Monday, July 2, 2012

A Year of Freaky Storms and Lengthy Power Outages

When we could not reach our relatives in northern Virgina following the storm, known as a derecho, we suspected that they, as had millions of others, had lost power this past week.

After 3 days of being unable to reach them, we heard that the power was finally restored in one of their homes, where they all then congregated. It may be a week before power is restored to all homes in the DC area and even the federal government wisely is asking many workers to work from their homes, if feasible.  Can you imagine the commute when the traffic lights are not working, not to mention trying to be productive in sweltering offices?

Is it worse to be without electric power for days on end, in a heatwave, or as we experienced in the Northeast of the US,  last October, in freezing temps, due to a freaky Halloween snowstorm?! My students and I will never forget being without electric power for days.

How the community manages (and what was mismanaged) during our freaky snowstorm, along with the impacts of Hurricane Irene and the once in 500 years flood, and the rare tornadoes that hit and devastated parts of our area on June 1, 2011,  led to lots of discussions in my new course, Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare, that I taught this past semester. Having guest speakers from the Red Cross, the National Guard, as well as the UMass Amherst emergency preparedness department speak in my class, captivated the students.

From disaster communications, to burying electric power lines, which I wrote about last Fall, and now a columnist, David Frum, is reinforcing the importance of this on (although I would prefer that more trees would then be planted rather than using the AC), to identifying appropriate shelters, and emergency supplies, along with the right evacuation plans, there is a lot that needs to be done, for emergency preparedness and disaster relief.

The number of disasters is growing, as well as the people affected by disasters, which we are seeing now happening in the mid-Atlantic states, as well as out west with the fires. And, yes, we have relatives in Colorado Springs as well, which, fortunately, have not had their homes destroyed but living under such uncertainty is terrifying.

My last book with Dr. Patrick Qang, was Fragile Networks: Identifying Vulnerabilities and Synergies in an Uncertain World.

I think that it is tine to write another one.

We hope that all those who have to endure such unspeakable discomfort and pain, will soon be out of their misery.