Saturday, October 21, 2017

Hurricanes Maria, Harvey and Irma left a wake of pets behind them, here's 10 items we can address.

  After every catastrophic emergency event, we see photos and read news articles of the pets and livestock suffering from the current disaster, along with us. The events we suffer, our pets do as well, there is one huge difference between being human and being an animal during these evacuations. The large animals, horses, sheep, llama's and other pasture animals are seen on news feeds knee deep in water, or standing with a backdrop of fire or flood.
They will be OK for a while, soaked hooves may create serious
problems for them.

The huge difference between humans and pets is humans are allowed in relief shelters and the animals are not. I will not comment on rescuing the large animals, due mainly because I don't know anything about how to do it and I don't want to lead someone astray, my comments will be limited to our pets. I have raised cattle, with my father in law, but that was in the 1970's, I have forgotten almost everything about it with the exception of how much work it was, and how I would compare the 50 animals we had to children. Livestock cannot be left alone in a small pasture, they don't have to be stared at but someone has to be around to make sure everything is OK. As an example, if cattle run out of water, they will go looking for it, outside of the pasture which means broken fences and lost endangered animals. People raising livestock know how to handle them, any help we can offer would be appreciated I am certain of.
  We concentrate on human suffering during natural disasters, that is the highest priority of course. The suffering of pets was addressed in the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act in 2006 (PETS) Link. The act requires states that are requesting FEMA assistance to have plans in place to evacuate service animals and pets. It's been found the areas employing a comprehensive pets response plan also responded well to protecting resident livestock during these events. Fewer animals are lost and killed, humans are more apt to evacuate knowing their pets and service animals are being taken care of, many times the evacuated people find shelter for them and their pets. In 1999 Hurricane Floyd was the cause of 2.9 million pet and livestock deaths, many thousands of pets were never found. Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana had 15,500 pets requiring rescue, with 85% not reunited with their owners, ever. (these numbers are from a SPCA estimate.) The situation is getting better, we do actually learn from catastrophes, about 1/2 of high population cities and counties have implemented the needed infrastructure for dealing with animals during one of these events, some employ animal response teams. In smaller counties and cities the numbers are less, about 1/4 of them have a program in force. Smaller rural areas may be more adept at handling animals during confusing and dangerous events, and budget restrictions may also come into play. Sometimes, private citizens set up organizations to handle such situations, it takes time, money and mostly dedication.
Dogs will form packs, it helps them to survive, a lot like humans.

  I have a neighbor that rescues rabbits, we call her the "bunny lady", she is very dedicated and sincere, just don't tell her any bunny disaster stories. During the rains of last winter (2016-2017) one of the small islands flooded, unknown to most people it was inhabited with rabbits. This island is indeed very small, about 1-1/2 acres, a marina is built on it, the rabbits lived in the spaces below the structures. The rabbits were flooded out, they swam over to our island, I estimate 100-200 animals escaped in that manner. It seems instantly they began giving birth, that was March 2017, since the babies have had baby's and as well as their babies gave birth. We are not inundated yet, but I estimate by January the predators will move in and the cycle will continue. Of the rabbits that swam to safety, they have multiplied to about 300, they are everywhere. We have coyotes on our island, they mainly stay in the open areas and pastures, we can hear them at night. The bunny lady told me some are now becoming the victim of cars on the road, an indication of a big population. All of these rabbits are either the descendants of domesticated animals that have been "dumped" here or they have themselves been set "free" by misguided owners. As most people in rural areas realize, many pet owners take their pets to the country and set them "free", because I guess they figure someone will tend to them. Mostly we do, as with most people, we like animals.
Coyote is just trying to survive, they just happen to be wild

  That story serves as an example of what may happen to pets during an evacuation event, some people think they can "take care of themselves", they can't. A Lady in Fresno, California founded in 2011 the Central California Animal Disaster Team, Naomi E. Flam is the founder and director. This organization services six counties, Fresno, Madera, Kings, Tulare, Mariposa and Merced with mutual aid to Kern County and will be available for large-scale events. The organization only deploys to rescue animals during and after natural catastrophic events, the central valley is prone to wildfires. They do collaborate with the local animal control departments, ensuring all legal procedures and laws are followed. They are not available to locate stray or injured animals outside of an emergency, there are exceptions but they are few. follow the link for more information.
  We must include our pets in our disaster planning (Link), I know I frequently (a lot actually) encourage disaster planning, include the children (of course) and pets. I have an unmanageable dog, Skunkpuppy, if we have a natural disaster she will panic, in light of that here's some things we can do:
  1)  Know what disasters your area is prone to, mine, for example, flooding, wildfire (peat underground also), earthquake, and windstorms all causing electrical outages.
  2)  Have a NOAA weather radio, monitor the local emergency channel, keep up with the weather. The radios are available with or without batteries, some are solar and some are dynamic (crank to power). FEMA has an app that allows us to monitor up to 5 locations throughout the U.S.A. it may be found on their website. Link
  3)  Ask a neighbor to check on your pets when you are not home, include them in your disaster planning.
  4)  Find pet-friendly hotels in your area, as well as further away, add the list to your written plan, the local hotels will be packed.
  5)  Find out if your City or County allows pets in their evacuation centers if so be certain to have a carrier to enable the handling of your animal during a very confusing and frightening situation for them and you.
  6)  Know where the veterinarian's and pet hospitals are in your area, be certain to add the location in your planning document which each member of the family should carry with them at all times.
  7)  Micro-chip your pets, then we must make sure to update our information as it changes.
  8)  Place a photo of every family member with the pets in your planning package, people more readily are able to identify a pet after seeing the owner alongside them.
  9)  They will need a lot of water, a gallon weighs just under 8-1/2 pounds, recommended by animal rescue groups is a one month supply, but there is no way a person is able to carry that much. Determine how far you may have to walk to an evacuation center, then attempt to estimate how much will be needed.
  10)  Make sure the animal has an identification tag, name, phone number, and other contact information attached to their collar.
  These are a few things we can do as pet owners to plan what to do before and during an event, however, the big problems are experienced after the event. Our pets if left to their own devices will be scared to death, hungry, thirsty and looking for you. In response they will run off and not stop, if they do stay in the area (which most do) they are hiding under destroyed structures, burned out buildings or in wooded areas. If your pet is lost during an event, that photo of your family and the animal will become very valuable.
Take a photo of the family and pets.

