Friday night topic: Disasters

The news from Japan has us thinking somber thoughts this evening.  Have you ever been present during a disaster, natural or otherwise, or there right afterward to witness the aftermath?  Living in the midwest, I’ve witnessed my share of tornado damage. Also, back in 1992, I got to visit Berlin and see the stark contrast between the east and west.  The eastern side was an industrial wasteland.  Took home a small chip from the wall, even.

What about you? Discuss.

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    • PenGun
    • 9 years ago

    Big waves are so strong. I once spent a week on an ocean liner, the Ivernia a 22,000 ton liner. We were 3 days late. The least wind we had on the voyage was a full gale. We had four days of hurricane force winds.

    I was 13, it was amazing. The ship buried it’s self to the main superstructure every wave. I could step up a whole fight of stairs if my timing was right. I had fun.

    I know what a 30 meter wave looks like. Very big and an ocean liner seems very small. That’s what hit Japan, along many miles of coast.

    • ludi
    • 9 years ago

    Colorado has seen its share of large wildfires although I’ve never been personally close. I do have a cousin and her grandparents that I’ve never met because they were killed in the Big Thompson Flash Flood before I was born, though.

    • albundy
    • 9 years ago

    Was watching Hearafter when this was happening…coincidence? i think not good sirs! Where the hell are the attack sirens? Everyone had those in WWII. could they have not given these people a heads up? Seriously, this is Japan, not a third world nation. I expected the best of minds to have backup plans. Now they have a Chernobyl on their hands.

    Also, could this niner be caused by the moon being closest to the earth in 20 years?

      • paulWTAMU
      • 9 years ago

      They did have warning sirens going off…watch some of the amateur Japanese footage, not the stuff that’s edited and narrated by voice-over.

    • oldDummy
    • 9 years ago

    my heart goes out to all those affected and their relatives. Let us hope the reactors are really contained. with a sampling of 1 in 5 selected displaced people testing positive for some form of radioactivity things don’t look good.
    I will pray for them and for all in harms way…can’t hurt.

    .

    • jpostel
    • 9 years ago

    9/11 – I was on the train when the first plane hit and in Penn Station (under Madison Square Garden for those not familiar with NYC) when the second plane hit. One of the most bizarre scenes in my life was seeing NY at mid day with NO cars on the streets. There was a cloud of smoke and dust over the whole of southern Manhattan. Absolutely wonderful how people were so calm and helpful over the whole thing. I stood in a line about 2-3 blocks long waiting for a boat back to NJ because the trains, bridges, and tunnels were all shut down.

    • entropy13
    • 9 years ago

    Typhoons, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions…the only possible disaster to happen here in the Philippines that fortunately haven’t happened yet in my lifetime is a tsunami.

    • paulWTAMU
    • 9 years ago

    yep. I’ve seen a flood, a couple of fires and a major snow storm w/ attendant avalanches in places I’ve lived. They all suck. Fire was the worst IMO. Fast moving, terrifying, sudden and incredibly dangerous.

    My day job actually handles some disaster relief stuff. I’m not supposed to say what agency it is for some reason (which I don’t get–this isn’t exactly a national security issue). But during large scale evacuations and disasters we are the information center for things like evacuation routes, shelters, food and water locations, stuff like that, and of course SARS needs–which those give me nightmares sometimes. “Help my kid’s on a ventilator and we’ve lost power and he’s only got 20 minutes on backup I need help” hearing that or similar stuff a few hundred times starts to wear you down. Or good lord the people that lost everything in floods, fires, hurricanes and the like and don’t even know where to start to get back to normal. Ike and Gustave were awful for both those.

    • Grape Flavor
    • 9 years ago

    Last summer we had a lot of stinkbugs. And the power used to go out a lot during storms when I was little. Some of my neighbors have had trees knocked over.

    Really though, there were floods in ’96 and ’04 though they never affected me personally. But generally the Pittsburgh area is not prone to natural disasters. 🙂

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    We’re pretty much screwed in Portland, earthquakes, volcanoes, confluence of rivers with dams that will inevitably break, and hipsters that Godzilla will use as dessert.

