12 thoughts on “Honors World Regional Blog #12

  1. ‘Super-storms’ such as hurricanes Sandy and Katrina have become more common in the past 20 years due to changes in climate. Whereas in the past such storms hit less severely, many researchers now believe that storms like Sandy and Katrina will become the new norm throughout the 21st century. Essentially, the amount of storms will not increase, but the severity of the storms will.

    The hazard of such super-storms has always been around, as seen in the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and hurricane Camille in 1969. The risk, however, has increased dramatically in the last 30 years due to increasing population/industry in the hazardous areas as well as the changes in climate which have made the super-storms much more likely to occur. Because of this increased risk, super-storms have become an increased problem for areas near the Gulf of Mexico and now even the Atlantic Coast.

    Hurricane Katrina hit the Southeastern U.S. from August 24th to September 1st in 2005. The hurricane was the third most intense recorded hurricane to hit the U.S. (behind the aforementioned 1935 and 1969 storms) at a category 5. Katrina was also the costliest monetarily at $108 billion as well as the costliest in life at around 1400 people in American history. The reason Katrina was so dangerous was the natural ‘soup-bowl shape’ of New Orleans and the failure of the levees protecting the city (as seen in the pictures). Without the levees protection, the city had no chance of dealing with such a disaster due to the natural inability to drain large amounts of water. On top of this, the situation was worsened by the lack of quick action on the local and national level to help in rescue attempts. Overall, the 2005 storm showed the potential super-storms the gulf coast would be producing more frequently and provided proof that the current levee precautions and response protocols were not sufficient enough.

    Hurricane Sandy hit the Atlantic coast from October 24th to the 31st in 2012. While the hurricane was only a category 3 when it hit the coast, it was still the second costliest hurricane in American history behind only Katrina at $75 billion. The storm killed 233 people and decimated much of the countries in the Atlantic (Jamaica/Cuba/Haiti). The reason the storm was so costly to the U.S. was how high it hit, easily reaching New York and New Jersey. These areas had little experience with dealing with such a storm and could do nothing to stop the water entering the city as seen in the Coney Island picture. The subsequent storm caused a blackout in New York which was highly reported about.

    Sandy and Katrina will sadly become the new norm in the 21st century. The changes in climate have led to these super-storms becoming more frequent. While changing the climate will be difficult, adequately mitigating for these risks will become important to hazardous areas. Even areas not normally associated with hurricanes such as New York have witnessed the destruction of not being prepared for such a massive storm. Hopefully, the response and mitigation tactics used by organizations such as FEMA will be better when the next major storm hits.

  2. In North America, recent super-storms such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy have demonstrated the dangerous and life-threatening consequences of cutting corners with building critical infrastructure (as we see with the levees in New Orleans breaching during Hurricane Katrina) and inadequate emergency planning and evacuation procedures. These two factors together, led to two of the most devastating disasters in the United States, in terms of economic damage, but also the lives lost/displaced/missing.
    Both of these storms proved to be disastrous in terms of response, preparedness, and communication. In addition, clean up and repair of the damage wrought by both storms took a long amount of time, leading to greater damage and death than necessary in such a storm.

    As these storms begin to change their tracks with the changing ocean currents and rising sea levels, we can expect storms like Hurricane Sandy that hit areas that have not been hit by hurricanes of this magnitude previously. Until the United States improves its infrastructure and its emergency response capabilities, super-storms will become increasingly expensive as they occur more often, more severely, and in areas that are not prepared to withstand a large volume of water in a short period of time.

    The hazards associated with hurricanes is not new, but the increasing volatility of these storms, along with the increasing unpredictability, will only make these storms more costly, in terms of lives and economic repair, as the twenty-first century continues. The increased volatility and unpredictability in conjunction with the extension of hurricane season has led to a greater risk posed by such storms. What is considerably more dangerous is the amount of largely populated cities along the coast; when the climate changes, thus changing the direction of currents, leading these super-storms to new areas, without the proper infrastructure for such an influx of water.

    The only way that the United States can better address these storms is to better improve its infrastructure, prepare its citizens and its emergency response for the worst case scenario (including hurricanes that hit further north than precedence might suggest), and to address the large gaps in preparedness (in terms of evacuation). Furthermore, the U.S. can better mitigate the risk of such storms by looking at the responses to Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina as examples of what not to do.

  3. Hurricanes in the U.S.
    Two of the biggest hurricanes in recent U.S. history are Sandy and Katrina. Katrina hit the Gulf States in 2005 and Sandy impacted the East Coast, mainly New Jersey and New York in 2012. Hurricanes will always be a hazard in the coastal U.S. as long as the storms form off the coast of Africa and travel through the Atlantic. The risk of these storms though, depend on the people involved. Both these storms hit in highly populated areas which created a lot of risk.
    Hurricane Katrina was especially devastating because of the layout of New Orleans. The city is below sea level and surrounded by water on all sides. At first the eye of the storm missed the city and much of the danger was mitigated. But, the flooding created the major issue and cause the most loss of life and property. The levies held the storm rain water, but as the hurricane caused severe swelling upriver, the levies broke from the pressure. Water from the river and the ocean rushed into the bowl that is New Orleans. Because it’s below sea level, removing the water is almost impossible. The real damage of Katrina was manmade error. The levies were built using less money to impress taxpayers rather than protect them. After the initial hit of the storm, many evacuations stopped. Lots of aid from FEMA and other groups was insufficient due to poor calculations.
    Hurricane Sandy is the largest storm on record. Hurricane Sandy had major impacts because the region of the country which it hit prepares for extreme winter storms, not hurricanes. Once the storm hit, the power went out causing many residents to lose heat, proper food, and even some medical supplies. The blackout in New York caused deaths as well as damage. Due to the urban development on the coast, a lot of property damage occurred. Many believed the storm would lessen as it approached, but it only grew causing $75 billion in damage. Because this area was not accustomed to this type of weather, they were unsure where to start mitigation. This uncertainty led to very little action being taken until it was too late.