  I experienced the identification problem with a dog that would come to visit me every time he (Tiger) got out of his enclosure, he was a big black Labrador Retriever, he liked it here. The name tag was wrong, I would call and get no answer, then one day it worked. (go figure) The guy on the other end of the phone was not agreeable, he was watching the dog for his daughter and well you know he didn't really want the dog anyway, blah blah blah. He did arraign for Tiger to be picked up, I should have kept the dog, I wish I would have, the people picking him up did not want him either, I thought he was a great dog, I expect him to show up on the levee again, then I will keep him. The point is, there are many people that just simply don't care what happens to their pets. Tiger I hope is safe and being taken care of and not left in a fenced area with no attention.
  I am sure more animals will be "dumped" around me, we had a dozen Chihuahua dogs running around the wooded area, they fell prey to predators when they form packs the little dudes are MEAN. I try to take care of the animals any way I can, they all have one thing in common, they are scared to beyond reason, understandably so. They depend on us during the best of times, they really depend on us during trying times.
  Thank you for reading and sharing, now is the time to start planning for our pets if we haven't done so yet. I have some major issues to deal with as far as skunkpuppy is concerned, I don't want anything to happen to her, even if she is ornery and unmanageable, after all, I took her on, now she depends on me.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Puerto Rico has lost almost four dozen lives to Hurricane Maria, The priority is to re-establish the hospitals, rapidly.

  Puerto Rico has lost almost four dozen lives to Hurricane Maria, there is estimated to be more, linked to the deadly storm. One half of the population depends on Medicare for their health care, it is not funded in Puerto Rico as it is in the mainland. The United States Territory receives a fixed amount from our Federal Government, and it's set to run out as early as next month. The island experienced "The perfect storm" as related to disasters, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, the island was flattened, twice.
When damage is this extreme, everything else in the society
is impacted, it looks like a good reason to go solar for the entire

  The priority is to re-establish electricity to the hospitals, some are on emergency generators, and nearly all of the hospitals are now open as of October 12, 2017. Electricity has been re-established to just over 1/2 of the medical centers, almost all of the dialysis providers are open and operating, many patients have missed treatment due to a vast array of reasons. Infections and illnesses from contaminated water are on the rise, Pink eye, Diarrhea, rashes and gastrointestinal problems are among them, appearing in substantial numbers throughout the island. This is a situation that will continue on, in a moist warm tropical environment acting as if it is a petri dish in a biology lab, but on a much larger scale. Some residents still struggle to get transportation to clinics for chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Diagnostic tools and equipment remain in short supply since the storm destroyed the island. The people suffered mental trauma that is sure to linger on long after the recovery is complete. The World Health Organization has a fact sheet pertaining to diseases that may be caused by flood water. Link
  My grandfather was born and raised on a wheat farm in North Dakota, born in 1882 he passed away in 1969. When he was young, not yet a teenager, a tornado came through, because it was an isolated area not a lot of damage to structures was suffered. However his father was killed in the storm, my grandfather found his badly mangled body in a horse trough. My grandfather was a big man, and strong, but when even a small storm would start he would tremble like a leaf, we would call it "post-traumatic stress" today. We referred to it as "poor grandpa," His mental distress over the storm lasted until the day he died, the people in Puerto Rico I am afraid to say may have to endure the same mental trauma.
  The legislation is currently in Congress (stalled), requesting an additional $1billion in funding for Puerto Rico's Medicaid program and the Children's Health Insurance Program. (For an explanation of how the Program works here's a Link) If funding is lost, as many as 900,000 patients may lose funding for their health care as estimated by the Department of Health and Human Services. The legislation is also pending for disaster relief in the millions of dollars, it has a lot of support in the form of 6 out of 10 mainlanders agree the U.S. territory is not getting enough support. (I will not comment on the political side of this, as is usual for us, it's screwed up, enough is being said about it anyway).
  One issue that the storms brought upon us is the reality of the relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico, natural disasters have a way of bringing long ignored situations to the surface. An immediate need for grants for disaster relief is needed, as well as the continued sustained support from the Fed's to ensure the people that we will remain faithful to our responsibility to all of the American's living there. If support is not maintained significantly, hundreds of thousands of citizens will leave the island and never return, causing a possible shift in politics and new costs to the Federal Government. Many of the people may relocate to Florida, New York, and the other Southeastern States. There has already been a "brain drain" of educated people such as Doctors,
Nurses are the answer people, when I need a medical opinion I ask a Nurse First, Doctors are fine
however, Nurses have the practical answers I need.

