Blog 7: Disaster Planning (Finding Houses)

1. Overview:

Hurricane Irma was a hurricane that happened in 2017.  The path of the hurricane was straight through the gulf side of Florida. The impacts of the storm were significant. The storm caused $64.78 Billion worth of damage with 134 fatalities across multiple countries. It was the 5th-costliest hurricane on record. It was the first Category 5 hurricane to ever hit the Leeward Islands, and its path went straight through the Floridian peninsula. The hurricane began on August 26 as a wave off of the African Coast. It was classified as a tropical storm starting on August 30 and by September 5th, it had intensified to a category 5 hurricane. It was the second-longest category 5 status hurricane ever, only behind the 1932 Cuba hurricane, lasting for 60 hours as a category 5. The hurricane’s rain and wind finally subsided on September 12th after traveling all the way to Missouri.

The US sustained over $50 billion worth of damage and 92 fatalities from this storm: the most of any country. This hurricane had devastating impacts on the areas that it hit, leaving many homes, towns, and cities utterly destroyed. Although the numbers for the United States are higher than any other country, the worst damage was actually in the different Caribbean islands that were directly hit by this storm, which took far longer to recover than the US did.

Below is a picture of the track of Hurricane Irma and two other routes it could have taken, with track A likely have cost even more deaths and damage than the path it did take.


2. Communication:

News 1: Maps: Tracking Hurricane Irma’s Path Over Florida (9.11.2017)

This news article states the damages Irma did, the power loss, where the hurricane headed, and what areas are mandatory/recommended evacuation. The whole article is stating the fact.

News 2: In Hurricane Irma, why did nursing home patients have to die? (9.21.2017)

Since Hurricane Irma knocked out power to the air conditioning, 8 patients died after being stuck in stifling heat at the nursing house. So it is obvious after the hurricane leave, people start to blame the government, the system, and other organization for not being prepared enough.

News 3: Not the Same: Florida Keys Still Struggling After Hurricane Irma 10.2.2017

The Hurricane did tremendous damage to the tourist business. After Irma leave, some business back to normal immediately while others having a hard time to rebuild. The news article starts to talking more about people.

3. Vulnerability:

Climate change brings rising sea and land temperatures and heavier rainfall leading to stronger storm surges and extreme amounts of rainfall once the storms makes landfall. Although climate change is not to blame for the hurricanes its effect cause more frequent and much stronger hurricanes that cause much more damage. Another problem that contributed to the devastating effects of Irma is the large population of senior citizens in Florida. Of the approximately 145 deaths from Irma 85 of those deaths were indirect, meaning lack of supplies and resources because of the storm caused more deaths. A lot of those deaths were due to senior citizens who died from dehydration, heat and lack of resources.

4. Future Improvements:

One strategy communities can utilize to better protect themselves from hurricanes is to have some sort of barrier for their rivers, or to build buildings higher above sea level. Being located in Tampa during the storm was very worrisome to some residents in that the river that cuts through the city was expected to flood to dangerous levels. Some of the dorm halls at the University of Tampa are located directly on this river, and if the storm surge were to have hit Tampa, the buildings would have completely flooded. This ruins many people’s belongings and living spaces. A system that would prevent this flooding from severe damage would drastically help communities from further damage. One method could be implementing flood vents, which while unattractive, can be covered with vegetation. Levees and flood gates could also aid in protection.

Another strategy that can be utilized is to better prepare resources for these situations. Living in an area that is commonly in the paths of hurricanes during hurricane season, should cause retail stores, as well as citizens to better prepare themselves for these emergencies. Those evacuating from Irma often could not find gas, as stations ran out. Water bottles were scarce, and hotels were quickly booked. While some of those things cannot be avoided, cities in these danger zones could implement a system that sets aside a certain amount of these necessary resources during these times of the year. This will aid in keeping people fed, can provide clean water, and allow those evacuating to leave. Individuals can better prepare themselves by having hurricane kits in their homes along with extra gas cans. As seen with Irma, the path of hurricanes is very unpredictable and can change at any moment. It is better to be prepared early on, than risk being left without necessary resources.

A third strategy communities can use to better prepare themselves is to utilize companies that will do hurricane checks on their homes free of charge. This resource is available in Florida and other areas, and allows residents to receive advice on how they can improve their homes from future hurricanes. These companies suggest: improving the strength of a roof deck attachment, creating a secondary water barrier to prevent water intrusion, improving the survivability of a roof covering, bracing gable-end walls, reinforcing roof-to-wall connections, and enhancing window and door protection.

5. Implementation:

The main potential barrier is money, whether for the government, companies, or the individual.

On the government side levee systems with flood gates are costly to create and then maintain. For example the New Orleans levee system costed about $14 billion to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Now this cost is pretty low for the amount of damage a good levee system can prevent but convincing the government to create and maintain a levee system for years before a hurricane hits can seem like a waste of money to some. This barrier can be minimized by showing a cost and benefit analysis of how much money a levee system in high risk areas will save in the long run. This is get more government support for levee systems / flood systems.

On the company level, the problem is the same why should companies set aside extra materials in the off case that a hurricane will happen? This question appeals to the same idea as before except companies don’t have as much of a duty to protect citizens. The best way to minimize this barrier is by giving insetables to companies that do set aside extra materials. This will allow companies to offset the money loss by having too much materials at once and will make companies have extra in the case of emergency.

Lastly on the individual level. It costs money and or time to take the necessary steps to get prepared for a hurricane. This includes understanding what steps to protect your house with flood vents, or other reinforcements as recommended by professional companies, and creating a hurricane kit including extra supplies. Both these preparation steps require people to set money aside for the hurricane in the future. This is a barrier as many people don’t want to use there hard earned money for prepping for unknown future. This barrier could be reduced in many ways. Giving reduced rates to people in high flood zones on house improvements would be one. Another would be having people remember old hurricanes and what would have been good to have in those situations. This allows people to understand the risks and gives more initiative to prep.

Overall everyone has to be convinced that prepping for a future hurricane and flood is worth their time and money now.

Source 1 Source 2 Source 3

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