When companies get involved in causes, it raises occasional eyebrows.
This debuted today.
Yankee Candle, based in western Massachusetts, promises to donate proceeds from the sale of the candle -- which it describes as a heartwarming blend of cinnamon, baking spices, and a hint of freshly poured tea -- to the One Fund Boston.
That should prevent any pushback that the company might receive that it's commercializing a tragedy.
Two people have already filed to trademark the phrase "Boston Strong." One is a T-shirt maker who promises to donate 20-percent of profits to the fund.
Samuel Adams -- the beer company -- has filed for a trademark for "Boston Strong" 26.2 Brew in the beer category. It, too, is promising to donate 100 percent of the profits this year and next.
And OnHand is marketing "Boston Strong" flash drive wristbands. The $19.95 will go to the charity. The company was founded by Andrew Kitzenberg, the Edina native whose Twitter photos out his apartment window captured the final gun battle between police and bombing suspects.
There are also Boston Strong car magnets Boston Strong shoe laces, Boston Strong wristbands, and a Boston Strong candle in which only a portion of the profits go anywhere but into the pocket of the seller.
But maybe branding is more of a reflection of the people who buy the product. If you were inclined to donate to the fund to help the victims of the marathon bombing, why not just do it without expecting something in return?(4 Comments)
We really don't know what a major American city looks like when it's shut down, because -- as near as we can tell -- one has never been shut down before.
Or at least we didn't know what it looked like until today. Here are some images of Boston locked down.
The Longfellow Bridge, connecting the MIT-area of Cambridge to Beacon Hill. (via Antonio Regalado)
Downtown Crossing, Boston's shopping district. (From Steve Brown, WBUR)
Park Street and Tremont on Beacon Hill, where the city's subway lines converge.
Kenmore Square, near Fenway Park. The college and university area. Thousands of runners in the marathon streamed through here on Monday. (From @SixOneSeven)
Harvard Square, Cambridge. (Courtesy: Harvard Crimson)
Mass Turnpike (I-90) near Boston University. (Mass Webcams)8 Comments)
Internet, you are so fine.
Today's affirmation comes from -- surprise! -- Boston, where Richard Whalley saw this photo on Reddit.
It's a horrible way, really, to find out your father has been badly hurt in a bombing.
"There was a possibility my mom was dead," Whalley tells ABC News. "I knew she was older and pretty close to the blast."
The hospitals had no record of either elder Whalley, so he posted on his Facebook page.
Within 10 minutes, people on Facebook had made enough calls to locate both mother and father. They were in two separate hospitals.
They've had about a dozen surgeries and it'll be a long recovery. So his friends at MIT have set up an online fundraising site to raise $100,000 to help. So far, they've raised $50,000.(1 Comments)
It takes a talent to be funny when talking about a bombing.0 Comments)
This is a picture that Leah Janz of North St. Paul took yesterday.
If you compare it to the photos we've seen since yesterday's bombing, and make note of the flags, you can probably tell that Leah, a graphics designer, was only feet away from where the first bomb exploded.
I'm mesmerized by these sorts of images, I told her this morning -- the ones of people taken just a few minutes before the worst moment of their life. What became of the smiling woman in the yellow scarf? What was the woman in the sunglasses looking at? Is the person who did this in the picture somewhere? How is it that things can be so utterly normal, and then not be?
The FBI is asking for everyone's images and video and Janz has informed them she's got this one and a couple of others. They'll be in touch later, she said via Twitter this morning.
This afternoon, she arrived back in Minnesota. During the flight, she was kind enough to write her story:
My friend Emily and I were in Boston to watch two of our friends run the marathon. We wanted to watch them finish so we got near the finish line around 2:15. We were standing on Boylston near Exeter on the north side of the street. We were right in front of Uno Chicago Grill. We saw the second friend run by at 2:28. After we saw her, we started walking towards the finish line. We stopped near the flags and I took three photos of the flags with my phone.
I vividly remember seeing the race clock at 4:01. We kept on walking to try and find our friends. There was a family area set up that we were trying to locate. We crossed Boylston on Arlington and went south. Took right on St. James Avenue. Halfway on the block, we heard a large boom. My first thought was if the bleachers collapsed.
Emily and I looked at each other. She thought it could be fireworks for Patriots Day. No one near us seemed fazed. Then the second boom went and still no reaction from those around us, so we kept walking. I thought it could just be construction going on. Emily thought maybe a cannon , again for the holiday.
We didn't hear any screams because there was constant cheering for the marathoners anyway. From our location, nothing seemed different or unusual. We got to the corner of Berkeley and St. James, but the area was blocked off for the marathon. We couldn't find our friends, and none of the workers had any sense of panic or urgency. I think they had no idea what happened and were just working as usual.
We couldn't find our friends, and because of all the marathon blockades, we had to turn around. As we walked towards Arlington, an influx of sirens coming our way started. Ambulances, police cars, etc raced past us. We realized something must be going on for that many emergency vehicles to have just passed us.
We walked south to Stuart Street on Arlington, then took a right on Stuart and proceeded towards Berkley. At the corner of Stuart and Berkley, we waited for our friends. I checked Twitter to see what was going on and saw someone said something about a bomb. It was hard to believe, but immediately I went on Facebook and posted we were okay and alerted my husband.
Our two runner friends found us. We stood in disbelief and tried to figure out how to get out. The original plan was to meet a few others for a celebratory drink. One of the runner's husband was at a bar two miles down on Beacon Street. The only way to get there was to walk so we went north on Arlington and west on Commonwealth. We saw many people walking around dazed and trying to find family.
When we were trying to find our friends, I mentioned how surreal this was and a runner who was walking near us agreed. She mentioned how she couldn't find her family and they weren't answering their phone as the lines were jamming. We saw another runner on his phone crying hysterically. Emily asked if he needed help and he said "no."
We past an area that had a yellow tent set up and had four men dressed in hazmat suits. We kept walking west, but then we heard a third boom. Everyone stopped and it was silent. We kept walking but then a cop yelled at us that we couldn't go any farther, to turn around.
A sense of panic set in. We just figured it was another bomb, but learned much later that it was a controlled explosion. So we went north to Beacon and then continued west to try to get as far away as we could. We were still passing many runners who didn't get to finish and had no idea where to go to retrieve their belongings. One runner asked where the finish line was. Many had no phone or cash.
Our phones were dying so we had to use them sparingly. We walked over a mile and were too tired to keep walking. We were able to reach our other friend and he was able to pick us up by 5:30 at our location on Commonwealth and St. Mary's. He dropped us off at the place we were staying in Cambridge. I called my husband and he informed us where the bombs went off. We learned from watching the news that we were at the exact spot of the bombs eight minutes before the explosion because a video clip showed the race clock at 4:09. This morning we realized we were standing in the area of the second explosion when our friend ran by, which was 20 minutes before the explosion.
During the whole situation, I felt strangely calm and relatively safe. When I heard the booms, I thought there could have been an accident but the thought of bombs never crossed my mind. In fact, when I saw a tweet about the bomb, I wasn't positive it was accurate. I was afraid to mention the possible bomb on Facebook because I didn't want to create hysteria if it was false information. It didn't seem it was even possible for a bomb would actually explode at a marathon. It was incomprehensible to me. So my Facebook status update just stated that my friend Emily and I were safe and that there may have been a bomb. Even when it was confirmed it was a bomb a few minutes later, I didn't really believe there could be more, even though there certainly could have been. The extreme chaos and panic was three blocks away but far enough that I didn't sense it. The flocks of people around us all just seemed to be in state of confusion and were just trying to find a safe route out of the area.
When my husband responded to my text about the bomb, he told me to get away fast, but we actually stayed in the relative area for at least 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get out. I knew he had concern for my safety, but I didn't feel immediately threatened. I think because I wasn't sure exactly where the bombs were and didn't relate it to where we were standing before. I had no idea how close we were to the timing of the event until we got back to our room, and that so many factors could have changed our timing. Eight minutes is a thin distance. The only time real panic set in for me was when the third boom went and the cop shortly after yelling at us to go the other way. That made it feel like an attack could happen anywhere or anytime, and that we just needed to get out as quickly as possible.
Reflecting on this has been very strange. I still have difficulty believing this really happened and that I was there amidst it all.
You might've seen the most gruesome picture (AP distributed) from yesterday's bombing in Boston -- a man being wheeled away who had lost both legs -- and not noticed the man in the cowboy hat next to him.
He was holding pressure on the man's leg, preventing him from bleeding to death.
He is Carlos Arredondo, a Costa Rican immigrant whose Marine son died in action in Iraq in 2004, Mother Jones reports.
The day he learned of his son's death, Arredondo locked himself in a van with five gallons of gasoline and a propane torch and set the van on fire. He survived, became a peace activist, and was among the spectators who rushed toward the fumes after the explosion today.
Arredondo was at the marathon to cheer for a runner who'd dedicated their race to his son. In 2011, Arredondo's other son, Brian, 24, committed suicide after suffering years of depression and drug addiction following his brother's death.
As for the man with the injuries, both of his legs were amputated, the Associated Press reports today.(0 Comments)
Explosions ripped the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
WCVB is reporting people with lost limbs being wheeled from the scene.
From this picture, it appears the explosion went off right on the corner of Exeter and Boylston Streets. Note the smoke in the background, indicating that this was the second explosion.
Reportedly, there were two explosions. Clearly, this one went off directly across from the Boston Public Library, exactly at the finish line.
It appears that those injured severely were spectators.
More information is available on MPR's live blog.(1 Comments)
In many ways, it seems it was a funeral for common decency in Brooklyn yesterday.
Brandon Moore, 2, and his brother Connor Moore, 4, were swept from their mother's arms as she fled her stalled SUV and the rising floodwaters of Hurricane Sandy last week. Allegedly, people in a nearby building refused to let her in.3 Comments)
Posted at 2:37 PM on October 31, 2012
by Nate Minor
Filed under: Disasters
I'm not going to pretend that superstorm Sandy's impact on the U.S. is not a huge story. Clearly, it is.
But I had to do a little more digging to find updates on Haiti, the Caribbean nation Sandy hit hardest. It's faced with yet another devastating disaster. From the NYT:
Even though the storm's center skirted the country, more than 20 inches of rain fell on Haiti's south and southwest over four days last week, causing at least 52 deaths, tearing out crops and destroying houses.
"We are facing a major crisis," Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said this weekend after he flew over the regions that had been hit by the storm.
The government said that the homes of as many as 200,000 people had been damaged -- on top of almost 400,000 people still homeless from the January 2010 earthquake. "We have a lot of work ahead of us in terms of the aid that we will need to deliver in the days, weeks and months to come," Mr. Lamothe said. "It won't be easy because there are many roads and bridges that have been cut off."
In the tent camps set up after the 2010 earthquake, Haitians described their lives as "misery."
The country's leaders and the United Nations are planning an appeal for donations, the Guardian reports.
How long is a reasonable period of time to accept waiting before the government forces move in to help you put your life back together?
This is a picture from today of the Breezy Point section of Queens, where a fire in the middle of the hurricane overnight destroyed dozens of homes.
And a few minutes ago, NBC's Matt Lauer tweeted this:
Just toured devastation in Rockaway Beach N.Y. Crushed by storm and fires. People asking if @fema knows they need help.— Matt Lauer (@MLauer) October 30, 2012
Though tacky, is this Hurricane Sandy-themed ad offensive?
The AdFreak blog says, "clothing brands appear to have committed the biggest brand fails of Hurricane Sandy, with both American Apparel and Gap forgetting that death and loss make a poor springboard for promotional messaging."
The sensitivity meter, it's safe to say, was pretty much turned off in sombody's office. But in other locales, it's turned up pretty high.
At the time, this seemed like a pretty innocuous tweet...
BREAKING: Frankenstorm upgraded to Count Stormula #sandy— Hailey Zureich(@zhailey) October 30, 2012
Jim Romenesko's journalism blog, however, carries a message from the head of the Michigan nurses' union that doesn't so much criticize the original tweet as the fact the Detroit News retweeted it.
From DAWN KETTINGER, communications director, Michigan Nurses Association: We've been watching from afar in Michigan, seeing all the horror our fellow human beings are facing, and also stories like nurses heroically saving lives by evacuating hospitals last night in NYC, literally keeping vent-dependent babies alive by manually bagging them as they walked them down flights of stairs. Then we see media doing things like this [the Detroit News retweeting the "Count Stormula" crack].
But does a retweet indicate a disrespect -- or even a lack of sensitivity -- for first responders?(3 Comments)
Posted at 10:44 AM on July 27, 2012
by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Disasters
Among all the worries about the massive flooding that hit Duluth last month, there were concerns about whether the hard-hit Fond du Lac neighborhood had been inundated with toxic sediment from flood waters.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency today helped cross that worry off the list. The agency reports:
The lab tested the samples for eight metals (arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium and silver), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)."The results for all samples are well below the Residential Soil Reference Values for metals, PCBs and PAHs., MPCA Superfund project manager Susan Johnson, said. "Given the very low, or nondetectable levels for the parameters tested, it does not appear that the source of the mud sampled in the Fond du Lac area is a contaminated area or reservoir."
-- Paul Tosto
A story in a Winona newspaper today might make you pause to wonder how much disaster aid the federal and/or state governments distributes, actually goes to fixing the damage of disasters.
The Winona Daily News reports Houston County in southeast Minnesota is giving back $1.5 million in money it received in 2007, because it didn't spend the money.
It was originally to go for reconstructing county highway 22, but the project was never started.
The state wants to use the money in Duluth.
An official of Houston County says it will try to keep the interest the money earned.
That was a massive flood that year. More than 10 inches of rain fell in one night. Six people were killed.
Five counties filed for $26 million in aid after the flood. And in 2010, some lawmakers tried to get some of it back.
A picture released today by the satellite company, Digital Globe, captures the extent of the Waldo Canyon wildfire near Colorado Springs. You'll want to click the image for a bigger version.
Google's crisis maps is using Digital Globe's infrared imagery to help people determine if they've lost their homes.1 Comments)
Some homes survived in Colorado; some didn't.
Around Colorado Springs, residents will learn at a meeting around 6 this afternoon whether there homes were destroyed. The Colorado Springs Gazette is live-blogging the firefighting efforts here.
About 300 homes, all within the Colorado Springs city limits, have been reduced to rubble from the wildfire coming down the mountains.
This is some amazing video of what it was like in one of those neighborhoods...
One of the people in the neighborhood didn't know the fate of his home, until he picked up a copy of the newspaper and saw it on the front page, in flames.
In the June 14 flood in Dakota, Goodhue and Rice counties, a third of Dayna Burtness' Laughing Loon Farm was washed away. But there was still a chance the first-year full-time farmer could make a go of it at her herb, flower, and vegetable farm in Northfield , which supports local restaurants and St. Olaf college with produce.
Then a hail storm hit three days later and she knew she was in big trouble. She lost thousands of dollars in equipment and ready-to-be planted vegetables, most of the peppers, the eggplants, and many beds of beans, beets, spring mix, and spinach. Even where some vegetables appear to be making a go of it today, Burtness is counting it as a loss because she doesn't know what pollutants were in the floodwater and hers is a farm that stresses organic and sustainable practices.
Laughing Loon Farm owner Dayna Burtness, right, and volunteer Louis Tafte, who works at the Bachelor Farmer restaurant, weed tomato plants Tuesday, June 26, 2012 on the farm's five acres near Northfield, Minn. Flooding and hail damaged the crops in June, but Burtness hopes to save the tomatoes by pulling weeds and fertilizing them with composted chicken manure. (MPR Photo: Jennifer Simonson)
It was a quick fall from lofty heights. Just a few weeks ago, her work fed a president and his guests at the Bachelor Farmer restaurant in Minneapolis on a presidential swing through the Twin Cities.
The region south of the Twin Cities got a little bit of attention after the flooding, but then the flash floods struck the Duluth area, and the attention shifted north, leaving Burtness on her own. She had to lay off one employee, leaving her only with two additional helpers, and her dog.
There is no flood disaster assistance from the usual sources, either. She couldn't get crop insurance, she says, because figuring out a value involves five years of crop results and this is her first full year.
There's still a little bit of the farm left on the land she rents, but the race is on to save the young crops that are left on land. Much of the topsoil has washed away and a nearby creek left only a pile of sand.
"I did some crying and puking," she said today, the first day she would find out if her plea for help would be answered. It was.
Up until today, it's been too wet to get into the fields to start trying to save what's left. A call for volunteers was answered today by about a dozen people who heard of Ms. Burtness' ordeal. An organic farmer from Hutchinson showed up, so did some local students, and a retired 3M'er pitched in.
This morning, the team alternated between adding chicken manure to bruised tomato plants and pulling weeds and thistle from the rows. The land is scarred and the tomato plants will struggle to survive, especially with competition from the invaders. Potato beetles have also showed up this week to add another challenge.
Things didn't look good last weekend, "but the plants have pepped up a bit in the last few days," Burtness says. She says of the the crops that are left, about half the income-making potential is with the tomatoes.
During a lunch break this afternoon, Burtness acknowledged her spirits have pepped up a bit in the last few days, too.
Volunteers help Laughing Loon farmer Dayna Burtness weed and side dress her tomato plants Tuesday, June 26, 2012 near Northfield, Minn. Floods and hail in mid June damaged or destroyed some of the farm's crops.(MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson)
There'll be another volunteer day either late this week or on the weekend. To learn more, visit the Laughing Loon website.
Some video just posted on YouTube presents a reality many of us hadn't considered before about the flooding in the Northland. It's likely some things are never going to be the way they were before. Portions of some rivers and canals, in fact, are going to be in entirely different places than they were just a few days ago.
This video from Thompson, in the Jay Cooke State Park, is a perfect example. How do you fix this?
Also posted today is this video of the famous swinging bridge in the state park. Whatever is left of it can't last much longer.
In happier times:
Photo: Swinging Bridge over the St. Louis River by stpaulgirl, on Flickr(5 Comments)
Another round of videos from the Northland.
Tischer Creek in Duluth:
Here's Tischer Creek when it behaves (Photo: Sharon Mollerus via Flickr)
Irving Park in Duluth...
The entrance to the College of St. Scholastica...
And along the Knife River...
And in Knife River...
A couple of years ago, I appeared at a Policy and a Pint session with my boss on the subject of ethics and opinion in news coverage.
