Riley’s Resilience Blog: It Takes a Village – July 29, 2016

Hi everyone, and welcome back to Riley’s Resilience Blog! Today, I want to share a story I first read my junior year of college. I was in my first Emergency Management course, Mitigation and Recovery, with my favorite professor, Dr. Caroline Hackerott. One of the first assignments in this course was to listen to This American Life: Lower 9 +10. In this episode of the radio show, the show’s hosts talk to residents in New Orleans, particularly the Lower Ninth Ward, about their experience with Hurricane Katrina and the state of the Lower Ninth Ward ten years after the disaster. In total, the radio show captured the stories of six residents. My favorite story is the story of Jean Gibson.

New Orleans, Louisiana 2005. Graphics retrieved from NOAA Photo Library, National Weather Service Collection, Lieut. Commander Mike Moran, NOAA Corps, NMAO/AOC.

New Orleans, Louisiana 2005. Graphics retrieved from NOAA Photo Library, National Weather Service Collection, Lieut. Commander Mike Moran, NOAA Corps, NMAO/AOC.

Zoe Chance, one of the show’s producers, wandered down to Mercedes Bar, one of the only remaining bars in the Lower Ninth Ward. There she met Jean Gibson, a sixty-year-old woman and survivor of Hurricane Katrina. Gibson told the story of her family’s struggle both during and after the hurricane. She spoke about evacuating to Houston, Texas and being kicked out of the hotel her family was staying in because her credit card hit the limit. Gibson rushed to the nearest ATM, only to discover her bank in New Orleans fell victim to the hurricane. She spoke about begging for food, money, diapers, and anything else her two grandchildren needed. After Gibson, her husband, and two grandchildren had traveled around Texas for a little over a month, she received the call she had been waiting for. Gibson was told to come back to her job in New Orleans. She was under the impression that everything would be exactly how it was when she left, with the exception of a few buildings needing a fresh coat of paint. However, New Orleans no longer looked like New Orleans. Gibson described the scene as a warzone, with soldiers in the streets and hotels with the windows blown out. As she made her way to the Lower Ninth Ward, she was in amazement of all the destruction caused by the hurricane. Upon returning to her home, Gibson did not see the things she was used to seeing. She did not see her neighbors, her favorite bar, or the dog that had always barked as she drove by. Without these things, she didn’t know who she was. When she pulled into what used to be her driveway, Jean Gibson understood that her life would never be as it was before Hurricane Katrina.

I didn’t make you read all of that for nothing; there was a point to me recounting that story for you. Without your community and neighbors, it becomes very difficult to return to normalcy. Your community is a very essential part of the recovery process. These people and these daily interactions are a part of your identity.

This story does have a happy ending. Remember Mercedes Bar, one of the few remaining bars in the Lower Ninth Ward? That is where Jean Gibson regained her sense of normalcy. As residents of the Lower Ninth Ward made their way back to New Orleans, many would gather at Mercedes Bar. They talked about their struggles, their suffering, the challenges ahead, and together, they rebuilt their lives. Since Hurricane Katrina, Gibson’s home has been rebuilt and she is still working for the city, the place she had worked before the disaster. The husband she made it through the hurricane with passed away in 2007. But, she has remarried, and out of all people, to the son of the owner of Mercedes Bar.

To hear this story and the stories of other residents of the Lower Ninth Ward, click here.

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Weekly Weather Update – July 25

Welcome to Cara’s Weather Corner – your weekly weather forecast by OU meteorology student and Tulsa Partners intern Cara Vanarsdel!

All throughout this week there will be a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms.

Graphic retrieved from the National Weather Service Tulsa

Graphic retrieved from the National Weather Service Tulsa

Hopefully, those clouds can keep it from getting up into the 100s again! We broke 100 degrees for the first time this summer last Friday. Tulsa World posted an interesting article on these 100+ degree days, and how these three digit temperatures can be concerning. View that article here. Fortunately, temperatures for the week will stay in the low to mid 90s. However, with the constant humidity, it might as well be 110…

Have you ever wondered the difference between the actual temperature and the heat index values? The heat index is how hot it actually feels when taking relative humidity into account. Have you ever noticed how different the temperatures can feel depending on if it is humid outside or not? When it’s hot and muggy, it’s so much worse! Moist air makes it more difficult for sweat to evaporate, and this keeps your body from cooling down at a quick rate. Even though the heat index values help us realize what it’s really going to feel like outside, they only take into account three variables: moisture content, temperature values, and an estimated wind of 5.8 mph. And… the value is measured in the shade! How accurate is that?

