Update info

Updated every Friday.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

March 28, 2013

2013 International Year for Water Cooperation 
Please see below a celebrating and insightful article aimed towards adaptation to climate variability and change for increasing resilience.

What happened this week?

Honduras. Heavy rains lash northern Honduras
Heavy rains in the past few days have damaged several areas in northern Honduras. According to reports from Lisandro Rosales, Director of the Permanent Commission of  Contingencies in Honduras (COPECO, abbreviation in Spanish), flooding occurred in places like La Ceiba which saw 45 millimeters of rain in less than 24 hours. And 23 people were evacuated due overflow of the Cangrejal river, then later place in the Fire Department of La Ceiba for shelter. In communities like El Pital and Yaruca are currently cut off due to a landslide that had happened late Tuesday night. Weather reports claim that on Friday and Saturday the conditions will stabilize and the Caribbean coast should remain on green alert until then.

USA. A landslide on Whidbey Island, Washington forces 34 homes to be evacuated
Just before 4:00 AM a massive landslide occurred on the coast of Whidbey Island, Washington. Only one home was swept away, amazingly no one was injured, and 34 homes, sitting at the edge of the hillside, were forced to evacuate. An area prone to landslides, this bluff had been under examination by geologists just one day before the disaster struck. The area that had slid into the water stretches from 400 to 500 yards and 600 to 700 yards in depth.

Mexico. Authorities manage to control 80% of the fires in San Luis Potosí
Fires that occurred this weekend in Ciudad Valles, San Luis Potosi, are controlled by 80%, confirmed Monday Luis Felipe Puente, head of Civil Protection in the Ministry of Interior. Luis explained, "What we caused the largest number of fires was that the winds were over 60 miles per hour and caused to be increased." At the moment, 350 people have been placed in shelter and one woman has been found dead due to the fires.

What's new in Disaster Risk Reduction?

USA. Disaster Medical Assistance Team draws from Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire
A highly specialized and trained Disaster Medical Assistance Team has formed from Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont to provide assistance in the wake of any natural or man-made disaster or national security event. New Hampshire-1, or NH-1, draws from personnel across New England and is prepared to rapidly deploy and provide on-scene medical care. The 56-member team has a broad array of expertise in emergency and wilderness medicine, toxicology, pharmacology, EMS, respiratory therapy, orthopedics, trauma and emergency nursing, and radiological protection.

Friday, March 22, 2013

March 22, 2013

What happened this week?

USA. President declares disaster in New Hampshire
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of New Hampshire to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by a severe winter storm and snowstorm during the period of February 8 - 10, 2013. The President's action makes federal funding available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of damaged facilities.
Read more

Ecuador. In Cuenca, the risk is on the river banks
This past weekend citizens were reminded of the dangers living on the river banks of Cuenca. The Risk Management Committee of the Cantonal Council urges updating the ordinance regulating construction in the city. In 2012 more than 600 were issued sanctions. For citizens like, Delina Vidal, who had built her home more than 50 years ago, says this, "Now we are concerned, not only for possible rising water of the river but also because they do not get work to help us reduce the risk." 
Read more

Bolivia. Extreme weather events since November 2012 to March 19 of this year have affected 28,973 families and eight rivers have entered an orange alert
The more frequently extreme weather events were heavy rainfalls causing flooding, rivers overflowing, and hail and strong winds that have affected 610 homes and taken the lives of 25  people. Since November 2012, 88 counties (municipios) have been affected by these extreme weather events, with the majority of them being in the province of La Paz. One of the most significant affected areas are the farmlands; a recorded area of 15,023 hectares have suffered from these events. And according to reports of the National Naval Hydrographic Service (SNHN), 12 of the 20 major river basins of the Amazon and Plata are on orange alert, prone to red, which is with the possibility of overflow or flood.
Read more

Interesting Facts

How well do you know your Hurricanes?
The picture above shows every hurricane ever recorded around the world!!
Read more (The Guardian)

Did you know that there once was a five day long Category-5 hurricane, or that another hurricane traveled about 13,280 km (7,165 miles) ? These and 48 more interesting facts are awaiting in the link below.
Read more (Our Amazing Planet)

What's new in Disaster Risk Reduction?

Colombia. Risk Management has no borders
In relation to the Colombia-Ecuador Bi-national Workshop on Disaster Risk Management; the director of the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management, Carlos Iván Márquez Pérez,  stated, "The country's capacity depends on the ability of joint institutions for emergency management." The benefits to the two countries in this international alliance, is the application of its procedures on the reduction, mitigation, response and recovery to natural and man-made events.
Read more 

Friday, March 15, 2013

March 15, 2013

What happened this week?