Nurses, and Lawyers, now the challenge will be to encourage the rest to stay, it's hard to estimate how many will. Puerto Rico has over the past decade accumulated over $70 billion in debt, it is equal to its yearly economic output, the island has been in a recession since 2006. Indeed 150,000 people (estimate) have left the island in the search for prosperity elsewhere, mostly the mainland. Yes, Puerto Ricans have the same opportunities in this country as every other citizen, with a strong U.S. economy, the employment prospects are tempting to the sufferers of a decade-long recession. A 21% drop in the Capita GDP is estimated as a direct result of the storm's devastation.
  I have to wonder what will happen to the recovery if hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans leave the island never to return, will there be enough people to make progress. As I am writing this, all of the 1300 public schools remain closed, no estimate for re-opening. It will impose a heavier load on the people that choose to remain, is there an opportunity there as well? What kind of opportunity could there possibly be in a situation such as this, certainly in the construction business. I'm thinking more in terms of the highly skilled craftsmen, (Link, for an explanation of what a skilled craftsperson is) plumbers, carpenters, and ironworkers, for example, striking out on their own forming new companies out of necessity. There may be a vacuum created at the top, I suspect most of the people that leave are the more affluent, leaving their company's and stores behind deciding not to rebuild. In the same vein, a startup company demands different things of the people establishing them. It may be a good opportunity for female-owned enterprises, as well as minority businesses. Perhaps solar will take off and it will launch Puerto Rico into the future beyond where the mainland is now and where the island was, there will be opportunities for sure in the electrical production and distribution industries. Plumbing, always a top demand, extensive repairs are needed, plumbers are needed, it's a job not everyone wants to do.
It's too bad but money is the driving
factor in the recovery.
  The one thing that may hold back the recovery, (and it may be happening now) is the lack of funding, but is it a matter of getting started and the economy will catch up? I'm not sure, one thing is for sure, payroll must be met. I don't imagine anyone going without a paycheck for a month or so to help the recovery, they have to eat as well, however, maybe a new reality will open up. If all of the needs of the employees and their families are satisfied for a short time, just long enough for the money to start flowing, it may work. There is a huge industry just in vehicle needs and repairs, every trade and business has to be re-established and quickly.
  I intended to write this as an uplifting motivational article, but with the immense human suffering and the massive work to be done, that light at the end of the tunnel most definitely is not a train but it may be a lot further away than what we may think.
  Thank you for reading and sharing, if you have any thoughts or comments please do comment. I'm working on more videos, I like the humor aspect of the whole thing, even though my niche is mostly serious, and in this day and time humor is hard to find. I like making fun of myself, I think it's funny, do you think we lost a little of the ability to laugh at ourselves? I do, I want people to laugh again, and make jokes on ourselves, I feel we are way too serious in serious times, there is room for it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Hurricane Irma and Florida the recovery is going well, except for one industry, I'm trying to understand why.

  Florida, how is the recovery coming along? I've never been through a massive disaster the likes of what Hurricane Irma dealt to Florida which started on September 11, 2017. It left a huge amount of damage behind it, and a lot of debris, much of which is waiting to be hauled away by contracted haulers. The State has set up collection points for debris, sites for people to clean the mess from in front of their homes to a collection site for hauling.
Some residents are cleaning up the mess in their yards themselves, I would
also, it must feel good when it is gone.

Residents are tackling the cleanup, the trucks and loaders are working around the clock, however, there is a lot of cleanup. It reminds me of when I was growing up in Minnesota, after a blizzard or heavy snowfall, we would make a killing clearing snow and pushing cars out of ditches. The same is going on in Florida right now, landscapers and ambitious teenagers are being hired, anyone with a truck or trailer is actually hired to haul the stuff away. The debris is being hauled to free holding areas, then picked up by contractors on pre-storm agreements and taken to a permanent dump site. 35,000+ residents have taken debris to the collection sites since September 13, when the first one opened, they have dumped over 75,000 cubic yards of the stuff. That's enough sticks, logs, and branches to fill more than five thousand dump trucks if they were lined up bumper to bumper it would stretch for about 24 miles. As we can imagine there are snakes, cats, raccoons, possums and rodents in the mess, just to name a few. Not to get down on Florida but they do have their share of creepy crawlers, there's no disputing that, but give credit to the people, they are doing it. But then people are just getting tired of it being around and want to get back to a normal life. It looks like the cleanup is proceeding OK, people are getting annoyed with the mess, but hey it was and is still a heck of a mess to clean up.
  Recovering from a catastrophic event the likes of Irma is a huge undertaking, the decision makers are literally in Florida up to their eyeballs in alligators. One of the issues facing the residents is a spike in their Electric bills, the first one after the storm. Their bills have in some places doubled, others were about one-half of pre-storm bills, what the heck is going on? I sure don't know, I would expect meter problems, especially in the areas that were flooded, the meters are electric and the water is, well, water and it doesn't mix with electricity. It may be a system-wide glitch, they did restore electricity in a very rapid amount of time, A workforce of 20,000 people were brought in from all over the country to help restore power, some complaints of restoration being slow are being heard, I think restoring power to an entire state in a few weeks is a pretty good achievement. However, the increased workforce may be an indicator of one of the items forcing an increase in the utility bills so far received. Link to CBS article on the increase.
  The most amazing task accomplished I've heard of is, and anyone who has ever had dealings with this company knows what I'm talking about, Comcast says they have restored service to "virtually all customers." It sounds like a "declare victory" and get the heck out of dodge declaration. I've dealt with them for a week over one problem, they must be a much better organization in Florida.
  The Governor has declared the Florida Keys are open for business, tourism is a huge part of the Florida economy, it needs to get up and running as quickly as possible. Winter is when all the "Snowbirds" flock south, in California the Northerners flock to Palm Springs, they are referred to as "Snowbirds", I am guessing they are in Florida as well.
The Florida Keys from this to open in one month, I'm impressed.