You can scroll to 36:17 and see the exchange (one sided because someone didn't wait for the microphone) in which a journalism professor at the University of Minnesota assailed my response to her question of where I turn for news. My answer, of course, is numerous places but one of them is Twitter.
"That's like saying you get your news from the telephone," she said. "That's not a news source."
Her point was clear. There had to be a journalist -- probably a mainstream journalist -- using Twitter as a distribution platform, but Twitter itself was not a "source" of news.
By that rationale, I guess, most journalists are using their employers as a distribution platform. But I digress.
This morning, I noted, there was nothing on the front page of the largest newspaper in Minnesota, about the biggest flash flood in Minnesota in 40 years that was occurring last night. On last night's TV news -- at least the one I watched before turning to 30 Rock -- there was (legitimate in my opinion) coverage of a storm in Lakeville and South Saint Paul, but nothing about the unfolding disaster in Duluth.
But I knew about the situation in Duluth. Guess how?
Let's be honest here. Outside of Duluth, mainstream media struggled to play catch-up on a pretty big story and while much of the Twitter "coverage" came from the Duluth News Tribune, which did a fine job with things, a lot of it came from people in Duluth reporting on the situation while ignoring the middle man.
One of them was Dave Chura, who was the author of the original tweet last night, and also provided particulars during the morning to his Twitter followers.
Video from our drive into Duluth.yfrog.us/7eq0yz— Dave Chura (@dchura) June 20, 2012
Chura isn't a journalist by the standard definition. He's the executive director at the Minnesota Logger Education Program, and a citizen board member of the IRRRB.
Dave had a bigger day than we journalists did. Around midmorning, MPR's Cathy Wurzer put out the word that she couldn't get in touch with her dad, who lives in Knife River.
So I put the word out on Twitter...
Looking for anyone in Knife River who might be able to check on Cathy Wurzer's dad. Contact me email@example.com— Bob Collins (@NewsCut) June 20, 2012
And guess who lives near Knife River. Dave.
"I checked on the parents and they're all OK," Dave reported to me a few minutes ago.
And I got the news on Twitter.(13 Comments)
It was a beautiful sunset in Minnesota last evening, thanks mostly to the wildfire burning around Fort Collins, Colorado.
It's big. Real big, as this "false color" satellite image from Digital Globe shows. The dark area has been burned. The red area is still healthy forest.
Like the beauty of a sunset, there's a certain beauty in that picture, too. But as with most disasters that have a pretty edge to them, the closer you get, the less pretty it becomes.
(Associated Press photo)
One of these days I'll learn to avoid the Facebook comments on posted news stories. Today, however, is not that day.
This week is the one-year anniversary of the devastating tornado in north Minneapolis and it's pretty clear there remains -- in some quarters -- a "serves 'em right" mentality that we likely wouldn't see if the tornado had hit, say, south Minneapolis.
Take the Facebook comments on KSTP's story last night, for example.
A commenter writes:
I live in N. Mpls. It has not come back and it will never come back. Things are worse here than ever. That's why I'm getting out at the end of this month. People walk around with guns sticking out of their waistbands. Random guys walk up to women asking for money and refusing to leave. People try to just walk in your door. I have lived here for over 7 years. We have had our ups and downs. This is by far the worse. I don't even let my kids outside anymore bc you cannot trust anyone. North is a lost cause. The few good people remaining need to run away and let the bangers kill each other instead of our kids.
So many areas face worse devastation and get through it and move on. Why is it that N.Mpls is still being mentioned and grumbling about the tornado? Everyone in the area needs to get out and start cleaning up their homes and neighborhoods and stop sitting around for freebies.
That's quite enough for Brigette Mengerson, a north Minneapolis resident who knows better:
I am disgusted by some of these comments. North Mpls lost a lot of businesses that people depended on for wages. Many people lost their place to live because of landlords who weren't properly insured and/or let the homes go. Many homeowners are still stuck waiting for repairs due to greedy battles with insurance companies and the city. This isn't about looking for freebies- its about trying to recover with the little means you had to begin with.
In the last year residents have supported each other through community dinners, fundraisers, multi-media art receptions, support groups and on going donations of food, clothing and furniture. We even have a local resident who has a book signing party later this week.
Yesterday we broke ground on a new youth garden at 21st & Dupont. Over 30 people came out to dig trenches, build raised beds, shovel and haul dirt, etc. People got out of their cars and walked in from off the streets to lend a hand in the development of this garden which will provide healthy food and income for the youth who will be working the garden and selling at our local farmers market.
North Mpls is not a lost cause- the residents past, present and future deserve better than that sentiment. What may be a lost cause is trying to change your perception of what all of North Mpls really is.
I challenge you to come out today, grab a shovel and meet those who still have plenty of hope and determination for the successful growth and rebuilding of North Mpls.(24 Comments)
News this morning of earthquakes and tsunami warnings near Indonesia and across the Indian Ocean kicked the dread mechanism into high gear.
That's the part of the world where more than 200,000 people died from a massive tsunami in 2004.
The newest earthquakes triggered panic and a tsunami watch.
This one looks to have a happy ending, though. The BBC just posted:
Two hours after the quakes - one with a magnitude of 8.6, the other measuring 8.3 - the centre says "the threat has diminished or is over for most areas".The alerts caused panic as people fled buildings and made for high ground.
There have been no immediate reports of damage or casualties.
According to the BBC, today's earthquake was " felt as far away as Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India. 'There was a tremor felt by all of us working in the building,' a man called Vincent in Calcutta, India, told the BBC. 'All just ran out of the building and people were asked not to use the elevator. There was a minute of chaos where all started ringing up to their family and asking about their well-being.' "
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii loves capital letters. But in this instance, we'll take it:
A SIGNIFICANT TSUNAMI WAS GENERATED BY THIS EARTHQUAKE. HOWEVER...SEA LEVEL READINGS NOW INDICATE THAT THE THREAT HAS DIMINISHED OR IS OVER FOR MOST AREAS. THEREFORE THE TSUNAMI WATCH ISSUED BY THIS CENTER IS NOW CANCELLED.
-- Paul Tosto
UPDATE: Listen to a discussion of the earthquakes and tsunami worries from this morning's Daily Circuit broadcast.
This is a scene being repeated all over the country today as people return to their destroyed homes to find pieces of their lives in the rubble from tornadoes.
This morning, Marta Righthouse of Marysville, Indiana was one of the people pulling out what seems to be everyone's first choice -- the family photo albums.
What with digital technology, you won't see a scene like this a generation from now.
Other than the photos, what's the one thing you'd want to find if this were you?(10 Comments)
It was one year ago today that a 6.3 earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 185 people.
Today, Getty Images documented the signs of recovery.
It was two years ago last month that an earthquake struck Haiti. The tent cities are still there.
According to the Washington Post:
Two years after the world's worst urban disaster in a generation, about 515,000 Haitians linger in 707 camps scattered across the capital. Although it is not unusual for refugees fleeing conflict to be stuck in camps for years, as Somali refugees in Kenya or Palestinians in Lebanon have been, rarely are people displaced by natural disasters for so long, and almost never in a camp in the central plaza of a capital city.
Since the population in the earthquake camps in Haiti peaked at 1.5 million in July 2010, more than a million displaced persons have abandoned the tent cities. The vast majority left on their own, with little or no help. Some were shoved.
A report by Nicole Phillips of the University of San Francisco School of Law found it likely that many of the displaced persons who had left tent cities are now living in conditions worse than those found in the camps.
The International Organization for Migration counts 63,109 individuals forcibly evicted from 134 camps in the past two years and says 100,000 others are vulnerable to the same fate.(1 Comments)
If you were on the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship that capsized when it hit rocks off the Italian coast, what would it take to get you back on a cruise?
How about 30-percent off another cruise? That, the New York Daily News reports, is what the cruise line is offering passengers for their troubles:
"It is a ridiculous and insulting offer," survivor Brian Page, a retired British accountant, told The Telegraph of London, which first reported the discount offer.
"The company is not only going to refund everybody, but they will offer a 30% discount on future cruises if they want to stay loyal to the company," said a spokesman for Costa Cruises, a subsidiary of industry leader Carnival Cruise Lines.
The Telegraph also reports that the disaster is having no effect on people's interest in going on a cruise.
This image is sweeping across the Internet, apparently spawning questions about priorities and perspective. A couple pays attention to their baby, while tragedy looms just a few feet away.
But is it fake or real?
If anything, there's something going on in the photography to make the ship closer than it really is.
Here are several pictures that suggest there isn't a sidewalk or bench area anywhere nearby.
All of these might lead one to conclude it's a fake. There doesn't appear to be a sidewalk within range to make the shot possible.
But then I found this one:
Your verdict?(8 Comments)
The beauty of relief workers is they understand the value of "one at a time." Twenty-nine thousand children have died in the East African famine. One didn't. That's today's story, reported by the Associated Press.
Minhaj Gedi Farah, a Somali baby, was literally the poster child for the despair in Kenya when this image was snapped in July.
But just one month later, doctors said it wouldn't be long before he would leave the hospital:
And this picture was taken just a few weeks ago. The boy is being held by Dr. John Kiogora at the International Rescue Committee.
Ready, fire, aim...
There's plenty of online hysteria -- hello, Daily Beast -- about the crash of the P-51 at the Reno Air Races on Friday, and it's a good time to cite Bob's Axiom -- the amount of loaded adjectives and supposition in a story is in inverse proportion to the amount of facts and good journalism therein.
And remember: these military pilots are young, flying at the peak of their fitness, wearing special suits to withstand what are called G-forces--the pressure on the body created by high speed maneuvers--and very few aspirants ever make the grade. Imagine, then, how reckless it is to have old men, who can succumb to sudden health problems, flying hot rods barely 100 feet above thousands of people. It beggars belief.
I have no idea what happened, but it was pretty clear to me by watching the video that it involved the area of the elevator -- the control surfaces on the back of the tail that control aircraft pitch. Am I right? I don't know.
Since then, there's been a focus on the "trim tab," a small piece along the elevator that a pilot can adjust to set a plane's pitch without needing to exert control input via the yoke so intensely.
Did it have something to do with the plane being old? Not likely. Did it have something to do with the pilot being old? Again, not likely. There are few young pilots who believe they are better pilots than the man who was first on the scene of the crash. Older pilots like that don't fly the airplane, they are the airplane.
It's also worth noting that the two most "miraculous" airline events in U.S. history -- the Hudson River USAir ditching and the Sioux City DC-10 crash -- were accomplished by two pilots nearing retirement.
Do air races feature hotshot pilots who are on an ego bend and can't handle the demands of fast flight? Maybe. But Mark Kelly was going to fly in the races and he recently finished flying an aircraft that goes a lot faster -- the space shuttle. Retired astronaut Hoot Gibson, possibly the most publicly recognized air racer, is a Reno regular.
Brian Dunning, writing at Skeptoid, also doesn't know for sure what happened.
The media has described Leeward's plane as a "vintage" plane. This is hardly true. While WWII-era P-51 Mustangs, like Galloping Ghost, have long been mainstays of the Unlimited class in which he was competing, there is hardly a component of the original planes remaining. These planes are as fast and as modern as anyone knows how to make them. They are the fastest piston-driven airplanes in the world, and no expense is spared to gain a fraction of a knot in airspeed. Each is unique and is built to the extreme.
The "extreme" is a dangerous place in the world of physics and aerodynamics.
"When airplanes approach the speed of sound (Leeward and Hannah had both been traveling about Mach .67), airflow over certain parts of the airframe will exceed the speed of sound and create shockwaves. These can be like hitting the airplane with a hammer. They cause buffeting and damage," he writes.
The deaths of the spectators -- the first time that's happened in 47 years -- is certainly shocking and tragic. There's a debate to be had over the future of air racing in the desert. But if this event is to be used as the springboard for that debate, we're going to have to depend on the sciences to determine what happened first.
(h/t: Eric Hall)(5 Comments)
This image, sent to us today by Melissa Dressely of Lutsen, raises an old NewsCut question: What is it about nature's "disasters" that can be so beautiful? And why do we feel so guilty when it is.
This morning, you may have noticed a gorgeous sunrise. Tonight, you'll probably see a splendid sunset. Both are the result of the BWCA fire.2 Comments)
One of the frustrations of fighting wildfires is how long it takes to get the resources deployed to fight them. It must be very frustrating for people like Laura Clements (above) whose home near Austin is no more.
The Associated Press reports one such problem with a huge resource today: The inability to get a huge aerial tanker into the air. The plane can be filled in eight minutes and its computerized, gravity-fed water dump system can release its entire load in just eight seconds. It creates a swath three-quarters of a mile long and 300 feet wide.
We've seen this plane before -- in the southern California wildfires in 2006 and the 2009 Station fire in California:
But according to the Associated Press, while it's "on scene," it can't yet be used:
Firefighters can't use one of their biggest weapons against a devastating wildfire in Central Texas because they don't yet have the tanks and pipes to fill a converted jetliner with fire retardant nor a pilot to fly it over the blaze.
The Texas Forest Service says the DC-10 arrived from California on Wednesday, but it won't be used until at least Friday to battle the fire that's destroyed nearly 1,400 homes. Agency spokeswoman Holly Huffman says the state doesn't have the equipment to fill the plane and is awaiting the shipment from California.
The company normally has only a 12 to 24 hour delay in setting up operations.But in a recent fire further north, it took almost a week to get it into operation and a lot of damage can happen in a week.
She says even if the plane was ready, authorities don't have anyone to fly it because the pilot who was to conduct the drop has worked 14 straight days and must take two days off under policy.
The plane isn't operated by the government, which might have more than just one pilot to fly it. It's operated by a private company. It has been up near Yosemite fighting a wildfire started by a mobile home fire.
In another twist, the Austin Statesman reports that the city's fire chief chose to remain in Colorado on a golf vacation while the wildfires burned. She said the fires weren't in the city proper, though city firefighters were dispatched to help county efforts.(1 Comments)
I'm not sure what's the coolest thing about this: The image and the audio? Or that we live in a day when we can watch our weather from space? Enjoy.(3 Comments)
Posted at 10:47 AM on August 24, 2011
by Eric Ringham
It sounds like the East Coast came through the quake with most of its people, property and dignity intact. Even so, it's scary to see normally stationary fixtures start to sway, so I don't blame people for freaking out.
My colleague Molly Bloom came up with the wording we settled on for Today's Question: Does the risk of natural disaster shape where you live or travel? I knew it was a good choice because it made me want to answer.
Long ago I took a geology course at the University of Minnesota from a professor who, I distinctly remember, warned us about the danger of traveling to San Francisco. The Big One was coming, he said. If it doesn't happen today, that only increases its chances of happening tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, then the day after. The professor said that he wouldn't visit the Bay Area until after the major, killer earthquake that he knew was coming.
Then and there, I resolved to follow his example.
Years later, after a moderate earthquake on the West Coast, I decided to give my old prof a call and invite him to write a commentary about his personal decision not to visit San Francisco until after the next big quake.
"I said what?" he said. "No. I'm sure I never said that. I love San Francisco. I go there all the time."
But ... but ... I've been avoiding San Francisco for 20 years because you told me to.
"I'm sorry," he said, "but I never said that."
There's a lesson in here somewhere.
Looters in London have been going strong for days. Police presence is being stepped up. Police also are seeking public assistance in identifying alleged looters in images captured by surveillance cameras. Another, seemingly grassroots, strategy is being deployed: sarcasm.
Enter Photoshoplooter, a Tumblr blog of crowd-sourced images edited to make looters look even more ridiculous.
The front page of today's New York Times reinforces the notion that newspapers can still pack a punch that other media cannot. A front page still can force us to confront something we'd rather not confront.6 Comments)
The situation in Oslo today is, of course, horrendous. An apparent car bomb decimated the area around the government headquarters, and a gunman opened fire at a party youth camp where the prime minister was to make an appearance. Are they connected? We don't know. In fact, while we know what is going on, we don't really have a clue why.
A YouTube video captured the initial scene of devastation.
Now imagine if that were Times Square in New York. Wired suggests the method of attack -- no one has yet said for sure it was a car bomb -- mirrors the technique that a would-be bomber tried in Times Square last year:
As of this writing, there don't appear to be body parts around the hulk of the car, or other indications that it was set off by a suicide driver. That would indicate the style of attack aped that of would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, who loaded an SUV with fireworks, gas and propane, ignited the device and walked away, expecting the car to detonate.
"That's been so common that it's not necessarily so sophisticated," says Hank Crumpton, the former State Department counterterrorism chief. "Hezbollah's used both suicide driver & remote detonations. Oklahoma City was remotely detonated, no suicide driver."
Here's live coverage from the BBC.
update 2:34 p.m. - Colleague Michael Olson has sent along a longer video taken in the immediate aftermath of the bombing.(1 Comments)
Kenya today refused to open a refugee camp for East Africans fleeing drought. Kenya has taken Somalia's refugees for more than a decade, but it has appeared to literally draw a line in the sand. Dadaab's three existing camps were designed to house 90,000 people. Today, there are almost 400,000 people crammed into them and more than 1,400 arrive each day.
There's a camp already built, but Kenya won't open it because of "security concerns." So thousands of refugees have camped outside of it instead.2 Comments)
In any disaster, there's always the reality that people have jobs to do, even when their personal lives are in an upheaval.
The flooding in Minot is no exception, although the jobs that some people do are a bit unusual. There are missiles with nuclear warheads in the ground in that area and someone has to be on duty to fire one off if need be.
One reader dropped us this e-mail today:
My roommate and I had to evacuate Tuesday night and move to higher ground. We both rent a house in Minot, and we both have renter's insurance which covers flooding. What we couldn't save can be replaced eventually. In that aspect, our evacuation has been much less painful than other individuals or families who own houses without flood insurance. What makes our situation more complicated is, we're ICBM operators stationed at Minot AFB. We can't shut down like other businesses. There must still be two crewmembers on alert underground at every site, every minute, every day, no matter what is happening in the town. You try to take care of each other and help protect the community as much as possible, but at the end of the day the mission comes first and that mission remains nuclear deterrence.
On the other hand, if you fire a nuclear missile, the chances are what some water does to your house becomes immediately inconsequential.
People from Minot apparently don't forget their roots.
Actor Josh Duhamel called Minot TV station KXMC today from Moscow. "It's still home to me," he said. "I feel silly sitting in Moscow filming a movie, and I feel like I want to be home."
