For #HurricanePrepWeek we discuss the role of diesel in hurricane preparedness and disaster recovery
The names sound as familiar as any family gathering: Harvey, Laura, Matthew, Michael, Florence, Maria, and Irma. Only these names are associated with deadly storms. They’re an important reminder that May 1-7 is the designated #HurricanePrep Week, coordinated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
According to NOAA's billion-dollar disaster database, 2016 - 2020 was the costliest five-year stretch for tropical cyclones in the US dating to 1980. Three of the five costliest hurricanes in US history occurred in 2017 – Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The $15 billion named storms over the past five hurricane seasons killed 3,419 people, and cost $393.7 billion. Hurricane Maria in 2017 claimed nearly 3,000 lives in what was the strongest hurricane landfall in Puerto Rico since 1928.
Coastal communities along the Atlantic Ocean bear the brunt of hurricanes in the US, which is where the focus of planning and assessments is well underway. These experienced communities, as well as local, state, and federal governments are updating their forecasts, evacuation and recovery plans and resource assessments. Preparation is key to mitigating the risk of major loss of life and property from a hurricane.
This is where the role of diesel power comes in. Thanks to its unique power, efficiency, reliability, performance and availability, diesel engines, equipment, and the fuels that sustain them are ready for whatever the 2022 hurricane season might bring. Diesel is a key resource in responding to and recovering from hurricanes. It starts with mobile command centers (large RV’s) equipped with self-contained power and communications equipment to coordinate response and recovery; all powered by diesel. Diesel powers the equipment of first responders, firefighters, and other rescue crews.
Hurricanes typically impact electric power grids resulting in short term, as well as longer term, power outages. In the interim, mobile diesel backup generators, some equipped with light towers, are available to be deployed to help restore critical communications and emergency response functions. Meanwhile, utility providers use diesel powered bucket trucks to restore lines and poles. Getting supplies, food, shelter, and medicine to impacted communities requires a massive amount of logistics, material handling, and trucking, all of which rely on diesel power. Mobile dewatering pumps are also powered by diesel, along with a vast array of construction machines and equipment used to help with rescue efforts and clear debris.
Hurricanes aren’t just a potential problem for coastal portions of the US or US Virgin Islands. Major hurricanes rarely stop at the shoreline. Beyond the initial storm surge event, they’re typically downgraded into tropical storms that can travel hundreds of miles inland with lingering impacts from excessive rains and winds. That happened with Hurricane Ida in 2021. 23 people were killed in New Jersey alone, days after Ida originally made landfall along the Gulf Coast.
Check out the resources for #HurricanePrepWeek. Families should have a plan to evaluate their risk, then take action by developing an evacuation plan, assembling disaster supplies, evaluating insurance policies, strengthening their homes, and planning to help neighbors. Remember June 1 marks the beginning of traditional hurricane season. That’s less than a month away!
Resources: NHC Outreach Resources (noaa.gov)