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August 30 2012


Post-Disaster, We Can Do More Than 'Feed It to Fix It'

Did something go wrong? Bring a casserole. While the type of barbeque may vary regionally, if you're standing near storm damage, there's likely a home-cooked meal on the way. Following a disaster, competent ladies fill church and school kitchens, turning out hundreds of sandwiches. Restaurants donate buffet trays of wings and lasagna. Community organizations host spaghetti dinner after spaghetti dinner, feeding survivors
and volunteers alike. Quite simply, we live in a casserole culture, and we can harness this tendency for a better local response.

Why, exactly, our knee-jerk reaction as a culture is to bake a pie in the face of
unthinkable loss, is anyone's guess. I have a theory that our Norman Rockwell tendencies are linked directly to what we are told we can and cannot do after a disaster.

'feed it to fix it'

Unless you happened to keep the FEMA National Incident Management Framework around for bedtime reading, you probably have no clue who is in charge of what on the ground after a disaster. Even if you do know what is supposed to happen, the practice is often far different than the plan. As an unaffiliated volunteer, you're often sent home, told off, or simply not answered when you try to help.


But food -- that makes sense. The Red Cross won't accept home-cooked donations, but local churches will. You're greeted with thanks instead of confusion if you drop off sandwiches and Gatorade at a worksite. We, as a culture, have assumed permission to feed during a disaster, and we get after it. Think: Studs Terkel meets Paula Deen.

I, like you, love a good plate of mashed potatoes. But our "feed it to fix it" tendencies right now fall short of our potential to help out at the community level. Here are a few suggestions for building a better community recovery:

Use your skills

Yes, you can cook. But are you also a lawyer? Bilingual? Great with computers? Those skills are every bit as necessary to the recovery as Dunkin Donuts -- survivors will need tax advice, translation and resource management help.

Use your head

The difference between lasagna and labor is that it is currently a painful process to volunteer skills through large, regional organizations. Your community can independently plan to share skills and resources before a disaster -- just agree upon a system beforehand.

Use your leaders

Your emergency management department and city leadership can use your help. Can you start a Community Emergency Response team? Would you agree to help the EM run social media during a disaster? Get in touch and plan ahead!

Use this recipe: the singular best recipe for chocolate chip recovery cookies I have ever

Catastrophe Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 6 to 7 ounces of chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl.
  • Add the vanilla and egg, keep on mixing.
  • Mix dry ingredients together, then add slowly to the large bowl of wet ingredients.
  • If you're patient, refrigerate the dough for a couple of hours.
  • If not, just go ahead and bake those cookies for 11-13 minutes.
  • Distribute to sweaty workers, affected families, stressed organizers, and your own family.

P.S. Check out our work in action this week at http://IsaacGulf.Recovers.org.

Caitria O'Neill is the CEO of Recovers.org. She received a B.A. degree in government from Harvard University in 2011. She has worked for Harvard Law Review and the U.S. State Department, and brings legal, political and editorial experience to the team. O'Neill has completed the certificate programs for FEMA's National Incident Management System 700 and 800, and Incident Command Systems 100 and 200. She has also worked with Emergency Management Directors, regional hospital and public health organizations and regional Homeland Security chapters to develop partnerships and educate stakeholders about local organization and communication following disasters.

August 28 2011


Instacane: hurricane Irene mayhem chronicled via Instagram

VentureBeat :: Hurricane Irene began pounding New York and nearby states this evening, prompting a flood of content related to the hurricane on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and — yes — Instagram. Instagram users hunkered down in New York, New Jersey and other cities in the path of the rather menacing-looking Hurricane Irene are chronicling the mayhem through an online Instagram photo album called Instacane

Continue to read Matthew Lynley, venturebeat.com


LNR - #Irene - A San Francisco perspective

Examiner :: San Francisco residents are following the course of Hurricane Irene and are learning in top news today that the hurricane has now reached the New Jersey Shoreline where winds are expected to reach 75mph. "It's a very scary situation," says San Francisco resident Katelynn Masters.

