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Hurricane Harvey

Old Sweat

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By now, most, maybe all, of us have seen the shots from East Texas. Rather than hand wring, perhaps we could discuss the implications for North America of an area larger than Eastern Ontario and the population of the GTA being turned into a basket case with a recovery measured in years, not months. The area also is home to a large part of the gasoline refining capacity of the US and Canada.

I did think maybe we should pool our savings and corner the drywall market, but being serious for a moment, I suggest we discuss the economic and social repercussions as well as the lessons we could glean in case of a massive earthquake in BC.

Mods, if you would like to see this in another area, fill your boots, as if you needed my permission.
 

mariomike

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Old Sweat said:
I suggest we discuss the economic and social repercussions as well as the lessons we could glean in case of a massive earthquake in BC.

See also,

The Really Big One 
https://army.ca/forums/threads/119880.0
3 pages.
OP: "So, how are we doing with respect to earthquake preparedness CF-wise?
An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest."

Canada's Earthquakes: 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' 
http://army.ca/forums/threads/108615.0

The EARTHQUAKE ZONE 
http://army.ca/forums/threads/92971.0/nowap.html

Six Things We Learned about Disaster Process Improvement 
https://army.ca/forums/threads/123147.0

2011 Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami 
https://army.ca/forums/threads/99824.0
4 pages.
Also discusses the potential impact of an earthquake on BC.

CF Domestic Disaster Relief Ops (merged)
https://army.ca/forums/threads/73744.50
5 pages.



 

tomahawk6

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Here is a humorous video of texas law enforcement helping to move cattle to higher ground.

https://twitter.com/Harri8t

Not so humorous image of Houston.The ground in that part of Texas is clay.

Houston.jpg
 

NavyShooter

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My brother lives north of Dallas, and I gather he's OK, not impacted much.

The former 'storm of the century' rating seems to be hitting harder and harder every time, with a much greater impact.

Is this a result of changes in how our society is organized?  Urbanization is a key factor (more people in a smaller area, means greater dependence on the infrastructure) and a second is the centralization or monopolization of manufacture. 

Dispersed industry and populations mean that a storm like this will have much less critical impact.  When we have one large refinery instead of four smaller ones, yes, there is efficiency gained, but the impact of production interruption is...significant.

Deep thoughts.

NS
 

observor 69

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A few years ago I came back from League City, Tx, 25 miles south of Houston. We lived on the third floor of an apartment building raised on stilts, as are many buildings in the area. The building, located on the flood plain, overlooked Clear Lake which drained into Galveston Bay.
During the worst storm we experienced, the lake flooded half way up the wheels of my car and closed the one road out.
TV is now showing homes in town with water over half way up their houses.
League City is a lovely town and I feel for the terrible damage this hurricane is causing to the residents and the community.
 

The Bread Guy

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Old Sweat said:
... I did think maybe we should pool our savings and corner the drywall market ...
Along those lines, in spite of the softwood lumber fracas, Resolute Forest Products is being the bigger man, so to speak ...
Texans forced from their flooded homes by unprecedented water levels may get help rebuilding from a Canadian forestry company.

Seth Kursman, a vice president with Resolute Forest Products, has committed to sending a rail car full of lumber to Houston once the storm-battered city begins to recover from the devastation wrought by hurricane Harvey.

Watching footage from the storm-drenched city hit close to home for Kursman, who moved to Canada from Houston 15 years ago.

"I just can't imagine the devastation," he said, noting he saw images of his old neighbourhood, flooded, on the news. "I was really personally moved."

(...)

Wanting to help, he called the Montreal-based company's CEO, Richard Garneau, and suggested they prepare to send a truck filled with lumber to the beleaguered city once the flood waters subside. Resolute's main products are paper and pulp, Kursman said, but he thought lumber would be of more use to the struggling communities.

"He said 'Forget a truck! Send a rail car,'" Kursman said. "I mean, that's a lot of money worth of lumber."

The former Texan said he's already spoken with politicians in both Houston and the U.S. government who have expressed appreciation ...
Well done Resolute  :salute:
 

tomahawk6

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They wont know until after the storm is over. I do know that there is a need for small boats to help rescue those stranded. FEMA has activated 2 small boat rescue units [civilian] and more are going to come. The only way into many of these areas is by small boat or by air.
 

