resilience starts with information
The hurricane in Puerto Rico has become a man-made disaster, with a death toll threatening to eclipse Katrina’s.
On Wednesday, September 20, the eye of Hurricane Maria cut a slash directly across the island of Puerto Rico, from the southeast to the northwest. It arrived shortly after six in the morning, near the harbor at Yabucoa. Wind gusts peaked at 155 miles an hour, bending palm trees like straws and snapping others off near the roots. The storm’s center was 50 to 60 miles across — more than half the length of the island. It rolled at the leisurely pace of about ten miles an hour and hovered above the island’s mountainous center well into the morning. The wind tore hundreds of electrical-transmission towers from the ground and carried some of them through the air. Sheets of earth fell from the hillsides, smashing houses and erasing roads. The death toll began immediately: In the town of Utuado, a landslide came through the wall of a house where three elderly sisters had taken refuge, burying them alive. The island’s electrical grid and mobile-phone networks went down. At the headquarters of the bankrupt electric utility, the backup generator stopped working, as did the computer server, cutting off the chief executive from his own records. For the next few hours, the highest levels of the Puerto Rican government were paralyzed as officials struggled…
Barbudans claim of ‘land grab’ as government attempts to reform laws on hurricane-devastated island
People who lost everything in Hurricane Irma in Barbuda are now gearing up for another fight, attempting to block a governmental reform that they say will force them off their land just as they prepare to rebuild their lives.
John Mussington lost his home, and his school, when Hurricane Irma hit. Buildings were flattened, trees uprooted, and the lush tropical landscape turned into a barren wasteland.
Yet Mr Mussington, the principal of the only secondary establishment on the island, was philosophical. The 1,800 residents of Barbuda had been evacuated to neighbouring Antigua, and after the September 6 storm he expected at the time to simply return and rebuild…
As sea levels rise, researchers use A.I. to monitor urban flooding
As climate change accelerates, coastal communities around the world face an intimidating foe in rising sea levels. By combining tools like artificial intelligence, social media, and crowdsourcing apps, researchers think they can help these communities prepare for devastating natural disasters.
A team of scientists and engineers from Scotland’s University of Dundee recently demonstrated how a technological trifecta — A.I., social media, and crowdsourced citizen science — can be used to monitor urban flooding.
The Dundee team set out to develop an early flood detection system, beginning with a hyper-resolution urban flooding computer model. For reliability, the researchers needed to validate the model’s results against actual data received on the ground. But after three months of searching for a reliable data set, lead…