Duhamel called around 1 this morning and the story may be that a local TV station was still providing live coverage of a story at that hour. It's impressive around-the-clock coverage by people who, in some cases, have their own families to worry about.
It's a pretty neat trick, considering it only has about 10 people (including sports and weather) on its on-air roster.
It's a good example of why the size of local news staffs matters.
Update 2:12 p.m. - Minot officials have expanded their evacuation after officials announced another 2 to 3 feet of water will be released from an upstream lake.(1 Comments)
The race to higher ground continues in Minot where the Souris River is going to host the biggest flood in the city's history.
Mayor Curt Zimbelman, told residents today that the city's dikes would not be able to hold back the river.
Here's live coverage from KXMC in Minot, which is focused around the Broadway bridge in the city, the only one that might stay open.
How bad is this going to be? Really bad. Zoom in on the document here and see a satellite image of how the floodwater will inundate the town when the river reaches 1,556 feet (about a foot more than what it's at now).
Now consider that the river is expected to reach four feet higher than that depiction when it crests late Sunday or Monday, according to the National Weather Service.(1 Comments)
There are so many questions surrounding the accident involving the installation of a hot tub/pool in Shoreview over the weekend; like, "how big a hot tub does a person need?"
This tub was obviously bigger than the crane that was called in to install it...
That's not going to buff out, but nobody could have anticipated this sort of thing happening:(1 Comments)
Here's a news release from the MplsTornado.info people who have worked above and beyond the call of duty to provide information to residents of north Minneapolis in the wake of last month's tornado. They've organized a donation event for Saturday:
SUPER SATURDAY, JUNE 11TH 2011
Relief drive for North Minneapolis. You drop off donations at 2818 Washington Ave N. Minneapolis, MN 55411 On Sat between 6am and 6pm. On Sunday and Monday, they are picked up by Shiloh, Prayer Center and other relief orgs.
*MplsTornado is now taking volunteer names. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and specify what shift you can work 6-10am, 10-2pm , or 2-6pm. Need full name and cell phone number. Nothing is verified until you receive email from us. We don't need hundreds of volunteers . Just about 20-ish per shift so these will fill fast. First come first served. We will then also need volunteers for Sunday but not sure how many though at this time
* We still need pallets and trolleys. Can anyone lend these to us?
* Still need about 300 gloves and some back braces
* Need stationary. Some notepads and pens
* A couple of laptops and data entry experts to enter inventory as the day goes by
* Need a first Aid kit ( or hopefully a red cross duo or so on site)
* Looking for a very kind company/restaurant to volunteer grill or bbq for the volunteers. Prob from around noon-ish or so
* Will need a flag waver ( lol..not sure if correct term). Someone to stand outside entrance waving orange flag or so to alert motorists that they've reached the destination
-This is a people driven event. There is no specific agency or organization behind it. Just humble and kind residents. We would appreciate your participation for a good cause :)
-Vehicles will be turning right into the base and driving up to the staging area, then leave through the back
-We intend to have both some workers from The Prayer Center and Shiloh Temple on hand at the location helping with the efforts. These are the two primary recipients of the donations drive, along with others to be determined
-To clarify, please do NOT bring us any money or checks. We are simply collecting donations specified on list. If you wish to donate to one of the organizations, we have a list on our resource sheet http://sites.google.com/site/mplstornado/home. If you would like to donate to our ( MplsTornado )efforts in this process since we're carrying out most of our efforts out of pocket expenses, you can do so here http://sites.google.com/site/mplstornado/home/donate . Donations to us would go towards communications related expenses, transport, and liasing. We also want to begin hosting BBQs on different ravaged blocks, in order to speak to residents and connect with people
-Do NOT bring toys, furniture, clothes, appliances. Those will be collected at a later date
-We have received two weighing scales courtesy of Prism folks and we will weigh and take inventory of all items received so we can have full reports for you
-We are NOT distributing the items directly to the residents. We are distributing them to organizations who have 'in place' mechanisms to effectively and swiftly move the products out into the streets ASAP and have been actively doing so since day 1.
For more info, email email@example.com ( do not email this adress for volunteer opps)
Tickets for a benefit concert this weekend to help north Minneapolis rebuild from last month's tornado just went on sale Friday. But, an organizer says, sales are slow.
All the musicians are throwing in their time at the State Theater on June 12 and the theater has donated the venue.
* Sounds of Blackness (Northside, various members)
* Soul Asylum
* Brother Ali
* Robert Robinson (Northside)
* Larry Long
* Joyful Noize
* Tonia Hughes (Northside)
* Billy McLaughlin Group
* Sara Renner (Northside)
* Jeanne, Patty, Jason and Paul Peterson
* Cameron Wright (Northside)
* Paris Bennett (American Idol finalist) and Jamecia Bennett (Northside)
* The New Standards
* Dean Magraw
* Prudence Johnson
* GB Leighton (solo)
* The TC Jammers
* Van Nixon
* Toki Wright
* DJ Freddy Fresh
* Darnell Davis and the Remnant
* Keri Noble
* Ginger Commodore
* Tou Saiko Lee
* Thomasina Petrus
* T. Mychael Rambo
Find more information here.
Maybe music isn't your thing. The North Minneapolis Post Tornado Facebook site reports three volunteers are "urgently needed" for a donation effort on Saturday.
Must have experience in warehouse operations ( reception, inventory, packing e.t.c. Each would lead a shift of about 30 which would be split into smaller teams. Also, can anyone donate pallets? gloves?( about 300 gloves), back braces, shrink wrap, boxes? weighing machine? email firstname.lastname@example.org Shifts : 6-10, 10-2, 2-6.
The donation drive -- dubbed Super Saturday -- will collect items at 2818 Washington Ave N. Here's the list of needed items.
Minneapolis has a way of teaching people not to try to help.
According to the Hastings Star-Gazette , Mike Haege, who operates Custom Cut, a tree trimming business, has been kicked out of north Minneapolis, where his sister lives. He showed up on Monday after the tornado, signed the forms to be a volunteer, and started cutting up trees. He didn't charge anybody.
"I thought it would be the perfect chance to help," he said. "I knew there would be people needing help."
But Minneapolis requires tree trimmers to be licensed and although Haege is licensed in Hastings, he's not licensed in Minneapolis, the paper says.
A city inspector arrived at the scene. She told Haege he had to leave. Immediately.
"You have to leave right now," the inspector told Haege. "You're not licensed to be here."
"I said, 'I'm just a volunteer,' and she didn't believe me."
Haege went back to his truck and got his volunteer paperwork. Still, that did little to get the inspector off his back.
"I don't want to see you up here," she told him.
"She just didn't believe me," he said.
A volunteer from the Urban League, who had been with Haege since he signed up to volunteer that morning, did his best to convince the inspector that Haege wasn't charging for his services.
Residents then came out of their doors in his defense, telling the inspector that he had just performed work at their house and hadn't charged them a dime. Still, the defense fell on deaf ears.
The inspector told him to get out of the city, so Haege left with the volunteer. As they were on their way back to the volunteer area, residents waved down Haege, pleading for help. He pulled over and helped get a tree out of the way for them.
Haege says Minneapolis cops threatened to throw him in jail.
Yesterday, he got a citation from the city for $275. A tree permit in Minneapolis, which would have required proof of liability insurance, costs about $100.
I have a call in to Minneapolis business inspection and license officials for comment.
(h/t: Bring Me The News)
Earlier this week I wrote about the use of social media -- in this case, Facebook -- to try to find Will Norton, who was ripped out of his seat belts and sucked out the sunroof of a car in which he was riding when the Joplin tornado struck.
More than 50,000 people followed the family's search on the Help Find Will Norton page. Initially, it was reported he survived and had sought medical treatment, but the family couldn't find him.
Now, they have:4 Comments)
Julie Ovenhouse is part traffic cop, part therapist, and part handyman. Her actual title is Special General Adjuster for Farmers Insurance Group. Ovenhouse, who flew in from her home in Michigan this week, specializes in large-loss catastrophes. North Minneapolis more than qualifies. Her job is answering the question that is always the first one victims of disaster ask: "Where do I start?"
Deb and Ed Funk of Newton Avenue have been asking that question since the tornado ripped part of the roof off their home and destroyed a garage. Deb was sitting on her front steps when Julie arrived early this afternoon.
"I'm so sorry for your loss," Ovenhouse said. She meant it. She's seen the looks that greeted her before. On Tuesday, for example, she visited another home -- this one a total loss -- whose owners weren't sure the insurance would make things OK. Stunned early in the morning, by the end of the day, she says, the homeowners had a check for over $200,000 and a plan: They'd pay off the mortgage, demolish what's left of the house, move away, and donate the property to Habitat for Humanity.
It's a human success story, but not for a neighborhood that doesn't need people moving away.
Ed and Deb Funk have lived on Newton Avenue for 31 years. On one side of their home, a foreclosed home sits without any attention to its destruction. The man who once lived there was unable to make his mortgage payments after he quit his job to take care of his mother. But he returned this week to help the Funks and other neighbors.
On the other side of the Funks, another house is empty. Renters lived there. After the tornado, they left, leaving some pets behind.
"Over the last 10 years, we've thought about moving out," Deb told us.
"I could never leave here," Ed told me later. "This is my home."
Deb, it seemed to me, wouldn't mind hearing that the house was a lost cause. Ed wanted his house fixed.
All of that depended on Julie Ovenhouse, who discovered right away that this is a different sort of house. This is a collector's house. Thousands of action figures and collectibles occupied most every inch of the home.
Ed says he's been collecting toys since he was a boy -- he still has his wind-up toy collection. He started by going to flea markets to buy more collectibles, but now he goes mostly just to socialize with other collectors, and maybe add to the collection of stuffed Opus characters in the bedroom.
Ovenhouse discovers the problem there fairly quickly. Water from the hole in the roof means the ceiling is about to give way. Deb hasn't been up to the second floor since the storm, but quickly retreats when she looks at the mess. Piles of old tax returns are mixed in with the General Lee toy car collection from Dukes of Hazzard.
"What do you think, John?" Julie says to a contractor from Woodbury.
"I'm a gut guy," he says. "We can gut this right down to the studs, and then we're going to find the real issues."
Things aren't looking good on Newton Avenue, but a visit to the cellar reveals no game-ending structural damage, and the condition of the walls doesn't suggest the tornado picked this house up and left it unrepairable.
"You'll tell me whether it's better to just bulldoze it?" Deb Funk says, with a hint that it's a suggestion more than a question.
Ovenhouse delivers the best news the Funks -- at least, Ed -- could have hoped for. "You have plenty of coverage to repair what's damaged. It's not a total loss," she says. The Funks are insured for $236,000 and Ovenhouse doesn't believe the repairs will come close to it, although the contractor isn't so sure. He notices that the house is covered with asbestos shingles. There is also the question of how strict Minneapolis will be in requiring contractors to bring the homes in the area up to a code they didn't meet before the tornado struck.
If it's a relief for Ed and Deb, it's a temporary one. With one big question answered, other big questions move up in line.
How long will it take? About three months, the contractor says, which means they'll have to stay with a relative in Big Lake for three months.
The contractor also says he's not sure when he can begin. It might be another three weeks. "I'm not sure I can get my guys to come into the neighborhood," he says. It's a pain in the neck to constantly lock, unlock, and watch the vehicles and tools, he says. North Minneapolis is a tough part of town. Deb Funk thinks she might like to consider another contractor.
"How will we get everything out of here?" Ed asks Ovenhouse. Insurance will pay to have things packed and moved to temporary storage, she says.
As we sit on the porch, a man walks up and says he's from a nearby church, checking to see if everything is OK and whether the family needs anything. "We have some access to funds for you," he tells Ed. But Ed says they're better off than most people.
"I go from feeling lucky to be alive to wondering why I'm still alive," Deb says.
A neighbor stops by to tell a tale of looters. He's carrying a pad of paper with license numbers of people he's seen stop to grab things out of people's yards. "I was putting stuff in my garage on one side," he says, "and they were taking it out of the other."
As he sits on his porch and surveys a treeless neighborhood, Ed says he knows he should be moving about and doing something. But right now he can only sit and watch, thinking about the vacation time he's taken from work this week, the houseful of collectibles that need to be moved, the pride he'll sacrifice to depend on extended family for three months, and the resentment he has over the gawkers who jammed his street on Sunday afternoon.
For more than four hours, Julie Ovenhouse measures and photographs the home, and ministers to the couple. Even the bad news -- the insurance company won't replace a fence -- comes with the compassion of someone you'd think was at her first disaster.
At the end of the afternoon, Deb Funk has a warm hug for Ovenhouse. A check will come in a day or so. Today's delivery was more valuable: A start.
As she walks to her car, Ovenhouse's phone rings. It's a call from home. "Oh no," she says. "My daughter has an event tonight and it's formal and only my husband is home."
Julie Ovenhouse specializes in disasters.
I like you, north Minneapolis. You've got spunk. We love spunk. A tornado smashes your car, uproots your life, you pick yourself up and get down to making a YouTube video of it.
Comedian Joey Vincent reaffirms that sometimes all you can do is laugh so you don't cry. (Warning: Not suitable for workplace. Strong language and lots of "F bombs.")
It's below the fold...
By way of the Department of Homeland Security Facebook page, the Minnesota State Patrol has released these aerial shots of the damage in north Minneapolis . You can click on the image to see a larger version.
It's a noble effort by Rep. Keith Ellison to try to get people to contribute to the American Red Cross and help the rescue and recovery effort in north Minneapolis. It might not be a bad idea to disconnect the effort from the political fundraising, though.
Ellison's tornado recovery Web page featured a large "contribute" button. People who aren't paying close attention, might be tempted to click it, fill out the form, throw in the credit card number, and move on. If you do that, however, you've just made a contribution to the Keith Ellison campaign.
The Web site uses a content management system that makes every page's navigation the same (just as MPR does). The system doesn't know the confusion the navigation can cause.
Ellison "tweeted" the address of his page in urging people to donate. He should've just sent people directly to the American Red Cross page, which you can find here.
In a news release a few minutes ago, the city of Minneapolis urged people to donate money, not goods.
The Minneapolis Foundation has established the Minnesota Helps - North Minneapolis Recovery Fund to assist with both short-term and long-term housing and recovery-related needs on the North Side. To make a donation by credit card, visit www.GiveMN.org or send checks for the recovery effort to The Minneapolis Foundation, 80 S. 8th St., Suite 800, Minneapolis, MN, 55402
The city says it's not safe enough for volunteers to enter the area, even though a few local organizations have already formed a volunteer effort to help out.
Update 3:56 p.m. Rep. Ellison's office calls to say they've removed the "contribute" button to avoid any confusion.4 Comments)
There are plenty of tragic stories to tell in the wake of Sunday's tornado in Minneapolis, but the death of Rob MacIntyre is particularly poignant. He died while trying to help a neighbor today, according to Fox 9.
Rob MacIntyre, 52, brought his chainsaw next door to help a neighbor in need, despite having his own home destroyed in Sunday's storm. Family members said MacIntyre collapsed from either a heart attack or stroke. He had no underlying health problems.
MacIntyre was the president of the Raptor Resource Project, which announced his death today.
He was very involved in our work, rappelled with us, and established a new falcon nest last year at Riverview Towers. Rob gave me (Amy) rappel lessons at his home in North Minneapolis, using a large tree in his yard. He was a great guy, always very enthusiastic and encouraging, and he sure loved to rappel. He caught Amy when we were banding at Greysolon in 2006 and named her "Amy" (she was an unbanded adult falcon). We have many great memories of Rob and are shocked and saddened by his passing.
He spent his time in some pretty precarious spots (he's on the right in this Austin News photo)
(Photo via Raptor Resource Project)(2 Comments)
Is it? Are liquor and cigarettes the key to survival?
Looters have an uncanny ability to justify their crime, and to write graffiti about it. Here's Oakland, 2009 (via Jared Shelburne on Flickr):4 Comments)
People who lost everything in the tornadoes down south this week probably don't have a computer left either, but big credit goes to a woman anyway who's using Facebook to try to reunite people with their lost treasures.
And by treasures, we're not talking about the big TV, the new jacket, the PlayStation, or the car. We're talking about snapshots and memories, primarily.
Tornadoes don't just destroy the present; they destroy the past, too. If every picture tells a story, thousands of stories have disappeared.
So Patty Bullion of Alabama has created a Facebook page and is scanning in pictures of the past which have fallen in her neighborhood. She said a pregnant woman's ultrasound photo was the first thing she found outside her house in the small town of Lester.
You can find the page here. As devastating as the images of the destruction have been in the last two days, these images may be even more heartbreaking.(2 Comments)
|Event||President||Date of Event||Date of tour|
|Oklahoma City tornado||Clinton||5/3/99||5/8/99|
|Red River flooding||Clinton||4/17/07||4/22/07|
The National Transportation Safety Board has now posted the entire docket (available here) of its more-than-two-year investigation into the cause of one of the worsts plane crashes in Minnesota aviation history.
A few weeks ago, the NTSB blamed the crash of a business jet in Owatonna on the pilots, both of whom died in the crash along with six other people.
Some previously unreleased photographs of the wreckage show why the NTSB characterized the crash as "not survivable." They are below the fold.
We were warned and our doctors were warned, but it only was a matter of time that reckless use of antibiotics would catch-up with us. Obviously there are many legitimate uses for antibiotics, but apparently it was one sore throat too many, or one unfinished prescription too many because the superbug is here.
The writing was on the wall, or at least your screen, with articles like this one from Reuters from 2009:
In a simple Internet search, investigators found 138 online vendors that sell antibiotics without a doctor's prescription. More than one third supplied the drugs with no questions asked, while 64 percent made their own prescriptions after having prospective customers fill out an online health survey.
Wikipedia has a pretty image that illustrates how resistance is built by these superbugs.
Schematic representation of how antibiotic resistance evolves via natural selection. The top section represents a population of bacteria before exposure to an antibiotic. The middle section shows the population directly after exposure, the phase in which selection took place. The last section shows the distribution of resistance in a new generation of bacteria. The legend indicates the resistance levels of individuals.
Maybe IBM can save us? It's a long-shot.(7 Comments)
The Pew Center Project for Excellence in Journalism revealed this week that we're already getting bored with Japan and we're starting to lose interest in Libya. Japan, according to Pew's weekly monitoring of news sources, accounted for 12% of the coverage last week. "That compares with 15% the previous week and a whopping 57% the week before that," it said. The economy and a government shutdown is about to become the crisis du jour.
