IDEAS FOR DISASTER RESPONSE

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Sean McMullen

When something like this happens I can't help but try to think of things they should of done or things that we could do in order to help out or to prevent death. Here are a couple of things I've come up with and I'm interesteted to see what others would do as well.

1. Before the hurricane hit they should of told everyone to write their name, social security number, and blood type on there body with a permanent marker, just like soldiers going into battle, preferably on their torso because its least likely to be severed.

REASON: Not only would this help with identifacation, but maybe it would relate the severity of the situation to those who think they could ride the storm out.

2. Since Hurricanes will always be hitting our country we should set up bases that the military, FEMA, etc. could mobilize to in order to streamline aid and rescue efforts. These bases should be hundreds of miles inland so they don't take a direct hit by a hurricane in the states most likely to get hit . A base like this should exist in every state on the Gulf and the east coast. These bases should only be used for disasters and remain uninhabited making it easier to occupy when needed.
 
Jun 21, 2004
1,528
32
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Kearney, NE
bigstormpicture.com
When something like this happens I can't help but try to think of things they should of done or things that we could do in order to help out or to prevent death. Here are a couple of things I've come up with and I'm interesteted to see what others would do as well.

1. Before the hurricane hit they should of told everyone to write their name, social security number, and blood type on there body with a permanent marker, just like soldiers going into battle, preferably on their torso because its least likely to be severed.
Agreed! Actually, I was emailing people who planned to stay in NOLA and telling them to do this two days before the storm hit. It's scary yes, but very practical. (One should also write down the next of kin on the body and their contact numbers.) I also told them to gather as much food and water as possible and bring it upstairs, and to be ready to not be rescued by boat or chopper for days. It really blows my mind how callously people disregarded the dangers of a Category 5 storm spinning their way.

2. Since Hurricanes will always be hitting our country we should set up bases that the military, FEMA, etc. could mobilize to in order to streamline aid and rescue efforts. These bases should be hundreds of miles inland so they don't take a direct hit by a hurricane in the states most likely to get hit . A base like this should exist in every state on the Gulf and the east coast. These bases should only be used for disasters and remain uninhabited making it easier to occupy when needed.
This is an exellent idea. The cost of setting up a dozen or so such bases and coming up with the logistics of rapid-deploying supplies is far less than the cost of trying to get the ball rolling after the fact. We keep stockpiles of bio-weapons countermeasures stockpiled across the country, and it seems to me the likelyhood of a biological attack (the avian flu aside, which at some point will likely be a severe problem to all of us) is much less than that of a catastrophic natural disaster.

You wouldn't even need to build a new base, you could just keep the post and logistical framework set up at existing military bases.

A personal idea of my own:

Give the National Hurricane Center greater leeway in issueing reccomended evacuations. Make a product out of it -- "HURRICANE EVACUATION WARNING" or somesuch thing. These guys know their stuff and when it's time to go, and as the Mayor of New Orleans demonstrated, often the polticos will ignore the NHC at their own peril. I'm sure if Max Mayfield had his way, evacs would have been ordered long before they actually were. While people are just as likely to ignore a "Hurricane Evacuation Warning" as they are a plea from their mayor to leave, I found a large number of people in and around NOLA two days out who were genuinely confused about whether they needed to leave or not. I told them to leave; most of them decided to wait it out and see if a mandatory evac was ordered. At least a NHC product would give them some informational guidance.
 

Rob_Davis

Much of the chaos is due to a lack of communications. Take a lesson from the military and have airborne command and control stations that have radio repeaters, cells, and Nextel pods operating in them. You could put them in blimps for that matter, and you can easily have 24 hour functioning communications for the city even with a total loss of power.
 

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
7,139
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Lansing, MI
skywatch.org
"Give the National Hurricane Center greater leeway in issueing reccomended evacuations."

That's not how our country works... Local control - many times that is good, however there are some instances where the locals are incapable (and they won't be re-elected.) But to give a government group in Miami the ability to order cities and counties to be evactuated, over the local governing body, is not the way to go.
 

Rob_Davis

That's true, Rob. And nobody wants that responsibility anyhow. I suspect from what is said by the mets here, that most everybody in the NWS is scared to death of issuing such a dire warning and then being wrong. It is the same principle by which cops and National Guardsmen are beyond terrified of actually pulling the trigger on a looter, no matter what their orders are. They know, like the mets, that they will be the ones crucified for even the superficial appearance of a "mistake," while the ones who gave their orders will skate.
 