Old Sweat

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As an indication of things to come, a homeowner in the Ottawa area just got a building permit to rebuild his home that was devastated in the spring floods we experienced. Imagine the scale of the administrative burden in South Texas, and imagine all the contaminated rubble from the flooded buildings.
 

tomahawk6

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The Governor activated the entire Texas Army National Guard of 12000 to assist with rescue and cleanup.
 

a_majoor

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An interesting story of how one company has prepared for the disaster. This sort of thinking is great if you have the resource base to do so. And the so called Cajun Navy is now out in force to assist in rescuing people, another bottom up response:

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/waffle-houses-hurricane-response-team-prepares-disaster-184844452.html?soc_src=social-sh&soc_trk=tw

How Waffle House's hurricane response team prepares for disaster

One of the ways the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) measures hurricane damage is by the Waffle House Index. Waffle House, a popular 24-hour fast food chain in the Southeast, has a unique ability to operate solely on gas if necessary, so a closed Waffle House is often tantamount to disaster.

And while we won’t know yet how Hurricane Harvey will fare on the index, the attitude at Waffle Houses across Texas has been calm. The company’s staff has been preparing for months.

“We have our own special disaster teams and generators waiting to be shipped,” said one Waffle House employee in Galveston, Tex. “We’re open up until the city makes us close, probably later on tonight. As soon as it’s over we’ll be right back open.”

Waffle House’s resiliency is a great source of satisfaction for people. The Galveston employee told Yahoo Finance proudly, “When nothing else is open I’m going to tell you the Waffle House is open.”

Over the years, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate noticed this phenomenon following hurricane damage and developed the Waffle House Index. “Green” is full menu, “yellow” is partial menu, and “red” means there may be no Waffle House left.

“Waffle House stays on when the wind’s blowing—they never close,” Philip Strouse, FEMA’s Private Sector Liaison, told Yahoo Finance last year. “They have a small footprint, they’re easy, and if these little stores are going out when it only takes a few people to staff … that’s bad.”

Preparing ‘jump teams’

Hurricane preparation for many can be a scramble, but for Waffle House, it’s a game of chess with military-style strategy and execution. Before a storm hits, and even before hurricane season, the company makes storm checklists for each location, meets with local authorities, and educates new employees, though many have been through 15 hurricanes.

“We’ve already done all that,” Waffle House’s director of external affairs Pat Warner told Yahoo Finance. “Right now we’re getting jump teams ready.”

A Waffle House jump team consists of a small team of restaurant operators from outside the hurricane zone. These employees swoop in at the first possible moment after a storm to restore service and get things open. Typically after a storm, demand for food is high and functioning restaurants are in low supply, and things get extremely busy.

“There’s a jump team outside of Nashville ready to go on Sunday. Jump teams are [also] ready in Louisiana,” said Warner. “Then we can deploy from the main office some teams that may or may not go depending on severity.”

One of the reasons why these jump teams are the key to the chain’s success is because employees may not be able to work if they’re dealing with their own hurricane damage.

“It does help to bring operators from outside so it relieves [local employees] so they can focus on family,,” said Warner. “They don’t have to worry about their restaurant at the same time.”

During Hurricane Katrina, Warner said Waffle House worked beyond its restaurants to provide temporary lodging for its workers, putting tarps on employees’ roofs and shipping in hard-to-find essentials like diapers and formula.

The day of the impact

On a day like Friday, when a hurricane is coming, Warner said the Waffle House team gets its jump teams into position to prepare for the worst.

“We’re on call, loading up our command center,” he said. ”Whether we roll or not we don’t know; we want to get together just in case.”

Waffle House doesn’t really operate in Corpus Christi, where the hurricane is expected to hit the hardest, but the flood-prone Galveston and Houston areas are filled with around 20 Waffle Houses.

“We’re all waiting to see what he’s gonna do after he comes on shore,” Warner said, referring to Harvey. “Right now it looks like we may have a Category 3… so we’re anticipating some damage to the restaurants.”

What a Waffle House needs to open

Like any restaurant, Waffle House needs food, employees, a safe location, and energy. In the planning process before a hurricane, Waffle House works with food distributor U.S. Foods (USFD) to make sure its shelves are stocked and its locations are prepared for possible supply-chain issues. The jump teams supply the labor.

The other elements can be more tricky, but Waffle House’s planning accounts for construction teams that are ready to go in if there are significant structural damage and power issues.

“Is it structurally safe, that’s number one,” said Warner. “If there’s even a doubt we’re not gonna open. After that it’s what utilities are there. This is all in our storm checklist, and we review it all the time.”