Remember Haiti? It's getting almost no coverage anymore even though it remains the disaster it was when an earthquake hit in 2010.
We hear these disasters dominate for a week or so, and then they quietly slip away. Often, we ask "what do you want me to do about it? Haiti is one such story.
Lindsey Boeser, who works at Fast Horse, a Minneapolis marketing agency, did something about it, which is why her blog post at the firm's Idea Peepshow blog is today's must read.
Boeser says she's been trying to recover from the loss of her boyfriend in a helicopter accident and says it was "time to stop focusing on myself and turn my attention toward others who are hurting."
And from her description, hurting remains an understatement...
The streets were littered with towering piles of trash, baking in the 90-degree heat along with human and animal feces, making for a smell so strong, many could not bear it. There were people bathing in the rivers next to women who were doing laundry. Stray animals roamed the streets, including bulls, donkeys, dogs, roosters and goats. Animals were being skinned right on the streets and hung from the tiny tarp tents, where they sat in the hot Haitian sun until a few cents could be made by selling it for dinner. Children and adults ran after the tap taps with baskets of cold beverages on their heads in hopes of making some money off thirsty travelers. Many of the children were shoeless and without bottoms as their families couldn't even afford food, let alone clothes.
Haitian families often spend their entire lives trying to pay off the $1,200 it costs for the tiny piece of land their tent home sits upon. Haitians make $1/day, if that. The average age is 18 and most children don't live past the age of 15 as they die of starvation and disease. I've heard statistics like these before, but now I was seeing for the first time with my own eyes the truth behind them. I could feel my heart breaking more and more with each passing second.
It doesn't sound anything like a miracle, but that's the word former president Bill Clinton used today to describe Haiti.
Speaking at the United Nations, Clinton says over $5 billion was raised to help Haiti, but only 37 cents of every dollar donated has been disbursed.
In an editorial this week, the New York Times this week said an epidemic of rape of women and girls has broken out in the camps where people sought what passes for shelter after the quake:
While the world's attention has turned elsewhere, Haiti's misery remains. The U.N. reported in March that contributions to its ongoing emergency appeal are lagging and funds are running out for even such basics as clean-water delivery and sewage removal. This month's meeting of Haiti's recovery commission and the selection of a new president may begin to put the recovery back on track. Women and girls in Haiti's camps must not be forced to live in constant fear.
(Photo: A shoe salesman waits for customers at the market in Titanyen, a settlement north of Port-au-Prince. The fields outside Titanyen were used as mass graves for victims of the Haiti earthquake. Photo by Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images)(2 Comments)
Before reading on, why not relax for a moment by listening to this peaceful scene.
Now then: We've heard from the possibly-doomed workers at the nuclear plants in Japan. CBS New Scientist Magazine has printed an e-mail, distributed by the Tokyo Electric Company at the site of the still-unfolding nuclear disaster.
"It's probably a given that we employees are to handle the situation even if the consequences may be dire for us. So we are doing what we can as best as we can. We will be carrying a cross on our back for the rest of our lives... We are very sorry for the inconvenience we are causing because of the scheduled blackouts... We employees at TEPCO have not been able to make time to take care of our own health let alone check on our own families' safety. "
The workers haven't even been given -- or haven't sought, it's not clear which -- the opportunity to assess their own family situation. Another employee writes:
"I myself have been on duty at contingency planning headquarters since the earthquake hit. My own parents are missing. I do not know where they are."
A lot of the media has moved on from Japan coverage and focused instead on Libya. But the worker has a lot to remind us about...
"I know that [TEPCO] is being heavily bashed for this accident, but we are not running away. We are the ones putting our lives on the line, so please don't criticise us. We are really scared for our own lives doing this. Please don't forget that."
By the way, that sound you heard in the clip at the beginning of this clip is what it sounds like these days at the site of the world's worst nuclear power plant disaster -- Chernobyl. More here.(1 Comments)
We have a little clearer picture today of just how large the tsunami was that devastated Japan after an earthquake nearly two weeks ago.
The Tokyo Electric Company, which operates the nuclear power station that's been struggling with containing radiation therein, says the wave was 14 meters high -- 42 feet -- when it reached the plant's parking lot.
But the Kyodo News Agency reports it reached 23.6 meters in the city of Ofunato -- 77 feet.
How high is that? Imagine you're standing at the corner of Wacouta and Sixth Street in the Lowertown section of St. Paul. Look up. That's 77 feet.
Seventy-seven cubic feet of water weighs more than two tons.
That helps to explain why we're still blown away by the images of the aftermath:(1 Comments)
Robert Stephens -- for the record, a member of the MPR Board of Directors -- has uploaded this video he shot at today's massive gas line explosion at 58th and Nicollet.
WCCO also has a gallery of images submitted by its viewers.(3 Comments)
A week or so ago, St. Paul composer Raymond Berg was having a great time with some local musicians he was working with for a production of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. The locals knew where the good restaurants were and after a performance, they had taken Berg and the orchestra for an evening out. Times were good. In Tokyo.
"It was a great time of bonding," Berg recalled today while sitting in a St. Paul coffee shop. It worked. Separated by thousands of miles and five days after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, he's worried about his five Japanese musical colleagues. He's trying to contact each of them and knows only that "they're alright." As alright as you can be when much of your country is in ruins and there's a chance that the way things are going the right spring breeze may kill you.
"We knew it (the earthquake) was extraordinary," he said. "You could tell by looking at the faces of the Japanese." He was on the 18th floor of a high-rise hotel (which had already been slated for demolition at the end of the month) when the earthquake -- two earthquakes, actually -- struck. He made it to the street in time for the second one.
"After we were on the street, I thought, 'I've got to get back in there to get my computer equipment for tonight's show,'" he said. There would be no show, of course. The production was canceled. He was able to get back home on Monday, feeling a little guilty about leaving people behind.
"They have a warmth that we simply don't have," he said. When the subways shut down, two American colleagues were stranded 7 miles away. They walked with a map in hand. "They ended up several times not knowing where they were, and each time the Japanese people came up and helped them head in the right direction."
At a convenience store in Tokyo, he said, there was no yelling or fighting over the rapidly-disappearing essentials. He says the manager of the hall where the production was being performed apologized for the earthquake and tsunami. "I just fell in love with these people," he said.
Being a composer -- he's musical director of the Ordway -- Berg wants to build a tribute to what he saw last week with the tool he knows best: music. Before "my emotional state is dispassionate" he's planning to compose a piece honoring the people of Japan. Part of it may include notes he heard last Friday afternoon -- the sound his hotel made as it "absorbed tremendous forces."
"It was a deep groan of stress," he said. "Especially with the aftershocks, I often didn't feel it, I heard it."
It's been more than 2 1/2 years since one of the worst plane crashes in Minnesota history. That's a long time for the National Transportation Safety Board to take to investigate an air disaster, even though the "black boxes" were recovered from the wreckage of a corporate jet at the airport in Owatonna (above) in July 2008.
Eight people -- the crew and several East Coast business executives -- were killed when the jet tried to land, aborted the landing, and then crashed into a cornfield.
"He tried a go around, which is when you land and you know you are not going to make it so you throttle back up and take back off," eyewitness Brian Mechura told MPR News at the time. "From where I was to the end of the runway was about a mile but it looked like he got up a little bit but when he lifted off the right wing was too heavy. He got it up so the whole airplane from wing tip to wing tip was straight up and down and, the power from the left engine must have forced it around and then it nosed straight in."
Why? The NTSB is answering that question today at a meeting unveiling the results of the investigation. I'm live blogging the meeting, and you can also watch it here (8:30 CT start).
8:33 a.m. - Deborah Hersman, NTSB chair, is in charge of today's hearing. "No details is too insignificant to ignore -- not the winds, not even the amount of sleep the pilots got. In this case, they all contributed," she said.
8:35 a.m. - Hersman apologizes to families for the length of time the investigation took, and says that factors were uncovered requiring additional investigation. The abstract of the report will be made available on the NTSB Web site 30 minutes after the conclusion of the meeting.
8:38 a.m. - This is the fourth accident in three years, Hersman says, in which a jet was unable to stop after landing, but it's the only one in which the pilot attempted to get airborne again.
8:39 a.m. - The presentation begins. John DeLisi, an investigator, begins. Giving a timeline of the investigation. "Early on it became apparent the lack of a flight data recorder was going to hinder our ability to determine performance. The ground proximity warning system provided a limited amount of data." This conflicts with earlier reports that there were "black boxes" recovered.
8:42 a.m. - DeLisi says there will be 14 safety recommendations as the result of the accident. John Lovell, the investigator in charge, begins his presentation.
8:44 a.m. - Lovell says the Atlantic City to Owatonna flight was the second leg of a five-leg trip. The captain was flying at the time of the crash. He notes a severe thunderstorm had moved through the region. He says the pilots did not get a weather briefing. The first indication of a weather problem was 20 minutes before landing. A flight controller asked the crew if they saw the 'extreme precipitation' 20 miles ahead. He recommended the flight not go through the weather. Seven minutes before landing, he updated the weather for the crew, indicating the winds were from the northwest at 8 knots with thunderstorms in the vicinity.
8:48 a.m. - The crew called the fixed base operator on the ground three times in the last seven minutes. Lovell says the final call -- asking about fuel availability -- was when the plane was 1,000 feet above the ground. (Bob: That's not the time to talk about buying fuel)
8:50 a.m. - Here's the weather at the time, the route of the flight superimposed
8:51 a.m. - The pilot failed to deploy full braking ability for 7 seconds after landing, the plane rolled past the end of the runway, strike a light, took off, and crashed. There was no evidence that hydroplaning occurred.
Bob analysis: That was a pretty blistering indictment of the pilots, even by NTSB standards. It depicted pilots not properly concerned with flying the aircraft safely.
8:54 a.m. - John O'Callaghan (background - Washington Post) begins his presentation discussing the aircraft. He's describing the systems on the plane that help it stop. It had no airbrakes, but it had systems in place to create more drag as it rolls to a stop.
O'Callaghan says newer studies show the plane should have been able to stop in 4,930 feet. But the older "friction model" showed it should have landed in 3,790 feet. The Owatonna runway is only 5,500 feet long. He suggests the newer calculations show the plane should've been able to stop if the "lift dump" system were engaged one second after touchdown (the "lift dump" system are the slow-down abilities described earlier). But the pilot didn't deploy those systems for 7 seconds. O'Callaghan concludes his presentation.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q: How slippery was the runway? What role did it play.
A: O'Callaghan: Compared to a dry runway, it was quite slippery. The slipperiness is dependent on the ground speed of the aircraft. It touched down at 130 knots. At that speed, the wet runway renders it very slippery, but not as though it had ice or snow on it.
Q: Was the runway flooded at the time?
Q: Was it the old or the new version of the calculation that was in use at the time of the accident?
A: The old one. And that would've given improper results.
Q: How could the weather have affected a different approach?
A: The tail wind was a tremendous factor regarding the stopping performance. If the landing had been made into a headwind, the landing distances required would have been significantly reduced. The landing distance would've been 4,300 feet down the runway. That's about the same point where the captain started the attempt to take off again. If he'd landed into the wind, that would've been the point at which he stopped.
Q: Some witnesses described a "rooster tail" coming up from behind the airplane...
A: That seemed to be an indication of a lot of water and some flooding. A NASA expert disabused me of that. If you have a rooster tail, it means the tires are in contact with the runway. If you're hydroplaning, you don't get a rooster tail. The water you're seeing is water on the runway but within the macrotexture of the surface. The water is channeled through those.
Q: The calculations seem to require the pilots to be "right on the money" on distance, speed, ... if they're not on the brakes quick, they're going to absolutely miss that target...
A: That's correct but that's where the safety margins are built in (i.e. requiring 1.9 times the landing distance as the calculations suggest one should have).
Q: If the "lift dump" had been deployed within a second of touchdown, the aircraft should've stopped at 4,900 feet, is that correct? Even with the tailwind?
Here's a chart showing how the the airplane slowed and went off the runway... (click for larger image)
But the plane would've stopped if the braking equipment had been deployed sooner. But why wasn't it? That answer remains to be provided.
Q: We're talking about a 6 second delay in deploying the "lift dump"?
A: The 7 seconds is measured from the time the nose wheel is on the ground. The one second is from the time the landing gear is on the ground. The difference is about 1.6 seconds. The delay is more like 8 seconds (in this case).
Q: The delay was more like "oops, I thought they'd done that," more so than not doing it?
A: It's more than mysterious than that. There was a partial deployment (of the braking mechanism) almost immediately.
Q: If the pilots had done a proper landing distance calculation, would that have given them information not to land?
A: It would've given them the OK to land. They were using the old calculations and even with an 8 knot tailwind, it would've told them they had enough room to land.
Q: Hersman: What's concerning to me is if they had conducted the calculations, it would not have told them it was not appropriate to land on this runway.
A: That's correct. With an 8 knot tailwind using the old model on a wet runway with the safety margin, they had 1,100 feet left.
9:42 a.m. - The pilot was in a card game the night before, got knocked out early, and spent time talking about the runway at Owatonna, wet/dry stopping numbers, the airport diagram, and where to park. They both felt good about the stopping distance. "So he was aware of the numbers," and investigator said. There's no indication they updated their calculations prior to the landing.
Q: How do we know the pilots didn't attempt to deploy the "lift dump" and that it didn't just fail?
A: We went through the plane from nose to tail and examined everything about that system and we didn't find any indication of a failure in the system.
PILOTS AND PRACTICES
10:01 a.m. - After a break, the presentation continues. NTSB investigator Capt. Roger Cox is talking about the crew actions.
Cox says there was no formal curriculum for "cockpit resource management" (how pilots and co-pilots work together) at the company East Coast Jets (the charter company) used for training.
He says the pilots had excellent records as individuals, but had significant difference in jet experience.
Bob: These points come up time and time again on crashes like this. It's the same concerns that were voiced after the Wellstone crash in 2002.
10:09 a.m. - Capt. Cox says the pilot tried to "go around" 17 seconds after touching down, the pilot was not prepared for such an event, and there was no training at the company for how to execute a go-around. (Bob notes: Even the new small plane flying students are taught how to execute a go-around)
10:10 a.m. - The pilots did not have enough weather information available to them to make proper decisions. Unlike airlines, there is no dispatching system for pilots to contact to make those decisions.
10:12 a.m. - Dr. Malcolm Brenner is talking about pilot fatigue now. The pilots got up around 5 a.m. The pilot didn't go to bed until midnight. They had inadequate sleep. He hints the captain had a sleep disorder. The first officer took sleep medication for which he had no prescription, but got it from his fiance. Dr. Brenner says the performance of the pilots was consistent with fatigue.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q: Why did staff choose to call this a "go around" and not a botched landing?
A: Cox: The event was unusual, but the actual actions that he took were consistent with a go-around - Power, flaps, and climb out.
NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt: Pilots are taught that a "go around" maneuver is a safety maneuver. I want to be clear: there is a difference. Anytime you're in the air, you can and should go around if things don't look right. But once you put wheels on concrete, you're committed to stopping. So I don't want anyone to get the impression that going around is wrong.
Q: In effect, was this a two-crew operation or a single operation?
A: In effect, the pilot took many actions to indicate that he was the sole decision maker. (The suggestion is that the crew wasn't operating together effectively)
Q: When you evaluate fatigue, what kind of factors do you evaluate?
A: Brenner: Sleep history, how long they've been awake, which in this case wasn't very long; we're looking at time of day, and medical issues such as a sleep disorder. We also try to evaluate the degree of risk. In this case, they had about 5 hours of sleep, and both them required quite a bit more.
Q: In this case, is this a little bit of sleep loss? Is it significant?
A: Brenner: Comparing this to alcohol, a two-hour cumulative sleep loss can be equivalent to about a .04 blood alcohol percent. Four hours would be closer to .08 percent or in that range.
10:32 a.m. - This captain had a reputation for being very patient with first officers. The first officer in this case had less than 300 hours in this type of jet. Brenner says he interviewed another first officer who had flown with the captain on the Owatonna flight and the captain had instructed him -- properly and effectively -- on how to land on a short runway. If he had done that in this case, the accident would not have happened. "There should have been a thorough approach briefing. They certainly should've talked about the weather and waiting a few minutes. Or 'if we're going in, here's what to look for,'" Brenner said. "The captain on this flight didn't provide that approach briefing. He seems impatient to get down. It was a different quality... not up to his standards. He also isn't required to give a briefing."
Q: Why do you think the captain was impatient to land?
A: Brenner: I don't know. They were 7 minutes ahead of schedule.
Q: Could it be because they wanted to get down before a thunderstorm hit?
A: Cox: The bulk of it had already passed.
Q: The forecast initially issued for the time of arrival was grossly wrong?
A: The forecast the crew obtained was issued around midnight Atlantic City time. There was no forecast for Owatonna (Bob notes: Aviation forecasts from Minneapolis are used). Once the system raced through the area, the advisories were updated as necessary.
Q: People are paid to forecast accurately. How did they miss it?
A: A briefing would've caught that the conditions weren't quite right. The crew never received an updated forecast (even though) the weather service had updated the forecast.
(Lots of discussion about the failure of the crew to use standardized checklists in preparation for landing)
10:55 a.m. - Sumwalt says the accident reminds him of the Wellstone crash. "In that accident, the NTSB found improper training procedures and lack of crew coordination."
Cox: During the interviews we asked East Coast Jet pilots about procedures and we got different answers from many of them. Sumwalt says that shows a lack of standardization. "Standardization indicates discipline," he says. "It's the backbone of professionalism. If you're not standardized, you're not a professional flying organization. You're just an expensive flying club." (Bob notes: Ouch. )
10:57 a.m. - Dr. Brenner acknowledges that new rules on crew rest wouldn't have affected this accident. "They had only been on duty for 5 hours and only been flying for three hours," he says.
11:02 a.m. - Pilots should've been aware they were landing with a tailwind (pilots normally land INTO the wind in order to land with a lower ground speed and reduce the length of runway needed) an hour before the crash occurred.
Sumwalt, an NTSB board member, is lecturing on the "sterile cockpit" rule, which was violated here. Under that rule, non-relevant conversations are prohibited. "There was no reason to be calling the FBO to talk about fuel or anything else, especially when you're on final approach," he said.
Q: Summarize the role fatigue played in the accident.
