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Aftermath of a natural disaster

  • If you’ve never had the pleasure of living someplace hit by a natural disaster, you could be interested in some of the ramifications, as described by law Professor Rob Verchick at Loyola University New Orleans.

    “Ask just about any New Orleanian to name the most exasperating thing about the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, and you’ll get the same answer. It isn’t the floodwater. Or the roof damage. It’s something more familiar but equally as threatening to life, health and property: power failure.
This week, Entergy, Louisiana’s largest power company, warned customers to brace for several days or even weeks without power.

    “That means no light, no microwave oven, no refrigerator — and getting by on candles and canned food. It means no air conditioning amid an often-triple-digit heat index, no computer and no Internet, unless you can get online with a smartphone — which you don’t have power to charge. Gas stations are closed because electric pumps can’t pump. In some neighborhoods, toilets don’t flush because sewage plants have conked out.

    “[The problem started soon after Ida made landfall, when all eight of our region’s high-voltage transmission lines failed. In one instance, a 400-foot-tall transmission tower supporting power lines spanning the length of more than 10 football fields across the Mississippi River crumpled like a foil candy wrapper.]”

    Time for an update for the power grid, a possibility if the US Congression will vote for long-overdue infrastructure funding this year. 

    Is infrastructure funding a priority in the countries you all come from?

  • We do have to recognize that no hurricane bigger and stronger than this one has ever hit the US, so it would be unrealistic to expect a really fast turnaround. But anticipatory action really helped speed the recovery response.

    As soon as the storm blasted through Louisiana and moved in its destructive path across the US, flooding states as far North and East as Pennsylvania, NY and NJ, electric company crews from many states rolled into Louisiana with 25,000+ linemen. Damage assessment began immediately, but restoration of power is complicated work, from transmission to distribution systems that must be rebuilt.

    In this case, the damage in the city of New Orleans included 837 downed poles, 288 destroyed transformers, and 564 broken crossarms. The progress, while steady and fast, can’t restore electricity to neighborhoods fast enough. So a new round of evacuations has begun, of people who withstood the storm winds but who could die without electricity in the blisteringly hot weather.

    Our own street doesn’t have electricity yet, but parts of the neighborhood are coming back to life and lights, so real progress has been made in the past 6 days. Unfortunately, the hardest-hit coastal areas and remote rural areas may be without electricity for months.

    The good news is that, unlike Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ida didn’t flood any areas within New Orleans’ levee system. The fortified levees and the city’s 99 pumps all held. By the time the next Big One hits, perhaps the whole city will have buried lines, not a complete solution, but a start.

  • The US must upgrade its energy infrastructure. An interesting statistic from the Washington Post tonight:

    “Nearly 1 in 3 Americans lives in a county hit by a weather disaster in the past three months, a Post analysis of federal data shows.”

    And then, there are always Ma Nature’s complications -

    “Sheriff’s officials are still searching for a man whose arm was ripped off while being attacked by an alligator in Hurricane Ida’s floodwaters.

    Search crews with a cadaver dog looked in vain for traces of Timothy Satterlee, 71, on Wednesday, St. Tammany Parish sheriff’s Capt. Lance Vitter said Thursday.

    “They searched until it got dark yesterday, and unfortunately we still haven’t located Mr. Satterlee,” Vitter said. “There is a high probability that he is deceased, but we can’t make that call until we recover the body.”

    Satterlee’s wife heard splashing on Monday, and walked outside their home to see the gator attacking her husband in the New Orleans suburb of Slidell, authorities said.

    With their home surrounded by floodwaters, she got in her canoe and went for help, but when she and deputies returned to the house, he was gone.”

    Edited once, last by Rice: Merged a post created by Rice into this post. ().