Patrap's WunderBlog

Remembering Katrina, 2 years later

By: Patrap, 4:03 PM GMT on August 29, 2007


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Today we here pause to reflect on the events of August 29th,2005 across the Greater Gulf Coast Katrina Impact Zone.
We remember the lives lost to Hurricane Katrina .We thank again those who came to the immediate aid of those affected throughout the Gulf Coastal area.
We also give thanks for the immediate and timely Posts from Dr.Masters and the other forecasters and mets and bloggers who tirelessly gave of their time and efforts here then.
We are well on the road to recovery,..but after a period of 2 years now, much remains to be done. Give pause today to the lost..and consider how one may make a difference here to the Coastal areas affected by the Terrible ravages of Katrina.

Hurricane Preparation..

By: Patrap, 3:42 PM GMT on August 13, 2007

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History teaches that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. By knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster.

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HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS TIPS



Hurricane hazards come in many forms: storm surge, high winds, tornadoes, and flooding. This means it is important for your family to have a plan that includes all of these hazards. Look carefully at the safety actions associated with each type of hurricane hazard and prepare your family disaster plan accordingly. But remember this is only a guide. The first and most important thing anyone should do when facing a hurricane threat is to use common sense.

You should be able to answer the following questions before a hurricane threatens:

*
What are the Hurricane Hazards?
*
What does it mean to you?
*
What actions should you take to be prepared?

Hurricanes and Your Health and Safety


* The great majority of injuries during a hurricane are cuts caused by flying glass or other debris. Other injuries include puncture wounds resulting from exposed nails, metal, or glass, and bone fractures.
* State and local health departments may issue health advisories or recommendations particular to local conditions. If in doubt, contact your local or state health department.
* Make sure to include all essential medications -- both prescription and over the counter -- in your family's emergency disaster kit.


* Hurricanes, especially if accompanied by a tidal surge or flooding, can contaminate the public water supply. Drinking contaminated water may cause illness. You cannot assume that the water in the hurricane-affected area is safe to drink.
* In the area hit by a hurricane, water treatment plants may not be operating; even if they are, storm damage and flooding can contaminate water lines. Listen for public announcements about the safety of the municipal water supply.
* If your well has been flooded, it needs to be tested and disinfected after the storm passes and the floodwaters recede. Questions about testing should be directed to your local or state health department.

Water Safety

* Use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters if it is available.
* If you don't have bottled water, you should boil water to make it safe. Boiling water will kill most types of disease-causing organisms that may be present. If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for boiling. Boil the water for one minute, let it cool, and store it in clean containers with covers.
* If you can't boil water, you can disinfect it using household bleach. Bleach will kill some, but not all, types of disease-causing organisms that may be in the water. If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for disinfection. Add 1/8 teaspoon (or 8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach for each gallon of water, stir it well and let it stand for 30 minutes before you use it. Store disinfected water in clean containers with covers.
* If you have a well that has been flooded, the water should be tested and disinfected after flood waters recede. If you suspect that your well may be contaminated, contact your local or state health department or agriculture extension agent for specific advice.

Food Safety

* Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water.
* Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water. Food containers that are not waterproof include those with screw-caps, snap lids, pull tops, and crimped caps. Also, discard cardboard juice/milk/baby formula boxes and home canned foods if they have come in contact with flood water, because they cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitized.
* Inspect canned foods and discard any food in damaged cans. Can damage is shown by swelling; leakage; punctures; holes; fractures; extensive deep rusting; or crushing/denting severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual, wheel-type can opener.
* Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and retort pouches (for example, flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches) can be saved if you do the following:
o Remove the labels, if they are the removable kind, since they can harbor dirt and bacteria.
o Thoroughly wash the cans or retort pouches with soap and water, using hot water if it is available.
o Brush or wipe away any dirt or silt.
o Rinse the cans or retort pouches with water that is safe for drinking, if available, since dirt or residual soap will reduce the effectiveness of chlorine sanitation.
o Then, sanitize them by immersion in one of the two following ways:
+ place in water and allow the water to come to a boil and continue boiling for 2 minutes, or
+ place in a freshly-made solution consisting of 1 tablespoon of unscented liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water (or the cleanest, clearest water available) for 15 minutes.
* Air dry cans or retort pouches for a minimum of 1 hour before opening or storing.
* If the labels were removable, then re-label your cans or retort pouches, including the expiration date (if available), with a marker.
* Food in reconditioned cans or retort pouches should be used as soon as possible, thereafter.
* Any concentrated baby formula in reconditioned, all-metal containers must be diluted with clean, drinking water.
* Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes, and utensils (including can openers) with soap and water, using hot water if available. Rinse, and then sanitize them by boiling in clean water or immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water (or the cleanest, clearest water available).
* Thoroughly wash countertops with soap and water, using hot water if available. Rinse, and then sanitize by applying a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water (or the cleanest, clearest water available). Allow to air dry.

