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Volume 30, Issue 1

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Jon Seals

Jon Seals

Friday, 12 August 2016 00:00

When Disaster-Response Apps Fail

When a terrorist struck Nice, France, on July 14, a new French government app designed to alert people failed. Three hours passed before SAIP, as the app is called, warned people in and around Nice to the danger on the city’s waterfront during Bastille Day festivities.

This aspect of the tragedy highlights an emerging element of disaster preparation and response: the potential for smartphone apps, social media sites and information technology more broadly to assist both emergency responders and the public at large in figuring out what is happening and what to do about it.

A group I am in, with researchers from varied disaster-response backgrounds (including military, urban, wilderness and hospital service), has surveyed what’s already available on the market and found smartphone apps that can help providers and the public alike. Some help medical professionals deal with ordinary day-to-day work, viewing guidelines and medication databases, performing calculations, remotely monitoring patients’ vital signs and displaying radiology images. Others can help responders deal with chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear and explosive disasters, which is useful for members of FEMA teams like the one I’m on. Apps for the public help them prepare for disasters, notify them of imminent problems, reconnect them with family members, and even help keep track of pets during emergencies.



(TNS) - Richwood, W. Va., residents still digging out from a late June flood are finding more problems to deal with.

Mayor Bob Henry Baber said one of the newest problems are dirt, mud, sand and large rocks that are clogging the town's storm drains.

“The Jet Truck can’t break up what’s inside those drains,” Bob Henry Baber said. “The drain that’s on Oakford Avenue has a creek coming out. That caused two more houses to receive flooded basements.”

While that’s causing a headache, an even bigger problem is bubbling under the river.



(TNS) - Weather forecasters have predicted the Atlantic Ocean could be in for more hurricanes this season, but local emergency officials say it only takes one storm to cause devastation and to test the strength of a community’s preparedness.

Horry County, S.C., Emergency Management Director Randy Webster urged a crowd gathered for hurricane preparedness tips at the Base Recreation Center Wednesday night to leave before disaster strikes.

On July 1, The Weather Channel reported that a forecast from Colorado State University predicted a total of 15 named storms for the Atlantic this season with six hurricanes, two of them considered major as a Category 3 or higher.



Friday, 12 August 2016 00:00

Staying Ahead of Storm Surge

While strong winds and heavy rain are two of the dangers that first come to mind when thoughts turn to the imminent hurricane season, a byproduct of the two can lead to an equally if not more destructive weather phenomenon: storm surge. Let’s take a closer look at this significant hazard to life and property, along with highlighting a new interactive tool from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) aimed at predicting storm surge and fostering critical preparedness.

The 411 on Storm Surge

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines storm surge as “an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tide.” In some cases, storm surge can span hundreds and miles of coastline and reach heights of more than 20 feet!

Storm surge, along with the battering waves which accompany it, can result in catastrophic damage to buildings, roads, bridges, and the environment, as well as loss of life. In fact, storm surge directly causes approximately half of all deaths associated with large storms, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).



Whether you’re just starting your company or you’ve established yourself in an industry, a cybersecurity mistake can wipe out all your progress and growth.

“Businesses do not realize the level of sophistication that hackrs bring to the table,” said Matt Johnson, chief executive officer at Phalanx Secure Solutions. “When you are attempting to secure your business, you have to be right 100 percent of the time. The hacker only has to be right once. Companies who get hacked often wind up going out of business, being unable to shoulder the burden of cleaning up.”

And threats and breaches are becoming epidemic.