  After being closed for just over a month, the Naples Zoo has re-opened, free admission for Collier County residents and $5.00 for the rest of the residents of the State. The Zoo is now in the same condition as before the storm, it's actually a monumental achievement, as we recall the winds were 145 miles per hour.
  Florida's orange crop has been destroyed, there doesn't appear to be a silver lining in that cloud anywhere. The State lawmakers are trying to find $2.5 billion in federal aid needed to cover the losses encountered by agriculture by Irma if it is not found the citrus industry may collapse. Florida is second in the world in citrus production, first in the world is Brazil. The house passed an aid measure that includes relief for Florida-Texas and Puerto Rico $18.7 billion, $576.5 million for California wildfires and $16 billion for the National Flood Insurance Program. Zero for Florida's Citrus farmers. I personally think it is absolute insanity to ignore any part of our national agriculture programs. The backbone of any Country is farming, we have lost track of that due to the corporate farms taking over great parts of the industry, family farms are the backbone of every country. The Feds need to wake up. Link
  A little bit of a catch up on Florida, it appears the recovery is bumping along OK, it's a marathon, not a 50-yard dash, as in all instances of this caliber the residents are spearheading the cleanup efforts. I have noticed in these situations very few people run away from the problems, most run to them, to help, the majority of us want to place ourselves in a positive position, and that position is helping our selves and neighbors because it's the right thing to do. Florida will come back, the orange industry will recover (I hope it's not taken over by corporate farms), the utility bills will be figured out and the teenagers helping haul debris will be buying their pickups and cars with the money they have made helping with the cleanup.
  Thanks for reading and sharing, it appears things are getting better at least in Florida, I will look at Puerto Rico next.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

The California Wild Fires continue to burn, there is one big thing we can address to reduce them, find out what it is here.

