8/28/2011

Hurricane Irene as I Saw Her

Note: Unfortunately, after a serious loss of data due to a Google lack of clear communication, I no longer have the photos that went with this blog post and others. Use your imaginations and see the pictures in your mind. As with all natural disasters, sometimes you can't recover stuff. The sooner you accept that, the sooner recovery begins.


There was a father asleep with his wife and four small children when this tree fell on his lawn at 3 am in Mt. Airy, MD as hurricane Irene passed through. As you can see, by the grace of God and probably a few angels helping to lift it, the tree fell forward and away from his house. Now, the tree fell on electrical wires (electric utility, cable, and telephone), but they did not fall on him or his family.
The next day I went to check at Lorien, a local nursing facility that is fairly large. The staff confirmed all was good and the people there were safe. I confirmed that they have a large back up generator if power were to be lost. This is critical in long-care treatment facilities as so many depend on refrigeration for their medications, like insulin.We were blessed on this one. We only got a Category 1 and not a 3 or 4, so for the most part, we kept power.

The gentleman in the wheel chair across the street described it as "sounding like a bomb went off."
When the Mayor and I opened the Emergency Operations Center on Saturday, we were fairly well prepared. We distributed sand bags to local businesses in case of flooding and opened up communication channels up (Governor's Office) and down (local town workers.) Fortunately, just before the hurricane MEMA sent a contact name, phone and email. The mayor had spilled coffee on it, but it was there when we needed it to call in our sitrep. Because Mt. Airy is a located on a HUGE rock, we escaped the flooding that hit the low lying areas of Maryland.

Lessons?
Emergency work gets the adrenaline pumping...in a good way, as opposed to anger adrenaline, which one guy shot at us. At one point the mayor was talking to the Governor's office from his car in the middle of the street. I told him to put on his flashers. He did not. So, some jackass goes by, stops, puts his arm out the window, and flips us the finger. When I told the mayor, he laughed and said, "That guy doesn't know that under a declared emergency I can have him arrested for that!" We laughed and drove off to the next emergency.
We were lucky with this one.After visiting a number of local housing developments, it is true that there are many, many Americans who are overweight and who depend on medicine for survival.
As my Feldenkrais instructor says, "Most Americans over 40 have broken bodies." From what I saw during this event, that is a reality,Any evacuation or rescue attempt has to deal with this reality. Also, any emergency planning has to include this reality.This has real consequences. Where 20 years ago only two first responder's could carry one American, now it may take three or four. Huge change with HUGE consequences.


















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