Tag Archives: catastrophe

Declaration Of Storms

Obama Has Declared Record-Breaking 89 Disasters So Far in 2011

From Hurricane Irene, which soaked the entire East Coast in August, to the Midwest tornadoes, which wrought havoc from Wisconsin to Texas, 2011 has seen more billion-dollar natural disasters than any year on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

And as America’s hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and wildfires set records this year, so too has President Obama in his response to them.

During the first 10 months of this year President Obama declared 89 major disasters, more than the record 81 declarations that he made in all of 2010.

And Obama has declared more disasters — 229 — in the first three years of his presidency than almost any other president signed in their full four-year terms. Only President George W. Bush declared more, having signed 238 disaster declarations in his second term, from 2005 to 2009.

But while the sheer number of bad weather events played a big role in the uptick in presidential disaster declarations, Obama’s record-setting year may have something to do with politics as well.

“There’s no question about it that the increase in the number of disaster declarations is outstripping what we would expect to see, given what we observe in terms of weather,” said Robert Hartwig, the president and economist at the Insurance Information Institute. “There’s a lot of political pressure on the president and Congress to show they are responsive to these sorts of disasters that occur.”

While the president aimed to authorize swift and sweeping aid to disaster victims, Congress was entrenched in partisan battles over how to foot the bill. When Republicans demanded that additional appropriations for a cash-strapped FEMA be offset by spending cuts, the government was almost shut down over disaster relief funding.

Such budget showdowns have become commonplace in Congress, but a similarly slow response to natural disasters by the president has been met with far more pointed and politically damaging criticism. Former President Bush learned that the hard way after what was seen as a botched initial response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“Ever since that time we’ve seen FEMA try to act more responsively and we’ve seen presidents more engaged in the issues going on with respect to disasters,” Hartwig said.

Mark Merritt, who served as deputy chief of staff at FEMA during the Clinton Administration, said Obama’s record-breaking number of declarations has less to do with politics and more to do with demographics.

People are moving to high-risk areas like beaches and flood plains, more bad weather events are occurring and the country’s infrastructure is “crumbling,” he said.

“It’s not being used any more as a political tool today than it has over the past 18 years,”
said Merritt, who is now the president of the crisis management consulting firm Witt Associates. “Everybody can say there’s a little bit of politics involved, and I won’t deny that, but I don’t think it’s a political tool that politicians use to win reelections.”

Politics aside, Obama’s higher-than-ever number of disaster declarations may also have a lot to do with the broad scale of this year’s disasters, which led to more declarations of catastrophes because each state affected by the disaster gets its own declaration.

For example, Hurricane Andrew, which hit Florida in 1992, cost upwards of $40 billion in damage, but resulted in only one disaster declaration because the damage was almost entirely confined to one state.

Hurricane Irene, on the other hand, pummeled much of the East Coast this summer, causing the president to make 9 disaster declarations, one for each state affected. Although there were 8 more declarations for Irene than for Andrew, the Irene caused about $7 billion in damage, a fraction of the damage caused by Andrew (up to $42 billion in today’s dollars).

Each presidential disaster declaration makes the federal government — specifically FEMA — responsible for at least 75 percent of the recovery costs, relieving cash-strapped state and local governments of the billions in damages caused by this year’s hurricanes, floods and tornadoes.

Richard Salkowe, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of South Florida who studies federal disaster declarations and denials, argued that the trend toward more declarations stems from local governments becoming more aware of the availability of federal funds.

“The local governments and state governments have become more aware of the process and more efficient in using it,” Salkowe said. “I’d say yeah, there are more states that have overwhelming needs, and that may have lead to the Obama administration declaring more disaster areas.”