The Wild Fires continue to burn in California, Northern and Southern California are both affected. I was sitting outdoors for about 1/2 hour, the air was very heavy causing me to return to the house. The causes of wildfires are numerous, rock slides, lightning strikes, and the most common human, either accidental or arson. The investigation of the causes of the fires currently in California will take several weeks, then a few more for the reports to be released to the public. Right now the cause is not important, the human suffering is and it needs to be addressed first, and it is.
October 9, 2017 NASA photo. 
  I read a news article in "Vox" news (Link) outlet titled "California's wildfires aren't "natural"-humans made them worse at every step." The writer continues on writing about the impact of urban sprawl and the density of structures being built.
  I have thought about the same issue, not only as it relates to wildfires but to flooding and water sources as well. I am in view of the "Diablo Range" of mountains, this range stretches from Suisun Bay to the Grapevine, approximately 400 miles to the south. The foothills are protected from the building, which means a lot of new home construction is in a "flood" zone, (Link to FEMA's flood map products) As the flatlands leading up to the foothills get closer they rise in elevation, much of that land is above the floodplain. The land is not any cheaper in the floodplain, but there is a lot of it and it's mostly flat, making building on it very attractive, so we do. I believe there are a number of people of whom do not realize they live in a flood zone, especially if it's a 500-year flood prediction. Above a 500 year occurrence, no flood insurance is needed, below that number and flood insurance must be purchased, it doesn't make much sense to me, but that's how the rules are written. All flood insurance is provided by the federal government, and they would like to get out of the disaster insurance business. Upon purchase of a house in the disclosures, it will be stated if the home is in a floodplain and if flood insurance is required, if it is required it is mandatory to purchase. Only if a loan is taken out on the house, if not or if it is in a 500 year+ flood plain flood insurance is not required. The flood zones are written by FEMA, and these zones are what the lenders refer to for addition of the amount of insurance which is added to the payment and affects being qualified for the loan. Sometimes people are disqualified due to the amount of insurance required due to the monthly costs added to the loan. Throughout the country, many homes are built on floodplains every year. If there is a major flood in California there will be a lot of homes underwater, we are fortunate to have a very good flood control system in the form of dams. It would be nice to be able to build above the flood zones, but that introduces a water problem of a different variety, Potable water.
  On the California central coast, the City of Cayucos, a building moratorium was enacted ending the construction of new homes due to the lack of water. That is the reason it is possible to purchase ocean front property for $25,000.00. Water may not be available for anywhere from 20-100 years or more, there is just not enough water to support more homes. They have a water meter "priority" list which ends after the number 800, properties with a water meter number are worth more, but that does not create more water, they are merely on a list. Water is a huge issue no matter where a person lives in this state, Mark Twain said: "Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over." Politicians are more than willing to take water away from one area of the state and send it South where there is none.
Cayucos California, South of San Simeon, North of Morro Bay it's a great
little beach town, while you're there visit the commune of "Harmony"
California, south on highway 1. 
  Where can construction be done in California? I don't think it can change much, every spot in the state has a reason for houses not to be built. Wildfires in California are not predictable on the occurrence or where they occur, and the water issues will be solved if and when a new source is discovered. What if we built houses somewhere else and imported people to their jobs? Should people be restricted from building in forested areas due to the fire threats? How about the flood zones throughout the country, 9.6 million households are in floodplains in the United States. 53% of the population of the U.S. live on the Eastern, Western and Gulf Coast, as well as along the Great Lakes and the major rivers. People want to live near the water, and we do, unfortunately, floods are a fact of life in these areas. Causing $3-5 billion each year in damages, floods are our countries most common and biggest natural disasters. Since 1935 $25 billion has been spent on flood control projects, $100 million annually on planning and technical assistance.
  Can we stop building in wildfire areas? I don't think so, but there is one big thing we can do that would impact the number of fires we experience each year. We need to stop starting them, 85% of all California Wildfires are started by an arsonist. We need to just stop, easier said than done, that is a step further than prediction, it is the prediction of "Who" is going to start one. Of these arson-caused fires, insurance claims are a major motivation, anger is another major motivator. The estimate is 10 of the fires burning in Northern California are arson caused, however, investigations must be completed before arson is proved. very little is known about arsonist because very few arson fires are solved. It is known that most arsonist who have been profiled have had a below-normal IQ, typically between 70 & 90, 25% are below a 70 IQ range, qualifying them as Mentally disabled. That's not to say all people in those ranges are an arsonist, in fact, arson is one of those situations that a small percentage of people cause a huge problem. About 90% of arsonist are White Males, motivated usually for profit. One-half of all arsons are committed by people under the age 18, the other half is normally in their late 20's. These statistics are from a 1987 report in the FBI Law enforcement bulletin, it's a dated report, however, I don't believe it has changed very much since then. On Tuesday, October 10, 2017, California authorities released a sketch of a white man believed to be in his late 20's, seen by witnesses starting a fire. As I keep saying we must wait until the investigators complete their investigations before placing blame. The first cause was noted to be Electrical Utility lines, the possible causes are being listed and investigated. Now to qualify what I have written, these numbers were compiled from interviews of the arsonist that were caught, the smart ones may have gotten away as most arsonists do. In fact, because so few are apprehended an accurate profile of an "average" arsonist cannot be built. Some of the other reason's arsonist starts fires are:

1) Revenge, physical and emotional abuse.
2) Excitement, relief from boredom perhaps.
3) Thrills, is this what motivated the fires along the Columbia River in Oregon?
4) Sexual stimulation, rarer but a recognized motivator.
5) Fire Play, normally by pre-puberty children, it is outgrown.

National Arson Awareness Week Media Kit Link.
4 days ago, Northern California's firestorm. 50+ mph winds.
It is so very sad. 

 Can we stop building in hazard areas? No, I don't think so, we've drastically reduced flooding with dams, canals, and pumping, compared to the early 20th-century flooding has been greatly reduced. Fire areas? No, we should not stop building in these areas either, the bigger question is "What can be done to control arson?" Arson is the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to California Wild Fires.
  Thanks for reading and sharing, if you live in a wildfire area and see someone starting a fire, get as much information as possible quickly and get in touch with the authorities, take pictures if possible, don't let the perpetrator see you.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The fires in Northern California continue to burn unabated, There are at least 17 current Northern California fires.

The fires in Northern California continue to burn unabated, the fear is they will gain intensity again tonight. There are at least 17 current Northern California fires as this is being written, it very well may change by the time I get the blog written, the fire is moving rapidly. We do unfortunately expect for there to be fires in Northern California but not with this intensity and the immense area involved, tens of thousands of acres, so large the estimated size is being related in square miles.
The power pole is 1/4 mile away, normally I can see the Diablo Range of Mountains easily.
The closest fire is about75 miles North West of here. 

  I am inside the house today, this morning the air is full of smoke from the fires in Northern California. Visibility is now (4:00 pm Oct. 11, 2017) about 1/4 mile, it is hazy up to that point then the smoke turns into a wall. We will be affected by the smoke at least through the weekend, but this is nothing compared to the situation our friends and neighbors are experiencing to the North of us. One of my grandson's works for the CCC, (California Conservation Corp), we had not heard from him for several days, of course, I started to worry. He will be assigned during these events to help out all of the emergency response situations that are occurring. The last fire he was in a relief camp helping to settle the victims as best as could be done, he was also at the Oroville Dam catastrophe.  We have found out he is working in a campground in the high country, Loon Lake, a fairly isolated lake high in the Sierra's, so he's safe installing fixtures in the camp bathrooms. Current Northern California Wildfires Link.
  My wife belongs to a dance troupe, some of her dance partners live up north, last night she told me a story one of her friends related to her. She (the friend) was staying in a hotel in Santa Rosa when at 2:30 am they awoke to loud pounding on the door, when they opened the door a law enforcement officer hollered to them "Evacuate Now!". She said they had no time to grab anything, the wind was gusting 50-85 mph, according to news reports. They step out of the door and encountered a wall of smoke, sparks, and wind, they escaped with their lives. 21 others were not as fortunate, an estimated 3500 buildings burned to the ground, of the 1,000 people reported missing, 600 have been accounted for. The deaths have risen to 31, the number keeps changing, for the worst.
  That story is the same exact one related on the cable news networks, when my wife got home I was going to relate the same story she told me. One elderly couple I heard about, they had been married for 75 years, he was 100 years old, she was 98, both perished in the fast-moving blaze. Thier son discovered them in their charred home, they could not get out fast enough. There will be many many stories of this type yet to be told, for now, I wish there was something I could do to help, a monetary donation would be best. I want to send a donation to the Mayor of Santa Rosa, or the Fire Chief of one of the crews no matter what they spend the money on it would be for the cause. I believe when people are up to their eyeballs in crocodiles all of their efforts go towards the solution to the problem, that's my reasoning. I feel as if any local agency would be able to use the entire amount, possibly avoiding the scams and money grubbers, there are a lot of them.

