natural diasaster by Hamish swamy

 
 
 
 
Geo
A winter storm hit the US north-east with numbing winds, punishing cold and up to two feet (0.6 metres) of snow early on Friday, presenting a first test for New York’s new mayor and perhaps a last one for Boston’s outgoing one. Some schools in New England and New York closed well ahead of the snow, while cities mobilised ploughs and salt spreaders, and state offices sent workers home early. Some major highways were ordered to be shut down overnight. US airlines cancelled more than 2,300 flights nationwide on Thursday in advance of the storm. The heavy weather began rolling in on Thursday, just a day after New York mayor Bill de Blasio was sworn in to lead the nation’s largest city and a few days before Boston mayor Thomas Menino ends 20 years in office. Menino announced a parking ban and said schools would be closed on Friday in Boston. Boston’s airport said it would not handle any flights after 8.30pm on Thursday. “What a new year’s gift, to receive one last snowstorm as mayor,” said Menino, whose successor takes office on Monday. By late Thursday night, the National Weather Service reported that Boxford, just north of Boston, had received nearly 2 feet of snow and parts of upstate New York had already received 18 inches. De Blasio, who as public advocate in 2010 criticised his predecessor as mayor, Michael Bloomberg, for his handling of a post-Christmas storm, said hundreds of ploughs and salt spreaders would be on the streets as soon as the snow started falling on Thursday night. “We have to get it right, no question about it,” de Blasio said. “We are focused like a laser on protecting this city and getting everyone ready. We have all hands on deck.” Snow began falling overnight Wednesday in parts of New England and New York state. Forecasters said temperatures would plummet to well below freezing. The weather service issued a blizzard warning for Cape Cod, coastal areas north and south of Boston and parts of Maine as well as New York’s Long Island. New York City was expecting eight inches of snow, Philadelphia up to seven inches. As the storm approached, a worker at a suburban Philadelphia salt storage facility was killed on Thursday afternoon when a 100-foot pile of road salt fell and crushed him. Police said the man was trapped while operating a backhoe. There was no immediate word on what may have caused the accident.
2 Press Association
Seven people have been airlifted to safety after heavy rain caused flooding in Scotland, with the rest of the UK braced for more storms as the new year begins. The group of people, which included four children, were rescued from a farmhouse near Closeburn in Thornhill, Dumfries and Galloway, by a Royal Navy helicopter after rain forced families to be evacuated from dozens of homes and caused major road disruption. Around 40 houses in Kirkconnel, Dumfries and Galloway, were evacuated, as were 25 in Dumfries after the river Nith burst its banks, flooding the Whitesands area. The heavy rain also caused problems on the roads, with the A76 at Kirkconnel closed and flooding on the A74 and A75. A landslide on the A7 just south of Langholm closed the road for a short while while many minor roads were only passable with care. Police advised motorists to travel only if necessary and to check routes before setting off. Some of the heaviest rain was in Threave, Kirkcudbrightshire, which saw 66mm (2.6in) of rain in the 20 hours up until 2pm, while Eskdalemuir in Dumfriesshire had 65mm. Forecasters say there is more misery to come, with the Met Office issuing a severe weather warning for rain on New Year’s Day, affecting southern England and western Scotland. The latest severe weather is set to push in from the Atlantic, crossing the UK from west to east, and it is feared there could be localised flooding in the south-west and south-east of England. Flood warnings have been issued by the Environment Agency as already sodden land, yet to recover from the Christmas storms, is expected to struggle to cope with further rainfall. Councils are preparing for the worst, with emergency accommodation lined up in case people are forced to leave their homes. Met Office spokesman Dan Williams said: “There is a big band of rain that will bring persistent rain to most parts of the UK through the day on Wednesday. It will be a pretty wet and windy day. “It won’t be on a par with the winds we’ve seen in some of the recent storms, but exposed areas of the western coast and some of the south coast will see speeds of 50 to 60mph. There could be a fair amount of rain in the south and south-west of England, with 10-20mm falling fairly widely, and up to 40mm in coast areas.” The Environment Agency said there was a continuing risk of flooding, particularly in the south-west of England, as rivers respond to heavy rainfall. A spokesman said: “On New Year’s Day, heavy rain is expected which could cause flooding to communities in the south-east and south-west of England. “The Environment Agency is urging communities to prepare in advance by signing up for free flood warnings and to take action if they receive one. A flood warning indicates that flooding is expected.” The agency said it has teams on the ground “around the clock” operating pumping stations, issuing flood warnings and checking that flood banks, walls and barriers are working effectively.
3
A lone silk shoe lies like Cinderella’s abandoned slipper in the inch-deep brown slick carpeting the floor at Fantasia Bridal on Queen Street.
