2012 was the second-costliest year of natural disaster in history.

2012 saw many natural disasters strike across the nation, causing the death of many American citizens and inflicting billions of dollars in property and infrastructural damage. From hurricanes and earthquakes to droughts, heat waves and wildfires, events were both widespread and severe. These events surely proves that there is climate change and it’s affecting us all.

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According to NCDC’s 2012 weather and climate disasters information, 2012 saw 11 weather and climate disaster events each with losses exceeding $1 billion in damages. This made 2012 the second costliest year since 1980, with a total of more than $110 billion in damages throughout the year. The 2012 total damages rank only behind 2005, which incurred $160 billion in damages due in part to four devastating land-falling hurricanes which includes hurricane Katrina. The two major drivers of damage costs in 2012 were Hurricane Sandy (at approximately $65 billion) and the year-long drought (at approximately $30 billion.)

Droughts and other natural disasters are causing the world a lot of money, lives and properties and according to experts, it is also projected that 2013 will have more damaging drought effects in comparison to 2012. Disasters like these continue to emphasize the need to protect the earth from climate change. We as people should be ready to make sacrifices to reduce climate change as much as we can. I sincerely hope the world leaders understand the predicament we face today and make decisive moves to combat climate change. We as citizens also need to change our life style in order to have a significant impact in protecting the environment.

Thanks

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More talks about Moore, Oklahoma Tornado.

The news media has been going gaga about the devastating tornado incident at Moore Oklahoma on Monday, May 19, 2013. I am still in awe of the terrific natural disaster that left about 24 people dead and over hundred injured.  The people of Moore, OK got a visit from nature that left a mark never to be forgotten.  Moore, OK is a city I know very well and still drove through it last month on my way to Oklahoma City.

APTOPIX Severe Weather

Two of the 24 people known to have been killed in the tornado that pulverized Moore,a suburb of Oklahoma City on Monday were infants, the local medical examiner’s office announced Wednesday.Case Futrell, 4 months old, and mother Megan Futrell, 29, died of blunt-force trauma, according to an information sheet released by the Oklahoma City medical examiner’s office. A cousin told the Oklahoman newspaper’s online edition that Megan Futrell had sought refuge from the storm for herself and her baby in the walk-in cooler of a 7-Eleven that was destroyed in the storm.

Severe Weather

The other infant victim in the disaster is 7 month old Sydnee Vargyas.  Sydnee and her 4-year-oldsister KarrinaVargyas were the youngest of four children of Laura and Philip Vargyas.  The girls were home with their mother when the storm struck and destroyed their home and took their lives. Seven of the remaining eighth children that died in the tornado were student of the Plaza Towers Elementary School with their ages between 8 and 9 years old.

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Moore Mayor Glen Lewis, on Wednesday, said he will propose an ordinance in the next couple of days at the Moore City Council that would modify building codes to require the construction of reinforced shelters in every new home in the town. This kind of ordinances should not be limited to Moore alone. All tornado prone areas should emulate such regulations too.  I really don’t know how to console these grieving families for their losses but I hope the good God replenishes their pains with good tidings.

APTOPIX Severe Weather

I think the best thing we can do as human is to support those affected in this disaster with both emotional and financial support. You can send your gift through the American Red Cross by visiting the donation link here.

God bless you as you donate.

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Texas fertilizer plant explosion and its corresponding health hazards

It has been a terrible week in American history, as the nation is mourning the death of three and the injury of over 170 people from the Mondays’ Boston marathon, just two days later on Wednesday April 15, 2013, the city of West, Texas was thrown into pandemonium. About 12 people were confirmed dead in a fertilizer manufacturing plant explosion and rescuers continue to search for missing people through the rubbles. This incident also has over 200 people injured, a couple of residents displaced and millions of dollars’ worth of properties destroyed. Thousands of tons of anhydrous ammonia have been released into the atmosphere leaving the lives of people and animals in this region at great risk.

Anhydrous ammonia is a colorless, highly irritating gas with a sharp, suffocating odor.  People will notice the pungent odor at levels ranging from 5 – 50 parts per million (ppm).  Irritating effects generally begin at levels between 25-50 ppm, and more serious effects will occur at levels greater than 100 ppm. I believe that the concentration of anhydrous ammonia in the atmosphere will be of great magnitude because the plant was storing as much as 54,000 pounds of this dangerous gas. The blast was so powerful that the United States Geological Survey registered it as a 2.1-magnitude earthquake.

Although, the disaster has happened and lots of lives has been lost, the most important thing now is how to save the life of  the thousands of West resident that are still alive. I think this accident should be treated a nuclear disaster and the evacuation exercise must be effective until the EPA can confirm that the concentration of ammonia in the air is no longer toxic. I will like share the guidelines that I got from the North Dakota Department of Health that will be helpful to the resident of West, TX when they are allowed to go back to theirs homes.

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Guidelines for people returning to their homes include:

  • Food that was not in sealed packaging should be thrown away.  Food in the refrigerator should be safe to eat unless there was a power outage.  Perishable food items (meat, milk, etc.) in refrigerators where there was a loss of power should be discarded.  Foods in freezers during power outages are generally safe to eat unless the power is out for an extended time period.

Food in sealed containers, such as canned goods or those sealed in airtight plastic wrap or in plastic containers may be eaten after cleaning the container thoroughly with soap and water.

Food in boxes that have been opened, such as cereal, crackers, etc., that do not have an airtight seal, should be thrown away.

If you are unsure about food products, a good general rule to follow is, “When in doubt, throw it out.”

  • These same general guidelines, apply to pet foods.  Pet food that had been left out should be discarded.  Pet food in sealed cans or in other airtight packages is safe after the outside of the container is wiped off with a wet cloth.  However, pet foods in bags that had been previously opened should be discarded.

Contact your veterinarian if your pet is experiencing symptoms which may be related to exposure to anhydrous ammonia.  These symptoms would be similar to those experienced by people, especially those involving difficulty breathing or other respiratory problems.

  • There may be a white powder residual in your home.  This substance is ammonium hydroxide and occurs after anhydrous ammonia settles out after exposure to water.  It is similar to the ammonia used in general home cleaning.  If you notice any of this white powder on surfaces in your home, it can be safely cleaned up simply by using a wet cloth.  This substance could cause skin irritation, so rubber gloves should be used when cleaning.
  • If this white residue is on clothing or other fabrics, they can be cleaned in a washing machine.
  • Plates, silver ware and other eating utensils can be cleaned in a dishwasher or by washing with soap and water.
  • Avoid eating snow (especially Kids).  It is possible that the snow may be contaminated with small amounts of anhydrous ammonia and could cause skin irritation.  Direct skin contact with snow should be minimized

Associated press also reports that the Texas plant last OSHA inspection was dated back to 1985. I think somebody should be responsible for this and justice administered. I also think that accidents like this could be avoided if proper oversights are provided and regulatory agencies do their job. Your comment will be appreciated below about providing adequate safety for the people of West, TX and the world at large.

Thanks

 

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