Saturday, December 22, 2012

Breaking News

Todays' Washington Post Express

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy Twits

Today in the Twitter-verse:

     @lindsaylohan: WHY is everyone in SUCH a panic about hurricane (i'm calling it Sally)..? Stop projecting negativity! Think positive and pray for peace.

Oh wait, she and others have renamed it now:

    "It was nicknamed Hurricane Sassy during a Tyler Oakley twitcam on October 28, 2012 by Tyler Oakley, Alexander Gold, Lindsay Lohan, and Nikki Wood..."

More tweets:

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Hurricane Sandy is combining with another storm to become a much stronger “Frankenstorm.” For more info, click on the Storm Center tabs above.

While there’s real danger, some of the media have gone overboard with the hype. As one columnist put it, a Fox News meteorologist “went berserk,” saying “worst case scenario” three times, as well as “extensive, catastrophic damage”; “power outages that could last weeks for millions of people”; and “our mouths dropped at the latest tracking.”

Update: Kudos to Jim Vance, 40-year DC news anchor, for preaching it like it is:
"Lot of people are on the edge, or already over the edge, of being freaked out by this thing. There are ... good reasons to chill out and make the best of this:

"We ain't no punks up in here! We know bad weather. We dealt with Snowmaggedon, we handled the derecho, we survived Irene a few years back. Some of us remember Agnes, which was a mother of all storms. We're still here. We're still standing. As we will be after this one is a memory."
Getting back to the hype, here's a snarky version from The Weekly World News:

Monday, October 1, 2012

Rest in Peace. Please.

FEMA has declared October to be Zombie Awareness Month.

[Sigh.] I love the zombie genre, but it's been beaten to death. People have run out of new ideas. It's jumped the shark. Even using it to promote emergency preparedness was already done by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) almost a year and a half ago. It's just not fresh or clever anymore.

Maybe it's time to put a bullet in the head of the zombie genre and let it die.

Perhaps I spoke to soon. This video about CPR is well done and kinda funny.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bite Me

This is not the recommended way to carry a grenade.

      “Terrorism expert Chris Dobson called it 'a chilling indication of what our soldiers are up against.'”      

Call me crazy, but I'm not too worried about this guy.

Related posts: Idiot Terrorists

Source: Armed to the Teeth, The Sun (UK)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Big Bang Theory

A team of British physics students calculated the size of explosive needed to carry out the scenario in the movie Armageddon, in which an asteroid was blown apart to prevent it from hitting the Earth -- at the last minute, of course. They found it would take a 96 petaton bomb -- about two billion times more powerful than the largest nuke ever detonated. (It would take less to nudge one away from its path if it's done while it's farther away.) (Long Island) has advice on how to prepare for an asteroid "attack":

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Disaster Could Be a Benefit — Sort Of

The Smithsonian Institute blog has an article title that's... unusual:

Italian Supervolcano Could End
Eurozone Crisis the Easy Way

Other news outlets highlight the fact that millions could be killed — but hey, let's look at the bright side!

Now if only the supervolcano under Yellowstone would blow, it could solve our problems! Why hasn't Obama thought of that?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Search & Rescue: Nevermind

It's an all-hands callout! On a weekend, so I'm available!

ASRC FCO for 58yo female on Appalachian Trail north of Harpers Ferry. Ground resources needed for hasty searches and containment. All teams send avails. More details on the way.

10 minutes later...

Subj walked out of woods. All teams stand down.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Weddings vs. Tornadoes

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has published advice on an unusual topic for them: weddings.

CDC’s Wedding Day Survival Guide

"We’re sure it’s just a fluke that wedding season happens to coincide with hurricane season. ... Many of us here at CDC realized that planning for a wedding isn’t that much different from planning for a disaster. ...

[Um... 'Kay. Not sure what that has to do with disease control.]

Sunday, July 1, 2012

DC Derecho

It never rains, but it pours. Just two days after we closed up the Red Cross shelter for people affected by the Bladensburg microburst, we had to open several more due to another windstorm. I'm managing one for 150 people, including about 60 kids, most of them very young.

