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Microsoft has activated its disaster response protocol as an answer to the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last week. The full impact of catastrophe in Japan is yet unknown, both in regards to the death toll, which is expected to be larger than 10.000 people, and in respect to additional damages. On the Microsoft Disaster Response website set up following the Japan seism, Microsoft embedded Bing Maps imagery focused on the area most hit by the natural disaster. The software giant is currently looking for before and after images of the area in question which plans to leverage in a new disaster response mapping application. From the citizen-led Neighborhood Emergency Teams (NET), to an embrace of bikes as disaster response vehicles by City of Portland officials, there’s a growing effort in Portland to ensure that bikes play a key role in the response effort when a major earthquake or other disaster strikes.
Jewett is taking his knowledge of preparedness and passion for cargo bikes straight to the City of Portland. Merlo also said that bicycles will be specifically called out in the Portland Plan, a comprehensive planning document nearing adoption by City Council. Beyond empowering citizens to remain mobile during a crisis, bikes will also play a direct role in the response. As we’ve covered several times in the past, the appeal of cargo bikes goes way beyond utility. There really are a good number of food gardens and cargo bikes in our neighborhood right now. Vancouver’s PD and Fire Depts have had very good experience with bicycle based response for our large car free events, like the annual 4th of July party. My dad was the disaster readiness executive for a big telecommunications corporation in Tokyo when the Kobe quake struck in 1995.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, many emergency response plans have long called for the use of bicycle messengers in anticipation of failed electronic communication and iffy transportation. And then there’s the longer term emergency (if you want to think of the post-cheap-fossil fuel era as an emergency) for which bicycles and the experience of relying on them will be even more suitable.
The stuff we can expect to be without in a disaster are similar to the things we will one day be without willy nilly: natural gas, gasoline, miles of smooth wide asphalt, 18-wheelers delivering citrus fruit, intact water and sewer infrastructure, etc.
I think the thing that is scary is that even those of us who rely on bikes for everyday transportation, and do what we can in terms of local food, are vulnerable to limited supplies of fuel for heat and clean water. Fortunately there’s no law against wood heat, rainwater harvesting, composting toilets, etc. As late at 1910, there was use of cycle-carried firefighting equipment in Germany, which was described earlier in Scientific American and then (with a photograph) in the New York Sun.
What exactly what was happening in videos taken around Hurricane Katrina showing large numbers of people stealing from businesses?
I really want to believe that everyone is altruistic enough to assist a random person when there is nothing to gain but our current state of partisan politics seems to prove the opposite mentality. New Orleans residents taking diapers and food from unattended stores should not be considered looting.
Friends of ours were on their honeymoon when Gilbert struck Cozumel, spent the storm 10 floors up in their room’s bathroom with a mattress propped against the door for protection. With the NOAA 200th Celebration coming to a close at the end of 2007, maintenance of this Web site ceased. This NOAA chart shows search and recovery operations that took place following the JFK, Jr. American Red Cross uses social media to expand its disaster response capabilities with support from Dell Digital Business Services. Crews worked seemlessly with local officials to clear the track, open access to a damaged bridge and help local residents.


