Why do you think the Federal Government made September National Disaster Preparedness Month?
Just look around you!
This year’s Atlantic hurricane season has been a wake-up call, during late August, for many Americans who saw Harvey present as the first major hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since Wilma in 2005. A disaster. After 12-years of no major hurricanes, Harvey is the wettest tropical hurricane on record in the contiguous United States; resulting floods inundated hundreds of thousands of homes, displaced more than 30,000 people, and prompted more than 17,000 rescues in Texas.
But wait, there’s more!
On August 31, Tropical Storm Irma began over Western Africa before it underwent a remarkable period of rapid intensification, with winds increasing from 70 mph–a high-end tropical storm–to winds of 115 mph, to become a major hurricane. This occurred in a mere 12 hours. Irma became a Category 4 hurricane on September 4. The next day this locomotive storm became a Category 5 hurricane with 175 mph winds causing what is described as 95 percent catastrophic destruction of the islands of Barbuda and Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, Anguilla and the Virgin Islands. Irma is the first category 5 hurricane of the 2017 hurricane season to make landfall in the Atlantic basin.
This is the first time in the history of record keeping that two Category 4 or higher hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, have struck the U.S. mainland in the same year.
“That is extraordinary by itself,” Dr. Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather founder, president, and chairman, said.
The massive size of Irma combined with its slow movement caused hurricane-force wind gusts to occur over a time period of 12 or more hours across a large swath of Florida. The result of the fierce winds was a record number of power outages in Florida.
“Hurricane Irma represents the greatest loss of power in the modern era due to the weather with more than 20 million people affected in the U.S. and another 15 million in the Caribbean,” Myers said.
Together, estimated costs of damages from Harvey and Irma are predicted to reach $290 billion at this–only the midpoint–of the Atlantic hurricane season.
But wait, there’s more!
Wildfires in the western United States and British Columbia have also disrupted the lives of people and destroyed personal property, public and private lands.
The Lodgepole Complex Fire in Montana is the state’s and nation’s largest fire of 2017. Located 52 miles WNW of Jordan, it was caused by lightning.
The La Tuna Fire started on September 1, 2017, and burned 7,194 acres through the Verdugo Mountains in Los Angeles, California. It led to the destruction of 5 homes and the evacuations of over 300 homes. It was the largest wildfire in Los Angeles City in 50 years.
British Columbia Wildfires began July 6 with a two-hectare wildfire west of 200 Mile House. By mid-August, there were 140 fires burning throughout the province requiring a declaration of a state of emergency by the Government. The 2017 fire season is notable for three reasons; first, for the largest total area burnt in a fire season in recorded history; second, for the largest number of total evacuees in a fire season; and third, for the largest single fire ever in British Columbia.
Washington Wildfires are happening all over the state and on September 2, the Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, declared a state of emergency across all Washington counties due to wildfires.
So disaster preparedness – at //www.ready.gov some suggestions and a toolkit are provided to help you and your family. The theme is: Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.
The goal of the kit is to increase the number of individuals, families, and communities engaged in disaster preparedness actions at home, work, business, school and place of worship. Based on social media interactions, government website provides weekly themes to promote a message of survival through disaster preparedness.
Week 1: September 1-9 Make a Plan for Yourself, Family and Friends
Week 2: September 10-16 Plan to Help Your Neighbor and Community
Week 3: September 17-23 Practice and Build Out Your Plans
Week 4: September 24-30 Get Involved! Be a Part of Something Larger
So, what will be the result of these disasters we are experiencing?
Throughout history, natural disturbances on planet earth have created disasters for humans, some with unimaginable loss of life. Most of the major natural disasters that killed hundreds of thousands or even millions of people were the result of volcanic eruptions or earthquakes.
However, in 1970 the Bhola Cyclone struck the coast of Bengal in an area then known as East Pakistan with historic repercussions. Today, we know that area as Bangladesh.
Instructional Note: Hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons are all the same weather phenomenon. Different names are used for these storms in different places. The term “hurricane” is used in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific. The same type of disturbance in the Northwest Pacific is called a “typhoon” and “cyclones” occur in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.
The Bhola Cyclone was responsible for over 500,000 deaths, with most from a storm surge that inundated the low-lying islands of the Ganges peninsula. At the time, Pakistan was ruled by a military junta headed by General Yahya Khan. Response to this disaster was utterly disorganized, and many thousands died needlessly while awaiting relief operations.
Unfortunately for the junta, an election had already been called for just a month after the event took place. This resulted in an overwhelming landslide victory in East Pakistan for the opposing Awami League. During the months that followed, continuous civil unrest and distrust between an already marginalized East Pakistan and the central government resulted in one of the worst periods in modern world politics. The Bangladesh Liberation War broke out, later developing into the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.This led to multiple heinous atrocities, resulting in the Bangladesh Genocide of 1971.
Sadly, 30 million people became displaced and three million people died. Pakistani soldiers raped between 200,000 and 400,000 Bangladeshi women.
This is yet another significant reason every person in Alaska should be prepared for any natural disaster: In a state with a Permanent Fund worth more than the value of some 3rd World Countries, and a political climate where the governor can arbitrarily confiscate half of every Alaskan’s Permanent Fund Dividend, one disaster could easily lead to another.