  4. The images above depict the new phenomena of super storms, more specifically though those pictures display Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, two storms that will be forever engraved in the minds of American’s everywhere as are responsible for two of the worst catastrophes in the modern era, as well as a permanent reminder of climatic change.
    While both storms were stronger than anything previously seen in the US, the reasons behind the destruction and damage they caused lied more within human fault than in their natural power, as both storms affected regions barely prepared to deal with hurricanes, much less with storms of these size and power.

    While FEMA had always been aware of the danger of a hurricane hitting New Orleans, as it was a city lying under sea level, even dubbing said worst case scenario as the New Orleans scenario, FEMA had been severely weakened during the Bush Administration, which added to the administration refusal to declare New Orleans a catastrophe until it was too late led to rescue teams being deployed wait too late to be useful, thus a lot of the damage that could have been averted wasn’t addressed in time; yet the people’s confidence in the sea walls was the last nail in the coffin, as the walls collapsed and failed to protect the people of the city.

    In a less drastic scenario Hurricane Sandy devastated many countries in the Caribbean , yet the worst damage , relatively, was done in New York and New Jersey, as these regions weren’t used to be hit by Hurricanes much less one of the scale of Sandy, thus the cities were unprepared for the evacuation of the city, as well as the general lack of knowledge of hurricane survivability by the citizens of the cities, and the lack of counter measures by the city itself to deal with the flooding waters and the strong winds.

  5. The image in the top left shows the city of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A large portion of the city was flooded due a break in the levees. The disaster of Katrina has actually made it “a storm for the textbooks” as the problems with New Orleans’ levee system were thoroughly outlined: The levees are not deep enough, they are buried in a silt that is not strong enough to support them at their current size, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a disgrace.
    As you can see by the second image below the first, the city is essentially a giant soup bowl waiting to be filled up, and the levees are not tall or deep enough to hold back a massive rise in sea level, along with the pressure that the water would force on the levees in storming conditions, not to mention high winds as well. Whether it be water coming in from the ocean or from the lake, the city is not sustainable with its current system of levees.
    Another important detail to mention about Katrina is not only the slow response by the federal government, but the nearly unanimous public ignorance of the lives lost in the storm, particularly the high concentration of homeless citizens who had lived in the flooded area. The relief given to Katrina victims was a disgrace, and was a massive form of injustice to the people of New Orleans.
    Hurricane Sandy was not much better, and has had me questioning why Chris Christie ever ran for president after that… seriously. The response was quick for Sandy, but the reconstruction was slow. Christie essentially had been ignoring his constituents until the time came for him to play hero, and then continue ignoring them and cutting public assistance programs and bragging about it on public television. Anyway, the effects of Hurricane Sandy showed the areas of New York and New Jersey, particularly the coastal areas that they are not impenetrable to the increasingly strong super storms and sea-level rise that are to come. The Hurricane displaced many, many families and individuals, and has been an example for these areas that disaster mitigation should be made a very important part of the public budget or risk massive deaths, displacement, and infrastructure destruction. Without an understanding of this, these storms will continue to ravage the American landscape and claim more lives than necessary.

  6. In the past decade, the United States has seen two of the most destructive Super Storms within its history. The nature of a Super storm is usually record setting since it is defined as a power and destructive storm that usually effects a large area. The major Super-storms that the United States has experienced are Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, but experts have discovered that these kinds of storms might become an all too often occurrence.
    Hurricane Katrina collided into New Orleans in August of 2005 as a Category 5 Hurricane with winds of 100-140 miles per hour and a width of 400 miles across. The storm its self was damaging, but it was its aftermath that caused the greatest destruction. New Orleans sits between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain where it forms a bowl resting below sea level. The city had to build levees in order to protect from flooding. When Katerina hit the pressure of the increased water quantity was too much for the levees which broke gushing water into the bowl that is New Orleans. This amount of flooding caused almost the entire city to be under some amount of water. This hurricane caused $108 billion in damages and costs 1400 people their lives. The most appalling part of this tragedy though was the emergency response during the aftermath taking days to establish operations in New Orleans causing the Superdome to be a symbol of government incompetency.
    Hurricane Sandy occurred in October 2012 when it was unleashed upon an unprepared U.S. Eastern Coast. This Super Storm hit land near Atlantic City, New Jersey, but wreaked havoc upon the surrounding states as well including New York City. This storm resulted in 233 deaths and $75 billion in damages.
    These hurricanes will become more frequent as Earth’s temperature climbs higher resulting in a higher ocean temperature rising as well as ocean level from glacier melting. After witnessing the United States’ inadequate response to these Super-storms, it is indisputable that we must increase our mitigation tactics and develop better emergency action plans or face the repercussions.

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