A: Brenner: Both pilots were not at the top of their game. If they'd been more aware of fatigue, they could've slept better the night before. The captain was playing a card game at the company at 11 o'clock the night before! For me it's upsetting that the first officer isn't getting treatment for insomnia. He was self-medicating. We've seen that in other accidents as well.
We feel that the FAA should give a course so there are clear guidelines with the medical group and in your treatment, have a controlled safe use of medications.
(Bob notes: Because the FAA medical office is so restrictive of prescription drugs, a lot of pilots intentionally do not seek medical treatment because they're afraid they'll lose their flight status)
Q: We've heard a lot about the FAA issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking on fatigue. Would that cover pilots of charters as in this case?
Q: Why do we think the crew thought they could execute a takeoff.
A: Brenner: It was an impulsive decision made in high pressure. We can hear in the recording the pilot is breathing heavily. We believe it's fatigue.
Q: Is it only the pilot's fault or is it the failure of guidance and training they didn't have?
A: The procedures of training were inaccurate. We're not pointing a finger at the pilot and saying he's soley responsible, but he was the final authority as to the safe conduct of the flight and we felt his interaction with his first officer could have been substantially improved.
(The board is considering a recommendation that once pilots commit to stopping a plane, they don't take off again)
The staff is proposing 26 findings:
1) The pilots were properly certificated and qualified.
2) The accident investigation was properly maintained.
3) The accident was not survivable.
4) The captain did not create an atmosphere to guarantee the safety of the flight. Inappropriate conversations, non-standard terminology, no checklist.
5) Poor aeronautic decision-making prevented them from considering alternatives to landing on a wet runway.
6) The airplane touched down within the target touchdown zone and appropriate speed. The captain touched the breaks but failed to deploy a "lift dump" system.
7) If the captain had continued the landing, the accident would've been prevented.
8) Establishing a committed-to-stop point would eliminate ambiguity in decision making.
9) No evidence of hydroplaning.
10) If the company had standard operating procedures, many of the contributions to the accident might've been corrected.
11) The first officer might've been used more effectively had they received crew resource management training as is customary on the airlines.
12) The FAA inspector for East Coast Jets was not familiar with outsourced training.
13) Maintaining consistency between checklists used during training and actual flight is essential to avoiding confusion.
14) Clearly stating and responding to flap settings, rather than saying "set" would eliminate confusion about airplane configuration at a critical moment.
15) Captain didn't receive proper weather information at Owatonna.
16) If captain had obtained a weather briefing, they would've had a more complete weather picture and known they might have to land on a wet runway.
17) Guidance to terms about thunderstorms would allow pilots to make better decisions.
18) Both pilots' performance was likely caused by fatigue.
19) Although the first officer took a sleep aid, because of the short duration, it's unlikely the med degraded his performance.
20) Allow civil aviation pilots with insomnia to use sleep medications, would improve abilities.
21) Educating/training pilots on fatigue necessary.
22) Formal training on how pilots can treat fatigue would mitigate incidents.
23) Wet runway guidance in manuals can be significantly shorter than actual distances required to stop on wet runways.
24) Testing requirements for pilots in command are inadequate because they don't mirror actual flights that charter pilots make.
25) The outdated ground proximity database on the plane was not a factor.
26) A light recording system for airplanes would have helped determine the flight crew's actions - flap settings, how much breaking effort they made on landing, etc.
Official Cause: The captain's decision to attempt a go-around late in the landing roll with insufficient runway remaining, poor crew coordination, a lack of cockpit discipline, pilot fatigue, and the failure of the FAA to require cockpit resource training to pilots of Part 135 pilots (charter and business pilots).
12:09 p.m. - NTSB is now debating a recommendation to require pilots to get a weather briefing by phone before flight. I'm not going to bother with that because it's a little inside baseball. One member says that would delay emergency medical helicopter flights and ignores the reality that weather briefings are available on aviation Web sites, and that weather did not cause this accident.
Japan's news network, NHK, has produced a video to show what's happening at the country's nuclear power plants. The big fear at the Fukushima complex, north of Tokyo, has seen explosions at two of its reactors on Saturday and today.
The situation brings up a question: How many backup systems should nuclear power plants have to prevent damage to the nuclear core? What we've found out so far is that two back-up plans aren't enough.
Chie Matsumoto, a freelance journalist, has been sending us updates in recent days. Amazingly, he says the shocking videos we've been watching for the last four days, don't accurately portray how bad things are. He describes a country in which the people of Minnesota probably know more about what's happening than the people of Japan:
I was in Rikuzen-Takada City Sunday, and I saw the aftermath of the tsunami, what it left behind. It is beyond what words can describe. I am sorry to say that the video footage of TV news doesn't do a justice to the people who suffered the tsunami and people who were killed by it.
Disaster really wasn't the earthquake, but it was the tsunami. I went over some cracks on the road. I saw a few houses with parts of walls fallen. Tsunami was what destroyed all, not the earthquake.
People received the warning through the city speakers that are set up outside. They heard, "A big tsunami is coming. You need to evacuate." Shortly after, they heard, "Run!" The announcement was cut off and the people never heard fromn the speakers, or the people who announced it, again. The few people assigned to announced it were at the disaster prevention center, and they went missing.
They sacrificed their lives to send everyone else to a safer place. They gave priority to others' safety than to surviving. The disaster prevention center is now under the mud brought on by the tsunami.
Some people even managed to evacuate to designated shelters, but the facilities were too close to the sea. When they thought they were safe, the tidal wave washed the buildings and the people's lives with it.
A 58-year-old man was dying to go look for his missing family member, but he was trying to tell people to turn back on top of the hill, when another tsunami warning was issued, maybe the third one since the initial tsunami. The volunteer fireman in the community was obliged to stand on streets directing traffic so that people wouldn't enter the risky area.
"I'm doing this to prevent further disaster," he said, wearing long rain boots and traditional fireman's jacket. His 24-year-old son was still missing, but he has almost given up on him. Having seen the tsunami from the aftermath, he said, "Having witnessed what tsunami did to this town, I'm almost given up."
The people warning their fellow citizens in exchange of their own lives and the man who killed his longings for his son both explain the royalty, the sense of obligation the Japanese people suffer from.
Indescribable emotions took over me when I was walking through the debris that extend miles away and talking to the locals trying to search their beloved families and friends.
Every time I tried to explain the situation, send a word of comfort to locals, I choke up. All the swirling emotions only turn into useless tears.
I heard lots of voices today, and the only thing I think about now is to let others hear their voices.
They need information. No electricity, no batteries, no news. They have no idea what it going on around them. There is serious shortage of food. It is just so overwhelming that I can't explain in words, but I just hope and want the words to get out.
DigitalGlobe, the satellite photography company, has provided about a dozen images on Flickr showing the devastation in Japan. This image shows the effect of the tsunami on Minamisoma. The water traveled 1.5 miles.
Find more images here.
The New York Times also has some before/after satellite photos.
Saint Paul composer Raymond Berg arrived in Tokyo several weeks ago as part of the local team bringing "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" to Japan. Of course, he had no idea he'd be stranded there today because of the terrible earthquake and tsunami that his Japan this week.
I reached Mr. Berg by e-mail with the help of his wife, Michelle who is back in Minnesota.
News Cut: How is it you happened to be in Japan?
Berg: I came to Tokyo several weeks ago as the musical director of a tour of the musical, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", produced by a company out of New York called Broadway Asia. It included many of the performers from the Ordway's production of this show this past December in St. Paul. We had been performing at an arts complex in central Tokyo called the Forum. The show had been going fantastically and we were heading into the second weekend of a two-week tour.
We have met many wonderful Japanese people such as the 5 local musicians who we were playing with. We had done considerable sightseeing in the Tokyo area and had some really wonderful times with those who were hosting us.
News Cut: What's the situation where you are now?
Berg: I am currently in my hotel room on the 18th floor of a hotel called the Grand Prince Akasaka in the Akasaka district of Tokyo. This is a 40-story hotel. The situation at present is this: Our area and most of Tokyo is in good shape structurally (more on that in a minute). I have been out in the street in the day and a half since the quakes. Many businesses are open. Nearby there is an area of restaurants and bars, most of which are open and intact. That being said, the traffic is very light and street traffic much lighter than our experience of prior to the quake.
I think a lot of people are pretty freaked and staying at home. We are also seeing that many of the shelves in the convenience stores are nearly empty, especially of water and food.
The subways are running. As of yesterday the rest of our performances were cancelled due to concerns that the theater itself in the Forum complex might be structurally compromised. Apparently the Forum did not want to take any chances by presenting any more performances.
News Cut: Are you attempting to get back home?
Berg: Yes!! We have reservations on a Delta flight on Tuesday and are trusting that these will be honored and that we'll be back in the States by Tuesday around noon (we gain the entire flight time on the way back). I have heard that flights are arriving and departing from Narita Int'l Airport, which is where we will leave from. We are keeping our fingers crossed.
News Cut: Can you tell me about when the earthquake struck?
It was truly surreal. I had just returned from a morning of shopping on the other end of the Ginza subway line (about 6-7 miles away) and had returned to my hotel room on the 18th floor. My room began to sway violently back and forth. I went out into the hallway where I encountered several housekeeping staff (no English at all).
Incidentally, while I write this I am feeling a strong aftershock. We have felt these consistently for the last several days. Anyway, for about 10 minutes I watched from an elevator foyer as buildings across from me swayed wildly back and forth. One building had two building cranes on its top which looked like marionettes flopping up and down and back and forth. That first quake lasted at least 10 minutes. Then everything grew strangely quiet.
I returned to my room. An announcement came on first in Japanese, then in English, saying "Stay in your room. The hotel is designed to withstand earthquakes". (Small comfort). Suddenly after 10 more minutes the shaking and swaying began even more strongly. This time I hit the stairwell and came down the 18 flights onto the street. There were hundreds of people just out on the street standing and looking at the buildings. Some Japanese were wearing hard hats.
That second quake lasted even longer, perhaps 15 minutes and was stronger. Our hotel looked like it was doing the Twist, torquing back and forth.
A note on that: Not one building in our neighborhood showed any damage after the quakes. This district is relatively modern and has many tall buildings. The Japanese have done an amazing job of designing and building their newer buildings to withstand the shocks of earthquakes. As I sit now there is another tremor and the floor moves back and forth. Our hotel is about 25 years old.
News Cut: Is there anything you can do at the moment? Is the country moving at all?
Berg: What we can do for the moment is sit tight, hope for the best and keep ourselves busy. We are able to move around, but I have not been down in the subways since the quakes. When the quake struck, our company members were all over Tokyo and I can gratefully say everyone made it back to the hotel by about 8p.m. Friday night.
We have all of today and tomorrow to just kind of hang around and support each other. Many of us have gone out on short field trips but I'm not sure anyone is planning on any more serious sightseeing.
Most disturbing is the news about the nuclear power plants. It is hard not to dwell on that really scary scenario. Another note: several members of our company will not leave the lobby and certainly will not return to their rooms above ground. The ground continues to shake and pitch.
Update 6:11 p.m. Sunday 3/13 - Mr. Berg writes that it's Monday morning in Tokyo and he's been able to get on a direct flight to the Twin Cities, arriving on Monday morning (CT)(3 Comments)
Like the rest of the world, we're watching the situation with the Japanese nuclear power plant, which exploded overnight. It does not appear at this point that it was a nuclear reaction.
The English-language Russia Today had its cameras trained on the plant when the explosion happened:
Late last night, there were claims that it was possible the nuclear core would melt. The BBC explains:
You can think of the core of a Boiling Water Reactor (BWR), such as the ones at Fukushima Daiichi, as a massive version of the electrical element you may have in your kettle.
It sits there, immersed in water, getting very hot.
The water cools it, and also carries the heat away - usually as steam - so it can be used to turn turbines and generate electricity.
If the water stops flowing, there is a problem. The core overheats and more of the water turns to steam.
The steam generates huge pressures inside the reactor vessel - a big, sealed container - and if the largely metal core gets too hot, it will just melt, with some components perhaps catching fire.
In the worst-case scenario, the core melts through the bottom of the reactor vessel and falls onto the floor of the containment vessel - an outer sealed unit.
In the absense of a Chernobyl-type disaster in decades, nuclear power has been making a comeback. In Minnesota. One of the first bills pushed by the new majority at the Minnesota Legislature was the repeal of the state's ban on new nuclear power plants.
A House-Senate conference committee has been meeting in recent days to work out an agreement on the bill, which -- if one is reached -- would then go to the governor.
Now the question is whether what's happening in Japan rejiggers the debate.
Kay Crothers, a News Cut reader and an ex-pat Minnesotan, dropped me an e-mail from her home in Crescent City, California a little after lunch today to report that the tsunami had reached her community, and at least one of the waves came in around 9 feet. Her community is just south of the border of Oregon, and appears to be one of the hardest-hit U.S. areas from the tsunami..
"Surges continue, and now high tide is coming," she wrote in an e-mail a little after 4 (CT) today. "The port is closed and it sounds like the harbor is essentially destroyed. There is a storm inbound, so now those small craft that put to sea in advance of the tsunami are looking for safe harbor to put in so they don't have to ride out 20 foot storm waves."
Happily, she notes, the radio station in town has been working hard to dispel rumors and keep people informed.
Here's a pretty impressive video from there...
Just south of there -- near the mouth of the Klamath River -- a man walking on the beach to see what the fuss was about and take some pictures, was swept out to sea.
Officials had warned people to stay away.
About 7 hours south of there, officials urged gawkers not to hang around on the beach waiting for the tsunami to arrive. Then the gawkers showed up...
5:03 p.m. - Colleague Than Tibbetts has passed along this video of a fool in Hawaii this morning doing what people who know better told him not to do:
February 26. 2/26. It doesn't usually ring a bell the way, say, 9/11 does. But it was 18 years ago tomorrow that the World Trade Center was bombed.
The 9/11 Memorial Museum is publishing a series of posts about 2/26 and today provides Carl Selinger's last letter. He was stuck in a smoke-filled elevator and thought he was going to die (click image for larger version).
Some eyewitness video has now been posted to YouTube from today's suicide bombing at a Moscow airport.
Caution: It's graphic.
It was announced last week that the annual "think-off" in New York Mills this year is "Does poetry matter?".
This shouldn't take long.
Kwame Dawes has been traveling to Haiti since the earthquake one year ago next Wednesday. He's turned his findings into poetry. Who wants to argue against its impact?
In Haiti, meanwhile, reporters who flocked to the island when the earthquake hit, are flocking there again to tell you what's changed. Jeb Sharp of PRI's The World today writes:
But even with all the anger and frustration and grief, life goes on, and it's not as if nothing is being accomplished. You can hear the sounds of building around the city, non-governmental organizations are working hard to tackle the cholera crisis, parts of the economy are humming with dollars from outside that accompany the huge influx of aid workers and others who are here to help Haiti recover. And there are people who see a silver lining or two. In the days after the earthquake there was a sense of Haitians coming together, even across the stark divisions of class that mark this society. People slept in the open without fear of strangers because everyone was facing what felt like an apocalyptic moment together. Several people have described the earthquake as a moment when the world seemed to be coming to an end. That togetherness has receded, but having glimpsed it, some Haitians want to reach for it again, to try to harness it for a greater good.
"That togetherness has receded." It usually does.
Cpl. Sean Osterman, 21, of Princeton was shot by a sniper in Afghanistan on Dec. 14. He died two days later at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.
He was buried today at Arlington National Cemetery.
In this Associated Press photo, Deborah Mullen, wife of Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, right, offers her condolences to Kelly Hugo during burial services for her son.(1 Comments)
There is a tragic coincidence surrounding today's plane crash in Milaca that killed Thomas and Elinor Eberhardt, prominent Aitkin businesspeople. They were on their way to visit his parents in Sour Lake, Texas when their plane crashed.
The Brainerd Dispatch reports ...
The Eberhardts moved to Aitkin from Pennsylvania in 1991, bringing with them three businesses that were consolidated under the name TeeMark Corp, located in the Aitkin Industrial Park. The businesses produce foundry ladles, can crushers and lake restoration operations, according to a 1999 Brainerd Dispatch story.
Mr. Eberhardt took over as chairman of MRC Polymers in October 2006, after the company's founder -- his younger brother, Daniel -- perished in a plane crash. He was in the identical type of airplane -- a Piper Malibu Mirage -- that crashed on Thursday.
The National Transportation Safety Board report on the 2006 crash said Daniel Eberhardt and a long-time friend died when the plane crashed near an airport, after he violated security zones around the Washington area.
The pilot was attempting to depart from an airport located within the Washington D.C. Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). Prior to departure, the pilot contacted an Automated Flight Service Station to file an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. During the conversation with the briefer, the pilot was asked if he was aware that he was departing an ADIZ. He responded in the affirmative. During a later conversation with line service personnel the pilot was reminded that he should contact air traffic control via telephone prior to departing in order to obtain a departure clearance. Shortly after departing, the pilot contacted air traffic control via radio and advised that he would like to obtain a clearance. The controller informed the pilot that he was violating the ADIZ, and that he should land at the departure airport immediately. The controller then told the pilot "just turn it off, land, and call us on the phone for your clearance." The pilot acknowledged the controller, and no further communications were received. Radar data showed that after turning onto a downwind traffic pattern leg, the airplane then turned toward the runway and descended. The final radar target was observed at 300 feet, in the vicinity of the accident site. Witnesses described watching the airplane in the airport traffic pattern, and that it was traveling very fast and closer to the runway on the downwind leg than normal. The airplane entered a steep left descending turn back towards the runway before it disappeared from view, and the sounds of impact were heard. Review of the pilot's FAA airman file revealed that about 2 1/2 years prior to the accident flight the accident pilot had acted as pilot-in-command of another flight, which operated within the Washington, D.C. ADIZ without following the operating requirements and procedures specified at the time. Examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence of a preimpact mechanical failure or malfunction.
Thomas Eberhardt, who died today, was an instrument-rated private pilot. The Malibu Mirage is equipped to operate in icing conditions. At the time of the crash, the overcast began just 300 feet off the ground, and freezing conditions began around 2,000 feet . But there were no advisories issued by the FAA warning of icing problems in the region today.
Shortly before the plane crashed, Eberhardt reported problems with the flight controls, NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said.
(h/t: Tim Nelson, MPR)(1 Comments)
Scattered violence and protests in Haiti are curtailing some relief activities there, but so far it hasn't appeared to slow the Minneapolis-based American Refuge Committee.