Following a series of devastating tornados, one railroad found that nine miles of its track were buried in debris.
The railroad needed an experienced disaster response contractor to clear the track while coordinating with local emergency officials and the area’s residents.
Hulcher crews leveraged their disaster response expertise to coordinate with emergency officials and keep their work running smoothly and safely. Hulcher crews cleared the track in less than four days, providing access to the bridge from the east and west.
Hulcher’s crews improved the situation not only for the railroad, but for the community.
Hulcher excavator clears tree branches from the right-of-way during this disaster response project. Hulcher excavator and grapple truck mobilize in for disaster response following the night of tornados. The excavator removes fallen trees and refuse from the right-of-way during this tornado disaster response project.
The excavator removes tree branches and other materials from the right-of-way during this tornado disaster response project.
The excavator removes tree branches from the local forest off of the right-of-way during this disaster response project. Trees and tree branches from the local forest were piled up as high as 20 feet on the right-of-way following the tornadoes, resulting in this disaster response project. The excavator lifts an entire tree that had been uprooted and thrown across the tracks by the tornadoes, during this disaster response project. The railroad allowed Hulcher crews to help local citizens whose neighborhoods had been devastated by the tornados. Debris from a local neighborhood also covered the right-of-way and had to be removed during this disaster response project.
The tornados scattered debris from a local neighborhood over the right-of-way, which had to be cleared during this disaster response project.
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Microsoft is one of the companies and organizations looking to provide resources available where they can benefit the local communities. Through the City’s NET program, Jewett has earned the ear of PBEM Director Carmen Merlo. As a NET team member, Jewett was struck by how much gear and aid supplies they are responsible for. We love them so much that we devote many hours every week to read them and make sure they are productive, inclusive, and supportive. What better way to show that bikes are more than toys than to have them help people at a very desperate time. Nice to see acknowledgement of what is really a no-brainer: Conventional motorized transport is a highly complex system and therefore a fragile one. As such some of us feel that planning for a disaster and weaning ourselves off fossil fuels are both prudent. There is a couple living in NE Portland who is growing citrus in big pots, and they wheel them into the greenhouse set up for the winter. People are driving around wasting energy that we may wish for some day in the future when we try to heat our houses and purify our water, let alone grow food for dense urban areas. The emphasis on looting implies that, in a crisis, we’re all wolves, taking ruthless advantage of and preying on each other. Lee Clarke, a disaster sociologist and professor at Rutgers, wrote after Hurricane Katrina, “Disaster myths are not politically neutral, but rather work systematically to the advantage of elites.
The people stealing TVs and other non-essentials are indeed looting, but even after Katrina they represent a tiny fraction of what was happening on the ground across the city.


A local neighborhood and large forest were torn apart by the storms, resulting in wreckage on the tracks as high as 20 feet. Hulcher also displayed great sensitivity to the local community; on several occasions, with consent from the railroad, crews stopped their work to move large pieces of buildings for residents who were searching for personal possessions. Their compassionate support for officials and local citizens helped the people in this area begin the process of rebuilding their lives. The measures utilized to secure your structure are intended to reduce the likelihood of additional damage and intrusion, not eliminate it. He’s also a father (of one) and husband who sold a family car over three years ago and bought a bakfiets cargo bike (he now owns a Larry vs Harry Bullitt). When completed it will not only be Portland’s most seismically sound span, it is also being built with only bike, foot, and rail traffic in mind. In a perfect mix of passion and pragmatism, a few Portlanders have come together to plan the Disaster Relief Trials — a cargo bike trial race that will happen in June during Pedalpalooza (stay tuned for more details). Wide, smooth, passable paved roads for example, are quite an achievement, and not at all a given. He and his team took pre-packaged cases of portable cellular base stations, water, cash and other supplies and took the trains as far as they would go. They even had folks whose job was to round up untrained foreigners and make sure we didn’t screw things up. They will have the only citrus in Portland someday – will be able to trade them for whatever they need. They could haul compost, lumber and table saws for years and still be ready to join local NET teams for exercises and actual disaster response. It would be pretty awesome to get a longtail and a metrofeit into the tool library to help carfree folks get more of the 3000+ tools home when the trailer is checked out, or so that folks can check them out and test them when they are considering a new purchase.
The truth is the roads will be cluttered with horrible traffic, possibly impassable, and that biking from point a to point b would make more sense and allow for more flexibility. This debris made it impossible for rail crews to reach a badly damaged trestle bridge on this stretch.
The railroad appreciated the fact that Hulcher’s experienced crews needed little supervision so they could focus their attention on other aspects of the disaster clean-up. All emergency board ups and roof tarps are temporary measures and are not intended to be used as a long term solution. More people ride bikes in this town than any other big city in America and I’d bet we have the highest rate of cargo bike ownership in the nation.
He then bought a pile of bicycles for his team and they biked the remaining 20 miles or so into the disaster zone; which is no easy trick considering many roads were smashed to dust and this was before widespread GPS use. That is the kind of latent strength an interconnected and intentional approach to resiliency could bring. They also spent their time digging ditches to help drain some of the water off the island, while waiting for plane and boat service to be restored.
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3 days of stuff in a box is a great first step, but it does not pay dividends like planting a vegetable garden, canning, and riding your bike. In fact, those who study the subject (and reams of testimony by those who have lived through it) confirm that, in catastrophe, most of us behave remarkably beautifully, exhibiting presence of mind, altruism, generosity, bravery, and creativity. The track loader also graded out parking lots for the railroad to park their trailers close to the bridge.



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