How to ensure food and drink water safety during a flood or other natural disaster, courtesy of the FDA and the USDA.
On September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall at Galveston, Texas - which had previously endured one of the most devastating natural disasters in US history: The 1900 Storm. The waters receded and life went on for most of the island's residents. The same was not true for the approximately 40,000 live oak trees which were killed in the area by the saltwater stormsurge, many of which were planted just after the hurricane that devastated the island in 1900. One by one, the trees died and had to be removed. Some residents refused to accept this, and instead hired artists to carve the now-dead trees into works of art. Some became sea birds. Some became angels. The trees outside the fire department became a dalmatian staring longingly at an uncapped fire hydrant. Others became frogs and dogs and squirrels. Mermaids and dolphins suddenly jumped out of asphalt and cement. Someone even decided that the town really needed a Tin Woodsman. Another person decided to have a geisha carved on their front lawn. I can only imagine that a very small art critic demanded that Spongebob Squarepants be carved on the side of his or her house. They range in size from 2' tall hoptoads to 20' tall eruptions of seabirds. And they're all on display for you to enjoy! See a list of sculptures here. And a suggested walking map to view the sculptures here. And a slideshow with many pictures of the sculptures here.
Ross Becker's photographs of Christchurch. The central business district reopens this weekend for the first time since the earthquake (Previously: 1, 2, 3) on February 22, 2011. [more inside]
"Apocalypses are not only catastrophes; they are also opportunities: chances for us to see ourselves, to change."
Apocalypse: What Disasters Reveal: An essay by Junot Díaz.
Thinking about natural disasters in your area? There's a map for that! For earthquakes, there is an interactive map of the US showing the maximum peak ground acceleration that your area has a 10% chance of encountering over the next ten years (about PGA, worldwide risks), and a map of global tsunamis. For weather, look at all F5 tornadoes in the US, tornado risks abroad, US hurricanes and cyclones (this map can also do hail, floods, drought and other weather hazards), and billion dollar natural disasters in the US. For bonus worries: global nuclear sites and volcanoes. More generally, a PDF of Presidential disaster declarations and Reliefweb's global crises maps. And a big map of all natural disasters going on right now.
The Texas Gulf Coast is no stranger to disaster - both natural and man-made. The 1900 Storm (previously). The Texas City Disaster (previously). Hurricane Ike (previously). Tropical Storm Allison (previously). New digital media collections, made available through the the University of Houston, shed light on previously overlooked events such as the Hurricane of 1915, and allow a fresh look at well-known disasters such as the Texas City Disaster. A digital slideshow of images and information about The 1900 Storm is also available through the Rosenberg Library in Galveston, Texas. [Please note that some links include images of the deceased which may be NSFW or unsuitable for some audiences.]
"You sound like my mom..... My camera was safely cradled on the dashboard, with both hands on the steering wheel."
An erupting stratovolcano poses numerous hazards for nearby habitation, but none nearly so terrifying and deadly as the pyroclastic flow. Pyroclastic flows, comprised of tons of superheated sulfuric gases, particulate rock materials and ash, can reach temperatures of 1,830 °F and travel at alarming speeds up to 450mph. Convection of materials within the clouds causes them to become a suspension, fluidizing and thundering noxiously across the surrounding landscape for miles, in some cases even uphill or across open water. Wherever these clouds come in contact with humans the result is catastrophe, as the residents of Herculaneum and St. Pierre, Martinique learned within minutes of the eruptions of Vesuvius in 79AD and Pelee in 1902-- both towns were overwhelmed by pyroclastic clouds, igniting all flammable materials and incinerating and suffocating the inhabitants. None survived Herculaneum, while just two of St. Pierre's 26,000 survived, one of whom was a prisoner condemned to death and awaiting his execution in a dungeon cell. Despite their incredible capacity for violence, pyroclastic flows are also capable of producing mesmerizing, awe-inspiring beauty.
Sitting With Fire is a blog running from Tassajara, one of the oldest Zen monasteries in the US. It provides information on the status of Tassajara's residents who have stayed behind to combat the Basin Complex fire. [more inside]
Georgia's going dry -- and we're not talking liquor stores. Record temperatures in Georgia and a long drought have left many Georgia cities wondering when the taps will run dry. Some towns have only a few weeks of water left, while rivers near Athens have nearly dried up. A broken water main hasn't helped the problem, and some fear that the University of Georgia campus there may shut down for lack of water. What's more, Atlanta itself is already feeling the pressure, as Lake Lanier, a water source for 3 million residents, falls by 1.5 feet per week and has only a three month supply remaining. While there have been more severe (pdf) droughts in Georgia's history, rising population numbers have increased demand to now unsustainable levels.
Strong earthquake hits Japan, hundreds of homes have been destroyed, bridges have been leveled, tsunamis are forming, and most frightening, the nuclear power plant appears to be leaking radioactive water. The quake registered as a 6.8 on the Richter scale. I hope that our Japanese Mefites are safe and sound and will let us know if there is anything we can do to help.
Thailand Tsunami: Then and Now. A series of photographs, taken by Zoriah, shows the some of the devastation caused by the 2004 tsunami and the subsequent recovery in Thailand. [via warshooter]
8.0 Earthquake in Hokkaido, Japan. Holy crap. The Kobe quake in 1994 was a 6.9 - am I right to think that an 8.0 is about ten times worse than that one? Any mefites in Japan who can give us more information?
Californians, did you feel the quake? This 5.2 quake was near the surface which, according to the San Francisco local news, allowed it to travel farther than usual. Did you feel it? If so, where? Did it create any problems? Was anyone at the Sharks game?
Earthquakes rock Afghanistan... 20,000 are homeless, 4,000 injured, and 5,000 feared dead. The epicenter was about 90 miles north of Kabul.
Another NW Earthquake At 5.0, this one was substantially smaller than the last one, but it was strong enough to have us sitting bolt upright in bed at 6:19 this morning here in Olympia, WA. How was it in Seattle and Portland?