Wednesday, October 5, 2011

'Focus on community' after natural disasters - Maintaining strong social ties in the aftermath of natural disasters is just as important as rebuilding infrastructure to help people overcome traumatic events, a leading US psychologist says. Governments need to develop long-term plans to maintain a sense of community in the months after a natural disaster hits to stop them becoming "social catastrophes".
Such plans are just as important as supplying food, housing, rebuilding roads, firewalls, bridges and churches in the immediate aftermath of a disaster like the Black Saturday bushfires which devastated Victoria, Australia in 2009. "When we talk to (disaster) victims in the first week or so they say 'Oh, that brought us together. People have this idea of this altruistic community and togetherness but this doesn't last. This initial generosity and togetherness will be slowly overtaken by gradual disillusionment and the harsh reality of grief, loss and destruction which will lead to an erosion of connectedness (in the community). If we don't foresee this or ignore these signs we will let a lot of these things become social disasters."
Only about one third of disaster victims experience lasting psychological problems such as anxiety, depression or post traumatic stress disorder. For those living in close-knit communities, their chances of suffering such problems were lower because they already felt connected and supported before tragedy struck. Top tips for governments to focus on in the weeks and months after the disaster include relocating people who have lost their homes to the same area rather than a mix of shelters, hotels and tents. Encouraging people to resume routine activities - like shopping, bowling and going to church - which were just as important. "This will allow people to have the sense of normalcy. It will keep people informed about what others may need and the idea of community. The process of successful coping with unforeseen disasters like a bushfire begins before they happen."
One of the greatest examples of a natural disaster becoming a social disaster was Hurricane Katrina, which struck the US south-east in 2005 and killed 836 people. "The community fell apart. We left the poor to themselves, others we relocated and we never rebuilt the neighbourhoods (quickly). Some are still not finished. It's not a natural disaster any more, it's social."

**It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.**
Walt Disney

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
10/4/11 -
CANARY ISLANDS - 11 total, largest 3.6

Earthquake Swarm Continues On El Hierro, Canary Islands - The number of earthquakes recorded since July 17 on El Hierro in the Canary Islands exceeded 9250 on Tuesday morning. 1172 earthquakes were recorded last week, the majority of which were located in the sea to the southwest.


Tourists, fishermen told to stay clear of Indonesia's 'Child of Krakatoa' - Authorities are warning tourists and fishermen to stay more than a mile (two kilometers) from a smoking Indonesian volcano known as “Child of Krakatoa.” The volcano in the Sunda Strait, 80 miles (130 kilometers) west of the capital, Jakarta, was created by the same tectonic forces that led to the 1883 Krakatoa eruption that killed tens of thousands of people. Its “child,” growing five yards (meters) a year, is now 1,320 feet (400 meters) tall and popular among hikers. The mountain’s alert level was raised to the second-highest level last week after the number of volcanic tremors soared from 200 a day to 7,200. A powerful burst could shoot incandescent rocks down its slopes and far into the ocean.

Volcano ash still clouds life for some in Argentina - In Villa La Angostura, in Patagonia in southern Argentina, on an almost daily basis, volcanic ash has been falling on the town since the Puyehue volcano in neighbouring Chile erupted in June.

Busy September for Costa Rican volcanoes - We tend to talk about three volcanoes in Costa Rica: the ever-active Arenal, the renewed Turrialba and Poás. Now we can add another volcano to the watch list, that being Rincón de la Vieja. Like the other Costa Rican volcanoes, it is a composite volcano with overlapping craters at its summit. It is a hulk of a volcano with a total volume of over 130 km3 – the Global Volcanism Program summary refers to it as the “Colossus of Guanacaste”. The volcano has seen somewhat-persistent fumarolic activity since its last eruptive period in 1995-98 with tremors reported in 2008. However, last month Rincón de la Vieja produced phreatic eruptions through the small lake at the summit crater. During the middle of September, small explosions, ash falls and fish kills were reported at the summit area of Rincón de la Vieja and a visit to the area by scientists revealed 10-15 cm layers of ash – mostly accidental sediment spit back out of the crater lake in the surrounding area. This new activity has prompted the government to limit access to Rincón de la Vieja and set up a new seismometer north of the volcano.
Meanwhile, at Poás, the crater lake at the summit of that volcano has dried up due to the elevated temperatures at the summit fumaroles. When the wind is low, steam plumes from the vigorous fumaroles can be seen in the nearby valleys. There was also an incandescent dome spotted in the last month at the volcano. Turrialba has also seen increase in activity as well. It has been producing light ash falls near the volcano, but the constant release of volcanic gases such as sulfur dioxide have produced corrosion up to a few kilometers from the vent. Surprisingly, the poster child for Costa Rican volcanoes, Arenal, has been very quite of late. (photos)

In the Atlantic -
-Tropical storm Philippe was located about 595 mi (960 km) ESE of Bermuda. Philippe could become a hurricane by tonight or Thursday.

In the Pacific -
-Tropical Storm 22w (Nalgae) was located 180 nm southeast of Hanoi, Vietnam.


ARIZONA - A dust storm has caused three major pileups on Interstate 10, killing one man. Monday afternoon there were a total of 25 vehicles involved in I-10 crashes. The first crash happened just after noon near Picacho, about midway between Phoenix and Tucson. Those collisions involved 16 vehicles, including tractor trailers. There was one confirmed death - a man in his 70s - and two people with life threatening injuries from those collisions. The victim was a passenger in vehicle driven by his wife, who was critically injured. Heavy dust prevented emergency crews from using helicopters to get people injured to the hospital.
The second accident happened at 1:44 p.m. It was an eight-vehicle chain reaction crash that occurred in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 10. There were multiple injuries, but non life-threatening. At 3:49 p.m. in the westbound lanes of I-10 at milepost 175 near Chandler a collision occurred involving two semi tractor trailer rigs and a small passenger car. Two people in the passenger vehicle were seriously injured. The lingering dust storm in the area also played a factor in this crash. It was called a "major storm" and officers responding to the crashes reported zero visibility. "The weather system that brought this dust storm literally parked itself over I-10 for hours."


Federal health officials have raised the death toll to 18 in the outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday it has confirmed 100 illnesses in 20 states, including the 18 deaths.