Satellite view of the fires in northern California
  The most recent update I have heard stated there were at that time, just before noon today, there were 17 raging fires none were under control and the wind was once again gaining velocity. That's a little strange, the wind, normally where I live in the Delta, they are on the Northern edges of the waterway, the wind normally howls in our area and is relatively calm up there this time of year. The extreme wind, we do not get Hurricanes, but we do get high winds up to 80 mph on occasion, just south of the wind velocity of a Catagory 1 Hurricane. It can rip buildings apart if it is steady, but in a fire, with all of that fuel, it is a bellows in the forge. If you're not familiar with the type of fuel that the fire is consuming, it's a bit a-typical, not for California but as compared to other parts of the country it's unique.
  Manzanita, the large bushes some people use as Christmas trees and outdoor grilling. It has a high creosote content making it highly flammable as well as an extremely hot burning fuel. When it drys out, which it is after 5 years of severe drought) it is like an explosion when it ignites, and it burns terribly hot. It's a good campfire fuel, and it's pretty but boy is it flammable.
  We have Oak trees, California Oaks, they are not the towering trees we see in the Eastern or Midwest States, these are what I call "scrub" Oaks. They too are bone dry, even though we had a lot of rain this past winter, being that day they will also be like an explosion when exposed to the 2,000 degrees (I'm guessing at the heat, but I think that's close) the trees are instantly gobbled up.
  There are a lot of Eucalyptus trees, I don't know if the concentration is really high there, I do know that they line highway 1 and parts of 101 in places, they are not native to the state. These trees are stately, very tall and also have a high creosote level, after drying out they burn rapidly. Like I said I'm not sure how many of these trees are up there, I'm sure there are some. Everything looks to be on fire there. NASA's article on the Current northern California forest fires Link.
  The searching is continuing for the missing people, 180 in Sonoma County alone, there is some good news 57 (the entire fire scene stretches over 5 counties, where 1,000 total missing were reported, 600 have since been accounted for) people who were reported as missing have been found safely, yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon. The searchers are optimistic most the residents reported missing will be found safe, let's pray for that. It didn't work out real well for cell phone calls, 77 cell phone towers have been destroyed, there is no electrical power so with no way to charge phones and without towers, calls are limited at best. Most people who evacuated had just enough time to escape with their lives, many did not attempt to grab anything, not even their eyeglasses, that's how fast the fire was moving. One report stated it traveled 20 miles in 4 hours, then went on its rampage in Santa Rosa. 25 evacuation centers are set up, it looks like the people will be there for quite some time.

This photograph is from last year, the fires are more intense than this.
The Wind is forecast to reach 25 miles per hour tonight, and shift to a Southerly direction. The wind (I am not a meteorologist) was caught in a high-pressure area, circulating around it in a clockwise rotation. It whipped north on the west of the cell and south on the east of the high-pressure area, it explains to me how the fire spread so rapidly. A fire official said some of the embers went airborne and landed up to 14 miles from the flames, I was not aware they could stay lit that far. I heard some on-site reporters being asked if they had seen any of the huge firefighting tankers flying overhead, they had not seen any. The Cal State fire Chief was interviewed and asked that same question, his response made sense to me. He replied that the fire is over an area of 5 counties, some of the fires are in extremely remote areas, there are a lot of them in California, the tankers are out of sight, but they are working. They have been sent to the backcountry, to places where it is difficult to get the firefighters to, it sounds to me like the best use of that resource. Then again I am not one to second guess anyone making decisions in such an intense situation, they are doing the absolute best they can do, and I appreciate it.
  There is so much happening now in the world, it's no secret to anyone who has not been living in a cave for the past two years. The human suffering caused by these events is overwhelming in many ways, and it is the most important item to address them all. The Wildfires have been an expected occurrence in California for century's, Hurricane's on the Gulf Coast are the same, Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate, the season is not over yet. Earthquakes in Mexico, four major quakes and thousands of aftershocks. Then there are the horrendous murders that occurred in Las Vegas, all life-changing catastrophic events, there is no score keeping. So many disasters, Tornado's have taken a back seat to them, even though they are still occurring, we have to search fairly deep to find a report.
  Let's keep our evacuation kits at the ready, Link our shoes next to our beds, vehicles fueled up and cell phone's charged, we don't know when it will happen to us. Let's all get prepared. The same state of affairs could occur where I live, I am preparing each evening before going to bed. I put my laptop (all of my website stuff is on it) in my carrying case along with the charger and my cell phone. I leave the cell phone plugged in inside my satchel, that way my phone will be charged and the charger will be readily available. My wife has a portable charger, there are many available, it will charge a phone 3-4 times, I don't know what makes them tick but they do work. Being disabled and slow I don't know if I could have made it out safely if these fires were to happen here. I would surely try to get Mother in law (she's 95 years old) My wife (no comment on the age) My grandson and the dog out.
  Thanks for reading, liking and sharing, let's say a few prayers for the fires to be put out, While watching a big barn on TV completely up in flames, I wonder about the livestock, they didn't have a chance. The only "silver lining" if there is one, is I read about an old tortoise that was rescued in the nick of time. My YouTube video shows how clear it is, watch it here Link 