Bolivia. Emergency was declared in Cochabamba, with more than 6,000 families affected by floods
In the Tropics of Cochabamba, there have been floods that have caused much damage and has affected more than 6,000 families. One of the biggest concern reported by Governor Edmundo Novillo and Secretary of Defense of Mother Earth, Tatiana Sanabria, were the approximate 5105 hectares of crops (mostly bananas) that were lost in the disaster. Additionally, 108 families have been evacuated from the region. Weather reports state that the rain will not cease until the weekend.
Read more

USA. Drought 2012/2013 - Second Most Expensive Natural Disaster in History
The twin effects of surging costs and lost income for farmers could make the drought the second most expensive natural disaster in history, after Hurricane Katrina. Between 2012 and 2013, food prices are expected to rise up to 4 percent. Livestock farmers are probably the hardest hit, followed by ethanol and biodiesel fuel refiners.
Read more (Business Insider)
Read more (Illinois Department of Employment Security)

Interesting Facts

No, its not Photoshop. Its actual volcanic lighting!
We did not know about volcanic lightning until we saw the pictures by photographer Martin Rietze, who captured this eruption of the Sakurajima Valcano, Japan in February of 2013. According to Wikipedia, a study in the journal Science indicated that electrical charges are generated when rock fragments, ash, and ice particles in a volcanic plume collide and produce static charges, just as ice particles collide in regular thunderstorms (Wikipedia).
Read more (Fast Design)
Read more (Wikipedia)

What’s New in Disaster Risk Reduction?

Nicaragua. The Army of Nicaragua ran disasters drills at different sites in Managua
The military said, as part of the training to deal with earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, fires and other contingencies, it will run disasters drills at several sites in Managua. The exercises will include theoretical and practical exercises to address emergency situations for the general public and military facilities. With Managua crossing two fault lines and with the high density of population the Government is obligated to strengthen preventive measures for potential natural hazards.
Read more

Mexico. Drought, the worst natural disaster without prevention policies
Mexico is seeing 37% of its country suffering from very dry conditions. It is estimated that in February there was a 27% lower than the historical average rainfall for the month. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Michel Jarraud stated that, "Climate change will increase the frequency, intensity and duration of drought events. We can not continue to react on a case by case." And several institutions believe that countries should follow the example of Australia, the only country with a national policy to combat droughts, which in the opinion of the experts should focus on early warning, forecasting and risk management.
Read more

USA. Climate Change an imminent security threat
Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, the US top military office in charge of monitoring actions by North Korea and the escalating tensions between China and Japan, stated that the biggest long-term security threat in the Pacific is climate change. He stated that when whole countries such as the island of Tarawa in Kiribati, which is on the verge of dissapearing on account of rising sea levels, "consider moving their entire population to another country ... then security will start to crumble pretty quickly."
Read more

USA. Fixing Poverty and Climate Change. Related Challenges
The United Nations has set two huge energy-related goals for the coming century. The first is to bring electricity to the 1.3 billion people who still don’t have it. The second is to curtail fossil fuel use and keep global warming below 2°C. How do we go about it?
Read more

Jamaica. Buses advertise for climate change
Last month, the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change unveiled an advertising campaign which seeks to draw national attention to the critical issue of climate change, where buses have been emblazoned with slogans such as 'Climate Change: We have to Change' and messages urging persons to protect the environment.
Read more

Friday, March 8, 2013

March 8, 2013 - Special IWD Edition

Congratulations to all women in this International Women’s Day 2013! 

What happened this week?

USA. Saturn to Snowquester DC
Winter storm Saturn threatened but failed to blanket the USA Nation’s Capital in what was forecasted as behemoth of a storm. While the Federal Government shut down its operations on Wednesday in view of the storm’s arrival, the actual turnout of Saturn in DC was limited to heavy slush without accumulation, prompting the National Weather Service to lift its storm warning by the afternoon. In the surrounding states however the story was a lot different, with Virginia’s Governor declaring a state of emergency and calling in reinforcements from the National Guard.
Read more (CNN)
Read more (IBTimes)

USA. Cancelled flights, coastal tide surges and possible floods as the East Coast braces for Saturn’s exit out to sea
New York and Massachusetts are set to experience the last brunt of the winter storm Saturn, where water is impacting air travel as well as low lying coastal areas. Local airports have already cancelled hundreds of flights and storm surges have risen above sea walls already.
Read more

St Lucia. Severe drought in St Lucia prompts authorities to ask residents to conserve the precious fluid
A still uncertain dry period looms about the island of St Lucia where residents at high elevations and others far removed from the distribution networks will probably begin experiencing outages. the authorities are urging the communities to contribute by stopping the wasteful use of water and reporting leaks as soon as possible.
Read more

Ecuador. At Tungurahua Volcano there have been 150 earthquakes in the past 24 hours
The Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic School reported there have been 150 earthquakes in the last 24 hours while monitoring the Tungurahua Volcano. Also, according to the reports, there have been five small explosions and seventy small episode of tremor emissions.
Read more

Bolivia. Civil Defense provides aid to those affected by a flood
A total of 2,735 families were affected by a flood in Tarija, Chuquisaca and Potosí. The Civil Defense of Bolivia delievered flour, rice, sugar, oil and tools, equivalent to 1,930 quintals, in order to provide those victims with basic needs.