The sign above the rack of muddied wedding dresses stillspeaks to the excited, expectant customers that were due for their fitting today: “Please remove your Jimmy Choo’s!” Behind it, Sue Read, the shop’s owner, sits on a chair too distraught to talk.
Yesterday, the talk at the shop was of royal weddings. Today, the only talking point is the worst flashflood to hit the Cornish town in living memory after 40mm of rain fell on the hills above the ancient stannary town in less than an hour just before dawn.
“None of our brides will be affected by this,” says Sue Read’s husband defiantly, leaning on a broom in the doorway. “This is our display stock. We store all the dresses that the brides will wear to their weddings elsewhere, but we’ve still probably lost stock worth at least £100,000. Even our other shop in the town was affected. We had a leaking roof up there. And we also had a shop in Abingdon that was hit by the floods there a while back. It’s unbelievable really.”
2.28pm: Here’s a robocall flood warning for the River Fowey from the Environment Agency. “Act now,” it says rather ominously. 2.20pm: 25 flood warnings remain in place for south west England, according to the Environment Agency. 2.13pm: Flood water had subsided in Mevagissey and the number of properties needing to be evacuated was not as high as the police previously thought. Earlier both the police and the fire service said 100 homes were being evacuated. The force has yet to update that number. “Flood warnings remain on the Upper River Tamar, River Fowey and River Kensey,” a Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said. According to BBC Radio Cornwall there are concerns that the river Fowey in Lostwithiel could burst its banks because of the high tide expected about now. The old bridge is also looking increasingly vulnerable, it reports. 1.58pm: Here’s more video of the damage in Lostwithiel – after about two minutes you can see the extent of debris on the roads. 1.48pm: Emergency medical supplies are being dispensed by NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly primary care trust. A spokeswoman emailed this: For people whose medicine has been damaged by flooding the primary care trust has arranged for emergency medicine to be dispensed without the need for a prescription. Please go to your local pharmacy and if necessary they can call your GP to authorise dispensing. In Mevagissey, where the pharmacy is unable to open, patients can go to the surgery where emergency medicines can be dispensed.
1.42pm: The leader of Cornwall council, Alec Robertson, says David Cameron has been in touch with him to express sympathy and offer assistance. 1.32pm: Devon and Cornwall Police have posted an update on the flooding.
These are the main points: • Rising river levels are causing fresh concern in Lostwithiel, Launceston Liskeard and Bude. • Mevagissy and Lostwithiel remain impassable. • One hundred homes in Mevagissy are being evacuated. Residents are being taken to a nearby rest centre at Polkyth Leisure Centre. • Several bridges are closed including old bridge in Lostwhithel and Fletchers Bridge near Cardinham • Seven primary schools closed: Fowey Junior and Infant school, Tywardreath, Mevagissey, Pondhu , Lanlivery,St Winnow C of E School, Lostwithiel and Doubletrees School. • The railway between Liskeard and Lostwithiel has been closed as a result of a landslide. The Newquay branch line is also closed because of flooding and rock falls.
1.22pm: Locals described the chaos as water rushed down from the steep surrounding hillsides completely swamping the community, writes Cornish based reporter James Orr on the scene in Mevagissey. Cars were left floating in the main square and most of the harbourside shops and businesses suffered flooding of up to five feet deep.
Katie Penny 24, manager of The Ship Inn, said: “I live above the pub and when I came down this morning it was just a scene of utter devastation.
“The bar was waste deep in muddy, brown water and chairs and stools were floating around the pub.
“I knew the rain had been heavy overnight but I never expected this. I only took over the pub a month ago and who knows who long it will take to get it back on its feet.”
Mevagissey’s narrow, cobbled streets were strewn with debris from people’s homes as locals began the clear up.
Sodden carpets, sacks of firewood and dozens of overturned refuse bins lay scattered in the streets.
And shop workers at the local Boots pharmacist looked on as prescription drugs, cosmetics and other items washed out of the store.
Kirsty Wakeham, who works at the shop, said: “We’ve had about three feet of water in here. It’s horrific.
“The aisles are awash with items from the store and everything’s soaking wet. We’ve got a maintenance crew coming down from head office but at the moment I’m just trying to stop people’s prescriptions from floating out of the door.”
12.56pm: David Cameron told the Commons that the government stands ready to help people in “any way we can”. Speaking at prime minister’s questions he said:
I know that everyone is working around the clock to get this sorted. We have said we stand ready to help in any way we can. We have to remember when the flood waters actually start to recede, that is when many of the biggest problems begin, over insurance and getting people back into their homes, and we’ve got to make sure we help people in every way we can.