      • Grape Flavor
      • 9 years ago

      If Godzilla-type monsters only eat hipsters then I’m all for it. Hell, I might enter science just to see if I can create such a thing.

    • Richie_G
    • 9 years ago

    [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeebrugge_Disaster[/url<] Not exactly the same scale as recent events, although everything’s relative to the individual.

    • not@home
    • 9 years ago

    When I was a teenager, I was at our cabin in the woods and a tornado went through about 400 yards away and lightening struck the cabin. It was about 2 AM. The sound of the storm had waken me up. The tornado made the eeriest of noises. When the lightening struck I had my eyes open and all I could see was really super bright blueish light that filled my entire vision. It was completely blinding, I could not have even made out the hand in front of my face if I had put it there. That was the scariest part. The next morning when I went out to look at the damage, there were trees everywhere that had been twisted and busted up and shattered and splintered. It was awesome, the sheer power. And that was a tiny tornado.

    • cynan
    • 9 years ago

    When it comes to disasters, I’ve had a relatively cushy life. Though I too have once been to Eastern Europe… But then, that was to Prague, which is a beautiful city, and, all around, a pretty awesome place to spend a few days.

    Years ago, when I was in the reserves, I was called to aid in providing relief during the aftermath of the infamous Ice Storm (some time in 1998) that struck parts of Ontario and Quebec and left people without power for weeks. However, I got out of it as I was only 17 and told them that I was in the middle of my grade 12 exams… Cushy indeed.

    • anotherengineer
    • 9 years ago

    NO crazy weather up here, just -20 to -40 for 6 months of the year.

    Although my Jamaican roomate I had while in University said he would rather live down there and deal with 5 hurricanes a year than live in northern Canada with cold weather for 6 months of the year lol

    SO each their own I guess.

    I remember a few years ago the states messed up the power and knocked out most of Ontario for 2 days, but I still had to work 🙁

    So very mundane compared to what a lot of other people endure.

      • cynan
      • 9 years ago

      Yes. I fondly recall that power failure as well. It was all the way back in summer of 2003, and is my excuse for not going to medical school…

    • Matt C
    • 9 years ago

    I work at FEMA so I get to see a lot of disaster aftermath, though I don’t usually get there until things are pretty well cleaned up. I did make it to a large tornado in Parkersburg, Iowa, right after the event. A nice CRT monitor ready for salvage in a destroyed classroom…
    [url<]http://www.flickr.com/photos/longtermcommunityrecovery/5519585553/in/set-72157626250024452/[/url<]

      • yogibbear
      • 9 years ago

      That is hot!

      • Meadows
      • 9 years ago

      See, those things endure everything.

        • Krogoth
        • 9 years ago

        Too bad their weak spot is the lead glass. It doesn’t take well to gravity. 🙁

    • 5150
    • 9 years ago

    One time I accidentally clicked “Greed” instead of “Need” on a rare epic in WoW.

    That’s how good my life has been and how thankful I am that I live somewhere where bad things rarely happen.

    • Wintermane
    • 9 years ago

    I have been in a couple natural disasters. floods quakes storms wildfires that sort of thing. I think there are two things you cant prepare for..

    The sound of someone completely loosing sanity.. that scream just crawls into your skull and makes you wana run..

    The smell of burning flesh.

    And the sound of someone being crushed.Specialy if the head pops.

      • not@home
      • 9 years ago

      I agree there are things that you cannot prepare for, but I think that they are not the same for everyone.

      Burning flesh does not bother me. I used to have warts on my hands when I was a teenager. I would burn them off with a red hot nail held by a pair of pliers. The key was to hold the nail on there for at least 10 seconds.

      Screams irritate me for sure, but they are tolerable. Possibly because I am hard at hearing.

      I have heard the sound of skulls popping. It is a sound you will never forget, no matter how hard you try, but it is not that bad to me. It does not make me pause.

      What really gets me is blood. I can not stand to see the blood of anyone else. I can see my own and think nothing of it, but someone else’s blood makes my stomach turn instantly.