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Preparation for an emergency disaster event for all of us, if we have not done so yet, needs to begin today.

  Preparation for an emergency disaster event for all of us, if we have not done so yet, needs to begin today. The onslaught of natural disasters experienced globally this year, 2017, serves as an alarm to each of us that we are not immune from them. Disasters cover a wide array of events, as simple as a wound needing medical attention to devastating events such as Hurricanes, now is the time to prepare. It is difficult to know where to begin to construct a plan of action for every type of threat we may encounter, will one plan be enough to cover all incidents or are separate plans needed for each? Alabama suffers from abundant tornadoes and Connecticut experiences snowstorms, each state and region has different and many times unique situations. Look up the most common natural disaster in your state Link.
  The place to start is FEMA, the Federal Emergency Managment Agency, their responsible for disaster response, they also are the agency responsible for administrating flood insurance.
  We should first determine which natural disaster we are most inclined to have visited us, we don't want to prepare for a blizzard in Arizona for instance. Where I was raised in Minnesota blizzards, floods, and Tornadoes are three of the main threats, while in California where I reside now threats including earthquakes, flood, wildfire and Civil unrest. There is one common companion of most disaster's of which we can prepare for first and build from there. So pick your disaster.
  Utility outages are constant companions of unexpected emergencies, we will do well to prepare for them first. Most of us have experienced "power outages", most occurrences begin and end in the span of minutes or a few hours. Some, on the other hand, last for days, weeks and rarely a month or more.

A Power Outage kit typically contains emergency lighting, matches, candles, body warmers, sleeping bags and a first aid kit, available commercially or simply build one yourself. It is a good place to start, but they normally contain no food or water, these are built for survival during short outages and assume access to food and water is possible. The knowledge and means to secure electrical boxes, gas lines and water to our houses are skills every member of the family needs to be familiar with, and able to either perform themselves or have contacts to help them. link to an example of the kits available.
  Kits are also available to support the needs of one or more people for a period of 72 hours, most government agencies suggest supplies for the initial 72 hour period. These assemblies typically have food (energy bars), lighting, water, first aid and hygienic supplies to name a few. Most of a person's needs for survival are included in the commercial kits, personal kits are not difficult to build by most people, however, we have a tendency to load too much into one kit. I am an advocate of each person having a kit made for a 7-day duration, that would be a 2 person 72-hour kit, I believe it's prudent to prepare for a week's event. Link to an example of this kit.
  After determining the type of disaster each of us are most likely to encounter, it's time to come up with a plan, it's not that hard. Templates are available through FEMA to complete a written plan, each person should have a copy available to them at all times. Information such as an out of area contact telephone number, who to call for help, what to do if you are away from home and many other informative entries are included. The advantage of using a pre-written plan template is that professional disaster response people sat down and assembled the list, with years of experience they know what is important and what is not. For instance, one issue I would never have imagined deals with our pets, the plan suggests we have a photograph of the family as a group, including the pet. The genius involved with this idea is the pet is easier to describe with a picture than words, and the animal is more recognizable when associated with a human. People may not remember what the dog or cat looks like, but most will remember a person. Another well thought out idea is to have an out of area contact number, a relative in another state for example. When a disaster occurs the first thing people may do is get on their phones to find out how their loved ones are coping. Unfortunately, the local telephone lines are jammed up with people calling 911, or relatives and friends. When a "busy" signal is received, what do we do? We disconnect and immediately redial the number, adding to the congestion, few calls get through. Not so with out of state calls, normally the lines are clear, all family members can call the number and leave a message, then call every 4 hours or so after the initial contact. In a planning template, many such tactics are listed, and if nothing else it is food for thought. Link to a planning template.
  Self-reliance is the main ingredient of planning for an emergency event, it is a change of lifestyle for many of us, and it can become all-consuming or it may be an addition to the way we live now. Either way, it is a very important part of living in a disaster-prone area, I believe most families have at one time or another had a discussion about certain disasters, I am thinking a house fire, and the question "what would you do if the house started on fire?" Very brief and informal but it is a start. An equally important ingredient making up the planning is to be sure to have everyone in the family involved in the planning, get the kids input. They look to adults for guidance during these events, to make more sense of it be certain to include in the child's own words some of their own planning entries. The child will recognize the suggestion as theirs and be more inclined to accept it when they are faced with a very terrifying situation. Involve the entire family in conversations about the plan, and practice it, even asking "what would you do if" questions during dinner will add to prepare people, making reactions to the event easier and more second nature.
This guy is all set up, he helped in the planning it's easy to tell. 

