Vulnerability Reduction – Ryan Gebhardt

My hometown is Delran, New Jersey outside Philly. From scanning The Nathan World Map of Natural hazards, it seems my largest environmental threat is a hurricane coming up the east coast and possible flooding. The map seems to be a great way to get an idea of what disasters parts of the world face, but it isn’t particularly well suited to give an indication of what individual cities and towns face. The map itself isn’t very large, and it wasn’t easy figuring out my town’s location and potential natural disasters.

Using the RSOE interactive map, I noticed an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 measured off the coast of Japan. This caught my eye because it reminded me of the past earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Japanese coast only a few years ago. While this particular earthquake isn’t expected to produce a sizable tsunami, if at all, it is a chilling reminder that this sort of event can happen out of the blue. While this is scary for Japan, the chance of a large-scale earthquake happening in New Jersey is incredibly unlikely. We are nowhere near a fault line, meaning any seismic activity must come from deep underground. If this type of event were to happen in my hometown, however, the earthquake would likely cause a considerable amount of damage. While I’m not entirely positive on what level of strength my hometown’s buildings are built, they were definitely made with earthquakes in mind. Homes like mine that include a basement would be at much higher risk to collapse, causing serious structural damage across the region.

From studying online factors around my hometown I’ve found that a devastating hurricane coming up the east coast or torrential downpour resulting in flooding are the most dangerous two natural disasters that could occur in my hometown. My hometown has experienced hurricanes before, but they usually produce limited property damage in my area, unlike the shore which bears the brunt of the storm. The hurricane’s biggest threat is knocking down trees and power lines in its path and flooding the area. Floods aren’t only caused by hurricanes though, as the local region is prone to heavy downpour. Flooding causes damage by seeping into structures and blocking infrastructure like roads and bridges. The property damage from this can be costly, and with the combination of power loss from these storms can cause life-threatening conditions.

The best way for my town to protect itself from these two natural disasters is to ensure buildings are well protected from flooding conditions and that our electrical utilities are well protected in the event of heavy winds and possible flying debris. Flood protection can be in the form of building codes, a town-wide effort to shore up building protections, or installing more flood drains around the town to prevent water buildup. Hurricanes are trickier to prepare for since they involve flying debris and high-speed winds, which can cause unfavorable situations no matter what you plan for. For a hurricane, the best preparation is a thought-out evacuation/protection plan. If the homes of residents are at risk of destruction from the wind, the township should have a procedure for residents to take cover in a community building made to survive such conditions. I believe my home town already provides this service, like many around me. The best people to foresee these procedures would be the local government officials, like the mayor and health and safety office. If I were to personally prepare for these events, I would ensure my family had proper access to clean water in the event of the water pipes becoming unusable from flooding. I would encourage my neighbors to do the same and make sure there’s enough food for at least a few days to a week.

2 thoughts on “Vulnerability Reduction – Ryan Gebhardt

  1. Hi Ryan, I’m Natalie and I had a very similar blog if you want to check it out:
    I am also from outside of Philly, so our hazards are the same and I agree that the map was rather difficult because of it’s size. I chose to focus on hurricanes as well because of the effect Sandy had on my hometown. Your description of the damage done is very accurate. Your plan for disaster preparation is very thought out and I like how you acknowledge your hometown already having a plan. It was interesting to see the differences in our blogs because we are from the same area. 🙂

  2. Hi Ryan,

    I enjoyed reading your post and noticed a lot of similarities between our two hometowns. I’m from Pittsburgh and it looks like our cities have nearly identical issues. The fact that you’re closer to the cost is the major difference that I noticed. Pittsburgh is even safer because of it’s landlocked location. We do have some of the same flooding risks because Pittsburgh has many rivers. If you want to take a look at my post here’s a link.

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