This time it was a derecho, and in the same area the microburst hit, wind gusted up to 79 mph -- once again ripping the roofs off some buildings. [Videos after the jump.]

In this area alone, over a million people lost power. At the same time temperatures have hit the triple-digits. Not-so-fun fact: The disaster type that kills the most people in this area is the heat. (Or the humidity, depending on how you look at it.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bladensburg Microburst

I managed a Red Cross shelter yesterday for people in Bladensburg, MD whose homes were destroyed in a microburst Friday. A microburst is a very localized but very intense downdraft, with winds that can be as powerful as a tornado.

Dozens of apartment buildings were severely damaged, and hundreds of people were displaced. Miraculously, there were only 2 minor injuries.

We had less than 20 people who needed to stay in the shelter overnight -- but we fed 150 for lunch! We also had Red Cross Client Services and county Social Services interviewing people all day to find out what aid they needed.

Click here for damage pictures.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Dancing up a Storm

Article in Emergency Management magazine:

Dancing for Preparedness? Flash Mob Spreads the Message
Spreading the emergency preparedness message to the whole community can seem like a daunting task, but Austin, Texas, is getting creative to get the word out. Last week about 50 people gathered as part of a flash mob that danced at City Hall Plaza to encourage people to prepare for the worst.

While dancing isn’t usually linked to emergency management agencies and their public awareness activities, the song’s lyrics — which include “This is my plan, and I’m ready to take action. I’m prepared.” — helped spread an important message while making it fun for residents to think about personal preparedness.
Um... 'Kay.

Music video at:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

They're transporting a UFO! Everyone panic!

"A saucer-shaped object on a very wide flatbed truck had some people wondering if the government was moving a UFO in or near Washington, D.C., Wednesday night...

"When motorists snapped photos of the strange object and posted them on Twitter, some people became concerned enough to call local police."

It was actually a military drone.

[Pet peeve: UFO stands for Unidentified Flying Object. It's not (necessarily) an alien spacecraft. Even if this was one, it couldn't be a UFO because it wasn't flying!]

Hurricane Agnes Anniversary

The picture at right looks like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, but it was Elkridge, Maryland 40 years ago, after Hurricane Agnes.

Agnes did tremendous damage to the Mid-Atlantic, even though it had weakened to a tropical storm by then. At the time, it was the most costly storm ever, doing over $11 billion in damage (in 2011 dollars). It also killed 128 people.

In Florida, Agnes spawned 28 tornadoes. In DC, it flooded the National Zoo, and the Potomac River rose 15½ feet next to Georgetown. It also caused the greatest flooding ever recorded in Maryland, with bridges washed out in Laurel, and Ellicott City under as much as 14½ feet of water. The entire state of Pennsylvania was declared a disaster area.

A slideshow is after the jump.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti

I love the zombie genre, but there's been such a flood of zombie-themed things recently that I'm afraid it's getting beaten to death. (Or undeath.)

Except now it's real life. Well, maybe not zombies, but cannibalism at least -- so much of it that Gawker asked, "Could People Stop Eating Other People's Body Parts?"

It's not just the "Miami Zombie," who ate another man's face.

[Update, 6/6: There's been another face-eating attack!]

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Real Chernobyl Diaries

The movie "Chernobyl Diaries" does have a grain of truth to it: the nearby city of Pripyat has been opened for tourism. No mutants though. (That they've admitted to, anyway.)

Photographer Gerd Ludwig's "'Long Shadow of Chernobyl" contains some moving photos of the area and the people affected. Unfortunately, it's only available as an iPad app, but some can be viewed at the Boston Globe's site.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Love Conquers All

Two nearby tornadoes didn't stop this couple's wedding. Normally, "until death do us part" isn't expected to be minutes away.

(They were unharmed.)