Frozen and Refrigerated Foods

* If you will be without power for a long period:
o ask friends to store your frozen foods in their freezers if they have electricity;
o see if freezer space is available in a store, church, school, or commercial freezer that has electrical service; or
o use dry ice, if available. Twenty-five pounds of dry ice will keep a ten-cubic-foot freezer below freezing for 3-4 days. Use care when handling dry ice, and wear dry, heavy gloves to avoid injury.
* Your refrigerator will keep foods cool for about four hours without power if it is unopened. Add block or dry ice to your refrigerator if the electricity will be off longer than four hours.
* Thawed food can usually be eaten if it is still "refrigerator cold," or re-frozen if it still contains ice crystals.
* To be safe, remember, "When in doubt, throw it out." Discard any food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more, and any food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.

Sanitation and Hygiene

It is critical for you to remember to practice basic hygiene during the emergency period. Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected:

* before preparing or eating
* after toilet use
* after participating in cleanup activities; and
* after handling articles contaminated with floodwater or sewage.

If there is flooding along with a hurricane, the waters may contain fecal material from overflowing sewage systems and agricultural and industrial waste. Although skin contact with floodwater does not, by itself, pose a serious health risk, there is risk of disease from eating or drinking anything contaminated with floodwater.

If you have any open cuts or sores that will be exposed to floodwater, keep them as clean as possible by washing them with soap and applying an antibiotic ointment to discourage infection. If a wound develops redness, swelling, or drainage, seek immediate medical attention.

Do not allow children to play in floodwater areas. Wash children's hands frequently (always before meals), and do not allow children to play with floodwater-contaminated toys that have not been disinfected. You can disinfect toys using a solution of one cup of bleach in five gallons of water.

Immunizations

Outbreaks of communicable diseases after hurricanes are unusual. However, the rates of diseases that were present before a hurricane may increase because of a lack of sanitation or overcrowding in shelters. Increases in infectious diseases that were not present before the hurricane are not a problem, so mass vaccination programs are unnecessary.

If you have wounds, you should be evaluated for a tetanus immunization, just as you would at any other time of injury. If you receive a puncture wound or a wound contaminated with feces, soil, or saliva, have a doctor or health department determine whether a tetanus booster is necessary based on individual records.

Specific recommendations for vaccinations should be made on a case-by-case basis, or as determined by local and state health departments.

Mosquitoes

Rain and flooding in a hurricane area may lead to an increase in mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are most active at sunrise and sunset. In most cases, the mosquitoes will be pests but will not carry communicable diseases. It is unlikely that diseases which were not present in the area prior to the hurricane would be of concern. Local, state, and federal public health authorities will be actively working to control the spread of any mosquito-borne diseases.

To protect yourself from mosquitoes, use screens on dwellings, and wear clothes with long sleeves and long pants. Insect repellents that contain DEET are very effective. Be sure to read all instructions before using DEET. Care must be taken when using DEET on small children. Products containing DEET are available from stores and through local and state health departments.

To control mosquito populations, drain all standing water left in open containers outside your home.

Mental Health

The days and weeks after a hurricane are going to be rough. In addition to your physical health, you need to take some time to consider your mental health as well. Remember that some sleeplessness, anxiety, anger, hyperactivity, mild depression, or lethargy are normal, and may go away with time. If you feel any of these symptoms acutely, seek counseling. Remember that children need extra care and attention before, during, and after the storm. Be sure to locate a favorite toy or game for your child before the storm arrives to help maintain his/her sense of security. Your state and local health departments will help you find the local resources, including hospitals or health care providers, that you may need.

Seeking Assistance after a Hurricane

SEEKING DISASTER ASSISTANCE: Throughout the recovery period, it is important to monitor local radio or television reports and other media sources for information about where to get emergency housing, food, first aid, clothing, and financial assistance. The following section provides general information about the kinds of assistance that may be available.

DIRECT ASSISTANCE: Direct assistance to individuals and families may come from any number of organizations, including: the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and other volunteer organizations. These organizations provide food, shelter, supplies and assist in clean-up efforts.

