Catherine Hooper's Blog
The Economics of Flooding
Friday, 09 May 2014 15:00

The economics of flooding are simple. The most desirable real estate locations are often next to large bodies of water. Climate change is causing rising ocean levels, stronger hurricanes and the potential for more flooding. If this risk isn’t mitigated, trillions of dollars are at risk.

VICE Motherboard discusses a new paper that evaluates the cost of mitigating NYC’s flood risk.  It compares the cost of mitigation via improved building codes and standards versus a system of flood barriers and levees (the first is cheaper).  The authors found that a hybrid strategy combining the two plans to be the best course of action.  The important takeaway is that there is absolutely an economic rationale for conducting widespread preemptive mitigation in at-risk cities like NYC.

Resilient Neighborhoods
Wednesday, 07 May 2014 22:08

G.L. Hodge is the administrator of Providence Baptist Church, located in one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in San Francisco.  As administrator, Mr. Hodge has spearheaded a culture of disaster preparedness at the church, which now sits as the epicenter for the entire neighborhood’s disaster preparedness planning.

Hodge’s idea isn’t novel.  After Hurricane Katrina, the neighborhoods that bounced back quickest were the ones that worked together before disaster struck.  Hodge notes, “We know that if we work together before a major catastrophe, we will be able to work together during a major catastrophe.”

The hyper-local approach to resilience and disaster preparedness is getting an official nod of approval, as the city’s newly crowned “earthquake czar” as designated Providence Baptist as an official neighborhood support center in the event of a disaster.

Urban Escape & Evasion
Friday, 25 April 2014 18:23

Inflight magazines don’t always feature the most compelling stories, but we were pleasantly surprised while browsing Hemispheres on a recent United Airlines flight. The magazine has a great account of OnPoint Tactical’s Urban Escape and Evasion class.

The class, taught by Kevin Reeve of OnPoint, teaches the art of escaping just about any scenario you can think up. It was originally conceived as a training program for special forces after an incident in which Israeli soldiers were left behind following a night raid. The current iteration of the class is accessible to civilians, as well as military and LEO.

Black Umbrella staff attended Urban E&E way back in 2010 and we can’t recommend it enough.  If you do any international travel or have a basic interest in preparedness, the class is absolutely worth taking.

Dahlia Lithwick’s Survivalist Seder
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 19:57

Dahlia Lithwick (of Slate, NYT and NPR fame) had an interesting Passover with her family this year.  Her husband, who is something of an amateur prepper, had the idea to ask all of their Seder guests to “pack a ‘bag’ of your necessities [as] if you had to pack up and leave your home as our ancestors did.”

Of course, there were some grumblings...mostly from the kids...but it seems like a great idea for teaching basic preparedness.  We loved the quote at the end of the article as well:

Freedom and terror are close cousins...we sit silently and uneasily next to them all year long.”

What's In That Cargo Train?
Friday, 18 April 2014 10:00

Freight and cargo trains carry a wide variety of bulk material. Some of that material is hazardous. Federal law protects the railroads from local or state oversight, but it also keeps these agencies in the dark when a derailment or crash occurs.

If a hazardous cargo derails, this can spell disaster for highly populated areas.  The federal government is working on a risk management system for the railroads, but still has not addressed the problem of better information sharing with local officials (especially in the area of emergency response).

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Catherine Hooper
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