Read more 

Interesting Facts

Do you remember that "one" earthquake?
Over 1.3 millions eartquakes of magnitude 2.0 or above on the Richter scale are thought to be registered in average each year, with only 1 (on average) reaching a magnitude of 8.0 or higher. See the chart below and read about the statistics in the link provided.

Read more

What’s new in disaster risk reduction?

Switzerland. Celebrating International Women’s Day
The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, UNISDR, today marked International Women's Day with an announcement that women will play a central role in developing the next global framework on disaster risk reduction.
Read more

USA. Google Public Alerts now beginning their service in Japan
Real time earthquake and tsunami alerts will be provided for the first time outside the US borders by Google while partnering with 14 Japanese prefectures and cities. These alerts will be available in desktop and mobile products such as Google Maps and Google Now.
Read more

Mexico. The Government of the Republic has declared a policy on disaster prevention a priority 

The Government of the Republic is working in unity with efforts from the authorities of three levels of government and educational institutions to undertake a real awareness on disaster prevention, to avoid human tragedies. The head of the Interior, Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, said that the policy of prevention against possible natural disasters and man-made, is a priority of President Enrique Peña Nieto. He also stated, “"if the President is putting so much attention on the subject, we have a responsibility to do the same and to participate actively."
Read more

Friday, March 1, 2013

March 1, 2013

What happened this week?

Chile. Three years have passed since Chile's catastrophic earthquake.
After three years since the 2010 earthquake in Chile, an 8.8-magnitude quake and the sixth largest seismological event in recorded history, the government of Chile reports that 93% of all housing re-construction is now complete or underway. This date is commemorated with President Sebastián Piñera unveiling of a new housing complex in Constitucion.
Read more

Perú. Piñas was left without electricity, water, while a hospital was evacuated and houses collapsed from intense rains.
Three hours of heavy rains caused a flood and subsequent disasters in Piñas. Water, mud and stones lined the streets and indoor spaces on Tuesday night. Residents claimed never to have experienced anything like it, in a community of 16,000 people that experienced 20 mudslides. 90% of the population in the area were left without drinking water due to the damages experienced by the collection and distribution system.
Read more 

Interesting Facts

What would you map?
The OAS attended the 2013 ESRI Federal GIS Conference in Washington DC and here we pose the aforementioned question to you. GIS  or Geographic Information Systems is the integration of hardware and software to produce and utilize data to better understand the world around us. Everything in our world can represent data and everything can be mapped, the question is how will you do it?
Read more

What is New in Disaster Risk Reduction?

Colombia. Building resilience to climate change in the transport infrastructure of Colombia
According to a report from 2011 of the World Economic Forum, Colombia has a significant lag in the transport infrastructure in all its forms. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in terms of quality of roads the country ranks 126 among 144 nations. To address this dilemma, the Ministry of Transportation and its agencies are pioneering a project aimed at increasing the country's resilience to climate change, by incorporating policies regarding adaptation to climate change into the transportation infrastructure sector in Colombia.
Read more

U.S.A. Utilities Should Focus on Climate Change Risk Mitigation
At the 2013 Climate Leadership Conference in DC, Rod West, Executive Vice President at Entergy Corporation urged to stop focusing on converting people to climate change believers and start focusing on the cost of doing nothing. Mr West addressed the attendees by stating that “... as a business people you need to pay attention to the risk. How do you go about assessing the cost of doing nothing?”
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Caribbean. Data managers/developers to use spatial data for disaster risk management
More than 40 Caribbean data managers, IT specialists and software developers concluded this weekend at the St. Augustine campus of the University of West Indies a one week long gathering where they learned how to manage, share, and increase the use of spatial data to reduce disaster risk in the Caribbean. 
Read more

Centro America, Mexico and Panama training together to face the threat of Tsunamis in the Pacific.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) provided a workshop for specialists in the areas of seismology, tsunamis, emergency response as they relate to early warning systems, for countries with pacific coast lines. The workshop included topics of seismic and oceanic monitoring, as well as emergency response and evacuation signals, routes and shelters.
Read more