  I mention this all of the time, it doesn't,t hurt to repeat it often, one case of 24-pint water bottles will supply one person for six days if the daily adult requirements to avoid dehydration are adhered to, 1/2 gallon per day per person. That amount does not include cooking or hygienic uses. It's not out of the question to have 8 cases on hand at all times, however, that's easier said than done.
  Start your planning with FEMA, get a planning template, read a few publications they put out and begin to prepare for your local most common disaster, it's not all that difficult and you will pick up a few new lives skills.
  Thanks for reading and sharing, let the latest disasters be an alert for us to become just a little more self-reliant, and store water. If you are interested in where I live and work, watch my short introductory YouTube video. Link


Monday, October 9, 2017

The states that were ignored by Harvey are now in line to receive Nate, how could the people prepare?

    Hurricane Nate made landfall shortly before I began to write this entry, the Southeastern United States is getting slammed again. There are a lot of statements we employ to be optimistic about these disasters, words we use with the intent of lifting spirits during hard times are able to "backfire" on us. When a statement such as "well there is a silver lining behind this dark cloud", we walk a very loose line, to a victim there is no silver lining. I did use that expression in a blog about Puerto Rico during its battle with the Hurricane Maria. I used it in the context of "if there is a silver lining behind this cloud, it's the dam did not burst." I succeeded in using that phrase, because it was a good thing the dam held, not imperiling many more lives. Silver linings are difficult to find after these massive storms inflict their damage on so much property and lives.
Some clouds actually do have a silver lining. 
Now Nate is on a path of destruction, making landfall east of New Orleans, on the shores of Mississippi. A long enough warning was issued for the people to prepare, the mayor of New Orleans personally inspected the pumping stations finding of the 120 of the main drainage pumps, three major and eight minor smaller units were offline Friday night. However, all 24 major pumping stations were equipped with backup generators. After Katrina, a 14 billion dollar investment was made to the federal hurricane protection system, the mayor also declared a state of emergency well in advance of landfall. The memory of Katrina was a very determined taskmaster after the event completed its path of destruction. (Hurricane Nate has been downgraded to a "tropical storm", Link. )
  So now the states that were ignored by Harvey are now in line to receive Nate, making landfall as a category one storm, presenting 80+ mile per hour winds, the intense rainfall and of course flooding. It's reported as a fast-moving storm, we remember Harvey as a slowpoke, adding to the immense destruction of Houston just about a month ago. My experience with hurricanes is limited, I was in the tail end of one in 1969 (yes I'm that old) in Memphis Tennesee, I was in a building when the wind slammed a window and busted glass over a huge area. I was struck with a shard and had to have stitches on my thigh, I suffered no lingering injury.
  I have experienced 80+ mph windstorms, it is a powerful force, one of them I was in was so strong it broke three 12 inch diameter wood pylons on our dock that resides in the slough running past our home. Wind is strong, a good bit of advice is when faced with such an incident, when the insurance company is contacted never mention the word "water", that designates it as a "flooding" event and if the property is not covered by flood insurance, it's tough luck, Lucy.
Homeowners will not cover flooding, blame it on the wind.
High winds and heavy seas, extreme winds, and water create a
very destructive force of nature. 
  This is the fourth hurricane to strike the South East, bringing up the question of "how in the heck can the people prepare with such a short time span between events?" Even though the states hit by Nate were not in the center of Harvey, Irma or Maria, supplies remain in short supply, preparing for another storm may not have been a priority while helping the affected areas start to recover. I'm certain these states sent help by the way of personnel and equipment to the areas that suffered from the previous storms. Now with their resources stressed to the max, the same first responders will respond to Nate. It will take years for the South East to recover, it's a marathon, not a 50-yard dash, FEMA is spread thin, just the backlog in claims is already huge.
  How much preparation could be done in such a short amount of time? Water, the one most important commodity after an event, one 24 case of pint bottles of water will supply one person for a period of one week. Estimating how much water to have on hand in the pantry is an impossible task, 3-1/2 gallons for one person for one week. Link for human daily water requirements. I keep 3 five gallon bottles on hand at all times, we cycle them through our water cooler. I must mention I live in an area (yes 50 miles from San Francisco) that does not have potable water to our sinks inside the house. We have running water, however, it originates from wells that go deep into our small island, to the water table supplied by the river on all sides. That can be seen as an advantage, we have to buy water for consumption, which serves as an emergency stock as well. The main threat we face is an earthquake accompanied with flooding and utility outages, an event that would most likely last weeks. The people in the South East did not have the same luxury, most likely having only time to gather water together and maybe some long shelf life food items.
  I am an advocate of instead of a 72-hour survival kit, we would be safer with a 2 person 72-hour kit, it is also a 6-day survival kit for one person. It is a great suggestion for Christmas presents, everyone in the family needs to have one. Check the kit out Link, (website)
  Hopefully, Nate will be less destructive, but we are not through hurricane season yet, we could still experience more. Disasters happen in every region of our country and the world, now is the time for us in the west to prepare for winter rains and runoff. The North prepare for their blizzards followed with flooding and complicated with long utility outages.
  Thanks for reading and sharing, let's all take these storms as a warning to the rest of us to prepare for the worse while hoping for the best.