Dec 26, 2004
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Booneville, KY
I agree and think all the before mentioned ideas are great ones. The biggest part of the problem in this situation has been logistics and communications. An airborne command and control operation with the key decision makers all present would help cut down on confusion. And pre-positioned stocks would help reduce (but not eliminate) the time involved in getting them to the people.

A cost saving way of doing this would be to use many of the US military bases that are being closed. Store the supplies there. Then when needed, they'll be situated closer to the areas in need and well dispersed.

Also, I think we should keep the living quarters on these bases inhabitable for use as temporary shelters. Perhaps others buildings could be readily transformed into field hospitals. We wouldn't need to do a great deal with them, but we'd need to make sure power could be had on short notice and that they were stocked and ready for use.
 
Dec 26, 2004
596
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Booneville, KY
Another idea I just had could also be helpful. One of the key reasons many cited as to why such a large number failed to evacuate is because they were poor and had no form of transportation. Now, I think many could have really gotten out had they chosen to do so. We've seen people fail to flee the danger zone in every hurricane we can remember, even Andrew. But there's a solution that will work regardless of the case.

I have heard that buses were made available to transport those to safety who wished to evacuate. What I don't know is how many were made available and to what degree they were used.

But what we should do from this point forward is to make sure that "mandatory evacuations" really be made mandatory. When a mandatory evacuation is issued for an area, every available bus within 250 miles should be immediately dispatched to the effected areas (funded by FEMA) with pre-determined pickup zones assigned to aid in decreasing confusion. All local police should be used to assist and if necessary, force residents to evacuate. You won't have people hurt, killed and trapped in primitive conditions if they aren't in the area. Being that it's possible to issue a Federal declaration of emergency prior to landfall, this would allow FEMA to pay for these bus charters if necessary.

Once you have them loaded aboard the buses, then evacuate them inland to safety at pre-determined points. This could be some of the pre-stocked bases we discussed earlier. Make sure these facilities are staffed by locals to minimize the time it takes to get your essential people in place to care for these evacuees. Hopefully there will be enough supplies also pre-stocked at these facilities to feed these people for at least 3 days without diffriculty. That will provide time for the massive logistics needs to catch up to demand issues.

And last, we need to find some way to educate people to be more aware of their surroundings, be more self sufficient and to be less oblivious to their surroundings. I was reading a story yesterday on an English website that left me shocked and astounded. Some British college students had been in Florida and had gone through Katrina as it passed through that area. These people then left and went to New Orleans, placing themselves in the direct path of the storm! They spent most of the weekend leading up to the strike partying and getting drunk. None of them even had the slightest clue a hurricane was on the way despite the intense media and newspaper coverage! They woke up midday Sunday with hangovers to discover most of the town was boarded up and evacuated. Only then did they realize a hurricane was upon them. They sought shelter in the Superdome at the last minute. Now I must ask, how could anyone be this oblivious to what's going on? Do these people never listen to a radio, turn on a tv or read a paper? Dumb! I'm not sure you could ever make some people wake up, but we must try somehow to get people to be a bit more observant if we can.

And last but by no means least, we need to try to help people become minimally self sufficient. What I mean by that is preparing a disaster kit. This is one of the most simple and cost efficient methods of making your existence better during the short-term stage of a disaster. Items such as food, water, flashlights, medications, first aid kit, radio, batteries, toiletries, antibacterial soap, etc should be kept in every home in America. I'd really love to know how many people across the 4 state area effected by this hurricane had this minimal amount of preparations in place? I'd bet shockingly few. Such a minimal amount of supplies could keep your family sustained for a few days while more massive aid is on the way and dramatically improve your quality of life.

We have some areas we need to work on. But they are not all improvements the government needs to make. Many are problems that WE as individuals need to correct, in our own behavior and attitudes.

-George

ETA......I am a fire chief and have worked in EMA matters before and I know it's a great challenge just to convince people to change the batteries in their darn smoke detectors on a regular basis! In fact, it's a challenge just to get many people to purchase and use smoke detectors! BTW, when was the last time you changed the batteries in your's? :wink:
 
Jun 21, 2004
1,528
32
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Kearney, NE
bigstormpicture.com
"Give the National Hurricane Center greater leeway in issueing reccomended evacuations."

