Sunday, July 2, 2017

Survival and catastrophy - living through calamity and mass destruction

Having survived a tornado and seeing how slowly the recovery takes place makes me concerned about what might happen in the event of more severe disasters. The tornado that ripped through our town and several others occurred almost 4 years ago. Before the tornado, the area was heavily treed and houses could not be seen a block away. We now have a couple of miles visibility but the striking thing is how many homes still stand un-repaired and how many others have been reduced to vacant lots. Even to this day, there are vacant lots on other evidence of the storm.

As a result of what I see, I took a trip through part the area that was destroyed by the April 27th 2011 tornadoes and sadly find much of the same. Vast areas where homes have been leveled to the slab or even with the slabs gone, stores and churches gone. At that point, it been 2 years since that one and many homes have been rebuilt but many have not.The condition still exists today and it has been 6 years.

I also weathered the  April 8, 1998 tornado that went through Oak Grove, AL and although I was not directly in the path, I did have to drive through the miles of damage daily, traveling to work and back. While it was almost 18 years ago, the path of destruction is still very obvious and I still see vacant lots and slabs where homes once were. A new school and a new fire house are welcome sights. But after all this time, recovery is not complete.

Even today, it has been many years since hurricane Katrina and yet there are extensive areas in and around New Orleans that are not recovered. There are large areas of abandoned apartments and areas where houses are gone. The recovery from Katrina may not be fully realized for another 20 to 30 years.

There are many possible perils to our continued existence here on Earth both as a species and as individuals. Some of these could take much longer to recover from and could result in massive loss of life and property as well.

Following are a few of the possible calamities that we may face in the near or distant future.

Unlikely but quite possible Total Destruction of Earth

Few are spending too much time worrying about what to do if the planet is annihilated. This is as predicted in the Bible and the only rational preparation is spiritual. That aside, there are many possible disasters that may occur before the Biblical apocalypse.

Drought


It was less than a century ago when the US suffered through the "dust bowl", where a drought created conditions where extensive crop failure led to famine. Even worse, this happened during the economic collapse of the great depression and there was extensive poverty. Here in the US, many often feel like we are special and that we will not face the starvation that people face in countries like Ethiopia and Sudan. The starvation of the 1930's should remind us that even here in the land of plentiful, there is a precarious balance and something as simple as a slight shift in weather patterns can cause a major upheaval in our lives. A good book to remind us of this peril is "The Grapes of Wrath" bu John Steinbeck.

From time to time here, there has been mini droughts that result in a scarcity of one food item or the other, perhaps even a few items. The truth is that droughts can be more damaging, severe, and extensive than hurricanes, tornado outbreaks, and flooding combined. Even far back in Biblical times, droughts were known as nation killers. We may think that because we are more advanced today than nations of the past that we are immune. I would suggest the we take another look at this.

Floods


In 1993, there was extensive flooding in the Mississippi and Missouri River valleys, the worst flood in recorded US history. Hundreds of levees failed, there were over 50 deaths, and losses exceeded $15 Billion. Over 10,000 homes were destroyed and over 15 million acres of land was flooded, much of which was left unusable for years. While much has been done to avoid a future recurrence, there exists a possibility of even greater than expected rainfall which could recreate or even exceed the event. Another severe flood occurred in 2008. The flooding of southern Louisiana in 2016 is having extreme economic repercussions and likely will for years to come.

Super-volcano


Yellowstone erupts every 600.000 years on the average and by this standard, it is long overdue. The last eruption was 640,000 years ago which makes it past due. While is is unknown as to when it will blow again, destroying life for hundreds of miles around and burying half the country in ash up to 3 feet (1 meter) deep. Cities as far away as Denver will likely be completely destroyed. Crops will fail for many years, the sky will blacken with ash, plunging the northern hemisphere into a nuclear winter type event. The cost is likely immeasurable in current financial terms. Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the rate and size of rumblings ( tremors ) in the Yellowstone area. This is not a good sign.

The last eruption of a super volcano was in Toba, Sumatra, some 75,000 years ago. It had nearly 10,000 times the explosive force of Mount St. Helen and changed life on Earth forever. So much ash was thrown into the atmosphere that it blocked out light from the sun all over the world. 35 centimeters ( more than 12 inches ) of ash coated the ground as far as 2,500 miles away. Global temperatures plummeted by over 20 degrees. Poisonous gasses filled the sky and rain so that it would have turned black and strongly acidic. Genetic evidence shows that man was pushed to the edge of extinction, the population forced down to just 50 child bearing women, according to sources. Most of all plants in the northern hemisphere were killed. If such an event happens almost anywhere in the world, crops will fail for years, water will be contaminated, ash in the atmosphere will cause severe respiratory problems. In the event of a Yellowstone eruption, roofs will collapse from the weight of the ash, possibly as far away as St. Louis, MO or even Chicago, IL. It is not known how strongly the seismic effects will be felt but it would be likely extensive.


