• Missouri struggles to pay for natural disasters

    Last week, Missouri governor Jay Nixon ordered his state budget director to put aside an additional $100 million to help the state’s disaster stricken areas recover; Governor Nixon has already ordered $50 million to be withheld, but Linda Luebbering, the state budget director, worries that the $150 million is not enough

  • Quake-resistant superelastic alloy developed

    Japanese scientists added a small amount of nickel to an iron-based alloy, and found that the new material can recover its original shape at any temperature from -196 to 240 degrees Celsius; the material may be used in environments that are constantly exposed to extreme temperatures, such as joints and controls in cars, planes, and spacecraft; it may also help buildings cushion stress and violent movement in earthquakes

  • Los Alamos nuclear waste safe from wildfire

    A wildfire is raging near the Los Alamos national Lab; the fire, in some places, is only yards away from the lab’s outside perimeter — and it is eight miles from the so-called Area G; the Area G site is a 63-acre storage facility where thousands of drums of nuclear waste sit, many of which are outdoors started; the good news is that there is no danger that the fire will reach Area G because in 2000, an even more intense fire burned 90 percent of the forest that covered the area between the current fire and the nuclear waste disposal site, making it impossible for the current wild fire to reach the nuclear material on storage

  • Concrete-breaching rescue tool available via GSA schedule

    Raytheon’s Controlled Impact Rescue Tool (CIRT) is a portable unit designed to aid fire departments, local and federal rescue agencies, and the military services; the tool sends pulverizing shock waves that enable rescuers to breach concrete structures faster than with existing techniques such as drilling, chipping or sawing; GSA has just added CIRT to the GSA schedule

  • Nebraska floods test a nuclear power plants new safety measures

    U.S. nuclear officials are closely monitoring two atomic energy plants in Nebraska that are in danger of being inundated with water as the Missouri River continues to creep ever closer; the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant has been closed for refueling since April and will remain off until the flooding subsides, but officials are worried about keeping the recently removed fuel rods cool as the facility’s parking lot has been flooded

  • Oh my, the trouble with evacuating lions, tigers, and bears

    Rescuing and housing the many exotic animals at Minot, North Dakota’s Roosevelt Park Zoo from record floods presented zoo workers with a unique challenge; it was no small feat finding vehicles large enough for giraffes or getting dangerous animals like bears and wolves to cooperate; currently more than 100 animals are housed in an old furniture warehouse; makeshift pens hold deer, emu, warthogs, bobcats, monkeys and chickens, while workers struggle to keep the animals comfortable

  • Severe flooding in China destroys crops, food prices soar

    China’s beleaguered farmers were dealt another blow as devastating floods inundated much of the country’s east, south, and southwest; the water has caused more than $5 billion in damage, displaced more than 1.6 million people, and killed at least 175 people; the floods have destroyed large portions of crops and will reduce vegetable yields by an estimated 20 percent in some areas; more than one million acres of crops have been destroyed across the country pushing grain and vegetable prices higher

  • Weather variations cost U.S. $485 billion a year

    New research finds that routine weather events such as rain and cooler-than-average days can add up to an annual economic impact of as much as $485 billion in the United States; the study found that finance, manufacturing, agriculture, and every other sector of the economy is sensitive to changes in the weather, and that the impact of routine weather variations on the economy is as much as 3.4 percent of U.S. gross domestic product

  • SBA offers loans to nonprofits in Vermont

    The Small Business Administration (SBA) just announced today that certain private non-profit organizations (PNPs) in Vermont could qualify for special low-interest federal disaster loans; the announcement comes following the presidential disaster declaration in counties severely affected by the devastating storms and flooding that occurred in late April and early May; SBA said that PNPs not providing critical services of a government nature in Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orleans, and Washington counties are eligible for Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans

  • Artist fundraises to build prototype disaster relief shelter

    An artist from Amherst, Virginia is currently fundraising to build a prototype temporary house that can be quickly and cheaply built for displaced families; with the help of www.Kickstarter.com, a New York based website that helps artists find funding, Craig Pleasants is trying to raise roughly $28,000 to fund his project; the shelter is shaped like an octagon to maximize space and is designed to withstand storms and wind

  • California county's federal assistance request rejected

    On Tuesday, federal authorities denied Santa Cruz’s request for federal aid to assist with cleanup efforts from the storms that pelted the region in March; the heavy rain caused $17 million in damage from floods and mudslides across the county; FEMA said the storms that hit California “were not severe, continuous and were not beyond the combined capabilities of the state and affected local governments”

  • FEMA extends federal aid deadline for North Carolina

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has extended its deadline to register for federal disaster assistance for those in affected counties in North Carolina; at the request of North Carolina Emergency Management (NCEM), FEMA agreed to give residents an additional fifteen days to turn in their paperwork; the new deadline is Tuesday 5 July

  • Nebraska nuclear plant on flood alert

    Levees in northern Missouri were failing late Saturday and Sunday as a result of massive release of water from upstream dams; farmland and houses in two Missouri counties — Holt and Atchison — were flooded and residents evacuated; two Nebraska nuclear power plant place on flood alerts

  • UN body approves measure advancing Iran's nuke program

    The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), over a strenuous U.S. opposition, approved a measure committing the UN to supporting what the Iranians call a “disaster information management center”; the United States managed to defeat the Iranian proposal for the center several times in the past, but this time Iran, exploiting concerns about climate change, repackaged its proposal and tied it to a broader UN effort to help Asian countries prepare for climate change-induced natural disasters; the technologies with which the center will be provided — technologies which are otherwise unavailable to Iran because of the UN sanctions imposed on the country — will give Iran much-improved satellite-imagery and missile-control capabilities; these technologies will dramatically bolster Iran’s target selection, target-destruction, and bomb-damage-assessment capabilities; as is the case with any other new nuclear weapon state, Iran will initially have very few nuclear bombs in its arsenal; the technologies approved by ESCAP for delivery to Iran will allow the ayatollahs to make a much more efficient — and effective — use of their small arsenal — and make their threats to use this arsenal more credible

  • Mississippi River floods to cause large Gulf of Mexico dead zone

    Hypoxia, which creates oceanic dead zones, is caused by excessive nutrient pollution, often from human activities such as agriculture, which results in too little oxygen to support most marine life in bottom and near-bottom water; scientists are predicting the dead zone area in the Gulf could measure between 8,500 and 9,421 square miles, or an area roughly the size of New Hampshire; the largest hypoxic zone measured to date occurred in 2002 and encompassed more than 8,400 square miles