I am from the small town of Lititz, Pennsylvania (population around 8,000) which is in the south central portion of Pennsylvania. From looking at the Nathan World Map of Natural Hazards, Lititz is a relatively safe place to live as we are really only susceptible to hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and warmer temperatures during times when El Nino strikes. I had a difficult time being precise with the Nathan World Map even after printing it out. It is hard to discern where a state, let alone a city within that state, falls with regards to the degree of color for zones. Although I can get an approximate idea of hazards in my hometown, I was disappointed when I couldn’t be very exact with these maps.
Using the “RSOE EDIS” summary, I investigated a Biological Hazard in the states of Wisconsin and Michigan which was first reported on March 5, 2016. It involves the spread of a blood infection caused by Elizabethkingia meningoseptica to 54 people, most of them over the age of 65. Eighteen of these individuals have died! The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has been investigating this strange spread of the bacteria, but has not been able to detect a common variable between those affected. Basically, officials in Wisconsin and Michigan cannot stop the spread of this “disease” because they don’t know how or why it is affecting people. My hometown can absolutely experience a disaster just like this! Lititz has plenty of senior citizens (we have at least two “55-and-over communities”) with compromised immune systems, and plenty of soil and water sources which officials are saying are possible sources for this bacteria. The population of Michigan (9.8m) and Wisconsin (5.8m) combined is 15.6 million, whereas the population of Pennsylvania is 12.8 million. So after doing some simple algebra, Pennsylvania would have around 44 cases of this blood disease with 14.7 deaths if it were to strike in my home state. This is 44 cases and 14.7 more deaths than I’d like to see in and around my home state. Also consider the cause for concern that this type of outbreak has in any population, and I would be very worried.
When doing my own research, I discovered, what I found to be the most surprising; Lancaster, PA is above the average in the United States to be hit by a tornado (“Lancaster, PA Natural Disasters”). I find this surprising because I have lived in Lititz my entire life and we have never been in danger of a tornado hitting our town. It was also stated that our town often has a high risk for thunderstorm winds. I completely agree with this because over the summer we have terrible storms that often cause a large amount of damage. From 1950 to 2010, there were a recorded 2,414 “thunderstorm winds”. Personally, I think that is an enormous amount for one tiny town (“Lancaster, PA Natural Disasters”). Also while researching Lititz’s natural disasters, I came across a story about a humongous storm that passed through the state of Pennsylvania. Forty-five tornadoes touched down in Pennsylvania during a three-day span in June of 1998. A mile wide tornado tore up approximately 48 miles. Entire herds of cattle were killed as well as people who were pulled from their home and thrown into another (“Pennsylvania”). It is crazy how dangerous tornados can be, especially affecting so many people in my state. In an extreme coincidence, as I am writing this assignment, my mother texted me to say that she received a “severe weather” text alert from the National Weather Service for tornadoes in Lancaster County! One good way for Lititz and Lancaster County citizens to reduce their vulnerability to severe weather would be to take heed when such alerts come their way. Also, citizens should have a plan as to where their family would go (with a “To Go Kit”) in case of a tornado, hurricane, fire, etc…In our public schools (K through 12), we often have tornado and extreme weather drills which lowers our vulnerability (I checked with a teacher that I know from my town). I think that this is a very important practice seeing the statistics and researching more about natural disasters in Pennsylvania.
The town of Lititz has its own Fire Department, EMS Squad, and Police Force all of whom are on call 24 hours a day should a disaster occur and who have ongoing training so that they are best equipped to help residents. Lititz also participates with the National Weather Service (located in State College, PA) to receive and send alerts when severe weather threatens the area. Residents can now receive such alerts via email, texts, radio, and TV broadcasts. I think what I can do to reduce my vulnerability while in Lititz is to stay attuned to any broadcasts of severe weather and health epidemics that may arise and take those alerts seriously! Also, often the churches in Lititz have clothing and food drives to stock the local “Food Pantry” for unfortunate people who get struck with a fire, flood, or storm damage. I can and should volunteer to help with such drives. A final thought that I’d like to add to this paragraph is that residents of Lititz and Lancaster County should check with their insurance carrier (homeowner’s insurance) as to whether they are covered should a hurricane/flood occur. Although this would not prevent a hazard weather event to occur, it would soften the hurt after such an event and reduce vulnerability.
“Lancaster, PA Natural Disasters and Weather Extremes.” USA.com. N.p., 2010. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. <http://www.usa.com/lancaster-pa-natural-disasters-extremes.htm>.
“Pennsylvania.” Ready.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. <https://www.ready.gov/pennsylvania>.