The Answer Matters: How Connected Are You in Times of Disaster?

It’s hard to believe it’s been one year since the magnitude 9.0 Tōhoku earthquake that struck Japan. The earthquake, followed by the tsunami followed by the radiological disaster depict one of the greatest combinations of disasters that we have seen in quite some time.

While we saw news reports of damage, death and destruction, many people did not see the stories of the Japanese people coming together as communities to respond as a people – surviving even without power in the cold.  Disasters over time stress on people, but the power of knowing that you’re not alone is something that can help people overcome almost anything.

We can usually get our minds around one disaster – a tornado, a flood, a hurricane, an earthquake, etc. However when the events cascade and multiple events occur at the same time we end up realizing that it is quite difficult to juggle and respond to several simultaneous events. Continue reading

Operational Context – Earthquakes

When it comes to earthquakes and being aware / ready for major earthquakes, you might think of the San Andreas Fault, or places like Japan, Chile, China, Mexico or Indonesia.

However in the past year, there have been two extremely significant earthquakes in the United States that were “outliers” from previous events.  Both of these were felt over large areas and measured above 5.5 on the Richter Scale.

However, I just recently discovered an incredible post by the US Geological Service (USGS) on the Oklahoma Earthquake.  In this post at, the following image paints a very clear picture: Continue reading

USGS Twitter Earthquake Dispatch

During the past several years, twitter has seen an incredible spike in usage, broadcasting a number of events that cross cultural, economic, racial, & political lines.  One of thee events where Twitter sees incredible spikes in traffic is during major earthquakes.  Noting this trend, the United States Geological Service (USGS) has created an account @USGSted (USGS Twitter Earthquake Dispatch).  Per the USGS website, USGSted:

“distributes alerts for earthquakes worldwide with magnitudes of 5.5 and above. We may modify this criteria in the future to tweet alerts for more earthquakes of potential interest. @USGSted earthquake tweets contain the magnitude, location, origin time, and a link to the USGS webpage with the most recent information about the event. In addition to the seismically derived parameters, the alerts also include the frequency of tweets in a region surrounding the event that contain the word “earthquake” or its equivalent in several languages. Our observations show these tweets often originate from people who have experienced the shaking effects of the earthquake. After some significant earthquakes, @USGSted will also tweet supplementary information about the event.” Continue reading

Is This Earthquake Our Next Billion Dollar Disaster??

On August 23, 2011, residents all up and down the eastern seaboard were rattled by the 5.8 earthquake.  Looking at the tweets from around the country you could see the incredible volume on the east coast, and a good number of mocking comments from the west coast talking about “how you don’t know what real earthquakes are like”.

But there’s one thing that both the Bay Area and the Megalopolis of the Northeast have in common.  In the past 25 years, both have been affected by relatively distant earthquakes and people believe they’re prepared for a big event since they’ve “lived through” that previous event.  I know I’ll get slack for comparing the East Coast to the West Coast, but the perception that “I’ve been through this before” can be one of the greatest challenges facing personal preparedness (Second is “I’ve never seen it, so it’s never happened here before”) Continue reading