• Smartphone apps help thousands in latest storms

    In the recent string of natural disasters to hit the Midwest, emergency communication smartphone apps have proven invaluable for contacting family members and first responders; during these natural disasters, telephone lines and cell phone towers are often inundated with traffic, leaving individuals unable to contact their loved ones or even reach 911; thanks to smartphone apps like Life360, individuals have been able to contact family members to let them know they are okay, or alert emergency workers if they are in trouble; during the floods that left Memphis, Tennessee under water, more than 2,400 families used the app to share their locations and confirm their safety

  • More tornadoes kill at least thirteen in three states

    Residents of Joplin, Missouri were hit by another storm Tuesday night killing another thirteen people across three states just two days after a deadly tornado swept through the town killing at least 117 people with more than 1,500 still unaccounted for; Joplin received a small break, as the latest storm hit Oklahoma the hardest and no tornadoes were reported near the town; so far five people have been confirmed dead in Oklahoma, but officials expect the death toll to rise as rescue workers comb through the wreckage; at least sixty people have reported injuries; in addition four people were reported dead in Kansas and Arkansas

  • More tornadoes headed to Joplin, Missouri

    As emergency responders pick through the wreckage from Sunday’s massive tornado in Joplin, Missouri, residents are preparing for another monstrous storm that could generate more deadly tornadoes; meteorologists anticipate that thunderstorms will hit Joplin once again on Tuesday night; rescue workers raced to sift through the rubble in search of survivors before the next storm hits; it is estimated that 30 percent of the city has been destroyed after the tornado carved a three-quarter mile wide path of destruction; so far officials have confirmed that at least 117 people are dead, more than 600 injured, and approximately 1,500 are still missing from one of the country’s deadliest tornadoes in over sixty years; initial projections rate the monstrous tornado as an EF-4 with wind speeds of 166 to 200 miles per hour; it is reported that the mile-wide funnel contained two cyclones inside; President Obama is currently overseas in the United Kingdom, but plans to visit Missouri this weekend after returning from Europe

  • Western states could face disastrous floods from record snowpacks

    Western states could soon face disastrous floods like the Midwest due to record snowpacks; heavy winter storms and an abnormally cold and wet spring have resulted in record snow levels for May in states across the west including Montano, New Mexico, Colorado, and California; officials worry that if June is particularly hot and sunny, the snow could melt too quickly and inundate the region’s rivers with torrents of water; officials are particularly concerned about flash floods as they can occur with little warning; officials are bracing for the worst holding emergency drills and releasing thousands of gallons of water to make room in reservoirs
    Western states could soon face disastrous floods like the Midwest due to record snowpacks

  • Tornado kills at least 116 in Joplin, Missouri

    Residents and emergency responders are searching for survivors in Joplin, Missouri after a tornado tore through the town Sunday evening; the tornado tore a 6-mile-long, half-mile wide path through the middle of town; much of the city’s south side was leveled, with churches, schools, businesses, and homes reduced to ruins by winds of up to 165 mph; so far 116 people have been found dead, and officials expect the death toll to rise; officials have estimated 2,000 buildings were damaged; among the ruined buildings is St. John’s Regional Medical center, the city’s major hospital; the hospital was struck directly by the tornado and lost portions of its roof, façade, and windows; the Joplin twister was one of 68 reported tornadoes across seven Midwest states over the weekend

  • Local emergency responders in Michigan could receive new radio system

    Local emergency responders in Michigan could soon be receiving new communication equipment to connect with other nearby agencies; city councils in Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods are currently considering whether to purchase new radios to replace their aging 800 MHz system; a $485,000 DHS grant could help fund the purchase of the new radios which would cost more than $1 million to purchase

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  • Risk of wetland habitat loss in southern United States

    Between 1992 and 1997, more than 500,000 acres of wetlands were lost in the United States; 75 percent of those losses were attributed to development or agriculture; the greatest loss during this period occurred in the southern United States, with development as the main reason for wetland habitat loss; wetlands are important not only as a habitat for wild life, but as a line of defense against catastrophic floods and intense storms

