• There are Entire California Communities Without Water

    Without Water - Parched EarthEvery third day, Ruth Lezcano, who lives in a suburb of San Juan, Puerto Rico, fills a 30-gallon cooler and several five gallon buckets (like the “Homer” buckets from Home Depot) with water. She has a bucket for each activity that uses water, like washing dishes, bathing and flushing the toilet.

    She’s one of the estimated 270,000 residents of the San Juan metropolitan area who have tap water only one day in three.

    She resorts to daily sponge baths. She washes clothes on the days the water is on. And yes, she still pays her water bill.

    “It’s horrible to live under such conditions,” she said in Spanish.

    Without Water - Drought MonitorDrought can happen almost anywhere. About 28 percent of the U.S. is in drought, according to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor from the National Integrated Drought Information System.

    It’s difficult for people to think about preparing for drought because, frankly, drought is difficult to see. It can take a full season or more to identify a drought in progress. Also, drought is partly a human-made problem. If people use more water than is available, they can cause drought.

    In California, an estimated 80,000 to 160,000 people live in rural communities that have trouble providing safe drinking water. In Tulare County, Calif., 1,252 wells for homes are dry. They’ve been pumping out groundwater, water stored for thousands of years in underground aquifers, faster than it’s replaced. Shallow wells that households can afford dry out first as the aquifers get depleted by deeper industrial wells.

    Lezcano said she had to prepare herself emotionally and physically to live with water shortage from drought. Paradoxically, ready.gov said the best way to prepare for drought is to use less water beforehand.

    Here are some tips from ready.gov for saving water inside the home.

    Replace washers in dripping faucets and repair pipe leaks.

    “One drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water per year,” ready.gov said.

    Insulate water pipes. This will help keep them from breaking in winter and reduce heat loss, which means it’ll take less time to heat water from the tap.

    Install sink-based water heaters and low-flow appliances, toilets and shower heads. Some water districts will offer rebates to offset the cost. If you can’t afford low-flow appliances, you can artificially create them. Put a filled gallon jug (not a brick, which can decay) into the toilet’s tank, which will make the tank’s mechanical sensor think it’s fuller than it really is. When you shower, bring a bucket to catch excess water and don’t shower for long.

    Instead of rinsing dishes and using the disposal, scrape dishes and start a compost pile. When I got an installed dishwasher and disposal this year (hallelujah!), the plumber said the dishwasher actually works better if a little food is left on the dishes. Without food to latch on to, dish soap is too harsh and can etch dishes. He also said I shouldn’t use the disposal much because ground-up food, especially vegetable and fruit peels, can block pipes.

    “Potato peels are the worst,” he said.

    Outside, reduce the lawn and put in plants adapted to your climate. According to a study published in 2005, lawns cover an estimated 50,000 square miles of the country. That makes lawns the biggest crop in America. And you can’t even eat them.

    Make sure the sprinkler system and timer are in good repair. Don’t water the pavement. Also, don’t water too much. Lawns only need about a half inch of water per week and less in the autumn and winter. If water’s running down the gutter, you’re using too much. Consider using rainwater and gray water (water used first for showering and tooth brushing).

    If you’re prepared when drought hits, you can just keep your normal routine with only a few tweaks. Gillian Flaccus, a California-based writer, wrote in a column for the Associated Press that her family chooses to “let yellow mellow,” or not flush the toilet every time they used it. They also take showers instead of baths and limit those to five minutes. They don’t water their yard and rarely wash their car.

    “Our daughters' short lives have been shaped by water — or the lack of it — from potty-training to playtime to daily routines like brushing teeth,” Flaccus wrote.

    Without Water - Puerto Rico StormLast week, Tropical Storm Erika brought rain and some flooding to Puerto Rico. Lezcano said the storm missed the drought-stricken east side of the island. Even so, water managers are talking about turning the water on every other day, rather than one day in three.

    Lezcano, despite the hardship, thinks that’s a mistake.

    “People will waste water, like washing cars and [things like that],” she worried.

    --Thanks to Jimmy Rivera for translating.



    How's the drought treating you? How are you faring without water?

