Monday, February 21, 2011

California disaster scenario highlighted

Molly Davis in the San Bernardino Sun (California): Although most Californians picture a devastating earthquake when they think of a natural disaster, massive flooding is just as much of a danger, according to a recent scientific presentation. A presentation on the ARkStorm scenario, a disaster simulation, was given Friday at the Yucaipa Community Center.

Lucy Jones, the chief scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey's Multi-Hazards Initiative in Southern California and a nationally known expert on disaster preparation, talked about what would happen if a catastrophic storm system hit Southern California. "One-quarter of homes would be flooded," Jones hypothesized. "It would cause almost a trillion dollars in damages."

ARkStorm is a scientifically plausible, hypothetical storm scenario developed by the USGS to show natural disasters and their effects, and what the public can do to prepare. The simulation is patterned after the massive storms that struck California in 1861-62, flooding the Sacramento Valley, Los Angeles Basin, Orange County and the Mojave Desert.

According to the East Valley Water District, which sponsored the event, storms of the same magnitude as the 1861-62 system are projected to become more frequent as a result of climate change. The goal of the presentation was to integrate hazards science with economic analysis and emergency response to increase community resiliency to natural disasters, the EVWD's news release said….

A 1998 FEMA photograph of a mudslide's aftermath in Rio Nido, California

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