Image credit: Cate Eighmey Photography

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I was re-reading "The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes -- and Why and I saw a mention of DC CERT that I'd forgotten about. The author said she "signed up online to participate and never got a response." Yep, par for the course.

Then I read "Answering 911: Life in the Hot Seat," by a 911 operator/dispatcher in Minnesota. After a raid on a meth lab, a guy led officers on a foot chase, running through 3 houses, then taking an old man hostage. It wasn't known whether he had a gun. The operators were going crazy trying to keep up with the calls and dispatching for that -- plus a separate incident with an armed perp; a cop who hasn't answered calls and might be hurt or dead; and a choking baby.

"There was no way to remember it all and no way to type it. Her backup guy was busy paging the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)..."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Pitt Too Far

There's a full search and rescue call-out for a missing 83-year-old man. I'm in the negative on leave, but technically I'm allowed to go another day or two in the hole. Except it's near Pittsburgh, a 9-hour round trip. With my luck, they'd find him by the time we got there. (Wouldn't be the first time.)

Update: The missing 83-year old disappeared when he went to take out the trash and never came back. He has dementia, so it was thought he wandered off (as such people tend to do). But how far could he have gotten?

----- Original Message ------
Received: 09:23 AM EDT, 04/05/2012
From: ASRC Dispatch

Search suspended. Subject likely to have taken bus to other area.
Might restart if more information is found.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tornado Alley: Chesapeake?

The Washington Post reports a "shocking" statistic, namely that Maryland has had the 3rd highest density of tornadoes over the past two decades, beaten out only by Kansas and Florida. How is it we have more than the other Great Plains states?

Key word: density. That is, the statistic is the number of tornadoes per 10,000 square miles. That's a bit misleading. In raw numbers, Texas has the highest number (155), followed by Kansas (96), and Florida (66). As you'd expect, the other large numbers are in the central U.S. -- the so-called "Tornado Alley" -- and the deep South (sometimes called "Dixie Alley").

Monday, March 26, 2012

Competition From Batman

The local blog Silver Spring Singular broke the story: police pulled over Batman in our area. For not having tags on his Batmobile.

Hey, I've got dibs here! When I'm lurking in the DisasterCave, and the Discovery Building lights start to pulse [], I want to be able to respond without this guy showing up to upstage me. In his black Lamborghini. Before I get there on foot.

Unfortunately, when the County Police tweeted a confirmation, the other tweeters' sympathies seemed to be with Die Fledermaus.


"Another case of DWB [Driving While Batman]"

Police video of the traffic stop

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cat Food

A missing hiker was found after 42 days in the woods. Rescuers reported "she's alive. And she's got a cat."

"Authorities said Margaret Page, 41, took some food with her but ran out, and stayed alive by drinking water from a nearby creek. She fed her cat, Miya, with cat food she had packed."

Damn, I knew my survival kit was missing something.

I wonder if they really taste like chicken.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bigfoot exercises

There's a series of emergency exercises going on this year entitled "Formidable Footprint" -- which sounds like euphemism for Bigfoot. Some individual exercise names are:

Operation Acorn Drop
Outbreak Anarchy
Pandemic Pandemonium
Accommodating Accommodations

Campus Whirlwind [reap it!]
Felonious Fog [arrest it!]
Extreme Exposure [Mountain Dew and skateboards?]
Mailstrom Mayhem [spam attack?]
Rumble In The Rubble [wrestling event?]

Monday, January 16, 2012

Alien Hail

I thought the Weekly World News went out of business, but apparently they still exist online. Good thing: as they describe themselves, they are "the world's only reliable news."

Large metallic balls dropping across the U.S. (and Africa). NASA and the U.N. confirmed the alien balls are from Planet Zeeba.

The hollow balls with a circumference of between 4 and 10 feet have been found all across the U.S. in the last forty-eight hours, according to authorities with NASA and the United Nations Panel on Extraterrestrials.

With a diameter of 3 to 6 feet, the balls have a rough surface and appear to consist of “two halves welded together.”