    Without water - Drought Page

    Posted In: Water Storage Tagged With: no water, Puerto Rico, California, drought

  • 5 Types of Floods You Should Prepare For

    The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word “flood” is water in places where it shouldn’t be. While that explanation is pretty accurate, there’s a lot more to floods than just that. For example, did you know there are five types of floods? It’s true, and they are something you should be aware of so you can know your risks. Some of these types of floods may be more applicable to some regions than others, but there is at least one type that can affect you. So here they are, the five types of floods, courtesy of our the good folks at the National Severe Storms Laboratory.


    River Flood

    Types of Flood - River FloodJust like it sounds, a river flood occurs when a river overflows its banks. This happens for a few different reasons. One, lots of rain. Whether it’s tropical systems (tropical storms, hurricanes, etc.) reaching land and dumping all its contents relatively quickly, or prolonged rain from thunderstorms in the same area, this kind of precipitation can cause rivers to flood. Melting snow can cause rivers to rise quickly, too. Remember all the snow that came for a visit last winter? Well, when it melted, rivers rose well above their banks. The Ohio River rose nearly six feet over its flood stage! So if you live in an area near a river, be prepared for a river flood.


    Coastal Flood

    Types of Flood - Coastal FloodIf you live near the coast, be ready for a coastal flood. According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), these are “caused by higher than average high tide and worsened by heavy rainfall and onshore winds.” Lower elevation also plays a factor in coastal water flooding up on land.


    Storm Surge

    Types of Floods - Storm Surge - NOAA Courtesy of NOAA

    Another type of flood found on the coast, storm surges are caused by severe storms. Strong winds, large waves, and low atmospheric pressure all help the tide rise abnormally high. Combined with high tide, storm surges can raise water level by 30 feet or more. As you might imagine, having a surge of ocean water come crashing over land can cause some wide-spread flooding. Storm surges are one of the biggest threats to life and property during hurricanes. According to the NSSL, “at least 1500 persons lost their lives during Katrina and many of those deaths occurred directly, or indirectly, as a result of storm surge.”


    Inland Flood

    Types of Floods - Inland FloodThere are a few different scenarios in which inland flooding can occur, although the end result is pretty similar. Steady rain over several days or intense precipitation in a short period of time can both cause the soil to become so saturated with moisture that it can’t hold anymore. When that happens…you’ve got yourself inland flooding. Rivers overflowing is another cause of inland flooding. But no matter what the cause, virtually any area is susceptible to this kind of flood. You might not think it, but even homes built on hills can be effected by inland flooding (trust me, I know from experience).


    Flash Flood

    Types of Floods - Flash FloodHeavy rainfall in a very short amount of time, the NSSL describes flash floods as usually taking place after less than six hours of rain, and “are usually characterized by raging torrents…that rip through river beds, urban streets, or mountain canyons sweeping everything before them.” Even without heavy rainfall, flash floods can come rushing in unannounced. These surprise visits can occur due to a dam failure, or after water is suddenly released, such as the breaking up of an ice jam. Check out the following video to see an example of a flash flood. Notice how fast the water moves, and the objects it carries with it.


    No matter where you live, flooding is a threat you shouldn’t ignore. While some areas are more prone to flooding than others, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Make sure you know the flood risks in your area and what to do to prepare.

    For more information about floods (and other disasters), click the image below!


    Types of Floods - Disaster Page

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: inland, river, coastal, flood types, storm surge, Flash flood, flood

  • Total Eclipse: Beautiful Moon or Dreadful Sign?

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    Eclipse - What does it mean to you?On the evening of September 27th/28th, 2015, the Sun, Moon and Earth will once again align in such a way that they “turn the moon to blood” in a total lunar eclipse. Of course, there will be no more blood involved in the moon’s condition than there is green cheese. But the deep red hue of a total lunar eclipse is why such an event is often called a “Blood Moon.”

    Millions across North America will witness this phenomenon as the earth’s shadow obscures sunlight from illuminating the moon in our night sky. As it does, many will ask, why can I still see the moon? And why is it red?


    How Do Blood Moons Happen?

    Eclipse - How it works Courtesy of NASA

    To best understand why the moon is red you must imagine yourself standing on the surface of the moon. Looking up, you watch the earth move in front of the sun, casting its shadow upon you and the entire sunward side of the moon. The shadow grows until the earth has obscured almost all the light of the sun from reaching the moon.