      BTW, you stated there are two things you cannot prepare for, and then you listed three.

        • srilumpa
        • 9 years ago

        “BTW, you stated there are two things you cannot prepare for, and then you listed three.”

        He must be part of the Spanish inquisition.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 9 years ago

          Fear and surprise. Surprise and fear. And an almost-fanatical devotion to the Pope.

            • bthylafh
            • 9 years ago

            And nice red uniforms.

        • Wintermane
        • 9 years ago

        Heh I added the burning flesh mid post and forgot to change it to three. Burning flesh.. and by this I mean alot of it realy realy reaks in a creepy way.

        As for the scream.. some screams you can ignore but that completely lost sanity scream you hear in certain realy bad situations is VERY bad. It doesnt even sound human.

          • Jambe
          • 9 years ago

          Burning hair is far worse than burning flesh. Just plain stinks. I rather like the smell of burning flesh tbh, although only that of ungulates. I’ve smelled burnt human flesh and it’s not really off-putting for me. There’s even a certain sweetness to it that it has in common with other mammalian flesh-derived smoke.

          Screaming doesn’t get to me as much as dejected weeping. That sort of half-mumble half-cry hopeless sobbing moan thing.

    • TREE
    • 9 years ago

    I live in the UK, well Scotland to be precise, and I can safely say we were hit by a major natural disaster of recent. But we survived it. Very scary stuff… the snow actually got to about 2 feet deep. People were trapped indoors, unable to do Christmas shopping or travel to see their family’s. National infrastructures like public transport effectively brought to a halt as well as the closures of schools and some small hospitals / medical centres.

    Oh such a scary time… But with perseverance we made it through that catastrophe.

      • annabel
      • 9 years ago

      I’m in Edinburgh. I really should have thought of adding this to my list as well. Seeing a man walking home from work in a denim jacket when the roads closed and all transport was pulled, that was close to disaster movie level..

      • vvas
      • 9 years ago

      I live in Scotland too, and I’m trying to figure out if the OP is being serious or is genuinely being ironic. Yes there was snow, but at levels that would cause little to no disruption in other countries. It was only unpreparedness and overall incompetence that elevated the situation to “disaster” levels, and even then, it was only the case of infrastructure shutting down, not being damaged or anything.

    • clone
    • 9 years ago

    is it wrong of me to be surprised / disappointed that I don’t “feel it” when something huge happens or did I watch Star Wars too many times and really need to let it go.

      • mcnabney
      • 9 years ago

      No, you are probably just a sociopath. There are millions of them out there – really not that rare in the modern world.

        • blorbic5
        • 9 years ago

        I don’t think he’s necessarily a sociopath, disasters are hard to imagine the scale of. For me 9-11 didn’t really click untill I visited new york and visited ground zero and realized how big the towers were. Then just imaging what people who were there went through is out of my reach.

          • yogibbear
          • 9 years ago

          I’m a sociopath. Have zero emotions. Cannot understand other people that have emotions. It’s pretty weird.

            • blorbic5
            • 9 years ago

            That’s because you’re a troll on the internet. If you got out more and interacted with people in person it might ster up emotion.

            • Wintermane
            • 9 years ago

            Or be killed by said people…

            • cynan
            • 9 years ago

            Having zero emotions and not comprehending emotions of others sounds more like a psychopath than a sociopath (c’mon didn’t anyone else see that House episode?). A sociopath is when you do not feel a need/desire to interact/have relationships with others. It stands to reason that the two would be related, and I bet most (if not all) psychopaths don’t have the emotional requisite to form real relationships…

            But yeah, probably just trolling…

        • clone
        • 9 years ago

        lol, “probably a sociopath”?….. an example of how the young mind works at attempting to discern shades of grey when it can only see black and white.

        deliberate or accidental you totally misunderstood my comment.

          • drsauced
          • 9 years ago

          Nobody likes somebody who has a low sense of empathy. I do think it’s a modern condition, though. Sometimes it is hard to put yourself in other people’s shoes through all the self-centered-ness that we all have, especially if you have no idea about the people or the place.