There is actually a much better way of measuring “what it feels like” and it’s called the “Wet Bulb Globe Temperature” (WBGT). This measures heat in direct sunlight, and takes into account temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle, and amount of cloud cover. This already seems to be much more accurate. Obviously the temperature is going to feel a lot hotter if there isn’t any wind compared to having wind gusts up to 15mph! So next time you are planning to spend all day outside working in the yard or watching a baseball game, look up the WBGT!

graphic retrieved from the National Weather Service

graphic retrieved from the National Weather Service

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FORTIFIED Training Coming in August

ibhs-fortified-key-greenREGISTRATION DEADLINE APPROACHING: If you want to increase your knowledge on FORTIFIED Home and IBHS, then consider taking the FORTIFIED-Wise training course or the FORTIFIED Evaluator training course. The FORTIFIED Evaluator course dates have changed and will be held September 8-9 while the FORTIFIED-Wise training are still being held on August 11, both in Tulsa. We added realtors and insurance agents and both are eligible to receive continuing education credits. For more information about registration, click on the links for the flyers below or contact Karen Yetter at Architectural Testing: 717-764-7700 (ext. 3735) or at kyetter@archtest.com.

FORTIFIED Evaluator Training Oklahoma Sept 2016
FORTIFIED Wise Flyer Oklahoma Aug

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Weekly Weather Update – July 18

Welcome to Cara’s Weather Corner – your weekly weather forecast by OU meteorology student and Tulsa Partners intern Cara Vanarsdel!

image1 Around this time of year, we don’t really see as many clouds as usual, and the sky is mostly clear for the greater part of the season. That means even hotter temperatures than before and a very high heat index. This week, the temperatures will stay steady around the 100 degree mark. Humidity also wants a part in this, and the mixture of high heat and humidity over eastern Oklahoma will create dangerous heat index values. It’s not a big surprise that there is already a heat advisory in effect now throughout the afternoon. Most of this week and into the weekend will require heat advisories as well. Because of these scary temperatures, it might be a good idea to look over some safety tips that I went over in one of my previous blogs! You can find those tips here.

Fun Fact: July, 1936 was one of the hottest months on record in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Temperatures reached as high as 113 degrees in Tulsa on the 18th and 19th, with temperatures reaching all-time station records of 118 in Tahlequah, 117 in Vinita and 116 in Pawhuska.

(Fun fact and graphic retrieved from the National Weather Service.)

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Riley’s Resilience Blog – July 15, 2016

Hi everyone, and welcome back to Riley’s Resilience Blog! Disasters can strike without any warning. Therefore, it is incredibly important to prepare ahead of time. Not surprisingly, an overwhelming majority of the adult population has not practiced what to do in a disaster. There are several ways to prepare your family for a disaster. Today, I am going to talk about one of those ways, building an emergency supply kit. In the event of a disaster, you and your family may find it necessary to evacuate your home immediately. In a rush, it would be difficult to gather essentials. To avoid the chaos, assemble an emergency supply kit well in advance of a disaster.

An Emergency Supply Kit

An Emergency Supply Kit

At a minimum, your emergency supply kit should include: a three-day supply of water, a three-day supply of nonperishable food, a battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both, a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, a whistle to signal for help, a dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place, moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation, a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, a manual can opener for food, local maps, and a cell phone with a charger, inverter or solar charger.

The idea of gathering various supplies and sorting them into a bag may sound tedious and time consuming, but there are ways to make the process fun. For parents, recruit your children to help collect supplies for your family’s disaster kit. Doing so will help them to feel included and, more importantly, learn about disaster safety and preparedness. If you are aware a big storm is approaching, remember to fill your car with gas, fill plastic bags with water and place them in the freezer, get extra cash out of the bank, and fill prescriptions.

To learn more about items to include in your disaster supply kit, click Get A Kit

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July Newsletter

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Weekly Weather Update – July 5

Welcome to Cara’s Weather Corner – your weekly weather forecast by OU meteorology student and Tulsa Partners intern Cara Vanarsdel!

I hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th of July weekend!

The heat is extreme today guys… so extreme that there is an excessive heat warning in effect until 8pm tonight. So be careful and stay hydrated! The rest of this week’s weather looks pretty much the same: hot with highs in the mid-80s, partly cloudy, and a slight chance of showers here and there. The heat index is still predicted to be around 110 degrees, with or without rain. So bust out the sun-screen and those big floppy hats!

graphic retrieved from the National Weather Service Tulsa

graphic retrieved from the National Weather Service Tulsa

Last night portions of Tulsa were greeted by a power outage! Power outages are never fun, especially when you have absolutely no idea when the lights will come back on. Luckily, the Public Service Company of Oklahoma has put together a fun info piece that allows us to better “solve the estimated time of restoration (ETR) puzzle”, so let’s take a look at some of the factors that play a part in the ETR!
Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 2.38.26 PM

Sometimes it is easy to get impatient and frustrated when you have to wait long periods of time before your house gains back power. But it’s also easy to forget how much has to be thought out and carefully planned before the restoration can take place. It’s not a quick fix! To learn more about ETR’s, you can view the full info piece here: PSO Estimated Time of Restoration info piece

Do you have any crazy or funny power outage stories? If you do, feel free to send your story to tpiintern1@gmail.com, I would love to hear them!