Additional media - Hurricane Irene and New York City, currently winds of 75mph in photos, and video footage - Click on the image to jump to the Examiner page and to watch the slideshow.


Continue to read Sheila OConnor, www.examiner.com


LNR - #Irene - Hurricane knocked a nuclear reactor offline at Calvert Cliffs, they're stable

Wall Street Journal (full text [$]) :: Constellation Energy Nuclear Group says it activated the lowest of four emergency levels, "Unusual Event", at its Calvert Cliffs, Maryland, nuclear power plant following the East Coast quake, but the plant is still operating at 100 percent capacity and both reactors are stable. 

ABC 2 News :: Hurricane Irene sent the Calvert Cliffs nuclear reactor offline late Saturday night. A heavy gust of wind knocked a large piece of aluminum siding from the building. The siding came in contact with a main transformer. The company says all employees are safe.

Continue to read Wall Street Journal ($, behind a paywall)

Continue to read ABC 2 News 



LNR - #Irene - Long Island: over 50,000 without power

LIPA :: Over 55,514 now without power according to Long Island Power Authority. Informations on the website are updated every 15 minutes. Citizens can report an outage online or via dedicated phone line. 


Usually phone lines are quite busy during such incidents and calls should be reduced (better SMS) to keep the lines free for emergency calls. I wonder if an SMS application to report outage wouldn't be better in such a context. If you face an outage you probably won't be able to even send a report via LIPA's online service.

Visit their site LIPA outage map, www.lipower.org/stormcenter/


LNR - #Irene - St. Mary’s Lake Dam, Maryland: potential spillage but not in danger to break

Washington Post | Associated Press :: Officials in St. Mary’s County say St. Mary’s Lake near Callaway could spill over the top of the dam. Spokeswoman Sue Sabo said early Sunday that the dam is not in danger breaching despite a deluge of rain from Hurricane Irene. She said the potential spillage may cause significant flooding affecting 28 homes downstream.

NBC Washington also reports:

“The dam itself at St. Mary’s River Park is holding well,” said Christy Bright. “There is no imminent danger or possible danger with the dam itself. What is happening is that the level of the lake is rising, which is going to cause water to enter a spillway ... 

Thanks to @ninguna for the NBC tip

Continue to read AP, www.washingtonpost.com

Continue to read NBC Washington, www.nbcwashington.com


LNR - #Irene - CNN simulation shows Irene's effects on New York City

CNN :: Hurricane Irene brings wind and rain with it, but what will those elements do as it hits New York City. How much water will get into New York City? In this CNN video they used a model to simulate how much water could possibly get into a harbor. It also shows why you have to get out of the evacuation area and how dangerous it would be to stay there. 

Continue to read www.cnn.com

August 27 2011


LNR - #Irene - Ann Curry: power will go out in NYC, including Wall Street ...

Ann Curry | Twitlonger:: Ann Curry: "Why power will go out in NYC, including WALL STREET, even if the winds aren't bad: Utility officials tell WNBC 10 miles of steam lines are being shut off in Lower Manhattan, and warned power will be shut off there if there is flooding, which would take two to three days to be restored. That could mean Wall Street won't have power for the first part of the week, officials said. ...

Continue to read Ann Curry, www.twitlonger.com


The 5 best hurricane tracking maps

Poynter.org examined all the major hurricane tracking maps online and says the five best are…



LNR - #Irene - NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg: If you haven't left, you should leave now!

Mayor Bloomberg briefs New Yorkers on hurricane Irene from NYPD 60th precinct in Coney Island. OEM Headquaters, Brooklyn, NY. 330pm August 27, 2011

[Michael Bloomberg:] If you haven't left, you should leave now. Not later this evening, not later this afternoon, but immediately.

Michael R. Bloomberg is the 108th Mayor of the City of New York. He was first elected in November 2001, two months after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, a time when many believed that crime would return, businesses would flee, and New York might never recover.