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Going underground? Sales of spaces in U.S. doomsday bunker soar 1000% after Japan quake reawakens nuclear fallout fears

Going underground? Sales of spaces in U.S. doomsday bunker soar 1000% after Japan quake reawakens nuclear fallout fears

Aerial of Scientology bunker in New Mexico

By Daily Mail Reporter

Artist’s impressions of luxury shelter to house 950 people in Nebraska

Reservations for a doomsday bunker in the U.S. have rocketed since Japan’s catastrophic earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown.

The 137,000sq ft bunker – designed to house 950 people for a year and withstand a 50 megaton blast – is currently being built under the grasslands of Nebraska.

Vivos, the California-based company behind it, is taking $5,000 (£3,100) deposits, which will have to be topped up to $25,000 (£15,600) to secure a place.

Our bunkers are safety and survivability in a durable, scientifically-designed structure. It is rock-solid protection from the widest imaginable array of potentially deadly events, from armed or explosives attacks to the worst hurricane or tornado. It’s there to keep people alive and functioning when little else can.


Cower in luxury: Vivos’s doomsday shelters are to be kitted out with all the modern conveniences American consumers would expect

Social space: The company is building one bunker under the grasslands of Nebraska with the capacity to house 950 for a year



Paranoia: Vivos says applications for its luxury bunkers have gone up 1,000 per cent since the Japan earthquake

It says applications have soared 1000 per cent in the wake of the disasters in Japan. And the bunkers will be kitted out with all the modern conveniences the American consumer has come to expect.

Once finished the complex will feature four levels of residential suites, a dental and medical center, kitchens, pet kennels, a bakery, a prayer room, a fully stocked wine cellar and even a prison to detain any misbehaving residents.

There will also be a 350ft tall lookout tower so residents can see what is going on around them – and if it’s safe to emerge.

‘People are afraid of the earth-changing events and ripple effects of the earthquake, which led to tsunamis, the nuclear meltdown, and which will lead to radiation and health concerns,’ said Vivos CEO Robert Vicino.

Self-contained community: Once finished the bunker complex will feature four levels of residential suites, a dental and medical center, kitchens, pet kennels, a bakery, a prayer room and a fully stocked wine cellar



Limited space: The firm is taking $5,000 deposits for their bunker, which will have to be topped up to $25,000 to secure a final spot

The news comes after low levels of radiation were detected in milk in two U.S. states, the first sign Japan’s nuclear crisis is affecting American food.

At least 15 states have now reported radioactive particles from the stricken Fukushima reactor. Earlier in the week the Environment Protection Agency confirmed radiation was found in air filters in Alabama and in rainwater in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

Though the trace levels are very low and not hazardous to health, residents have been warned not to use rainwater which has been collected in cisterns.

Rebuilding society: The bunker even features a prison in case any residents misbehave and become a liability to others

Safe space: The company claims its bunkers are designed to withstand a range of catastrophic events, from nuclear terrorism to the gravitational havoc caused of a rogue planet sweeping across the solar system

Intimate: Space is limited in the bunker, the floor-plan of which resembles a youth hostel in this graphic

Mr Vicino added: ‘Where it ends, I don’t know. Does it lead to economic collapse? A true economic collapse would lead to anarchy, which could lead to 90 per cent of the population being killed off.’

The company claims its bunkers are designed to withstand a range of catastrophic events, from nuclear terrorism to the gravitational havoc a rogue planet sweeping across the solar system could cause.

Interest in doomsday bunkers has grown over recent years, but critics say developers are simply trying to cash in on public panic. Oleg Repchenko, the head of Russian analytical centre ‘Indicators of Real Estate Market‘, told The Voice of Russia: ‘These fears emerged in the US a long time ago back in the Cold War era.

‘September 11, 2001 has seriously affected the psychology of common Americans and part of the population is afraid of disasters and terrorist attacks.

‘Panicking is quite typical for Americans even when a disaster happens not on their territory but across the ocean in Japan. Once something terrifying happens it makes people think more about their future.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1372289/Japan-earthquake-tsunami-Sales-doomsday-nuclear-bunkers-soars-1000.html#ixzz1IJELNCOu