic status

  • Dinosaurs survived mass extinction by 700,000 years

    The long established impact theory of dinosaur extinction holds that the age of dinosaurs ended between 65.5 and 66 million years ago, after Earth was hit by an asteroid; the impact caused massive fires, throwing smoke and soot into the atmosphere, blocking sun light for months, and causing the death of plants on which the vegetarian dinosaurs depended; a femur bone of a hadrosaur found in New Mexico is only 64.8 million years old, meaning this particular plant eater was alive about 700,000 years after the mass extinction event

  • California dams plagued by seismic concerns

    Half of Santa Clara County, California’s reservoirs cannot be filled to their full capacity due to seismic concerns; engineering tests revealed that in the event of a major earthquake the dam could slump sending a deadly tidal wave across densely populated communities; seismic retrofit costs to the county’s dam are estimated at $150 million; with the reduced capacity, the county’s dams must be maintained at 67 percent of its total capacity and cannot store more water in preparation for future droughts; the lost capacity could provide water for 280,000 people for a year

  • Megastorm could devastate California, not just earthquakes

    A team of over 100 scientists, engineers, and emergency planners are urging California disaster planning officials to prepare for megastorms; the team projected that a catastrophic megastorm could decimate California with massive landslides and flooding; the findings were based on geological evidence of such powerful storms that occur every 300 years; the last megastorm occurred in 1861 and left the Sacramento Valley an “inland sea”

  • Aussies flee more flooding

    Flood water in northern Australia now cover an area larger than Germany and France combined; in addition to Queensland, large parts of the state of Victoria are now under water; around sixty towns across an area larger than Denmark to the north-west of the state capital, Melbourne, have been hit by floods as heavy rain from recent weeks makes its way across broad floodplains to the Murray River; the estimated damage in hard-hit Queensland now stands at US$19.8 billion

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  • Who is the culprit in the Queensland floods: man or nature?

    Climate change may contribute to the intensification of natural disasters, but the major drivers of the rapidly rising costs of natural disasters — in Australia and around the world — are societal changes such as increases in population, wealth, and inflation, not climate change; the only way to reduce the scale of future disasters in Australia are risk-informed land planning policies with risks appropriately priced by an active insurance market; in simple terms, for flood and bushfire, this means an end to unmanaged development of flood plains or within bushlands

  • Mexico City's sinking is worsening

    Scientists are alarmed by the extent to which Mexico City has sunk; over the last 100 years, parts of the city have sunk as much as forty-two feet — and sections of the city sink as much as eight inches a year; the sinking has caused the city’s sewage system to back up resulting in dangerous floods; the sinking is the result of water being pumped from the aquifer directly below the city more quickly than it is being replenished; Mexico City is built in the middle of Lake Texcoco, which has been drained

  • Economic, infrastructure damage of floods in Australia, Brazil staggering

    The floods in Australia and Brazil demonstrate how vulnerable societies are to the ravages of nature; the floods in Brazil have caused damage estimated at $1.2 billion; the Australia flooding could prove to be the most costly in the country’s history, already topping $5 billion before the waters reached Brisbane last week; the waters have ruined the agriculture industry in many areas of the country and when including the lost production value of crops and other goods, damages rise to almost $30 billion

  • Brisbane under water

    Brisbane, a city of two million and Australia’s third largest, is flooded; roads are inundated, railway lines have been cut, and sewage is spreading into the waters; dozens of suburbs are under three meters of waters, with some factories and homes only visible by their roofs; more than 100,000 properties had their power cut as a precaution against flooding of electricity substations; the worst affected area was the town of Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, where residents described an 8-meter “instant inland tsunami” ripping through the streets on Monday; the flood zone in northern Australia now covers are larger than Germany and France combined

  • Aussie "inland tsunami" now threatens Brisbane

    The flood zone in northern Australia covers an area larger than France and Germany combined; incessant rain and wide-spread floods have destroyed infrastructure and severely hampered economic activity; the worst is yet to come: Brisbane river has broken its banks, sparking fears that the city — Australia’s third largest and home to two million people - will be flooded by Thursday; public health experts fear that outbreaks of Ross river virus — a debilitating disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which is endemic in Queensland — will increase

  • World Bank: Coastal cities in Asia face devastating floods

    Thirteen of the twenty largest cities in the world are located on the coast, with more than a third of the world’s population living within 100 miles of a shoreline; a World Bank report finds that Asia’s major coastal cities will experience more devastating floods; damage due to flooding could be as high as 6 percent of regional GDP in 2050; developing cities will be most heavily affected; the report urges the threatened cities immediately to begin developing and implementing long-term plans to harden critical infrastructure to withstand and mitigate the effects of increased flooding

  • New spacecraft to help break the climate debate gridlock

    NASA plans to settle the climate debate with a fleet of Earth-orbiting spacecraft keeping tabs on the planet’s changing climate; the fleet has two tasks: first: take the total amount of energy coming to Earth from the sun, subtract what gets reflected back or re-radiated from particles in the atmosphere, and see what you have left; if more energy is coming in than going out, it is getting hotter; second: figure out what fraction of these atmospheric particles stems from natural phenomena, such as wind-blown dust and volcanic eruptions, and what is coming from things we can control — our industrial processes, business pursuits, and recreational pass-times

  • Law enforcement officials adapting to the cell phone age

    Law enforcement officials are collecting more cell phone numbers for emergency alert phone lists as more people move away from land telephone lines; during emergencies land telephone lines are often knocked down and first responders do not have many cell phone numbers on file; emergency cell phone technology is rapidly improving with more accurate traces; 911 first responders hope to incorporate video, text, and photos in the future to better assess emergencies and communicate

  • Floods wreak havoc on Queensland infrastructure, threaten Aussie economy

    Queensland is Australia’s largest coal exporter and accounts for about 20 percent of the nation’s A$1.28 trillion economy; the state’s worst in fifty years have forced the evacuation of 4,000 people and affected about a million square kilometers, or an area the size of France and Germany combined; it may cost more than A$5 billion to repair the damage the deluge has caused; Australia had its third-wettest year on record during 2010; the rain has destroyed cotton crops, halted coal deliveries, shut mines, and prompted producers including BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group to declare force majeure, a legal clause allowing them to miss contracted deliveries