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Everybody's favorite topic
Let's talk about weather for a second
Over the past week Hurricane Ida went through Louisiana and has carved through the northeast as of late.
I was without power for from Sunday until Thursday and took shelter in Houston while Entergy was fixing down power lines and generators.
Others weren't so lucky.
I've had time to think about how I would go about fixing the grid after a hurricane but I think there is some prep work prior to it landing that can make a hurricane's impact less severe.
Mobilizing help on the outskirts
Say you're a week out from landfall
You don't know the exact strength of the storm but you have an idea that it will take out quite a few lines.
You also know what areas won't be affected. That means you could mobilize as many folks as you can reasonably pay to be right outside the storm and waiting for it to pass.
In addition to the mobilized personnel, food supply trucks should be waiting until after the storm passes as well. As soon as the grocery stores have power, get them restocked for the wave of people coming.
During the aftermath, I received texts from Entergy talking about assessing the damages and planning to get power back. It was a way of saying they were working on it but you weren't going to see your power on in a while.
Instead of assessing the damages after, using mapping technology you can identify where the major transformers that supply grocery, hospitals, etc are beforehand and ensure generators are there to keep food and life support systems online
What you (and the gov't) should do during and after landfall
Reaching out to military or government organizations might help, but there should be some allotment for large tents and generators for the personnel coming from out of town to work. Hotels are going to be out, so the tent would be where they would stay between shifts.
From an individual standpoint, there are the standard things you can do to protect your house
- cut down low tree limbs
- board up windows and tape them to prevent shards of glass
- sandbag doorways to mitigate flooding
- stock up on water and batteries as well as non perishable food
This should be done well in advance, but many don't do so.
What happens is that grocery stores are flooded with folks trying to scramble to find food and end up disrupting the supply chain.
Make a mandate two weeks before hurricane season to get enough supplies for a weeks worth of trouble.
Keep it in a safe and secure place and don't touch it until a hurricane occurs.
Managing Fuel Shortages
Fuel is always an issue and when storms come refineries shut down to prevent any plant incidents from happening.
As a precaution, getting data on the amount of vehicles in an area as well as the traffic to each gas station should be accounted for.
There are multiple fuel terminals in Louisiana in addition to the Department of Energy Reserve for emergencies like this.
Data on the traffic would be an asset to have to make sure there are no shortages. And enforcement of not hoarding would be paramount.
Traffic and evacuation
The local government of Louisiana did not do a great job of getting folks out of the way of the Hurricane
I understand that its hard to predict a storm
However, you should always prepare like you are going to get hit rather than waiting until it's too late.
I evacuated from New Orleans to Houston
A drive that is usually 6-7 hours turned into a 12-13 hour headache.
I-10 has two lanes for most of it's span. They need a plan to accommodate for evacuation procedures.
In addition, coordinating with local traffic patterns (Lake Charles, Lafayette) would help immensely.
Give people time to evacuate, and also provide an extra contra flow lane on bridges to help with traffic.
To summarize my thoughts on how hurricane preparedness in Louisiana could be improved
- Mobilize help for affected areas prior to landfall
- Leverage mapping technology and data to know where your highest ROI areas are that need to be opened up immediately
- Prepare for a hurricane at LEAST two weeks in advance
- Use data to understand how much fuel you will need for residents and incoming traffic
- Coordinate evacuation plans as well as major Interstates to allow for mass exodus from path of the storm
Links and Resources
If you want to know about hurricanes and how to prepare better for them check out these links