THE FEDERAL ROLE: In the most severe disasters, the federal government is also called in to help individuals and families with temporary housing, counseling (for post-disaster trauma), low-interest loans and grants, and other assistance. The federal government also has programs that help small businesses and farmers.

Most federal assistance becomes available when the President of the United States declares a “Major Disaster” for the affected area at the request of a state governor. FEMA will provide information through the media and community outreach about federal assistance and how to apply.

Coping after a Hurricane Everyone who sees or experiences a hurricane is affected by it in some way. It is normal to feel anxious about your own safety and that of your family and close friends. Profound sadness, grief, and anger are normal reactions to an abnormal event. Acknowledging your feelings helps you recover. Focusing on your strengths and abilities helps you heal. Accepting help from community programs and resources is healthy. Everyone has different needs and different ways of coping. It is common to want to strike back at people who have caused great pain. Children and older adults are of special concern in the aftermath of disasters. Even individuals who experience a disaster “second hand” through exposure to extensive media coverage can be affected.

Contact local faith-based organizations, voluntary agencies, or professional counselors for counseling. Additionally, FEMA and state and local governments of the affected area may provide crisis counseling assistance.

Minimize this emotional and traumatic experience by being prepared, not scared and therefore you and your family will stay in control and survive a major hurricane.

SIGNS OF HURRICANE RELATED STRESS:

* Difficulty communicating thoughts.
* Difficulty sleeping.
* Difficulty maintaining balance in their lives.
* Low threshold of frustration.
* Increased use of drugs/alcohol.
* Limited attention span.
* Poor work performance.
* Headaches/stomach problems.
* Tunnel vision/muffled hearing.
* Colds or flu-like symptoms.
* Disorientation or confusion.
* Difficulty concentrating.
* Reluctance to leave home.
* Depression, sadness.
* Feelings of hopelessness.
* Mood-swings and easy bouts of crying.
* Overwhelming guilt and self-doubt.
* Fear of crowds, strangers, or being alone.

EASING HURRICANE RELATED STRESS:

* Talk with someone about your feelings - anger, sorrow, and other emotions - even though it may be difficult.
* Seek help from professional counselors who deal with post-disaster stress.
* Do not hold yourself responsible for the disastrous event or be frustrated because you feel you cannot help directly in the rescue work.
* Take steps to promote your own physical and emotional healing by healthy eating, rest, exercise, relaxation, and meditation.
* Maintain a normal family and daily routine, limiting demanding responsibilities on yourself and your family.
* Spend time with family and friends.
* Participate in memorials.
* Use existing support groups of family, friends, and religious institutions.
* Ensure you are ready for future events by restocking your disaster supplies kits and updating your family disaster plans


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Elena,1985

By: Patrap, 3:55 PM GMT on August 08, 2007

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Hurricane Elena, which started out modestly in the Gulf of Mexico, but with no help from steering currents, stalled off the Gulf Coast of Florida for several days during the busy Labor Day Weekend of that year, and grew into a Category Three Hurricane.

The storm peaked at that intensity as it then came ashore over Biloxi, Mississippi with 125 mph winds. Elena, which only lasted some eight days in duration, caused enough mayhem along the Gulf Coasts of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi that it produced the largest peacetime evacuation in the United States at that time.

What is perhaps the most memorable about this particular storm is the erratic motion it had. The breakdown in steering currents at that time over the Gulf of Mexico caused the storm to first head east toward the West Florida Gulf Coast, then it meandered back and forth between the Central and Eastern Gulf Coasts for up to six days. The storm finally made up its mind and came ashore near Biloxi.

Elena's Storm Facts

Hurricane Elena was not exactly your classic Cape Verde storm, but it did form during the peak period of the 1985 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The storm, which lasted only eight days, spent most of that time making up its mind on where to make landfall. As a result, the modest storm grew into a powerful major hurricane. The storm emerged as a tropical depression in the early morning hours of August 28th, 1985. The storm quickly became a tropical storm, the fifth of the 1985 season, by the late evening on the 28th with its winds increasing to 45 knots, or over 50 mph.

By late in the afternoon on August 29th, Elena had become a hurricane, the fourth of that particular season. Within 24 hours, Elena strengthened even further to a Category Two Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with its maximum sustained winds increasing to 90 knots, or 105 mph while its pressure had steadily dropped from 994 mb, or 29.35 inches of Hg to 974 mb, or 28.76 inches of Hg. At this point, the storm appeared to be headed for a Florida West Coast landfall. Forecasts indicated at that time that the storm would probably make landfall near Tampa, cross the Florida Peninsula, and move into the Atlantic, where it could move up the East Coast.