Midwest Earthquake


It has been nearly two centuries since series of three magnitude 8 ( or greater ) quakes shook the areas near New Madrid, Missouri. Some sources believe that one of these was closer to 8.1 or 8.2 magnitude. Another big one is inevitable, just a question of when and how big.. The region is now heavily populated, but current building codes are generally not up to standards needed for earthquake survival. Geology of the area east of the Rockies causes quakes to be felt across a much wider region. Many homes along the Mississippi would sink into oblivion, as would bridges across the river for many miles. Buildings as far away as Kansas City, Ks.,  Chicago, IL. and Birmingham, AL. are likely to suffer damage. Wood frame houses are likely to collapse in many areas and many windows will break. Roads and bridges will likely crumble, making recovery very difficult. You should be aware that much of this damage will not be covered by homeowners insurance. The transport of food, material, and supplies across the Mississippi River is likely to be disrupted for months or even years. The last time this happened, the Mississippi river flowed backwards, created two temporary waterfalls in the Mississippi, and eventually changed its course. The New Madrid earthquakes had a significant impact over a large area, (600,000 square kilometers). While some of think about the San Andreas fault as being significant, the New Madrid fault zone is six times larger.


Consider the difficulty that the US has had in responding to the likes of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy and ponder the potential statistics of a recurrence of New Madrid today. A recent study by the University of Illinois, found that a 7.7-magnitude earthquake along the New Madrid fault would leave 3,500 people dead, more than 80,000 injured and more than 7 million homeless. Some authorities believe that the New Madrid earthquakes were closer to magnitude 8.1 or 8.2 and in the past some claims that they were closer to 8.9. If New Madrid quakes with such intensity, it would not be surprising to see major damage as far away as Memphis, TN, St. Louis, MO, and even southern Ohio. This could result in over 20 million homeless to start with. The ensuing loss of resources could be enormous.

Asteroid Impact


We have had numerous asteroid impacts over the history of the Earth, some of which have caused widespread devastation and extinction level events. While most of the craters have been eroded over the millions of years since their impacts, some of them are still quite visible. Others are visible only from space. Scientists can't say when the next devastating asteroid impact will occur. Odds are it won't be for decades or centuries, but an unknown space rock could hit us at any time. Because gravity is constantly changing the orbits of objects in space, we could possibly only have a few days warning. It is important to realize that any significant impact could result in the shifting of several fault lines as well as triggering volcanic activity in areas that may be distant to the impact.


Meteor Crater in Arizona is about 1,200 m (about 3/4 of a mile across) in diameter, some 170 m deep (570 ft), and is surrounded by a rim that rises 45 m (150 ft) above the surrounding plains. Created about 50,000 years ago, the object that impacted was a nickel–iron meteorite about 50 meters across ( about half of a football field, which struck the plain at a speed of several kilometers per second. It is believed that half of the meteor burned up in the atmosphere and that the remainder vaporized on impact. A field of about 30 tons of iron was distributed over 8 to 10 miles around the impact point. The forest that existed at the time would have been leveled for many miles in every direction.

There are over 50 craters on Earth that are 20 kilometers across or larger, most are many millions of years old.

Comet Impact


Much of the same threat posed by Asteroids exists with large comets. We saw how extensive this risk was when Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 collided with Jupiter in 1994. There are 2 known comets approaching the sun in 2013 that are expected to pass near earth but not close enough to impact. There is always the possibility that either of these can break apart and some sections follow a divergent path that will bring it closer to earth than expected.


The world watched as Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter.

Economic Collapse


A number of economic prognosticators have spent considerable time warning about the possibility of economic collapse. Many of these consider the prospects to be dire. The U.S. owes close to $20 Trillion. What if the money was demanded and funds not available? the rush to sell dollars could force the value of a dollar down to 10 cents or even lower. The result? $30 to $40 a gallon Gas, $25 loaf of bread, $30 happy meal ... The trucks would stop running because they could not afford gasoline. Businesses will have to close at least temporarily due to the uncertainty. No food on the grocery store shelves, no drugs at the pharmacy, food riots including mobs going door to door breaking in and stealing what they can, angry mobs burning cars, homes, businesses, and government buildings. These things are not covered by insurance. A car that costs $20 thousand today will be $200 thousand or possibly much more if they are still available. This is not impossible. In the 1980's people in Brazil would go to the bank un the afternoon, withdraw all of their money, and cart it home in wheelbarrows, then take it back to the bank in the morning.

Electromagnetic Disruption


The disruption of our electrical power grid due to something like a solar flare is a distinct possibility. This has happened on a small scale already but if were strong enough to have an effect across the country, the results could be devastating. The damaged power stations could take months to repair. There would be no refrigeration, lights, or television. Homes with electric stoves could not cook, and there would be no electrical heat or air-conditioning. Most factories and offices would be shut down. Store shelves would empty quickly.

Gulf Coast Tsunami


Fault lines in the Caribbean have generated deadly tsunamis before. It is reported that the fault near Haiti still carries enough energy to produce another major earthquake as well as a tsunami. There are other highly strained areas along the same fault that may result in greater calamity. Possibly 35 million people could be threatened by this event.

