Monday, December 27, 2010

Coupled along with this note from the Vacation Lane Group, it was observed by the Old Farmer's Almanac that, on December 26, 1947, "NYC's deepest snowstorm commenced: 25.8" at battery, 32" in suburbs - traffic completely stopped - removal costed $8 million - 27 people died, 1947."

In other words, this week's is not the FIRST worst snowstorm in the Northeast. Neither will it be the last. This particular event predates the Federal Emergency Management Agency by over 30 years.  Please, no jokes about FEMA being established on April Fool's Day, 1979.

I am not calling for the elimination of FEMA or Homeland Security, but something was different in 1947.  There was no FEMA, no Red Cross debit cards, the City survived, and America continued.

What could it have been?

While I am not calling for the elimination of the Federal Emergency Management Agency or Homeland Security, it is noteworthy that, in public speaking, I have yet to have a listener raise their hand when I ask who would like to give ME a generator. However, rare is the disaster that occurs where there are more requests for FEMA reimbursement for individual generators.

It appears that FEMA is wise to continue the missive of preparedness. This message is NOT new. The "Are You Ready" books have been in print for several years now. They are a good supplement to the local emergency management program in the USA. It fits nicely with the 303 Plan described by our friends in Australia at

It really is fitting that, in 1947, I suspect Neighbors Helped Neighbors. In the beginning of the Cold War era, the elderly and infirm were not overlooked. Perhaps, America should return to the pattern and practice of our forefathers.

After all, all disasters start locally and end locally, in 1947 or today. Are YOU Ready?

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via The Vacation Lane Blog by The Vacation Lane Group on 12/20/10

There once was a time when snow and ice were not the subject of disaster declarations. In fact the Fire, flood, or explosion litany of the disaster legislation often seemed to not even include those hazards. Snowstorms have now been added.

The current definition reads:

"Major disaster" means any natural catastrophe (including any hurricane, tornado,
storm, high water, winddriven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic
eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought), or, regardless of cause, any
fire, flood, or explosion, in any part of the United States, which in the determination
of the President causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant
major disaster assistance under this Act to supplement the efforts and available
resources of States, local governments, and disaster relief organizations in
alleviating the damage, loss, hardship, or suffering caused thereby."

Thus icestorms and energy outages are not specifically listed unless accompanied by one of the listed hazards or the specifically named ones--fire, flood or explosion. And of course radiological releases and terrorist attacks are also not specifically listed or generically listed.

Well it will be interesting to see exactly what FEMA and DHS do in the event of a prolonged icestorm or energy outage or even what their plans and capabilities are in fact. A large ice storm in KY last winter has resulted in an outpouring of disaster largess and surely this was partially the result of efforts by the long serving Congressman from KY Fifth Congressional District now chair of the House Appropriations Committee in the forthcoming 112th Congress.

Not relying on FEMA documentation of capability (there is little to rely upon) but open source materials on other agencies including the Department of Energy a mass and long term outage of power in a major metropolitan area--I would argue the top 500--would result in deaths and damages that would or should qualify this for major disaster status. Perhaps in the South and West, as both FRANCE and Russia have now experienced, heat wave deaths in unairconditioned shelter can be devastating to URBAN populations.

So suggesting that these situations be added to the planning scenarios and any statutory issues be addressed in the 112th Congress.

Winter now but yes with the winter solstice arriving summer now the solstice after next.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to all.

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