NPR reported today that the U.N. has stopped shipping medical supplies to the country still struggling to recover from an earthquake earlier this year.
So far, the UN has been forced to cancel flights carrying soap, medical supplies and personnel to Cap Haitien and Port de Paix. On the ground, Oxfam reports suspension of a project to chlorinate water for 300,000 people in slum areas, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has halted training of medical staff in cholera response and a World Food Programme (WFP) warehouse has been looted of 500 metric tonnes of food and burned. Road blocks set up by demonstrators are also hampering people from getting to hospital.
Some Haitians are blaming U.N. troops for bringing cholera to the island. Some relief groups have suspended their operations.
I checked with Therese Gales of the ARC, who reports:
Basically, while we are aware of the protests and our team is on heightened security alert due to the blockades, we have not experienced any problems directly. Our team is not being targeted. In fact, we have the acceptance and cooperation of our camp residents in Terrain Acra Camp (a camp we manage, which is home to more than 10,000 people and is located in Port-au-Prince) in the operation of a cholera treatment unit we opened in the middle of camp in response to the cholera crisis. We are lucky to have the trust of our camp residents in this particular matter.
CHOLERA RESPONSE: FYI--To respond to the cholera crisis, the American Refugee Committee team has been:
- spreading health messages door-to-door and by megaphone
- distributing water purification tablets to ensure clean water
- increasing the frequency of cleaning latrines
- increasing the chlorination level of trucked water
- distributing soap
- reinforcing our health- and hygiene-promotion activities
- expanding training for medical staff and community health workers on cholera to help stop the spread of the disease.
- We opened a cholera treatment unit in Terrain Acra Camp...
- We also are focusing on ORPs (oral rehydration posts) in the surrounding community, which we provide through mobile clinics.
Gales says ARC is providing services directly to over 80,000 people Haiti. More info is on their Web site.(1 Comments)
It didn't take Duluthians long to come to the aid of the people displaced by a fire overnight.
Forty residents were displaced by the early-morning fire at the Kozy Apartments.
"This job is at least a $20,000 job, so the big thing for the Red Cross is finding the money to pay for the food, the shelter and the clothing," a Red Cross spokesman told MPR News.
Carla Blumberg, who owns the Chester Creek Cafe in Duluth, didn't waste time. She posted an idea on the Perfect Duluth Day blog:
Can we put a fundraiser together between now and Sunday? Here is what Chester Creek Cafe will do:
1.) Set up a bank account to receive donations to Kozy residents.
2.) Take the 7pm to 10pm shift for a multiple site benefit - we clean out the "library" room for concert-style seating and prepare a "Spaghetti feed" type meal to be sold for (say) $15 to $20 -- all of which will go to the Kozy fund. Any donations of clothing or other stuff will be available for Kozy residents. Kozy residents will also get a free meal that night.
3.) We will give any participating musicians and performers (Fire spinners?) a $15 gift certificate and a free meal.
A few hours later, she had it put together:
Hey All, We're getting this in gear and need all of your help. Music is coming along and now we would like to see if any local artists would be willing to come set up and donate any or all portions of their sales to the Kozy residents fund. This will be a great night helping out our fellow community members and lots of fun!! Christmas is coming, let's do double duty!! You can call Alicia or Carla to get a space on Sunday night to help out with this effort.....(218) 724-6811 Thanks!!
(Video courtesy of KBJR-TV)
Yesterday, the head of British Petroleum (BP) charged that the media and politicians overplayed the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It might have been a pre-emptive attack.
"I watched graphic projections of oil swirling around the gulf, around Florida, across and around Bermuda to England - these appeared authoritative and inevitable. The public fear was everywhere," Bob Dudley said.
The pushback may have something to do with a documentary airing on PBS tonight. Frontline and ProPublica have been looking at the environmental record of BP. Here's an excerpt from The Spill.
Pro Publica has just posted its investigative story, documenting the failures of BP and comparing it to other oil companies who do business in the U.S.
The investigation found that as BP transformed itself into the world's third largest private oil company it methodically emphasized a culture of austerity in pursuit of corporate efficiency, lean budgets and shareholder profits. It acquired large companies that it could not integrate smoothly. Current and former workers and executives said the company repeatedly cut corners, let alarm and safety systems languish and skipped essential maintenance that could have prevented a number of explosions and spills. Internal BP documents support these claims.
The Pro Publica investigation also turned up an EPA lawyer, who weighed whether BP should be barred from doing business with the federal government. Though the U.S. gets 19 percent of its military fuel supply from BP, she pressed for "disbarment."
"I have to conclude that BP has a corrupt culture, and had I arrived at that conclusion while I was handling the case I would have immediately debarred them," she said last week. "I would have just let the chips fall where they may."
The EPA lawyer, however, fell in an elevator and has since retired. No action has been taken on the BP case since.
As I mentioned on 5x8 this morning, the people of southeastern Minnesota have good reason to wonder what's taken the Obama administration so long to declare their region a disaster area so they can get some help recovering from last month's flooding.
A special session of the Legislature was called off yesterday because the president has not yet acted.
Is the delay unusual? Unfortunately, no. Last year, for example, flooding hit Clay, Kittson, Marshall, Norman, Polk, Traverse, and Wilkin counties on March 16. It wasn't until April 9 that federal disaster relief was made available. Twenty-four days.
On June 17 and 26, tornadoes and floods hit Faribault, Freeborn, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Polk, Steele, and Wadena counties. A federal disaster declaration wasn't signed by President Obama until July 2. Fifteen days.
Down in Iowa, the disaster assistance offices that were set up after this summer's flash flooding are closing on Friday. The flooding struck around July 24. The president declared it a disaster on August 15. Twenty-two days.
But some disasters get quicker response than others. In April 2009, the crest of the Red River caused considerable damage in the Fargo-Moorhead area. The president declared it a disaster area on April 9. The river crested around March 28. Fourteen days.
The most recent flooding hit Minnesota on September 22. Gov. Pawlenty sought disaster assistance on September 23. That's 20 days.
If history is any guide -- and it often isn't -- when can the people of southeastern Minnesota expect help? Probably later this week.(1 Comments)
NASA today released an image of the toxic sludge that's inundated a town in Hungary. Click for the larger view.
Here's what it looks like today on terra firma ...
Teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state's emergency management division continue to assess the flood damage, MPR's Tim Nelson is reporting this afternoon.
This is the iconic image of the still-unfolding disaster:
That's not going to buff out.
The close-up photos of the bridge adjacent to the Lake Shady dam in Oronoco have been posted to the Facebook page of Minnesota's Homeland Security Emergency Management agency. There is also an album of pictures from the Civil Air Patrol of Highway 169 in the St. Peter area.(2 Comments)
This short documentary on the Cannon River flooding in Northfield was posted yesterday on YouTube. It was shot on Friday and has some unbelievable shots in it:
Today, I'm flying down the Minnesota River toward New Ulm, across to Mankato and then Northfield, Cannon Falls, Red Wing and up the Mississippi. I'll post some images on tomorrow morning's 5X8.
(h/t: KYMN Radio)(3 Comments)
The heavy rain in the Twin Cities today is what the people in southern Minnesota had most of the night and they're certainly paying the price. Overland flooding and stream flooding is threatening homes, causing some evacuations, and shutting down roads.
Through the day we'll be updating things on NewsQ and providing links to coverage elsewhere.
5:00 p.m. - Planning on driving in the area? Consult this map of trouble spots from the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
3:54 p.m. - Owatonna.com has some interesting pictures. Note the stalled car(s) where they tried to drive through standing water. We're always told not to do that, but back in 2009, I did, knowing full well it was a stupid thing to do.
3:26 p.m. - Paul Douglas tweets, "Had this same storm come in late October - Nov. metro would have picked up 25-35" snow, closer to 80" southern MN. Yes, could be worse." Memo to self: tune-up snowblower this weekend.
1:57 p.m. Downtown Pine Island. Click for a larger view.
12:37 p.m. - KSTP has some raw video of the flooding.
12:27 p.m. - An amazing picture from Pine Island from MPR's Jeffrey Thompson. This isn't a river. It's a street.
12:23 p.m. - Pine Island is looking for volunteers to help sandbag the city.Call the Emergency Operations Center at 507-356-8905 or 507-356-4591.
11:37 a.m. - This video, and accompanying pretty music, invites a reopening of an old debate between many drivers. Does the high speed windshield wiper do anything more than throw more rain on the window?
11:36 a.m. - Update from Amboy, according to Douglas: 10.45"
11:10 a.m. - Some evacuations are underway in St. James. An assisted living facility is being evacuated as a precaution, according to the mayor via Twitter.
11:09 a.m. - 10" in South Branch, according to Paul Douglas. 9" in Amboy. "This is roughly three months worth of rain falling in 12-18 hours," he says. "I don't think anybody in their right mind thought we'd be seeing 10" of rain in this system. That's equivalent to a hurricane's worth of rain."
11:06 a.m. - MPR's Midday is providing live coverage of the flooding now. The guest is meteorologist Paul Douglas. Listen here.
11:03 a.m. - Arcadia, Wisconsin seems particularly hard hit. Schools are closed as are the two largest employers in town -- both processing plants. The Arcadia News Leader says residents are being warned not to go out.ot allowed on the roads
11:02 a.m. - Very compelling images from the Owatonna area on the Star Tribune site.
10:50 a.m. - The busiest route affected so far has been Highway 52 which was closed, reopened and now -- according to KTTC, is closed again. Here's a list of some closed roads in the area and some images from the scene.(2 Comments)
Traversing downtown St. Paul these days isn't for the faint of heart. If you eschew the auto because of the LRT construction on the roads, the sidewalk sinkholes might get you.
At Wabasha and 6th Streets this morning, the sidewalk got sucked into the earth.
A man was walking on the spot at the time; he's in the hospital.
So the occasional empty streets of downtown St. Paul are empty again as a few dozen cops and reporters babysit the hole.
The Pioneer Press reports the sinkhole was caused by a broken water main, although there isn't a drop of water anywhere in sight. Fox9 says the water main break -- officials don't know where it is -- is flowing underground to points unknown. And it's likely weakening sidewalks unknown.
Meanwhile, a truck full of scrap metal flipped over on the ramp from 52 to 94 in St. Paul -- the site of constant truck flip-overs.
This clearly isn't St. Paul's day.(4 Comments)
NASA has released these satellite images of the flooding in Pakistan.
But images taken today from (formerly) terra firma still look worse:
This Argentine air show near-disaster video is going viral. It happened the other day during an airshow. The aerobatic airplane's wing fell off...
The pilot can probably thank someone in South St. Paul. The plane was equipped with a parachute from Ballistic Recovery Systems, which is based on the city's Fleming Field.
Last month at Oshkosh, the CEO there told me 61 people are employed at Fleming Field now, the highest employment they've ever had. The factory is working three shifts, and the company has plants in North Carolina and Mexico.
But while the company has recently received $1 million a month in orders for the first time, it's only because of the defense industry. BRS makes the chutes for military aircraft. The general aviation market remains weak, he said. Duluth-based Cirrus uses the chutes in their aircraft, and they're credited with saving over 200 lives.
The chutes are no guarantee, of course. The pilot above was lucky. His plane caught fire, but the plane was close enough to the ground that it was a short trip to safety. Earlier this year, a Cirrus aircraft collided with another plane in Colorado. The parachute deployed but the plane was on fire as it slowly descended. The occupants jumped to their deaths, witnesses said.
The National Transportation Safety Board this afternoon released images from the site of the plane crash last week that claimed the life of Sen. Ted Stevens and four others.
The NTSB is planning to release more information about the crash investigation this evening.
While a planned mosque near the World Trade Center site is getting all of the attention, the people who paid a big price for their heroism on 9/11 are quietly getting stiffed, some of them say.
The New York Times reports that settlement letters have been arriving at the homes of 9/11 rescue workers, many of whom have suffered devastating health effects of that work, and the $712 million settlement comes down to a pretty small amount once the fees and lawyer bills are added in. But the price of a life is, at best, a puzzling calculation:
Plaintiffs with cancer would receive relatively low compensation under the settlement because of the difficulty of proving a link between the illness and exposure at ground zero. A condition like asthma may draw more money because it is more likely to be proved in court with expert testimony to have resulted from exposure to particulates there than, say, lung cancer is, lawyers involved in the cases say.
In order for the money to be paid, however, 95 percent of the people eligible for it have to agree to take it.
"It weighs heavy on one's mind that your decision would impact the compensation of those who are sick," one ground zero workers said, "because if you don't get 95 percent you're not going to settle."(1 Comments)
Just one question: Where's the oil?
News organizations are gleefully reporting today that most of the oil that we saw gushing out of that broken well for nearly three months has "disappeared." It's petroleum magic.
The rosy assessment comes from a science report issued today by the Department of the Interior. It said:
In summary, it is estimated that burning, skimming and direct recovery from the wellhead removed one quarter (25%) of the oil released from the wellhead. One quarter (25%) of the total oil naturally evaporated or dissolved, and just less than one quarter (24%) was dispersed (either naturally or as a result of operations) as microscopic droplets into Gulf waters. The residual amount -- just over one quarter (26%) -- is either on or just below the surface as light sheen and weathered tar balls, has washed ashore or been collected from the shore, or is buried in sand and sediments. Oil in the residual and dispersed categories is in the process of being degraded. The report below describes each of these categories and calculations. These estimates will continue to be refined as additional information becomes available.
NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco says there's no oil on the sea floor, either.
Rice University Chemical Engineering Professor Dr. George Hirasaki said, "It doesn't surprise me because I understand the effect of aging on crude oil." He told KTRK TV in Houston that the Gulf is prime habitat for oil-eating creatures. "It's relatively light oil and the Gulf of Mexico is much warmer than Alaskan regions, so you get a lot of biodegradation," he said.
So after three months of hand-wringing over the environmental disaster now and in the future, we're being told "never mind"?
Still, if you use the government's calculations, 51.5 million gallons of oil is still below the surface. It hasn't disappeared. It hasn't disperesed. And it hasn't been eaten up by tiny oil-loving creatures. That's still nearly five times the oil spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, the previous record-holder for oil disasters in the U.S.
It'll be interesting to hear Science Friday on MPR on Friday to find out why so many predictions and assessments for the spill's effects were so wrong.(1 Comments)
Thursday's capping of an oil well provides one of the few days when Americans agree on something.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN has found something of a scandal in Haiti, where people are struggling to recover from an earthquake earlier this year. He found a warehouse full of undistributed supplies not far from an orphanage where workers are struggling to feed the kids.
(CNN appears to have removed the video for some reason. But trust me, he reported found a warehouse full of supplies going nowhere.)
There's added danger in these reports, however. They need to be told, but whose warehouse is it? Many relief organizations are doing all they can to help people, but what if people in the states see this report and stop contributing, because they think it's not reaching its intended destination?
More than likely, this is the Haitian government's fault. In April, it asked aid groups to stop food distribution, saying the free handouts "were undercutting local markets." NPR reported today. It took some aid groups to task.
Looking back over the last six months, the lack of transparency by relief groups has caused much of the coordination problems that continue to plague the response," says Ben Smilowitz, executive director of the Disaster Accountability Project, a nonprofit watchdog group.
This week, the Disaster Accountability Project released a report on the transparency of aid groups working in Haiti.
Criticism of the slow pace of recovery in Haiti is mounting. The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently released a report, "Haiti At A Crossroads," blasting aid groups for not coordinating recovery efforts better. Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry criticized Haiti's leaders for not making the difficult decisions needed to move forward faster.
Daniel Wordsworth, head of the Minneapolis-based, American Refugee Committee told TPT's Almanac that a rebuilding effort will take "at least five years."
The ARC has raised $1.1 million so far and distributed more than $750,000.
The PBS NewsHour is hosting an unusual hour Q&A with the new public face of BP -- Bob Dudley. Ray Suarez is hosting and people have submitted some tough questions.
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Q: When are you going to close the check book?
A: "We're there for the long term," Dudley said. Suarez pressed whether a motel owner, for example, could file a claim because people have canceled even though no oil has washed up on a nearby beach. Dudley said that if they can demonstrate the oil spill is related to to the cancellation, the claim will likely be paid.
Q: Gulf ecology will be altered for decades. How will you determine what has been damaged vs. altered as a result of dispersant?
A: There needs to be baseline measuring of the Gulf now, which is going on. If it shows there are alteration to things, that's why we're creating the Gulf Coast Restoration Program, to understand it. This is not just a Gulf event, it's a game changing event for the oil industry.
Q: What I've seen so far is a very disorganized clean-up effort. Miles of boom washed up with no one around. How are you going to make this clean-up effort more proactive and change the dynamics on the ground?
A: The clean-up effort has not been perfect. We've had some devastating pictures, particularly in the marshes of Louisiana. Beaches are easy to clean, but marshes are another story. The tides come, the storms -- Hurricane Alex -- is disrupting the booms. We're working with the Coast Guard, which is the command center. We're going from 500 to 900 skimmers. In the evening, oil moves and we think we know where it's going. Then at dawn, we're surprised. We send coordinates to skimmers, but sometimes they can't find it. We may bring in blimps.
Q: How did hurricane affect your operations?
A: It sharpened immediately as soon as the storm formed. We put in a hurricane preparedness system. It has send 8-12-foot waves right through the area where the operations are. The waves do not allow us to skim, the dispersant can't be laid down, and the booms are ineffective.
Q: Who tells whom what to do?
A: We make a series of recommendations. Secretary Chu from Department of Energy, Secretary Salazar are here in Houston and review every decision. Only after we have agreement and approval do we go forward on the subsea. This is not a spill, it's a leak. The Coast Guard has a lot of experience in the logistics work and the movement of equipment and material. It's not perfect, but it's a good combination of skills. They make the decisions.
Q: Why are BP staff getting a 'heads up' when administration officials so they can increase clean-up crews while the president is there?
A: That's not happening. I checked to see if it was a temporary piece. It's not. The crews didn't even know the president was coming. It may have looked like that. There's no attempt to put on a show.
Q: When are you going to start employing locals in the area?
A: It is our objective to hire as many local people as we can. We've hired local boats, made sure subcontractors aren't bringing in boats from other areas. There is a limited number of people that we can employ. I've heard these issues; we keep putting strong emphasis on our subcontractors to make sure it's local people who are hired.
Q: While BP has set up a compensatory fund for the people, will BP allocate resources toward setting up marine reserves?