East Coast Tsunami


It seems no coast is immune to the threat of tsunami. For the Eastern United States, a volcanic eruption on the Canary Island of La Palma could send a mega-tsunami across the Atlantic creating a tsunami literally hundreds of feet high. Another possible scenario is waves kicked up by an asteroid splashing into the ocean. Astronomers already have their eye on one asteroid that could hit in the distant future, but the cosmos could hold surprises, too.

Southern West Coast Tsunami


An earthquake fault just off Southern California could generate a major quake and a $42 billion tsunami that would strike so fast many coastal residents would not have time to escape. Add to that the unprecedented destruction from the earthquake's shaking, and the situation would be reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina or possibly exceed the results of the Indonesian Tsunami of 2004.

Pacific Northwest Megathrust Earthquake


It is only a matter of time before another 9.0 or larger earthquake strikes the Pacific coast somewhere between Northern California and Canada. The quake would be locally catastrophic, but the greater threat is of a tsunami that would ensue from a fault line that's seismically identical to the one that caused the deadly 2004 tsunami in Indonesia.

New York Hurricane


In Oct. 2012, Hurricane Sandy came ashore into New Jersey and New York, causing at least $65.6 billion in damages. The fact is that when it hit, Sandy was only a tropical storm. Consider the possibility of the real damage that might have been sustained if Sandy had been a Cat-3, Cat-4, or a Cat-5 when it hit. Major hurricanes have made direct hits on the boroughs before, but the interval between them is so long that people forget, and officials fear they might not take evacuation orders seriously. The larger problem: It would take well over 24 hours to make a proper evacuation of New York City, but hurricanes move more swiftly as they race north, so real warning time could be just a few hours. The important point is that many months later, the area is still devastated, people are homeless and the lives of many more are disrupted.

Heat Waves


Heat waves kill more U.S. residents than any other natural disaster. As many as 10,000 people have died in past events. It has been shown that the European heatwave of 2003 caused over 40,000 premature deaths. The Russian heatwave of 2010 killed 50,000 and wiped out $15 billion of crops. As urban areas get hotter, electricity systems are strained and the population ages, the risk grows.

Terrorist nuclear attack


There are, sadly, religious fanatics who become so caught up in their own agenda that they forget about God's Commandments and instructions. There is likely nothing that would please them more than to set off a nuclear weapon is a major US city while at the same time using God's name in vain. Any city would be devastated or destroyed and the surrounding areas would not recover, possibly for centuries or millennia.  

Major Epidemic or Pandemic


There is always a risk of a major outbreak of illness or disease, possibly, even something never heard of.


Pandemonium


In any major catastrophic event, the first phase of response will be a local and extended environment of working together for search and rescue and steps towards recovery and rebuilding. This is seen in that recent California earthquakes, New Orleans after Katrina, and the northeast after Hurricane Sandy. However, it is when recovery and help do not arrive quickly enough or strongly enough that society in general takes a violent individualistic turn. People can quickly become angry and desperate. Law enforcement and crumble and looting mobs can quickly take over.

FEMA and state agencies have plans for recovery from most of these potential calamities, including martial law, millions of body bags, emergency interment camps that can provide shelter for millions if necessary, and emergency rations to last several weeks. If the destruction is so severe as to threaten extinction or major long term devastation., the government also has underground facilities to shelter about 2 million people, including food, water, and supplies for several years survival if necessary. If you are eligible for these long term shelters, you have already been informed and provided papers and instructions.

If you are not eligible, then you should start preparing immediately. Everyone should have a minimum of 3 months ( 1 year would be more prudent ) survival supplies on hand in addition to their normal household pantry. Do not rely on frozen or refrigerated foods as the power may be down for weeks or even months in a major disaster. Store food as either freeze dried or as canned supplies and keep your supplies secret and well hidden, preferably in an underground storage facility.

We the People have an obligation to prepare for eventualities and possibilities as well because the better prepared that the sum of individuals are, the better chance that we have as a nation. There is no better foundation than to prepare with your family and with you church family for whatever may come. Events such as Katrina and Sandy show us that FEMA and the government has limited capacity to respond and that the better prepared we are, individually and communally, the better we will fare.

To start with:
Water, drinking, at least 2 gallons per day per person.This means 720 gallons per person, just to survive for 1 year.
Dried beans, rice, instant potatoes, grits, flour, sugar, pasta,  should be proportioned to normal daily usage
Canned vegetables, meats, juices,etc.  preferably home canned in jars,
Medications and other life necessities.
Normal household disposables, such as paper towels, bath tissue, laundry soap, dish soap, bath soap, shampoo,
Distributed storage in some separate remote locations.
A means of protecting yourself and your castle against those who may bear ill will.

Please be aware that Presidential Executive Orders have already been issued stating that in times of emergency, the government can at will nullify the constitution and confiscate any property that if feels that it may need or want, including your food, water, house, vehicle, business, etc. You will have no recourse and the government does not have to compensate you for this. Under these Executive orders, the government can also force you to labor in a work camp as they assign.

The better prepared that you are, the better your individual outcome is likely to be. However, do not stop there, charity and helping others is just as important.


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