Thursday, March 16, 2006

Even More 296C

Class # 9: More Transportation as the Victim

The presentations given tonight were:
1.) The London Train Bombings of last summer (July 2005), and, 2.) Two hours devoted to Katrina and some of Rita – you know those gals… of course you do! Stars of the big screen – creating the phenomenon known as disaster fatigue, making us forget about the Tsunami, making us not care about the Earthquakes in Pakistan.

My god, what a year!

To tell you the truth, the emergency management class is causing considerable disaster fatigue for me too. Especially now, with these recent, high profile events and their high casualties; and that they could happen now because they’ve happened within the last year. There is a certain denial.

Next week’s class – and the final class: Transportation as the Cause.
This is when I give my little talk. My presentation deals with a car/train collision – and some are now saying the Train was the cause too. But it is relatively minor compared to the events that we have covered in the last few sessions. More on that next time though - as I work the presentation thing myself next week. I tried to go tonight actually, but glad I didn’t. I’ll do much better as learned the answer to the Zen question, what is the sound of one hand clapping? – a slap in the face!

The London Train Bombings of July 7th and July 21st were interesting topic for us. Again the certain denial caused me to radically day dream (or night school dream if you will), but I was also surfing the web about the event. Needless to say, my account may suck, but I’ll try to describe the things I thought were interesting about it and the other events that we discussed.

On July 7th 2005 four suicide bombers attacked three subways and one bus. 56 people died including the bombers and 700 or so were injured. The subway explosions happened in the London Underground (the “tube”) and apparently this confined space increased the effect of the explosions. It also made it harder to get to in response. It got very hot down there because of the resulting fires. Some chaos ensued, but I guess the Brits are rather orderly about these sorts of things and so it was minimal. Some discussion was made of their attitudes being forged by the Nazi bombings during WWII, and the IRA bombings of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

Funny thing was that many people distributed real-time information via their cell phones. Yes, camera-phone pictures of the event as it were happening. (Meta-society. Jet Blue?) Blogs were used and more reliable than other media sources it turns out. This is how people communicated that they were alright to their families. You’d think they were Greg or something… ITS was used too, as far as road signs telling people to not used the subways or avoid parts of town, but the public/commercial information sources out-performed the government’s systems of communication. We learned this would have a bad effect on a closed site criminal investigation.

Later that day a fourth suicide bomb went off. One of our readings was of the descriptions of this dude’s last minutes/hours. “He tried to call the three others – repeatedly. He ate at McDonalds. He went to a drug store. And then boarded a double-decker bus and blew the top of it off – ‘like a sardine can’.”

The investigation was eventually successful, and the suspects and other accomplices were described via cameras installed at the subway terminals capturing them on their test run. But it was flawed. The bombers motives are funky. Al-Qaeda cells are transient. Scotland Yard was used to IRA bomb threats that were rather friendly by comparison:
“Hello, yes we’d like to blow your train up, but, want to make sure no one is on it. It will happen here and at this time. Ok, thanks.”

Instead, these guys are 18 year olds, who spent less than 5,000 bucks for the whole thing. However, their tracks are weird. They paid up parking for the whole day; they bought long-term/round-trip tickets…

Unfortunately, the investigation and frenzied state following yet another attack on July 21st (by another entirely different population (though not as effective)), caused considerable panic. Again the Brits didn’t waver at riding the subway after July 7th, but the bombing on the 21st caused rider-ship to drop comparatively.

On July 22nd a perceived suspect was shot on site after failing to heed police commands. Read about it. Turns out he had nothing to do with any of it. But suicide bombing suspects are sniped because they are assumed to have switches to detonate upon death or pursuit. Not shot in the torso as it used to be, but in the head as the chest is the assumed place for explosive devices.

I don’t know – read more about it at the hyper-links.

The rest of the class focused on Katrina mostly. Everything you’d want to know and then some. The whole thing that Kanye West said about Bush. He said what he said and didn’t care what the implications would be – he spoke. Poor Mike Myers though. Such a Cheeky Monkey. If you could see the look on his face! At least he laughed about it later.

Again, you know mostly what happened. The storm that everyone feared finally came. I’ll discuss, as I usually try to, what I thought was interesting, but it is so much that did happen.
First of all, the guy who gave the presentation was in New Orleans at the time. His daughter was a freshman at Tulane, so he was actually there helping her move in. He also lived there for some time and worked on the city’s public transit system.

Unlike many of the other parts of the gulf, particularly Biloxi where the hurricane and storm surge caused damage, it was the flooding and breaking of the levees in New Orleans that caused the damage there. I’ll talk about Mississippi, later, but want to describe what happened with the levee system. Two, or three, ways the levees broke was the spill over the top of the levees and the falling water scouring out the base on the dry side until they eventually collapsed; and the depth of the levees concrete walls being weakened by moisture and then toppled by wing and waves – they weren’t deep enough. The third way a levee broke was a barge slamming into and breaking a levee wall.

We all know about the chaos ensuing there too. You saw it all on the news – people at their best and Geraldo Rivera reporting on it. People fired guns at FEMA cars… “You loot, we shoot!” was spray painted on plywood boards…

You also know about brownie, chertoff and bush; about ray nagin and kathleen blanco.

Are you prepared for what may happen here with a gnarly earthquake? Some have said that we’re not physically ready, but more importantly, not emotionally ready.

The whole thing fell apart. The city is screwed as 1 and ½ million people have left the area and many are never coming back. The region’s tax revenue will suffer – especially once the recovery crews leave (they are propping up the local economy). New Orleans gets 40% of its tax base from tourism. This last years Mardi Gras was two-thirds or ½ what it normally was.

In Mississippi, the already devastated economy had turned to legalized gambling boats – which of course got destroyed. The region now suffers from drug-use and a massive meth epidemic is brewing. Apparently the same thing that sprung up in Japan after our Atomic bomb attacks.

The local oil economy was disrupted too. There are plants there that turn oil (hydrocarbon) products into plastics – like the water bottles, coke and milk bottles. The milk industry has reverted to cartons and the idea of using less safe plastics is being agreed upon. To enlighten how integrated oil is in our society, read on Katrina and Rita’s effect on the Oil Industry.

I don’t know what else to say. Except turn you on to the links: (especially the google images search)

Katrina
Katrina Pictures

1 Comments:

At 10:49 PM, Blogger William said...

Latest News:

No affiliation with Al Qaeda.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7_July_2005_London_bombings#Official_report

 

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