Energy-wise, not that much is needed, though food safety and IT professionals in the field are available to be dispatched quickly to locations to get things safe and online.

“If we have gas for the grills, we can open,” said Warner. “We tailor the menu for what we can cook. Obviously, without electricity we’re not gonna have waffles, but we can bring in water and porta potties. If we don’t have electricity we can bring in generators. We’ve had some cases that before the generator came, we were there with candle light.”

Getting a restaurant operational requires working closely with various federal and local agencies, so Waffle House’s response team keeps in close contact with FEMA and others.

“It’s nice to have that support too because we need information,” said Warner. “When’s the power gonna come back on? What about the water? It’s good to get that info quick to the folks in the field.”

Practice makes perfect

Katrina, not surprisingly, was the biggest storm Waffle House has dealt with. While not as bad, last year’s Hurricane Matthew spanned five states up and down the I-95 corridor, a vast area in which to respond. “We had over 200 people on jump teams that were spread out,” said Warner.

After each storm, the company analyzes its own response to improve its disaster deployment. “We learn something from every storm,” said Warner. “The prep gets you there and each storm is gonna be different. The flooding, the damage — there’s a lot of variables, then afterwards we take a step back.”

All of the complexity of the response prompts a question: Why? Part of it is because they can. With a somewhat simple menu and needs, they can do things others can’t. But Warner noted that the reputation that led former FEMA administrator Craig Fugate to create the Waffle House Index as a disaster indicator has given them a level of pride. It has also pressured them to double down on their efforts.

“It’s a mixed blessing to be recognized,” said Warner. “Now we have to live up to it.”
 

Retired AF Guy

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Interesting article over at Politico on how encouraging people to re-build on flood plains likely contributed to the disaster in Houston.

How Washington Made Harvey Worse

A federal insurance program made Harvey far more costly—and Congress could have known it was coming.

By MICHAEL GRUNWALD August 29, 2017

Hurricane Harvey was a disaster foretold.

Nearly two decades before the storm's historic assault on homes and businesses along the Gulf Coast of Texas this week, the National Wildlife Federation released a groundbreaking report about the United States government’s dysfunctional flood insurance program, demonstrating how it was making catastrophes worse by encouraging Americans to build and rebuild in flood-prone areas. The report, titled “Higher Ground,” crunched federal data to show that just 2 percent of the program’s insured properties were receiving 40 percent of its damage claims. The most egregious example was a home that had flooded 16 times in 18 years, netting its owners more than $800,000 even though it was valued at less than $115,000.

That home was located in Houston, along with more than half of America’s worst “repetitive loss properties” identified in the report. There was one other city with more repetitive losses overall, but Houston is where the federation went to announce its Higher Ground findings in July 1998, to try to build a national case for reform.

“Houston, we have a problem,” declared the report’s author, David Conrad. The repetitive losses from even modest floods, he warned, were a harbinger of a costly and potentially deadly future. “We haven’t seen the worst of this yet,” Conrad said.

Houston’s problem was runaway development in flood-prone areas, accelerated by heavily subsidized federal flood insurance. Now that Hurricane Harvey has turned Conrad’s warnings into reality, it’s worth noting that Houston’s problem was in part a Washington problem, a slow-motion disaster that was easy to predict but politically impossible to prevent. Congress often discusses fixing flood insurance to stop encouraging Americans to build in harm’s way, but the National Flood Insurance Program is still almost as dysfunctional as it was 19 years ago. It is now nearly $25 billion in the red, piling debt onto the national credit card. Meanwhile, cities like Houston—as well as New Orleans, which Higher Ground identified as the national leader in repetitive losses eight years before Hurricane Katrina—continue to sprawl into their vulnerable floodplains, aided by the availability of inexpensive federally supported insurance.

Hurricane Harvey is not the first costly flood to hit Houston since that 1998 report. In 2001, Tropical Storm Allison dumped more than two feet of rain on the city, causing about $5 billion in damages. Two relatively modest storms that hit Houston in 2015 and 2016—so small they didn't get names—did so much property damage they made the list of the 15 highest-priced floods in U.S. history. But Houston’s low-lying flatlands keep booming, as sprawling subdivisions and parking lots pave over the wetlands and pastures that used to soak up the area’s excess rainfall, which is how Houston managed to host three “500-year floods” in the past three years.