A: We will set up a $500 million fund to look at rehabilitation activities. We want to make the gulf stronger; I know it doesn't feel that way today. The world will change along the Gulf, detrimentally for a while. I know people don't trust oil companies. We're trying to be as open as we can.
Q: Have all of the blowout preventers with the deepwater operations been tested?
A: For whatever reason, this blowout preventer failed. We looked at all of our facilities. Other oil companies have done the same thing. It's unusual for this to fail. I believe the industry will have no choice but to re-engineer these to make them more fail safe.
Q: Your company had to make assurances to the U.S. before it was able to extract oil. What should've gotten more attention, is the fact you were assuring the U.S. that if there were a leak of even greater magnitude, you'd be able to handle it. Now you're struggling 70+ days in to handle even one-quarter of the amount you said in the filings you could. What happened?
A: What's different about this event is it's a continuous flow. No one anticipated that.
Q: Do you think this could've happened at any offshore rig. Can deepwater drilling ever be safe?
A: What we've learned on this incident is only part of what we're going to learn through the investigation. I believe offshore deepwater oil and gas, it's a tough choice societies have to make because the world depends on energy and oil. Over time there will be a transition... to a lower-carbon economy, but it's going to take time. The fact that we have been drilling for 20 years in the Gulf without an accident, says that I believe the U.S. will need to go back to a period of producing oil and gas in the deep water.
Q: What's your alternative plan if the relief well fails?
A: We've got two that are being drilled. We're running parallel with the well, only 20 feet away. If we have a problem with that, we have a second one coming down. It's technology we know how to do. If those don't work, we're working on another series of options to divert flow of the well. There are at least two other options.
Q: BP's image couldn't have been helped by having Tony Hayward at a yacht race while the oil widget was showing the oil spill?
A: Until we shut the well off and get well into cleaning the beaches, BP's reputation is going to be scrutinized terribly as it should be. We want people to be able to say, 'they stepped up right away, set up a claims program, and that it will be regarded as an unusual corporate response.' Nobody wants to hear that now but I hope someday people will realize that.
Q: Is BP soliciting suggestions from experts outside the oil industry in trying to stop this catastrophe?
A: We've received more than 110,000 ideas for the next step. We have 40 people screening them. Of those, about 1,000 were worth following up. They've been primarily on the clean-up rather than the engineering.
Q: Are you preventing people from talking to the media?
A: Just today we've given all our contractors pocket cards with our media policy. We have more than 400 journalists embedded in the spill response.
Q: Will BP release station owners from their franchise contracts. How will BP help them?
A: Around the country, it varies. In some places they've organized boycotts. It's a shame because they're independents. I can't tell you what the planning is on the franchise owners, but I've mainly been working on the Gulf Coast. Some geographies -- particular cities -- have been difficult. It is not right and it is sad for those that are independent franchise owners who happened to carry a brand they were proud of. I'm going to speak to our refining and marketing team.
Q: Given all the information on the toxicity of the (dispersant), why is it still being used?
A: Correxit is approved by the EPA. It's one of the common dispersants used by the Coast Guard for more than 20 years. Many things, including dish soap, have a toxicity level. It's not far off and the lab tests show that. It takes the oil, breaks it into small droplets, and allows the bacteria to do its work and eat it. That's working. Nowhere in the world have we ever had this amount of volume for this amount of time put in the water. It's an unknown.
Q: Why are the updates posted on the BP website vaguely worded. The live video feeds seems more to mollify?
A: If they're vague, I'll go back and tell people to 'sharpen this up.' We've had a camera looking at the oil spill from the very beginning. There's about 14 robots down there and we've had well operations where I'm sure strange things are happening on the screen and people can't follow it. We're going to try to put a "bubble caption" in there, maybe even have a verbal "here's what's happening now."
=== End of the Q/A ===(2 Comments)
NASA has released this satellite photo of the Gulf of Mexico, with the oil slick clearly visible.
There are a few sensational paragraphs of copy in the decision of U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman's order today lifting the moratorium on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
Leave it to MPR's Nikki Tundel to find the real story in the wake of last week's tornadoes in rural Minnesota.
It's a guy picking up barbed wire along a road, a family living in an uninhabitable house because they're not ready to leave their own beds, it's people appearing from nowhere to put tarps on the damaged houses of people they don't know, it's people recovering from a disaster the only way they know how: starting.
Anybody want to bet against the Zeller family?
Nikki consistently tells great stories, often without saying a word, or -- in this case -- taking credit.(1 Comments)
There have been a number of videos of last week's tornadoes posted to the Internet, but few are as compelling as this one
So many questions are left? What did the house look like when it was over? What is it about a tornado that pulls a guy and his video camera away from safety? And where was this?
One tip: If you're going to film your home's destruction for the world to see, it's probably a good idea not to yell "shut up" to your loved ones at the height of the tornado while you narrate the scene for people you don't know.(5 Comments)
Well-deserved day off or the second coming of Marie Antoinette? Tony Hayward, the man deposed last week as the public face of the BP oil spill, is -- it turns out -- still the public face of the BP oil spill. On his first day off since the April explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, Hayward went to the yacht races yesterday.
"I wish I could get a day off from oil," a Gulf Coast fisherman said.
Meanwhile, oil continues to gush into the yachtless-water of the Gulf. The estimate of how much has soared pass the 25,000-barrels-a-day guess of a few weeks ago. But even that low end is still a heck of a lot of oil as this animation shows.
Another attempt at "visualization" considers the amount that's gushing vs. the amount we use:
After about two months, our short attention span starts to wander from most big news stories. But the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is different. Even after all of this time, the images are as compelling as ever, even as more of the coverage begins to dwell on the political recriminations rather than the environmental story that's obvious.
A group of photographers and videographers for TEDx have posted some of their (still) photography along with a narrative that documents the destruction.
And here's the Flickr pool of the National Wildlife Federation's images:
Tony Hayward, the face of the BP oil disaster, may have gotten the kiss from the oil company.
There's a lot of open space in rural Minnesota, and yet tornados struck buildings where few exist yesterday.
PBS Newshour has put together a nice video timeline chronicling the response to the Gulf oil disaster.
Oil-soaked birds? There's an app for that.
The oil disaster has been very, very good for comedy.
An environmental group says there's another oil leak from an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Sky Truth, which operates an oil spill tracking Web site, has provided images from space showing an oil lead from the Ocean Saratoga rig.
A pilot and photographer took a look last weekend:(3 Comments)
Since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform, British Petroleum (BP) has provided an ample buffet of bungling and disinformation, but the latest assertion of corporate wrongdoing doesn't pass the smell test.
Today's angle is that BP is trying to redirect people searching for information on the oil disaster to its own Web site.
The Examiner leads the pitchfork brigade with today's story:
In their most tenacious effort to control the 'spin' on the worst oil spill disaster in the history, BP has purchased top internet search engine words so they can re-direct people away from real news on the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.
BP spokesman Toby Odone confirmed to ABC News that the oil giant had in fact bought internet search terms. So now when someone searches the words 'oil spill', on the internet, the top link will re-direct them to BP's official company website.
But all BP is buying is the "sponsored link" at the top of its search results, a box most people ignore anyway.
"Most companies that are smart are buying relevant search terms to increase their visibility on the Internet," Terry Heymeyer, who teaches crisis management at Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Management told CNN. "As long as they are providing factual and timely information in a transparent way and doing interviews with other media sources as well, I don't see any reason why they shouldn't be buying search terms."(7 Comments)
Pulitzer Prize winner Mark Fiore is out with a new editorial video. The oil spill has been good for somebody's business, apparently.
Meanwhile, the cap on broken well is capturing some of the oil that's ruining the Gulf.
The Washington Post quotes BP CEO Tony Hayward saying "the majority, probably the vast majority" of the oil gushing from the well will be captured by the device installed last week.
Hayward, of course, is the one who also said any environmental damage will be "modest."
Here's today's oil disaster picture of the day:
BP has started a new ad campaign on television, to try to repair its image. See if you can find any actual images of oil after the 4-second mark:
The company used an ad agency operated by Republican and Democrat marketing experts who have some experience in putting lipstick on things.
Not surprisingly, comments have been disabled on the YouTube page hosting the ad.
But some people don't need words...(5 Comments)
The Gulf oil spill's joint information center has released this Coast Guard video of a pelican being washed of oil -- part of the "modest" environmental damage (as BP's CEO predicted a week or so ago).
Unclear is how many times the pelican will be back for more cleaning.
And this new video from the Louisiana Department of Fisheries and Wildlife explains why it's like to get worse.
6:57 p.m. - A media briefing on the day's attempt begins at 7 p.m. CT. The "unifed command" live blog of it can be found here.
* * * * *
BP reports (via Twitter) that it has started the "kill shot" operation, the desperate attempt to cap the oil well on the sea floor in the Gulf of Mexico.
There has been some confusion over whether BP would provide video coverage of the process and, at least so far, the live video is operating. Find it here.
1:38 p.m. - The video has now disappeared. Perhaps the camera is now covered with mud and cement.
1:40 p.m. - The video has returned.
1:42 p.m. - The video feed could use a "mission control"-like narration. It's impossible to know what we're looking at:
1:51 p.m. On the video, right click "zoom" and then select "full screen."
1:55p.m. -- BP says (via Facebook) "It will take 12-48 hours to complete this procedure, which is why the feed is not showing anything different yet."
1:58 p.m. - Aha! Some smart TV station has provided an embed option:
(All the updates are below the fold)
One of the more curious aspects of coverage of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf, is how little attention an early interview with a worker on the Deepwater Horizon platform got.
Today, for example, the Associated Press is carrying a story headlined:
The AP story is based on documents it obtained:
Truitt Crawford, a roustabout for drilling rig owner Transocean LTD, told Coast Guard investigators about the complaints. The seawater, which would have provided less weight to contain surging pressure from the ocean depths, was being used to prepare for dropping a final blob of cement into the well.
"I overheard upper management talking saying that BP was taking shortcuts by displacing the well with saltwater instead of mud without sealing the well with cement plugs, this is why it blew out," Crawford said in his statement.
It was a fascinating account, but it's not really new. Mike Williams, a worker on the rig, had already documented the story in a 60 Minutes interview almost two weeks ago, that got very little attention in the news cycle.
Shortcuts may be too gentle a word for what happened on the Deepwater Horizon.(3 Comments)
When I tell Barbara I am a reporter, she stalks off and says she's not talking to me, then comes back and hugs me and says she was just playing. I tell her I don't understand why I can't see Elmer's Island unless I'm escorted by BP. She tells me BP's in charge because "it's BP's oil."Trying to stop the effect of a reporter with a blog and/or a Twitter account is about as difficult as trying to stop gushing oil from the ocean floor.
"But it's not BP's land."
I mentioned on 5X8 this morning that BP was going to provide a live video feed of the Gulf oil spill.
That feed -- dubbed SpillCam -- is now live. You can find it here, although it's obvious the oil is spewing out of the earth faster than the bytes are traveling through the InterTubes.
BP has also put up a new video. It's about how great the Louisiana oyster business is, and how helpful the oil company has been.(1 Comments)
As with any truly massive disaster, finding the terms to describe the scale of the destruction is a feat rarely accomplished. Perhaps our inability to describe is really what qualifies an event as a catastrophe.
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you can now put the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in your backyard. Or, more precisely everybody's backyard.
Paul Rademacher plotted the oil spill and with some Google Earth magic, you can plop the spill right on to your neighborhood, or, rather, your state. (You'll need a modern browser and the Google Earth plugin to view it.)
As it stands now, the spill would extend from Duluth-Superior to Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Or on land, all the way from Faribault to Pine City.
By the way, it appears that officials estimates of the amount of oil gushing from the sea floor could be 10 times too small.(1 Comments)
If the "miracle on the Hudson" hadn't involved a miracle, what might we be saying today about US Airways flight 1549, which ditched in the Hudson River in January 2009?
The National Transportation Safety Board revealed today that tests showed that Capt. Chesley Sullenberger could have made it back safely to Laguardia Airport, after its engines flamed out in a collision with geese.
Airbus, the maker of the aircraft, said in a filing published today that while the flight could've returned to Laguardia, the pilots made the right decision:
Although an emergency return to La Guardia Runway 13 was technically feasible from an aircraft flight performance point of view, the emergency landing on the Hudson seems the most appropriate decision.
The safety board is considering whether there should be design changes to aircraft to make them better able to withstand bird strikes. One change that you may notice during those pre-flight briefings from flight attendants: The NTSB is recommending they had a demonstration on how to put on a life vest.
The NTSB has been holding its final hearing on the incident this morning. You can watch it online.(1 Comments)
Airlines are flying again, despite the ash cloud that's spewing from the volcano in Iceland. Is it because it's safe to fly or because they need the money?
You can follow the extent to which the planes are flying (or not) on FlightExplorer.com
Planes are flying into and out of Amsterdam, but at last check, the UK is a dark place where air traffic is concerned. It is supposed to reopen at 4 p.m. CT. (Update: It is now reopened)
How safe is this? Nobody really seems to know, the Associated Press reports, because nobody's ever done this on a widespread basis before.
"There are really no facts about risk. It's just how we interpret the information we have," said David Ropeik, an instructor in risk perception at Harvard and author of the book "How Risky Is It, Really?"
"This is a great example of how the pace of modern technological invention is making a lot more people nervous about just how sure science can be about anything," he said.
Watching the same people who earlier said it was too dangerous to fly now say it's safe "is just more proof that risk is a subjective idea," Ropeik said Tuesday. "It involves a lot more than what people assume it does."(3 Comments)
Just when we were in need of a story reminding us of the inherent decency among us, the Star Tribune delivered this morning with the delightful story of a group of stranded schoolkids from Paris, taken in by the students, staff and parents of the French Academy of Minnesota in St. Louis Park. The kids can't get back home because of the eruption of the volcano-that-cannot-be-named in Iceland. Their luggage --including clothes, of course-- is stuck in Customs. They'll be at the Minnesota Zoo today, courtesy of the staff there. They hope to get out of here on Sunday, which seems like wishful thinking, judging by the reports of the effects of the volcano's ash cloud.
Nice. Very nice.
It's reminiscent of 9/11, when the people of Gander, Newfoundland stepped up.
The Star Tribune today reported that 273 buildings in the city have not been inspected for fire-code violations for at least five years. The story was spawned by last week's tragic fire in the city in which six people died. That building had not been inspected since at least 1994.
"We need an expose from a local news station on fire inspectors. Similar to the recent videos of city workers in St. Paul. Your tax dollars NOT at work," one commenter said on the site.
It's an easy leap to make given the details the Star Tribune provided.
But it ignored a significant question. Are 273 uninspected buildings a lot? No. (Update: See comments section below. The answer may well be "yes")
According to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey released in 2008, there were 177,069 housing units in the city. Fifty-one percent of occupied housing units are renters. That's 90,305 rental units in the city.
The 273 buildings that went uninspected total 1,000 units.
That means about 98.9 percent of the apartments in Minneapolis were inspected within the last five years.(5 Comments)
I know this will blow out the format of the space, but I wanted to be sure these images from Thursday's fire in Minneapolis didn't scroll off our front page. And you can find Brandt Williams' story on the fire here.
Nobody died in the blaze, but there was a noticeable sense of loss among people I followed on Twitter today. Some restaurants and shops occupy a larger space in our hearts than I had imagined. Of course, I live in Woodbury. It's hard to imagine anyone weeping for the loss of an Applebee's or Chili's.
No matter what common sense tells me, whenever I see a TV documentary or pictures of the early moments of 9/11, I always hope maybe this time the outcome will be different. Of course, it never is.
9/11 came rushing back into the nation's consciousness today when ABC News released images from a police helicopter that were taken that day. It took a Freedom of Information request to get them.
The BBC's Web site has the most comprehensive slideshow of the images.
A slideshow with the story behind the request can be found at the ABC News site. Almost 3,000 pictures were provided to ABC, which has released only a few more than a dozen.(4 Comments)
Here's an ethical dilemma.
Critically injured Haitians have been ferried to the U.S. for care in the wake of the earthquake there. But, the New York Times reports, the airlifts have been halted by the United States, after the governor of Florida asked the U.S. to shoulder some of the burden of caring for the injured.
The suspension could be catastrophic for patients, said Dr. Barth A. Green, the co-founder of Project Medishare for Haiti, a nonprofit group affiliated with the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine that had been evacuating about two dozen patients a day.
"People are dying in Haiti because they can't get out," Dr. Green said.
It was not clear on Friday who exactly was responsible for the interruption of flights, or the chain of events that led to the decision. Sterling Ivey, a spokesman for Mr. Crist, said the governor's request for federal help might have caused "confusion."
The U.S. military says it suspended the flights after American hospitals were unwilling to take any more of the injured. But some Florida hospitals today said that assertion is not true.
This Sunday is the 10th anniversary of the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261, which plunged into the Pacific because the airline didn't replace a worn "jackscrew" that control the jet's horizontal stabilizer -- equivalent to losing steering control in your car.
This week, relatives of some of the 88 passengers and crew talked to the Seattle Times about a pain that doesn't goes away, much of which -- an article today says -- was caused by lawyers:
They were using us to do their thing, and that thing was money," Mark Hall said.
Some families who lost men had to deal with fraudulent claims of paternity -- from women in India and Central America -- that had to be defended. The claimants were looking to reap money from any financial settlement with the airline.
Insurance companies for the airlines, trying to quantify the loss, tried to make people put pricetags on their children, spouses, parents and siblings. The victims suddenly were defined by their jobs and potential earnings.
Kathy Janosik, Rachel's mother, said attorneys for the insurance companies made the families feel they had to defend their loved ones' worth.
"My son was an artist," Pierrette Ing said. "Does that mean his life had less value? What about the grandbabies I might have had?"
Family members did receive settlements, but the amounts, which were not made public, varied.
But, as the Discovery Channel documentary above shows, most of the anger of the families is reserved for the airline that cut corners, and a government agency that didn't do its job.
The difference between life and death for a person in Haiti might be sitting in this box in a Minneapolis warehouse...
or this one...
or this one...
or this one...
Sutures, cots, plastic sheeting, rope and respirators are the building blocks for whatever new life Haitians face. They've been donated by area businesses and hospitals and by Thursday morning, they'll be on their way to Miami in donated trucks, stored in a donated warehouse and -- if the American Refugee Committee can figure out how to get a cargo plane out of Haiti -- delivered to the volunteers working in Haiti.