  • Using river sediment to repair the coast

    The water of the Mississippi River swells beyond levees and flood-control barriers, flooding large areas, destroying costly infrastructure assets, and inflicting economic harms; not all is bad, though: large floods like the current one carry huge quantities of sediment that eventually deposit on the riverbed, making the river shallower, or are carried out to the Gulf of Mexico; the vast amount of water going south will replenish Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, and the sediment carried by the water will restore long stretches of eroding coastline and rebuild barrier islands in the Gulf

  • Scientists detonate underground bombs in California for earthquake research

    To study California’s fault lines, researchers recently detonated explosives underground to create 3D models of seismic activity; a team of geologists and seismic experts travelled to areas in the Imperial and Coachella Valley, roughly 150 miles northeast of San Diego, California, to study the southern tip of the San Andreas Fault; a team detonated more than 120 explosives more than sixty feet deep to set off seismic waves; the team measured these wave patterns with 3,000 different sensors to create a 3D map in these fault areas; their work comes as part of the Salton Seismic Imaging Project

  • Disaster relief innovation: concrete tent

    Among innovations which could help relief efforts following major disasters is a fabric shelter that, when sprayed with water, turns to concrete within twenty-four hours; the system works by impregnating cement particles into a fabric from which the tent is made; when the folded tent arrives at the disaster area, it is unrolled, tacked down with stakes, and then filled with air via a fan; once in place, the tent is soaked with water and then left to dry for twenty-four hours; once the concrete hardens, the tents can last for up to ten years; the tents come with installable doors, and since the walls are hard, electrical outlets and plumbing pipes can also be installed

  • Barge traffic resumes on Mississippi River

    On a typical day, some 600 barges move back and forth along the Mississippi, with a single vessel carrying as much cargo as 70 tractor-trailers or 17 rail cars; the barges haul coal, timber, iron, steel, and more than half of America’s grain exports; interruptions of barge traffic could thus cost the U.S. economy hundreds of millions of dollars for each day the barges are idled; early Tuesday the Coast Guard halted barge and cargo haulers traffic along a 15-mile stretch of the river near Natchez, Mississippi; the Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers were worried that the heavy wake churned by barges and cargo haulers increase the pressure on levees which are already straining to hold back the rising river; on Tuesday night the Coast Guard re-opened the blocked section, and barges were allowed to go through but only one at a time, and at a very low speed

  • Japanese government anticipated tsunami's effects at nuclear plants

    Growing evidence suggests that the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) ignored clear warnings that infrastructure at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant would be damaged in the event of a massive earthquake; Japan’s Mainichi Daily recently obtained government documents that indicate a government research group clearly outlined the effects of tsunamis on nuclear plants; as TEPCO battles to contain the radiation spewing from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors, the power company and the government have insisted that the 11 March earthquake and tsunami that knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant was well beyond their expectations

  • Fukushima lessons for U.K.'s nuclear industry

    An interim assessment of the implications of the nuclear crisis in Japan concludes there is no need to curtail the operations of nuclear plants in the United Kingdom but lessons should be learnt; the report identifies twenty-five recommended areas for review — by either industry, the government, or regulators — to determine whether sensible and appropriate measures can further improve safety in the U.K. nuclear industry; these include reviews of the layout of U.K. power plants, emergency response arrangements, dealing with prolonged loss of power supplies, and the risks associated with flooding

  • CDC instructs on preparations for Zombie Apocalypse

    There are many exotic diseases the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating, and about it which it warns Americans; few followers of the health agency were prepared for its latest post: “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse”; the post, written by Assistant Surgeon General Ali Khan, instructs readers how to prepare for “flesh-eating zombies” – zombies similar to those one sees in movies like “Night of the Living Dead” and video games like Resident Evil; CDC spokesperson said: “It’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek campaign—- We were talking about hurricane preparedness and someone bemoaned that we kept putting out the same messages”

  • More setbacks at Japan's beleaguered nuclear plant

    Japan’s latest efforts to contain reactor no. 1 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant hit a major obstacle last Saturday when a worker discovered a large pool of radioactive water in the reactor building; the pool is an estimated 18 feet deep and holds as much as 3,000 tons of water, more volume than an Olympic sized swimming pool; additional measures were being readied to treat and store radioactive water at Fukushima; officials have begun preparing a nearly 450 foot long “Mega-Float” that was previously used as an artificial island for fishing south of Tokyo to store the contaminated water