That's not how our country works... Local control - many times that is good, however there are some instances where the locals are incapable (and they won't be re-elected.) But to give a government group in Miami the ability to order cities and counties to be evactuated, over the local governing body, is not the way to go.
Oh, I don't mean that the NHC should be given any "teeth" -- i.e., that they should be allowed to ORDER people to evac. What I'm saying is that they should be allowed to suggest an evac in a product, just as they suggest that one get in the basement for a tornado and on get to high ground for a flood. I see no reason why they can't suggest that everyone flee a city if that looks to be the only way to avoid likely death.
 
The problem is that the decision to evacuate...especially a city the size of New Orleans...is as much a political dance as it is a practical application. If the Mayor (especially in an election year) calls for the city to be emptied, and...once again...it is a false alarm, one of the things that dictate the decision making process is how it will affect their re-election chances. Sad, but true.
 
It was as near to a manditory evacuation as they could do without putting hardly any public resources into carrying it out. The public resources to carry out a manditory evacuation on the scale of NO have to be cleared and facilitated from the top -- that's the President, the DHS, and the governors in that order. The mayor is at the bottom with few available resources to carry it out himself.

How DHS/FEMA can designate the Superdome as the primary emergency congregation and evacuation site and then not dispatch hardly any security and humanitarian support there for days while people suffer and die is absolutely incomprehensible and inexcusable IMO.

As the heroic Sunday morning NOAA warning made clear to all who read it, this storm was a monster and a killer. No way all that angular momentum and energy could go poof and disappear in a few hours on a warm ocean. The only politicians who would worry about the political consequences of a "false alarm" in these circumstances are those who don't read, don't think, and certainly don't deserve to lead us IMO.
 
Apr 21, 2005
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Chicago, IL
It was as near to a manditory evacuation as they could do without putting hardly any public resources into carrying it out. The public resources to carry out a manditory evacuation on the scale of NO have to be cleared and facilitated from the top -- that's the President, the DHS, and the governors in that order. The mayor is at the bottom with few available resources to carry it out himself.

How DHS/FEMA can designate the Superdome as the primary emergency congregation and evacuation site and then not dispatch hardly any security and humanitarian support there for days while people suffer and die is absolutely incomprehensible and inexcusable IMO.

As the heroic Sunday morning NOAA warning made clear to all who read it, this storm was a monster and a killer. No way all that angular momentum and energy could go poof and disappear in a few hours on a warm ocean. The only politicians who would worry about the political consequences of a "false alarm" in these circumstances are those who don't read, don't think, and certainly don't deserve to lead us IMO.
Yes the superdome was bad but imagine all those people in their homes. It is the city of New Orleans fault for not having enough food and water in the superdome, no one elses.
 
If the FEMA/regional emergency plan established that the city was responsible for provisioning the Superdome, then yes; but I'm quite sure that was not the case. Otherwise I completely disagree. In fact that's a ridiculous expectation.

The Superdome was an operating public facility that could not have accomodated long-term storage of food, water, and supplies for tens of thousands of people. To suggest that the city was responsible for provisioning it is to suggest that the city has to somehow move all that stuff on short notice from some other storage, with very limited cargo transportation resources and with all the other competing transport and security needs attendant to the evacuation. The responsibility is completely with the disaster specialists at the top.

The provisions should have been pre-positioned elsewhere to move in immediately when the Superdome was opened as an emergency shelter.
 

Jay McCoy

EF5
Dec 6, 2003
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Amarillo, Texas
It is up to the cities to designate evacuation shelters not FEMA. The city is the one who told these people to go to the dome and then didnt supply it.

Amarillo is only a shelter for the victims but our EM opened up the EOC (emergency operations center). Deployed our MOC (mobile operations center) to the airport to coordinate the arrivals of the evacuees, and setup and supplied the civic center with enough food, water, clothing etc... to last for at least a week. And all this in about 24 hrs. NO has many more resources than Amarillo due to its size in comparison but they couldnt even get food, water, or a generator to their MAIN shelter!! The city failed bigtime!! It all comes down to planning AHEAD of time. I am proud to be a member of our DEM in Amarillo and how we are handling this.
 
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