“This was inevitable,” says Conrad, who is now a consultant for the Association of State Floodplain Managers. “We never learn.”

Storms are natural events, but floods are usually man-made disasters. That’s because flood damage depends not only on how much water is involved, but on how many people and structures are in its path and how prior human intervention had affected that path. Government policies affect all three of those variables, which is one reason why “500-year floods”—which are supposed to have a 1-in-500 chance of occurring in a particular place in a particular year—are becoming so common.

So far, the political debate over Harvey has focused on climate change, which scientists believe is increasing the frequency and severity of extreme rain events, increasing the amount of water dumped on cities like Houston. Climate change almost certainly made Harvey marginally worse, giving the storm a boost through higher sea levels and warmer sea temperatures. And it’s true that federal flood policies have ignored climate. President Barack Obama tried to change that a bit, ordering federal agencies to account for rising seas and other flood risks when permitting infrastructure projects, but President Donald Trump revoked the order just last week.

But the climate is not changing fast enough to explain the dramatic spikes in disaster costs; all seven of the billion-dollar floods in American history have made landfall in the 21st century, and Harvey will be the eighth. Experts believe the main culprit is the explosive growth of low-lying riverine and coastal development, which has had the double effect of increasing floods (by replacing prairies and other natural sponges that hold water with pavement that deflects water) while moving more property into the path of those floods. An investigation last year by ProPublica and the Texas Tribune found that the Houston area’s impervious surfaces increased by 25 percent from 1996 to 2011, as thousands of new homes were built around its bayous. Houston is renowned for its anything-goes zoning rules, but the feds have also promoted those trends by providing extremely cheap insurance in high-risk areas.

Created in 1968, the National Flood Insurance Program was actually supposed to help prevent risky development. Its complex rules required new construction within designated 100-year floodplains to meet higher flood-proofing standards and required “substantially damaged” properties that received claims worth half their value to be relocated or elevated. But most of the program’s 100-year flood maps are woefully obsolete, relocation almost never happens, and Uncle Sam has continued to cut multiple checks for repetitive losses. A recent Pew Foundation study found that the Higher Ground problems have not been solved; about 1 percent of insured properties have sustained repetitive losses, accounting for more than 25 percent of the nation’s flood claims. One $69,000 home in Mississippi flooded 34 times in 32 years, producing $663,000 in payouts. The government routinely dishes out more in claims than it takes in through premiums, and the program has gradually drifted deeper and deeper into debt.

“It’s basically lather, rinse, repeat,” says Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “The fundamental responsibility of government is to protect people, but this program keeps encouraging people to build in harm’s way.”

Environmentalists, taxpayer groups and other reformers across the political spectrum have tried to rein in the program, pushing to raise premiums to better reflect flood risks and limit repetitive loss payments. But they have encountered ferocious pushback in Washington from real estate agents, homebuilders and other development interests, as well as politicians representing areas that tend to go underwater. They finally broke through in 2012, when Congress passed a rare bipartisan reform bill that would have jacked up premiums to some semblance of actuarially sound levels within a few years. But after an uproar from coastal and riverfront communities, Congress reversed itself in equally bipartisan fashion in 2014, so most premiums will rise much more gradually, and won’t reflect actual risks for as long as two decades.

Now Congress must reauthorize the program before it expires on September 30, and Congressman Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, has proposed several reforms to rein it in. But his plan to limit subsidies for expensive repetitive-loss properties was in trouble before Harvey in the House, and his more ideological measures to expand private flood insurance face an uncertain future in the Senate. Reformers hope the shock of seeing America’s fourth-largest city underwater will at least help build support for more money for better floodplain mapping, as well as flood-proofing and relocation of the most vulnerable properties. But they recognize they’re swimming upstream.

“The floods have gotten worse, but the politics haven’t gotten better,” says Larry Larson, a senior policy director for the association of floodplain managers.

The floods really have gotten worse. Fourteen of America’s 15 most expensive disasters have come since Conrad released his Higher Ground report in 1998. In Hannibal, Missouri, the Mississippi River reached its 10-year flood stage in seven out of the eight years between 2008 and 2015, which would be a one-in-a-million coincidence if it were really a coincidence. Cities as diverse as Miami, St. Louis and Sacramento face a constant risk of becoming the next Houston or New Orleans. But Katrina was a man-made disaster, and Harvey looks like one, too. The next Big One probably will be, too.

“This isn’t the storm of the millennium,” Conrad says. “It’s going to happen again and again.”