Watch the latest news from the NYC Mayor's Office here www.youtube.com


LNR- #Irene - Nags Head, North Carolina, homes on stilts vulnerable to hurricane (video)

MSNBC.TV :: Many houses in Nags Head, North Carolina, are built on stilts and are in the direct path of Hurricane Irene. Msnbc's Alex Witt and NBC's Jeff Ranieri take a look at the situation surrounding these homes.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Watch here www.msnbc.msn.com


LNR- #Irene - North Carolina coastal area live via USTREAM

North Carolina coastal areas getting pounded by Irene. Below a live USTREAM via hurricanetrack-com. The team behind the website set out their weather station that is reporting live right now from Rodanthe, pretty much the farthest east point along the NC coast.


Broadcasting live with Ustream

Hurricane Irene on USTREAM www.ustream.tv/channel/hurricanetrack-com

Live updates via Twitter @hurricanetrack

Continue to read www.hurricanetrack.com


LNR- #Irene - Social Media: where to go to get news, updates, help, state-by-state

New York Times :: With more than 50 percent of people in the United States saying they now use social media, according to a new Pew study released on Friday, it is not surprising that people are turning to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other platforms for breaking news updates, videos, photos, emergency information and conversation about Hurricane Irene.

Jennifer Preston, New York Times, prepared a state-by-state social media guide for news and conversation. It is a work in progress.

Continue to read Jennifer Preston, mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com


LNR - #Irene - New York, curious scenes: a firehouse without a fire engine but a boat

New York Times :: Phil Graham walked by the firehouse between 9th and 10th on 43rd, New York. Inside, no engine but a boat! and firemen testing outboard engine. "Clearly something up!" - Times readers submitted their photos of early evacuations, storm scenes and aftermath damage. The photo Phil Graham took is one of them.

Go here to browse the gallery - www.nytimes.com


LNR- #Irene : Scenes from the storm: New York Times readers’ photos

New York Times :: Times readers submitted their photos of early evacuations, storm scenes and aftermath damage. 

Browse through the photo gallery here www.nytimes.com


LNR- #Irene : A guide to the web's best hurricane-tracking tools

The Atlantic :: For those preparing for Hurricane Irene's landfall today, a certain amount of the work is material: stock up on water and food at the store, pile up sandbags to prevent flooding, prepare an emergency go-bag. But a lot of prepping is also informational: Where is the storm forecast to hit? Do you live somewhere likely to be evacuated? 

Rebecca J. Rosen, The Atlantic, prepared "Your Guide to the Web's Best Hurricane-Tracking Tools".

Special thanks to Anne Nelson @anelsona for sending me the URL.

Continue to read Rebecca J. Rosen, www.theatlantic.com


LNR- #Irene : New Jersey @govchristie's hurricane briefing live streaming at 2:00pm

Governor Chris Christie will hold a 2:00PM live press conference. Jennifer Preston, @NYT_JenPreston, New York Times staff writer is on the way to attend the press conference. 


Visit New Jersey live streaming website www.livestream.com


#Irene - New York City: mandatory evacuation order, evacuation zone map and finder

New York City - Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Official Announcement :: "Due to the approach of Hurricane Irene, the City has issued a mandatory evacuation order for New Yorkers who live in the low-lying Zone “A” coastal areas across all five boroughs and the Rockaways. These areas include: Coney Island, Manhattan Beach, Far Rockaway, Beach Channel, South Beach, Midland Beach, and Battery Park City. People should be out of these areas by 5 pm on Saturday. Residents who live in Zone A are strongly encouraged to stay with friends or family outside an evacuation zone. Evacuation Centers are open for residents who have no alternative shelter."

New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) prepared a "Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder" to assist its citizens to find out if they live in a zone in danger: go here Evacuation Zone Finder


The Office of Emergency Management also offers an evacuation zone map (PDF) for download, as they expect the traffic on the site to be high. 


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