However, the storm didn't cooperate. At the time, the storm was at minimal hurricane strength of 75 mph, and 994 mb pressure, Elena was located at 25.0N and 85.0W. Over the next 24 hours, it would retrograde to the West, and end up at 27.9N and 87.3W. This was the first of several oscillations in the Gulf for Elena. Being that it was over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which can range in temperature from 85 to 90 degrees, the storm now had plenty of opportunity to strengthen even more. And, it did as the storm gradually grew in intensity from 90 knots to 110 knots, or 125 mph on the early morning of September 2nd, 1985.

Elena, now a major hurricane, had by that time moved back to the east, and was threatening the Florida Gulf Coast again. However, the storm again teased forecasters and residents alike, and headed back west, this time settling on making landfall in the area of Biloxi, Mississippi on the morning of September 2nd. The storm was responsible for the largest peacetime evacuation in United States History by forcing some one million people to leave their homes. However, the evacuations spawned by Hurricane Floyd in 1999 would break that mark as some 3 million people from Florida to North Carolina fled in advance of that powerful storm. Estimated damages from the storm, which had its name retired, were around $1.3 billion dollars.


Satellite Observations of Hurricane Elena (1985) Using the VAS 6.7-μm “Water-Vapor” Channel

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Elena,1985

By: Patrap, 3:55 PM GMT on August 08, 2007

9



Hurricane Elena, which started out modestly in the Gulf of Mexico, but with no help from steering currents, stalled off the Gulf Coast of Florida for several days during the busy Labor Day Weekend of that year, and grew into a Category Three Hurricane.

The storm peaked at that intensity as it then came ashore over Biloxi, Mississippi with 125 mph winds. Elena, which only lasted some eight days in duration, caused enough mayhem along the Gulf Coasts of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi that it produced the largest peacetime evacuation in the United States at that time.

What is perhaps the most memorable about this particular storm is the erratic motion it had. The breakdown in steering currents at that time over the Gulf of Mexico caused the storm to first head east toward the West Florida Gulf Coast, then it meandered back and forth between the Central and Eastern Gulf Coasts for up to six days. The storm finally made up its mind and came ashore near Biloxi.

Elena's Storm Facts

Hurricane Elena was not exactly your classic Cape Verde storm, but it did form during the peak period of the 1985 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The storm, which lasted only eight days, spent most of that time making up its mind on where to make landfall. As a result, the modest storm grew into a powerful major hurricane. The storm emerged as a tropical depression in the early morning hours of August 28th, 1985. The storm quickly became a tropical storm, the fifth of the 1985 season, by the late evening on the 28th with its winds increasing to 45 knots, or over 50 mph.

By late in the afternoon on August 29th, Elena had become a hurricane, the fourth of that particular season. Within 24 hours, Elena strengthened even further to a Category Two Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with its maximum sustained winds increasing to 90 knots, or 105 mph while its pressure had steadily dropped from 994 mb, or 29.35 inches of Hg to 974 mb, or 28.76 inches of Hg. At this point, the storm appeared to be headed for a Florida West Coast landfall. Forecasts indicated at that time that the storm would probably make landfall near Tampa, cross the Florida Peninsula, and move into the Atlantic, where it could move up the East Coast.

However, the storm didn't cooperate. At the time, the storm was at minimal hurricane strength of 75 mph, and 994 mb pressure, Elena was located at 25.0N and 85.0W. Over the next 24 hours, it would retrograde to the West, and end up at 27.9N and 87.3W. This was the first of several oscillations in the Gulf for Elena. Being that it was over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which can range in temperature from 85 to 90 degrees, the storm now had plenty of opportunity to strengthen even more. And, it did as the storm gradually grew in intensity from 90 knots to 110 knots, or 125 mph on the early morning of September 2nd, 1985.

Elena, now a major hurricane, had by that time moved back to the east, and was threatening the Florida Gulf Coast again. However, the storm again teased forecasters and residents alike, and headed back west, this time settling on making landfall in the area of Biloxi, Mississippi on the morning of September 2nd. The storm was responsible for the largest peacetime evacuation in United States History by forcing some one million people to leave their homes. However, the evacuations spawned by Hurricane Floyd in 1999 would break that mark as some 3 million people from Florida to North Carolina fled in advance of that powerful storm. Estimated damages from the storm, which had its name retired, were around $1.3 billion dollars.


Satellite Observations of Hurricane Elena (1985) Using the VAS 6.7-μm “Water-Vapor” Channel

Link


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