Michael Grunwald is a senior staff writer for Politico Magazine.

Article Link
 

tomahawk6

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The National Guard is bringing in troops from other states to assist Texas authorities.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-essential-washington-updates-pentagon-says-up-to-30-000-national-1504032239-htmlstory.html

Pentagon officials said Tuesday that National Guard assets are at full readiness to assist in the unfolding disaster in Texas wrought by Tropical Storm Harvey.

Maj. Gen. James C. Witham, director of domestic operations for the National Guard, told Pentagon reporters that up to 30,000 guardsmen as well as a U.S. naval amphibious assault ship could be called upon to help out in rescue efforts on the ground.

There are 30 National Guard helicopters flying in Texas in support of relief efforts surrounding the hurricane and subsequent tropical storm, with 24 more requested, he said.

Witham said that could increase to 100 helicopters in the days ahead as the Guard prepares for a sustained, phased response -- a departure from what the Guard has done in the past.
 

mariomike

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People helping people,

Houston mosques turn into shelters to aid Harvey victims
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/houston-mosques-turn-shelters-aid-harvey-victims-article-1.3456479

Texas' Muslim community has welcomed residents affected by Hurricane Harvey into its mosques as the storm continues to bring rainfall in the southeast.

The Brand Lane Center in Stafford, Tex. is one of those mosques serving as a 24-hour refuge that has been providing people with hot food and clothes.

"When you give, you don't give only to your own family. You give to anybody who needs help," Khan said.

“We have truckloads of supplies coming,” Khan told Mic, adding that 50 doctors from the Muslim community were on call to help Harvey victims.

 

mariomike

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jmt18325

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mariomike said:
Two Canada Task Force 1 ( CAN-TF1 Vancouver ) Heavy Urban Search and Rescue ( HUSAR ) members were sent to Hurricane Harvey.

They were invited by TX-TF1 to embed, observe, and further prepare CAN-TF1 for events of this scale.

Here's a story:

http://globalnews.ca/news/3705701/vancouver-fire-rescue-texas-hurricane-harvey/
 

mariomike

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jmt18325 said:
Here's a story:

http://globalnews.ca/news/3705701/vancouver-fire-rescue-texas-hurricane-harvey/

Two members to Hurricane Harvey.

CAN-TF1 deployed 46 members to Hurricane Katrina.

Good grief! Now they are talking about Hurricane Irma might be on the way to the Gulf Coast!



 

jmt18325

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mariomike said:
Two members to Hurricane Harvey.

CAN-TF1 deployed 46 members to Hurricane Katrina.

According to the story, we haven't yet been asked to assist with personnel.  This is an observation mission only.  This actually seems like exactly the kind of thing we have the DART and 5 HUSARS for.  I'm sure we've offered that help at this point.
 

mariomike

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jmt18325 said:
This is an observation mission only.

That would be because there is little ( if any? ) Heavy Rescue involved. HUSAR

General Honore ( Joint Task Force Katrina Commander ) called the response to Harvey "amateur hour".
https://www.google.ca/search?rls=com.microsoft%3Aen-CA%3AIE-Address&rlz=1I7GGHP_en-GBCA592&q=honore+%22amateur+hour%22&oq=honore+%22amateur+hour%22&gs_l=psy-ab.3...959157.968664.0.969085.23.22.1.0.0.0.423.3262.3j13j3j0j1.20.0.foo%2Cersl%3D1%2Cfett%3D1%2Cewh%3D0%2Cnso-enksa%3D0%2Cnso-enfk%3D1%2Cnso-usnt%3D1%2Cnso-qnt-npqp%3D0-1%2Cnso-qnt-npdq%3D0-45%2Cnso-qnt-npt%3D0-09%2Cnso-qnt-ndc%3D300%2Ccspa-dspm-nm-mnp%3D0-045%2Ccspa-dspm-nm-mxp%3D0-1125%2Cnso-unt-npqp%3D0-15%2Cnso-unt-npdq%3D0-25%2Cnso-unt-npt%3D0-06%2Cnso-unt-ndc%3D300%2Ccspa-uipm-nm-mnp%3D0-0075%2Ccspa-uipm-nm-mxp%3D0-0525.3..0...1.1.64.psy-ab..2.11.2169...0j46j0i67k1j0i46k1j0i10k1j0i22i30k1j0i22i10i30k1.R_b2KxY0DTQ

 
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