Thursday, September 2, 2021

The Stories Are Absolutely Tragic

Update, Unfortunately

-- original posting below --

The stories are absolutely tragic. Terrible. A woman and her two year old drowned in their basement apartment. A family of three drowning in their homes. Higher ground in Manhattan can be hard to find. The current report is that nine died in NYC flooding and 14 (total) across the East.

Yesterday evening, I read tweets from a man who was inside an Uber car stuck by flooding. He had gone out after the flash flood emergency was issued. Did the Wireless Emergency Alerts trigger? Did he not receive the warning? If he received it, was there some way it could have been made more effective? My instinct tells me that, compared to the post-Agnes flood deaths (117) and post-Camille (153) deaths, we did reasonably well, especially in view of the increased population. 

The warnings for Hurricane Ida seem to have been extraordinarily effective. The warnings for the inland flooding appear to have been both early and were highly accurate. But, we don't know for sure because it is the response of the public that counts. 

You'll recall there was severe flooding in New Jersey and NYC after Hurricane Sandy. It was in the aftermath of that storm when the value of a National Disaster Review Board (NDRB) occurred to me. My original, post-Sandy, call for an NDRB is here. The events of the summer: unwarned strong tornadoes, Hurricane Ida, record wildfires... the list goes on. Why were so many people out after a flash flood emergency was issued? Is there something we can do to make warnings more effective? 

In the meantime, I believe the meteorological community again deserves thanks for its work during the entire life of Hurricane Ida. The total death toll, so far, of 22 for a storm of this ferocity seems extraordinarily low. We have come a very long way.

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