12.47pm: The bridge at Lostwithiel is in danger of collapse, says YouTube user MatConnolley with this video to back up the claim: A good time to bring in the Institution of Civil Engineers. Its flooding expert David Balmfort emailed this: Extreme events like this also serve as a reminder of how vulnerable our critical infrastructure is… It is vital that even in these austere times we continue to invest in protecting and maintaining critical infrastructure to reduce the risk of system failure and ensure we are better protected against future crises. The situation in Cornwall is another reminder of how ill-prepared we are to deal with the increased risk of flooding in future. We need to urgently make our communities more flood resilient, adopting a preventative approach rather than the traditional and unsustainable ‘defend at all odds’ approach. In light of hefty cuts to Defra’s budget, this will require innovative thinking about alternatives that deliver long-term, low cost solutions. There is no time for complacency, climate change means flooding is set to become more frequent in the future and with one in six homes at risk, we must be prepared to cope with it. 12.43pm: These floods come almost exactly a year after record breaking rainfall in Cumbria, our environment editor John Vidal reports.
The 316.4mm (12.45 inches) of rain that fell at Seathwaite Farm, Borrowdale, on November 19 last year was by some way Britain’s heaviest recorded rainfall over 24 hours and statistically a once-in-1,800 year downpour, government scientists said today.
“It was very rare indeed, an extreme event of international significance”, said Jamie Hannaford, a scientist at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. “What fell in 24 hours in the lake district then was about half what you get in a whole year at somewhere like Gatwick, near London”.
New research into the frequency of such storms shows that the prolonged rain over northwest England and southern Scotland that week led to many rivers doubling their previous highest-ever peak flows. Records were set at 17 river monitoring stations.
12.39pm: The RNLI is sending volunteers and two inflatable rescue boats to Cornwall.
4 Typhoon Haiyan – Philippines Considered one of the strongest storms ever to make landfall, Typhoon Haiyan tore through the central Philippines November 8, killing nearly 6,000 people and displacing more than 3.6 million.
The 13-foot storm surge and up to 235-mph wind gusts largely wiped out coastal cities and destroyed much of the region’s infrastructure, such as roads, water and sanitation systems, and telecommunications lines.
“When you look at the mountains, they look bare and stripped of all vegetation,” Aaron Aspi, a World Vision communications officer, told ABC Radio on November 11 from northern Cebu.
Within one month of the storm, World Vision had reached almost 150,000 people with emergency food, shelter, medical attention, and other assistance. It is preparing long-term efforts to help people in as many as 80,000 households in the disaster-prone country get back on their feet.
5 Typhoon Phailin – India The strongest cyclone to hit India in 14 years, Typhoon Phailin affected the livelihoods of more than 13 million people in the country’s northeast.
Heavy rains and more than 150-mph winds brought widespread devastation. But fewer than 50 people died in the mid-October storm. Governments and aid organizations credited improved disaster preparedness and the early evacuation of about 1 million of the most vulnerable residents along the coast.
As Phailin approached, World Vision staff had provided megaphones, life jackets, flashlights, and ropes to community leaders, enabling them to warn residents and organize quickly. In the aftermath, the organization distributed emergency food and other supplies to families in Brahmapur, in Odisha state.
6 Hurricanes Manuel and Ingrid – Mexico Two separate storms overwhelmed western Mexico with rain in September, triggering widespread flooding and landslides. More than 200,000 people were affected in Guerrero state alone. In Acapulco, five feet of mud overtook vehicles and destroyed homes.
World Vision staff provided families in the Xochistlahuaca and Santa Catarina River communities in Guerrero with food, blankets, and tarps. In the long term, we will provide clean water, sanitation kits, and construction materials to help families rebuild their homes.
We will also operate Child-Friendly Spaces, where children have a safe place to learn, play, and receive counseling.
7 Earthquake – Central Visayas, Philippines Just three weeks before Typhoon Haiyan hit Central Visayas, a magnitude-7.2 earthquake rocked the same region, killing 222 people, displacing 350,000, and damaging or destroying about 73,000 buildings. Thousands of displaced or homeless quake survivors still had not found adequate shelter before Haiyan blew through.
World Vision provided affected families with food and basic household supplies in the days after the quake.
8 Tornadoes – United States A massive tornado, packing 200-mph winds, raked a 12-mile path through the Oklahoma City area May 20, destroying homes and severely damaging two elementary schools. The twister killed 24 people, ABC News reported.
The week before, as many as 10 tornadoes touched down in North Texas, killing six.
In response to the dual disasters, World Vision provided more than 15,000 affected people with emergency food kits, hygiene kits, cleanup kits, and blankets. Its mobile Teacher Resource Center supplied 156 teachers to serve 2,300 students at four schools in devastated Oklahoma neighborhoods.
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