September 8, 2013
Earthquakes, Wildfires, Flooding, Droughts, And Tornadoes: Preparing for Them All
Recently, redOrbit published an article by Lawrence LeBlond about being prepared for natural disasters in celebration of National Preparedness Month this September. As LeBlond writes, “To help keep us informed, the US Geological Survey (USGS) is planning to bring daily content in the form of preparedness information, posted over social media channels, alerting of the dangers we face and how to best prepare for them. People can find this content by following #30DaysPrep on Twitter or by visiting the Survey’s Facebook, Instagram and Google+ pages.” The natural disasters that redOrbit identifies include earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides and sinkholes, wildfires, and floods and droughts. Let’s take a deeper look at a few of these.
As an Okie, I am particularly interested in this because Oklahoma has recently seen an upsurge in the amount and intensity of earthquakes in this state. To help Americans with earthquake preparedness, “The USGS and its partners developed an Earthquake Early Warning System this past April as part of Earthquake Awareness Month.” The warning system allows people to sign up for earthquake notices. The system also provides tips and suggestions of how to be prepared on the USGS Prepare Website.
Where an earthquake can happen suddenly without notice, a volcanic eruption often is preceded by many other things that scientists can help people prepare for days or months before the actual devastation of an eruption, which could include “Lava, explosive blasts, ash clouds and pyroclastic flows can impact communities on a large scale. Noxious volcanic gas emissions have also caused lung problems far and wide. As Well, ash clouds have disrupted economies by diverting and delaying critical air traffic.”
Right now, and for the past several weeks, Yosemite (and many other places in the western states) has been battling wildfires. Really, just about every summer the west deals with wildfires. Though these can be beneficial to flora, fauna, disease, and other things, they are dangerous to humans, so in an effort to reap the environmental benefits while still protecting the humans in areas that need wildfire to flourish, the USGS offers “tools and information before, during and after such disasters. The Survey provides fire managers with up-to-the minute maps and satellite data about current wildfire extent and behavior throughout the country.” The USGS further provides “assessments on fire aftermath to help guide restoration of fallen communities and devastated ecosystems.”
Floods and Droughts
As an inhabitant of Oklahoma, land of the Dust Bowl, I know what desolation years of drought can be. Up until this past year, Oklahoma suffered from almost five years of extreme drought. In summer, the land looked sun burned to a crisp, and the people suffered from lack of water in many ways including not having productive gardens, water rationing by cities, and even water wells drying up. We were so below the water table that I worried we would not recover.
Then came summer 2013 and the rains. It rained so much that the dry, cracked, thirsty earth did not know what to do with all of the water. It started spitting it back out. After years of desperation for water, we suffered from flooding. Flooding!
For both of these reasons, it is important to be prepared. To help with this, the USGS has real-time monitoring of rivers and streams that people can see on the WaterWatch site. People can also receive text and email reminders. For droughts, the USGS has the US Drought Monitor website.
After the May 2013 tornadoes that traumatized much of central Oklahoma, I wrote a blog about tornado safety and preparedness. Being prepared for tornadoes is just as important as the above. Check out my previous post for more info on that.
All of these are scary, so knowing what to do in this natural disaster event will better help us cope and react. That must be good, right?
After reading the article on redOrbit and writing this blog, I realize that natural disasters are ubiquitous in Oklahoma. I mean, in the past few years we have suffered in debilitating measures from all I discussed above except volcanoes. All of them. For Oklahomans, the USGS’s information on natural disaster preparation is crucial, but so is it for the rest of the world. Having September as National Preparedness Month provides the platform for us all to be safer.
Image Credit: Filipe Matos Frazao / Shutterstock