Dec 30 2014

Cell Towers Must Be Ready For Anything

celltWind-speed requirements are not the only thing that needs to be considered before disaster strikes. The type of tower used is another factor in a site’s ability to survive. About a year ago, a tornado ripped through Dunwoody, GA, an affluent community 14 miles north of Atlanta, snapping trees and scattering debris. Verizon’s site, which was in Dunwoody and at the heart of the tornado, managed to remain standing.

Suzanne Hale, Verizon senior real estate representative, said the aerodynamics of the tower might be part of the reason it didn’t go down. The shorter monopole, rather than a lattice or guyed tower, may have saved the tower from destruction. A monopole’s tubular design and fewer connecting pieces make it less vulnerable to tornadoes.

With self-support towers, the lattice is often flat and actually can aid a tornado in putting pressure on the tower. A guyed tower depends chiefly on supports to keep it upright. Once a support snaps, the intense torque of a twisting wind often will create a house-of-cards effect. Read More >>

Dec 22 2014

Canada’s Disasters Have Always Been About Ice

cdiceEach year, when spring comes, old green ice from the great polar cap, icy waste from the Arctic rivers, icebergs calved in Greenland, and rafters of ice from north of Russia and the Hebrides are nudged by the tides into a wheeling mass covering 20,000 square miles, a monstrous afterbirth of winter that drifts down the east coast of Canada past Newfoundland to pass into chill fogs off the Maritimes and the New England coast. Each spring, the hair seals keep a primal rendezvous with the ice. They have come south to whelp in February near the Strait of Belle Isle; now, before they start to migrate north with their young they seek out the ice field and travel with it for a few weeks while their young gain strength and get ready to shed their soft puppy fur. And each spring, the sealers put out from Newfoundland to find the seals and kill the babies for their pelts.

That year, 1914, the 20 ships of the sealing fleet sailed early in March. Hedley Payne, a dark, wiry lad from Wesleyville who had wangled his very first berth to the ice, walked for two days to the Gambo railway station to catch the sealers’ car into the capital in time to sign on. He had just turned 18. With him was his best friend, Job Easton, 19. In St. John’s, they bought their gear on credit at Harvey’s and then went to take a look at their ship, the Newfoundland, 568 tons. She was the largest of the 11 old wooden walls in the fleet and when Payne saw her he thought she must be the biggest ship in the world. In command was Read More >>

Dec 14 2014

Earthquakes Have Hit India Hard

ehhihAt about 8:30 a.m. on January 26, 15-year-old Kunal Doshi was preparing to take a bath when a rumbling began. In minutes, his house crashed down around him. Rubble trapped the naked Kunal up to his neck, with a concrete pillar crushing his right leg. A heavy door teetered inches above the boy’s head. A massive earthquake had leveled Kunal’s city and much of the state of Gujarat.

Kunal’s 18-year-old sister, Rachana, who was rescued from the ruins several hours after the quake, found her trapped brother four days later. “Hold on,” she called to him. “Help is coming.” Kunal, a Hindu, prayed.

But when rescuers arrived on the scene, they faced a dilemma. If they removed the pillar that was crushing Kunal’s leg, tons of broken concrete would fall and kill him. They decided his leg would have to be amputated on the spot. But if the doctors didn’t cut off the leg quickly, the boy would bleed to death.

To ease Kunal’s pain, a doctor gave him a painkiller. An Indian army surgeon, Lt. Col. Prem Singh Bhandari, crawled into the work space that rescuers had dug around the boy. The doctor later described the space as “a cave about 2 feet by 2 1/2 feet.” Bhandari asked for a large knife, “and in one go,” the surgeon said, “I just cut the skin and all the soft tissues.” Bhandari’s only problem, he said, was cutting through the bone, since he didn’t have enough room to move his hands freely. The surgeon used a hammer and chisel to cut through about 70 percent of the bone and had rescuers pull the boy up. Then Bhandari used a carpenter’s saw to finish the job. Rescuers raced Kunal to a makeshift hospital set up by the Red Cross, as the quake had destroyed most Read More >>

Dec 4 2014

Seattle’s Quake Was A Killer For Insurance Companies

stqkeInsured losses from the earthquake that shook the Pacific Northwest in 1998 could reach $1 billion or more, which would make it one of the most costly U.S. quakes for insurers.

Property damage from the Feb. 28 quake, a 6.8-magnitude temblor that was centered 35 miles southwest of Seattle, is widespread. But property damage is expected to be largely superficial, and major structural losses are not likely, according to preliminary reports.

Risk managers in the region credit advance planning and preparedness for helping keep casualties and insured losses from being far greater.

Initial estimates of insured losses from the quake ranged from hundreds of millions of dollars to as much as $1 billion as of late last week, though estimates are expected to grow as more loss data becomes available. The quake also caused injuries to about 320 people and resulted in one death from Read More >>