    The key word here is “almost.” While the earth conceals the sun from the moon, the glow of the sun’s corona still radiates around the earth, creating a glowing ring of bright red light in the lunar sky.

    Eclipse - All the sunsets!“But why red light?” you might ask. The answer is simple when you realize that the ring of light you see is all the sunrises and sunsets occurring on our planet, visible all at the same time. Since these early morning and late evening skies are often bright red and pink, the only light reaching the moon is bright red. As the lunar surface is bathed in red light, the normally bright full moon is turned into a “Blood Moon.”

    What Makes This Blood Moon Special?

    As interesting as this eclipse promises to be astronomically, this blood moon holds much deeper meaning for millions worldwide. Both Jews and Christians alike recognize that this eclipse will be the fourth consecutive blood moon in 18 months, or a “Blood Moon Tetrad.” What’s more, each eclipse of this tetrad falls on a Jewish Feast Holiday—a coincidence so rare that is has occurred only 7 other times over the last 2,000 years. Of particular interest to these millions of believers is that each previous Tetrad/Feast Day occurrence has been accompanied by some history-changing world events.

    Eclipse HistoryFor example, the Blood Moon Tetrad of the year 162 ushered in the Antonine Plague, a widespread epidemic throughout Europe and the Mediterranean that marked the beginning of the fall of the Roman Empire. Bad for Romans, great for Christians, as this was also when their religion began its spread into Europe.

    The Tetrads of the 795, 842 and 860 each saw great shifts in power and territories between the peoples of Europe and Arabia.

    Still impacting us today, the Tetrad of 1493 was observed by sailors sailing from Spain to the newly discovered Americas. Virtually every facet of history shifted that year, as this the old world confronted this “New World.”

    Almost 500 years later, the Tetrads occurring through 1949 and 1967 accompanied the most pivotal events in the history of modern Israel—the very establishment of the State of Israel and their milestone 6-day War, respectively.


    Oh…One Other Thing

    So what might the Tetrad of 2015 bring in its wake? One clue might be found in another cycle of Jewish custom unrelated to the moons; Shemittah. Shemittah is a Jewish Sabbatical observance wherein every seven years adherents elevate their thoughts, words and deeds to build their relationship with God. Wrongs and debts are forgiven, lands lie fallow, and people focus more upon their spiritual needs and less upon material pursuits.

    Interestingly, over the last several decades this seven year cycle seems to coincide with a pattern of societal disruption and economic unrest, e.g. stock market crashes, recessions, energy shortages, even the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. This Shemittah ends September 13th, 2015—15 days before the Blood Moon Tetrad.


    So What Does It All Mean?

    Looking up at the beautiful and mysterious Blood Moon of September 28th will mean different things to different people. To some, that evening will denote nothing more than an entirely predictable astronomical event. For many others, the Blood Moon Tetrad and the end of the Shemittah year falling just over two weeks apart mean that this particular astronomical event should be taken as a sign. Millions regard this as the crucial and long-prophesied period of calamity and disruption that will precede the end of times, as foretold by the Hebrew prophet Joel:

    Eclipse - Sun and Moon“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.” (Joel 2:31, Holy Bible, KJV).


    Whatever the moons and the calendars and the cycles all mean, however, is somewhat irrelevant. Whether or not the Blood Moons/Shemittah phenomenon means the end is near, a simple examination of history reveals one constant and lasting truth; Earthquakes, fires, floods, whirlwinds, drought, cyclones, storms, wars, pestilence, and disease happen, and often, in every time, season and generation. Odds are pretty good you will have to deal with at least one of these “Big Ones” at some point in time.

    Even more likely, however, is the fact that one of a dozen other calamities will strike closer to home—accident, illness, job loss, divorce, death of a loved one…no one sidesteps all the trials and troubles of life.

    Sorry…unless you’re still standing on the moon…welcome to earth.

    Eclipse PrepareSeptember 28th will be the same as last week, the same as last year, the same as it ever was; It will be a good time to be ready. As we like to say around here, “The best time to prepare was yesterday. The next best time is today.” Because tomorrow is and ever has been uncertain, it’s always time to prepare.


    How will you be watching the total eclipse? Let us know in the comments below!



    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: eclipse, September 28, sign, tetrad, blood moons, Shemittah

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