          Death toll will be more than 10,000, most caused by the tsunami, which followed about 10 minutes after the earthquake. The tsunami was amplified by the coastal features, making the waves between 3 and 7 meters high. You ain’t running from that. There’s another thing to consider, it’s still winter there and it is cold. If you’ve survived, there’s no food, no water, and it’s very cold.

            • clone
            • 9 years ago

            [quote<]Nobody likes somebody who has a low sense of empathy.[/quote<]this isn't true at all, actually the ability to find humor in tragedy is more about timing, perspective and delivery..... humor is a coping mechanism shared by all. I've expended all of my empathy towards all of those murdered in Iraq and Afghanistan, the world has gone crazy since 9/11 and it's gotten hard to care about much. my original comment was meant to be taken far more lightly but apparently that is wrong, I don't wish what happened to Japan on anyone including the Japanese but at the same time it's not like I was standing on the side of the road when a car got hit and I was there to save someone.... something I've done and let me tell you it's the worst feeling in the world trying to keep an 8 year old awake with his head split open, being too afraid to move him lest you cause additional injury, you stand their trying to keep him awake waiting for the ambulance because if he falls asleep which he is begging you to allow him to do you know he won't wake up. so yeah while something horrible has happened to Japan and it's hard to feel the same level of empathy..... I have taken heart in the fact that at least with Japan it's a 1st world nation and their ppl will take care of their own, a year from now we'll all be talking about the "quake of 2011" and how much has been rebuilt while Hait will still be a mess and failing.

    • LovermanOwens
    • 9 years ago

    The only disasters I have been in were man made (I had a few x’s that later on really made me question if i was retarded or not). But one thing is for sure, good luck to all those affected in Japan, hopefully you get back to your feet as quickly as this whole mess started.

    • odizzido
    • 9 years ago

    The only disaster type things I get around where I live are avalanches….but those are very localized and not even close to what hit japan.

    I guess there was wide scale flooding one year, but nobody was in any danger and it only caused a little property damage.

    My answer is no. I’ve never seen anything where anyone got seriously hurt.

    • internetsandman
    • 9 years ago

    I’m lucky enough not to have been affected by a natural disaster in my short life, but I always know one’s gonna hit sooner or later. I live in Vancouver, right along a fault line thats been long overdue for a massive quake. The two previous massive quakes this year have kinda put me into a state of semi-paranoia about the safety of the city I’m in.

    • annabel
    • 9 years ago

    Born and brought up in west Berlin so I know all about the contrast. In an avalanche during skiing too. Scary stuff

    • thanatos355
    • 9 years ago

    Living in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas my entire life, I’ve been through more tornadoes than I really care to think about. There was this one, about a decade ago now, that went right through our town. Destroyed almost half of the town including a nursing home. Luckily we had enough warning to clear out the elderly that lived there. That night I had to sneak passed police cordons because I had to get back to my house (in the area that was almost completely obliterated) to get to my medicine. I didn’t even know if my house was still there, but I had to make the attempt. Every day since then I wish that I had taken a camcorder or digital camera with me. It was amazing and awe inspiring. My house still stood, but all my neighbors home’s were heavily damaged or leveled. It’s amazing how capricious mother nature is.

    • Meadows
    • 9 years ago

    I’m not in a specific area known for “disasters”, but when something [i<]does[/i<] happen, I get to suck because I work customer support in insurance.

    • slugbug
    • 9 years ago

    The only natural disaster I’ve experienced was the great ice storm of 1998.

    • Chun¢
    • 9 years ago

    That’s nothing; I beat Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

    • codedivine
    • 9 years ago

    I was in India during the earthquake in 2001. It killed thousands overall with some estimates going to as much as 100k. Just in my city it left hundreds dead with many buildings going down as well. It changed my perspective on a lot of things. What was good to see, was people all coming together to help each other out.

    • Buzzard44
    • 9 years ago

    Looking back at some of the girls I’ve dated, I’d say I’ve survived many disasters.

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 9 years ago

      HEAR, HEAR.