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Riley’s Resilience Blog – July 1, 2016

Hi everyone, and welcome back to Riley’s Resilience Blog! This week, instead of talking about business continuity, I would like to talk about a couple useful tools to help you stay informed about disasters and disaster safety.

Let’s talk about the FEMA text message program. Do you want to receive regular safety tips for specific disaster types? Yes, of course you do! To receive general monthly safety tips, text PREPARE to 43362 (4FEMA). Do you want to search for open shelters and open disaster recovery centers? Again, of course you do! To search for open shelters, text SHELTER and a Zip Code to 43362. But, always check with your local emergency management agency for availability and services before you go to a shelter. Also, to search for open Disaster Recovery Centers, text DRC and a Zip Code to 43362. The FEMA text message program is a great resource to stay connected and up-to-date on anything related to disasters. As a reminder, the FEMA text message program is not a replacement for 9-1-1. If there is an emergency, call your local fire/EMS/police or 9-1-1. To learn more information about the FEMA text message program, click here.

Graphics retrieved fromhttp://www.fema.gov/mobile-app

Graphics retrieved from the Federal Emergency Management Agency

Pull out your phone now, because you’re going to want to download this incredible mobile app. The FEMA app contains a wide variety of tools and tips to keep you safe before, during, and after a disaster.First, you can receive severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations across the United States. Disaster Reporter, another feature in the app, allows users to upload and share images of damage and recovery efforts. These photos are essential for helping first responders. The FEMA app allows users to locate and receive driving directions to open shelters and disaster recovery centers. Also, app users can easily apply for federal disaster assistance through. Lastly, users can save a custom list of the items in their family’s emergency kit, as well as the places to meet in the event of an emergency. While the FEMA app is available in the app store, you can use the FEMA text message program to receive a link for the FEMA app for your specific mobile device. For Apple devices: text APPLE to 43362, for Android devices: text ANDROID to 43362, and for Blackberry devices: text BLACKBERRY to 43362. For more information on the FEMA mobile app, click here.

Before starting your travels for the holiday weekend, subscribe to the FEMA text message program and download the FEMA mobile app to stay up-to-date on disaster information in your area.

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July Key Message

Tulsa Partners is working with the City of Tulsa Program for Public Information to send out monthly key messages to enhance how the PPI operates and to educate the public on disaster resilience. Please share this message through your social media outlets, and let us know at tulsapartners@gmail.com if you do. We have also provided different lengths of this months key message that will work better for certain social media outlets. You can view that pdf here: July Key Message 3 blurbs

What are your options if you live in a repetitive loss or flood‐prone area?

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Once considered the most flood-prone city in America, Tulsa has worked hard to reduce or eliminate flooding of its homes and neighborhoods. The City joined the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 1974 and through decades of effort is now recognized as a national leader in flood hazard mitigation. As a result, property owners in Tulsa receive as much as 40% discount on their flood insurance.

A key component of the NFIP has been its focus on Repetitive Loss Properties, which make up only 1 percent of insured properties, but account for over 30 percent of flood insurance claims payments. A Repetitive Loss Property is defined by FEMA as any property that has been paid two or more flood insurance claims of $1,000 or more in a 10-year time period.

The NFIP recently expanded its flood hazard mitigation program to include the identification of “Repetitive Loss Areas” (RLA)—those properties near an existing Repetitive Loss Property that are subject to the same general flooding conditions. In most instances, 95% of the properties in an RLA will never have experienced flooding—especially if the cause of damage is shallow, overland flow due to local drainage conditions. This does not mean the property has flooded or is even likely to flood—only that it is in the same area, and in a similar geographical situation, as an existing Repetitive Loss Property.
The first step is identifying whether you live in a repetitive loss or flood-prone area. The City is required to contact the owners and residents of an RLA annually and, working together, develop a plan to reduce or eliminate flooding in their neighborhood. The city also has information about other flood-prone areas of the city.

If you do live in a flood-prone area or RLA, City of Tulsa staff are available to provide one-on-one technical assistance, including site visits, to homeowners on structural / non-structural flood protection and mitigation measures, including flood insurance. They can also to discuss available financial assistance. Some possible individual property options may include the following:
• Landscaping such as French drains, berms or bioswales, so long as it doesn’t divert the water to another property;
• Clearing of nearby creeks and storm drains (Storm Drains are for Rain!);
• Correcting sewer backup problems;
• Buying flood insurance; and
• In some cases, property acquisition by the City of Tulsa.

If you want to find out about whether you live in an RLA or a flood prone area, or receive technical assistance, please contact the City of Tulsa by calling the Customer Care Center at (918) 596-2100.

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