    • mutarasector
    • 9 years ago

    Never been near a disaster of this scale myself, but a thought did just occur to me. Apple releases the iPad nearly a year ago, and the Haiti earthquake hits. Then right as they release iPad2, – Japan is hit.

    Of course, this begs the question: Who’ll get it when iPad3 comes out?

      • Kharnellius
      • 9 years ago

      There’s one in every thread. *sigh*

        • mutarasector
        • 9 years ago

        One what? It was just a *joke* – lighten up.

          • bthylafh
          • 9 years ago

          Perhaps the joke was not /funny/.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      Haiti’s earthquake was December of 2009.

    • Oldtech
    • 9 years ago

    Made it through the Three Mile Island fiasco. Sent my family about 300 miles away while I stayed.
    Survived the Agnes floods of 1972.
    Survived a tour of Vietnam.

    • hubick
    • 9 years ago

    When the second tower fell, I was close enough that everyone instinctively ran for cover.

    • roqz
    • 9 years ago

    I’m from Costa Rica, and have been living here for almost 30 years. Five major earthquakes (From 6 to 7 MM) have struck us since I remember, one two years ago, and a lot of floods too. Just as the L.A. area is expecting the big one (And Japan was in the same boat until yesterday), we are expecting a mayor one now overdue. Also a few volcanic eruptions here and there (Many active volcanoes around). Hurricanes produce many of the floods, but none has landed directly since the 1980s.

    I guess is part of our experience as humans to live through all this, these phenomena might seem to be of apocalyptic proportions to many, but, is just the same old planet doing it’s work, as it has been doing for the past bunch of billion of years. Let’s hope that humanity will advance enough to be wise to be prepared even better for the upcoming episodes of Earth’s sneezes.

    • JustAnEngineer
    • 9 years ago

    I’ve been through several hurricanes. It takes a really huge one to make a significant disaster, though.

      • kuraegomon
      • 9 years ago

      Was in a house that lost a roof in Hurricane Allen in St. Lucia when I was all of 8 years old.

      Went through Hurricane Hugo (140+ mph sustained winds, 180+ gusts) in 1989, in a little place called Montserrat, which is where I’m from. Our house got de-roofed then too, but we were smart enough to have been elsewhere when that happened.

      Lived in the shadow of an active volcano from 1995-1998 – and learned how different things look from the inside of a disaster being reported on by western media vs. what you see on TV. When you’ve looked down the bullseye of a pyroclastic flow coming your way, and realized that a pretty puny ridge is the only thing between you and certain death … good times 🙂

        • Meadows
        • 9 years ago

        It’s not much to realise. Every 90’s videogame manual worth its salt will tell you that touching lava does massive damage.

          • Anonymous Coward
          • 9 years ago

          Pyroclastic flows are something very different from lava. Very fast moving, can climb hills, can cross water…

            • Krogoth
            • 9 years ago

            Their consistency is quite different and much more deadly (nasty mix of hot toxic gases, ash and other volcanic materials). Pyroclastic flows = game over for everyone in harm’s way. They were responsible for the most of the death count in the famous Pompii/Vesuvius eruption.

            • Anonymous Coward
            • 9 years ago

            [quote<]They were responsible for the most of the death count in the famous Pompii/Vesuvius eruption.[/quote<] The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa generated pryroclastic flows that killed at least 1000 people... [i<]after traveling over 25 miles of open ocean[/i<]. [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1883_eruption_of_Krakatoa[/url<]

            • Meadows
            • 9 years ago

            Should probably only appear after the third chapter of the manual, then.

        • Usacomp2k3
        • 9 years ago

        Went through Hugo as well when we lived in North Carolina. I slept through it, but we were out of power for a couple months. The chicken coops were destroyed and there were feathers everywhere.

        Went through the 2004 hurricanes in Central Florida.

    • NeelyCam
    • 9 years ago

    I’ve been able to dodge tornadoes. Once in Illinois one passed real close but didn’t hit our home. Once I was driving through Oklahoma, and got hit with just pouring rain – it was so hard the car didn’t want to move forward. Later I found out I had driven between two tornadoes.

    That’s all, though – I don’t consider blizzards natural disasters

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      Normally I agree with you on blizzards, but if there’s ice involved, it causes enough damage to change my mind.

        • anotherengineer
        • 9 years ago

        Also depends on the wind speed, I mean if a hurricane is considered a natural disaster, blizzards can also have the similar wind speeds, although there really isnt many homes and buildings to get destroyed where big blizzards happen.

        I have seen pictures though from further up north when the wind speed hits 70+ mph and blows ice crystals across the tundra that it erode wood strutures just like it is being sandblasted!!

        But thats just the nature of it. I think we as humans label bad weather as a “disaster” only when it screws up our lives.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 9 years ago

          That’s also quite true.

          • EJ258
          • 9 years ago

          Don’t forget the roof collapses due to heavy snowfall. We’ve had quite a few of those on LI this winter from the seemingly endless supply of snow coming down.

      • Grape Flavor
      • 9 years ago

      Dodging tornadoes is hard. You have to be in really good shape and you should wear cleats so you can make those quick cuts in muddy ground.

      It can be done, but it takes a very high degree of athleticism and dexterity.

      • paulWTAMU
      • 9 years ago

      Wait till you start getting avalanches because of a heavy blizzard in a short time.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t think you actually come from the Midwest unless you’ve been through a tornado. I remember the day before Mother’s day in 1995 a tornado got several houses in my neighborhood…like lifted them off the foundations…but we were very fortunate that it wasn’t us.

      • Dashak
      • 9 years ago

      I was in Ardmore, OK during a May 7, 1995 tornado (F3) that did $75M damage. I was only 9 at the time, so the number didn’t really mean much to me… but several of the houses on our block were gone. Just [i<]gone[/i<]. Also, sheet metal wrapped around trees makes some decent tree houses.

    • tdsevern
    • 9 years ago

    I was in east Texas during hurricane Katrina. Luckily the center went just east of us so we werent hit too bad. High winds and some hail, but no flooding. Nothing like what Japan is going through. On another note, why doesnt the Navy (duh) put a carrier just off the coast and power up the nuke plant coolers? At this point, it would seem anything would help.

      • bthylafh
      • 9 years ago

      Because the USAF doesn’t run aircraft carriers, for one. 😛

      More seriously, it’s no doubt not that simple.

      • dmjifn
      • 9 years ago

      According to CNN, the Navy has sent the carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

    • absinthexl
    • 9 years ago

    Living in the San Fernando Valley, it’s really just a matter of time. Hope I end up getting a job somewhere else before it happens…

    • Captain Ned
    • 9 years ago

    Closest I’ve come to a real disaster was the ice storm of January 1998. Here in VT we got over it in 3-4 days. Just over the border in Quebec they were without electricity for 6-8 weeks.

      • The Dark One
      • 9 years ago

      In Montreal we lost power for a week or two, got about a foot of slush on the roof, and had lots of fallen trees and power lines, but the area about 50km to the east got absolutely wrecked.

    • no51
    • 9 years ago

    I was living in the Philippines in 1990 when that earthquake hit. A year later, Mt. Pinatubo erupted.

    • FuturePastNow
    • 9 years ago

    Just some tornado damage. A giant fish with a tree limb in its mouth comes to mind.

    • Haitch
    • 9 years ago

    Not been present for any, but Christchurch, New Zealand, which was devastated by an earthquake last month is my hometown. But for a few fateful choices, I could have been been in the middle of it.

    • bthylafh
    • 9 years ago

    A Missouri boy, the only natural disasters I’ve personally dealt with were tornadoes and floods. The Great Flood of ’93 I escaped the worst of, save for my parents’ basement being flooded, but we could drive a fairly short distance and see the temporary lakes.

    We mostly escaped tornadoes as well, sometimes barely, but one could easily visit the scenes of devastation afterwards in the neighboring towns. Worst we got ourselves was a microburst in May ’95, with straight-line winds of 75mph and some badly-damaged houses.

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