A small group of people in the Twin Cities has been tapping the generosity of businesses, and depending on the donations of people to make it happen. "We don't expect anything, " Daniel Wordsworth, the president and CEO of the ARC said today. "We hope for things."
So far, hope works
Hope works because people like Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council called a family friend who is one of the owners of Mortenson Construction to get some trucks. It works because Perry Witkin (speaking in the video below), who owns Stat Technologies in Golden Valley (and is on the ARC board) , accompanies the supplies to Miami and knows how to get things done. It works because "nobody has said no" so far, according to Hunegs. It works because Best Buy donated satellite phones. It works because the Mosaic Corporation pledged $125,000. It works because people who aren't as well connected, well known or well-off picked up a phone and believed they could make a difference.
"This is the biggest shipment I can remember," Therese Gales, ARC's spokeswoman told me. "Most of the time we buy things in-country."
"People have said, 'What do you need?'" says Witkin. "I was in New Orleans for Katrina and we had truckloads of winter clothing showing up in July. Now people just ask what we need. You see the very best of human nature."
It's going to take at least that:
I asked Wordsworth whether the images from Haiti make his agency's work seem like a drop in the bucket, that it's too big of a problem? "What I do know," he said after ratting off a half-dozen disasters he's been at, "is this problem is not too big and the people of Haiti will return. For us, this is why we exist."
More than a week into the disaster, there's been some finger-pointing that aid isn't reaching Haiti quickly enough. It's not for lack of trying, as a caller to NPR's Talk of the Nation made clear this afternoon.
"As much as, of course, my heart goes out to all of the suffering and heartache that these people are experiencing, I really think that so much of the criticism and impatience of my fellow Americans sitting in their living rooms at home, generously donating their dollars is really emblematic of the need we have in this country for instant gratification. And I don't think people are really understanding enough that everyone who is on the ground there is making the very best effort that they can in the face of practically insurmountable obstacles... if it isn't done immediately, right now, this second, then somebody is doing something wrong. I just think we need to give these people more credit for what they're doing on the ground there."
(To read more about the life of an ARC volunteer in Haiti, go here)(2 Comments)
Q: How was the aftershock?
It was my wake-up call this morning. It was quite a jolt, but no damage where we are. It mostly just scared people. People are already sleeping out in the streets all over the place because they're so terrified.
Q: How did you get into Haiti?
We weren't quite sure how we were going to get here. We got to the Dominican Republic on a Coast Guard flight. There are now six of us here. Four are arriving just in the next hour. We've already begun delivering relief supplies; we have medical supplies, plastic sheeting for shelter, water treatment, containers for the water. We're getting to people right on the border. We've been organizing ourselves over the last few days and figuring out where we can add value.
Q: Is the issue lack of supplies or lack of ability to get the supplies to people?
Supplies are pouring in from all over the world. What you have here is a complete logistical nightmare. You have a port that's completely down, an overland route that's bumpy, an airport with one runway now under the control of the U.S. Air Force, that has lent some logistical support to the place. There's no lack of generosity or things to bear to the situation but getting it to where it goes is tremendous. People are spread all over the city and country. If you find a soccer field, it's now a tent city for displaced people.
Q: How dire is the situation?
What people are living through is without precedent. It's a catastrophe. People still have immediate needs. You see signs throughout the city, "help needed here." The main hospital has a waiting list of 1,200 patients waiting for surgery. Once they leave the hospital, there's little capacity for followup. It will continue to be a very dire situation for some time. That's not to say no help is getting to people, but there are these pockets throughout the city where people don't want to go far from their homes. There are all these debates about whether you serve people where they are, or get them to places where there are better facilities.
Note: Reports say a Doctors Without Borders helicopter mission was turned away at the airport. (CBS)
Q: Who's in charge in Haiti when it comes to distributing all of these supplies?
Good question. It appears to me no one group is in charge. The Haitian government has been decapitated. The U.S. military has its role, like the airport and its own relief efforts, but they're not overall in charge. The U.N. has a force here; they've taken a large part of the leadership. The world is going to have to think twice about how we as a global society manage disasters.
(Gary cited this report on PBS last night)
Q: Do you get the sense Haitians feel efforts are being made to help them or do they feel forsaken?
There's an element of people feeling forsaken. I traveled to several communities yesterday and when we arrived, they were very happy to see us. They said, "at last help is coming. Where is all the help? We see the helicopters. We see the planes." It's hard to organize all of this quickly, but people don't necessarily see that. Every day is like a decade to them. Your heart cries out for them.
Q: Are they justified in thinking, 'What the heck is going on here?'
Yes. A wealthy world has ability to move armies anywhere. On the other hand, we have to understand the complexity and unprecedented nature of this. An entire economic infrastructure is gone. There's no banks. It's very difficult to get around. Schools are gone, police departments demolished. The scale of the disaster is so unprecedented, there has to be an understanding that no matter what the resources, there's only so much we can do.
Q: What kind of system is in place for orphans?
I've seen stories of many orphans that have been airlifted out of the country already. There are several NGOs that work with street kids and orphans and they're working on some way of getting kids out. I can't imagine that there aren't lots of these kids still around the country, unable to go to safety. They may be taken care of by relatives, but I'm not sure where these kids should go. Your heart goes out for kids who've lost their parents and they're lying there in the street.
Q: Are there efforts outside of Port au Prince?
The communities have largely been ignored. Some of the bigger towns have been getting some attention. Within Port au Prince there are so many places that aren't getting supplies.
Q: Are roads generally open?
Inside the city, the main thoroughfares are open so it's not too difficult to get around although traffic is horrendous. Yesterday I was in a neighborhood where a building had collapsed into the road. We had to just drive over the roof. There are areas of the city that are hard to get to. Outside the city, the main thoroughfares are open but the access to smaller towns and villages is unclear.
Q: What about security?
I've found most areas I've traveled to be completely peaceful. We've heard stories of abandoned homes being broken into, as you can imagine. Largely I've seen a fairly peaceful city.
Q: Is concern about security hampering supplies?
That is true. Because some of the aid has come relatively late in the game, people are desperate and they mob the tankers and trucks and there hasn't been an effort to organize people to receive the aid. This is something we're working on with the ARC. One of the problems with the mobs is it's the survival of the fittest so it (the aid) doesn't go to people who are sick, kids, and people who are older. So we're working on showing them how to set up distributing supplies and organizing leadership.
Q: I hear there are tanks in Haiti, is this true?
I haven't seen evidence of that. I wouldn't be surprised if that is happening.
Q: Is there widespread concern that the U.S. military is there to occupy Haiti?
I don't see widespread concern but you do hear some of that. There are major sensitivities here to American involvement. In the '90s there was strong intervention here by the U.S. government and it wasn't appreciated. Haitians feel somewhat out of control of their own country. On the other hand, there is a strong understanding of support that they know they desperately need. So this is a probably a moment where Haitians are a bit more understanding. With assurances there are no intentions from the American government, it would be welcome.
Q: Any parts of Haiti that were not affected?
I understand in the north there's been very little damage. There's some movement of goods to the port there.
Q: There's a report the government was urging people to leave the city. Can the rural parts of Haiti accommodate that many people?
When I lived here, during the holidays people had their homes out in the country. It's only in recent times that urbanization has picked up pace. So people identify with a home village or town and they go back there traditionally. So it makes sense that they go there now. People live off food that they grow and rely on water sources that weren't damaged. The suggestion people do that might not be a bad one.
Q: Why wasn't there damage in the Dominican Republic?
The epicenter was right near Port au Prince. It naturally would've been largely in Haiti. To be honest, the Dominican Republic is a wealthier country and has a much stronger system of building codes as well, though I think the geography of the earthquake has more to do with it than anything else.
Q: You keep saying there's no work. Seems to me there'll be plenty of work?
Yes, there will be a lot of work but if you're someone who has been a secretary in a store or company and that was your life, and suddenly now your job is trying to construct things, psychologically that has an impact. Yes, there'll be work to do but it's a very different nature. Their lives are turned upside down. The whole prospect of rebuilding is something that will provide employment. It's going to take some shifting of priorities and acceptance that people will be doing different things than they did before. It's very hard for me to talk about opportunities when I'm in a city that's been devastated and will be in ruins for quite some time.
Q: Is there any way to determine how long the aftershocks will continue?
When I was at the earthquake in Pakistan, we had aftershocks for two weeks.
Q: Is there some provisions for the babies who've been born?
Mothers continue to give birth and get pregnant. That's one thing ARC has done effectively throughout the world is put attention on natal care. We're not doing it right now; we're just not operational enough. But this is something we'll be doing. Access to hospitals is limited because they're dealing with crushing injuries and multiple trauma, but relief organizations can play a critical role.
Q: How are you dealing with the loss of personal friends in Haiti?
I try not to think about it but the memories are there. When I came here, I didn't know how many of my old staff survived and I've found that most of them did survive. A member of my old staff is now working for us. He's a terrific guy with a wonderful skill set. Two international staff from my team in the '90s didn't survive. I just found out that another friend of mine, whose mother is from Minneapolis and his father from Camaroon, didn't make it. They loved the country and adopted it as their own and wanted to serve. My legacy now is to pick up where their work left off.
Should cruise ships with tourists be making port calls in Haiti so soon after last week's earthquake?
A post on the Telegraph's Web site paints a clear picture of well-off tourists "cutting loose" on a private beach, while armed guards keep the Haitians away:
The Florida cruise company leases a picturesque wooded peninsula and its five pristine beaches from the government for passengers to "cut loose" with watersports, barbecues, and shopping for trinkets at a craft market before returning on board before dusk. Safety is guaranteed by armed guards at the gate.
The decision to go ahead with the visit has divided passengers. The ships carry some food aid, and the cruise line has pledged to donate all proceeds from the visit to help stricken Haitians. But many passengers will stay aboard when they dock; one said he was "sickened".
However, at the Cruise Critic Web site, an editor paints a different picture:
Cruise Critic Editor in Chief Carolyn Spencer Brown shares this firsthand story after engaging in conversation with a Haitian taxi driver in Miami while traveling there this weekend. "He's from Labadee of all places, which is a good distance from Port-au-Prince. I asked him: how do Haitians feel about a cruise ship coming back so soon. He said that Labadee was not affected and that it's still crucial for people there to keep working, to have some sense of normalcy -- and that the country needs any supplies it can get (which Royal Caribbean was bringing in).
"I said, 'So it's not disrespectful, then?' He looked incredulous, and said, 'absolutely not.'"
A poster in one of the forums has an idea that is... well, you decide:
"Honestly, you can get off the ship, contribute, and have a subdued day. I also would probably leave several pair of brand new pairs of flip-flops on the beach. Not to mention a few new t-shirts and whatever. New and unused."
This 2006 profile of the area from the Christian Science Monitor reveals that the cruise ships' captains didn't generally tell passengers where they were, referring to the island of Hispaniola.
"It's much like we refer to our port in Bayonne, N.J., as Cape Liberty Cruise Port," a marketing spokesman for a cruise line said. "We were getting the same response about not calling that port 'Bayonne Cruise Port.' "
Royal Caribbean has pledged $1 million to the relief effort and will spend part of that helping 200 Haitian crew members, the Telegraph said.
National Public Radio's ombudsman, Alicia Shepard, provides the story-behind-the-story logistics that go into bringing the story in Haiti to NPR listeners.
Last week, Teresa Price and her family were wrapping up a holiday visit with family in Minnesota. Today, they're trying to figure out how to tend to the people who are coming to their mission in Haiti for help in the wake of the earthquake. They arrived back in Haiti in time to stop in Port au Prince for some groceries and then drive the 20 miles west to their Christianville Mission in Gressier. Then the ground started shaking.
Teresa is a physician's assistant. Her husband, Ryan, is an optometrist, her sister, Sara Thompson, told me this afternoon. "All the missionaries survived," she said," and they started seeing patients. They created a triage area in the yard and worked until 5:30 a.m. Teresa took a half-hour break and then she worked until 5 p.m., when they ran out of supplies."
And that's the problem. The people are still coming, but the shed where medical supplies were located was destroyed. "It's the only clinic in the area," Thompson said. "All the aid is going to Port au Prince and a lot of the people outside of the city are being ignored."
When the earthquake struck, the family back in the Midwest was unable to find anyone with the Christianville Mission's board in the States to tell them what was going on. "We were frustrated," Thompson said. "My mother found the cellphone number for one of the board members and she called it and she started yelling at the board member. It turned out the reason the board hadn't been in touch is that they had gone on a short-term trip to Haiti."
"'Wait a minute,'" Thompson says the man told her her mother. "'We're in Haiti and I'm standing right next to your daughter.'"
It's the only working cellphone in the area. The couple are able to get one e-mail message out a day, and have been able to post an update on their blogs.
"We set up shop at the church, which was still standing, although it had some concerning cracks in its outer walls," Teresa Price wrote on hers. "Jim and I, with the help of the team, sutured people and splinted fractures. Jim performed some amputations. Jen delivered a baby in a pew. A woman died of blood loss as she was lying in front of the altar. Almost everyone had a story of a loved one that was lost. Ryan was busy attending to our house, which suffered flood damage."
Abe Sauer, a columnist for The Awl, has helped publicize their plight. Earlier today, he wrote:
Christian non-profit organization Agape has gathered supplies and has a plane and has agreed to fly to Port-au-Prince with supplies specifically for the makeshift OR in Gressier. But without a helicopter to get the supplies the few more miles from Port to Gressier, the stuff might as well be sitting in Poughkeepsie.
Thompson reports that earlier today, one truck has made it through with enough fuel and food for two weeks.
"Do they want to stay or do they want to get out?" I asked.
"I kind of think that changes," Thompson said. "My sister would like to stay; she's been there for nine years. It's her home. Her husband has only been there two years and they've got a baby. It's a discussion they're going to have to have."
(Photo: A church door was used as a stretcher at the Christianville Mission in Haiti. Photo by Ryan Price.)
I wrote yesterday about the difficult choices news editors are having this week when it comes to how and whether to show dead bodies in Haiti.
Today, visual journalist Charles Apple looks closer at the choices newspapers are making, and considers whether there's danger in making dead body images common?
For Day Three coverage, it seems a little late to go with body photos. Especially given the tropical climate in Haiti. After the coverage Thursday that focused on dead, dying and anguished, I'd prefer to see photos of people being helped or fed or cared for.
Of course, perhaps that's the point. Perhaps there isn't enough of that going on.
It doesn't take long, it would appear, for us to become desensitized.
One of the other things that's been interesting to note about news coverage is the difference in editorial philosophy between newspapers and newspaper Web sites.
Here's an example from the New Orleans Picayune. Here's the paper:
And here's the paper's Web site ( click to enlarge):
The top story is the New Orleans Saints game this weekend. Haiti coverage was limited to reaction to the disaster from Saints players.
The situation is somewhat the same locally. On the Star Tribune Web site, Brett Favre plays higher than Haiti, which is scaled evenly with the latest on fighter Brock Lesnar.(1 Comments)
Some gnashing of teeth occurred online today as the calls for donations for earthquake relief in Haiti increase. It was prompted by this survey on CNN.
Fifty-six percent of those who bothered to take the unscientific survey are not giving to earthquake relief.
Who gives and who doesn't? ABC's 20/20 researched this in its own unscientific way a few years ago by comparing Sioux Falls with San Francisco, and found that the decision to give to charity was not necessarily related to ability to give.
Perhaps we have a moral responsibility to contribute to disasters, but other research says there's more to it than the goodness of our hearts. The New York Times cited a 2005 study by the Center for Philanthropy.
But if giving were driven just by moral sensibility, how can inconsistencies like the outpouring of donations after 9/11 or Katrina be explained when compared with the relatively little that has been given to the cause of AIDS or famine in Africa, scourges that dwarf anything seen in this country?
Maybe that is the point. If we can identify with the victim, we are more likely to donate. Americans have little problem imagining themselves flooded out of house and home; but how many can relate to a Pakistani villager?
Don't put all your money on empathy, though; too much can actually inhibit philanthropy. In 1991, Dr. Peter E. Warren at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, tried to increase charitable giving by encouraging empathy with needy people. He sent a letter soliciting donations to a well-known charity to a random sample of 2,648 subjects. The letter either encouraged people to imagine themselves in someone else's position or to consider that their charity would provide concrete help. The empathy manipulation failed. By contrast, people who were told that their donations were most likely to be effective in helping recipients responded by giving more.
In any event, it's a glass-half-full vs. glass-half-empty situation. Perhaps it's true that only 44 percent of Americans have donated to the Haiti relief effort, that's still significant.
"We're hearing that this is breaking all records," Sandra Miniutti of Charity Navigator, told USA Today.
Through this morning, the Red Cross reports it has raised more than $3 million dollars through text messaging ($10 is added to the phone bill). One-point-two percent of the donations came from Minnesota, according to MGive, which is coordinating the Red Cross texting effort (link doesn't work in Firefox). That's good for 20th among all states. Minnesota is 21st in population.
Meanwhile, on the ground in Haiti, the Free Methodist World Mission Haiti Relief Team has just uploaded this video:(1 Comments)
White Bear Lake native Troy Livesay and his wife, Tara, are getting plenty of national attention for their role in informing the outside world of what's been happening in Haiti since the minute the earthquake struck earlier this week.
They are country directors for World Wide Village, a Minnesota-based charitable organization providing Christian education, health care, nutrition and opportunities to children and families in Haiti.
According to CNN, "besides Troy and Tara, the household in Port-au-Prince is made up of daughter Paige, 15, and "the crew": Isaac, 8, Hope, 7, Noah, 5, Phoebe Joy, 3, Lydia Beth, 2, Annie, also 2, and Peanut the dog. Some of the children are adopted. Daughter Britt, 19, lives in Texas with her husband, Chris."
Tara does the blogging; Troy does the tweeting. On their blog, The Livesay [Haiti] Weblog today, Tara describes sending the children back to the States:
They were taking anyone with a USA Passport to a cargo jet to board to an unknown location in the USA. I prayed for them and sent them off. This morning I was resting in the courtyard of the US Embassy waiting to be picked up when I heard Troy yelling at me from the gate telling me our kids are in New Jersey. THANK YOU to many of you that prayed they would get out. They are now going to be cared for by our oldest daughter and her husband and by my parents. I know God will heal their hearts and minds. Thank you God that my kids are on their way to respite and love and care. I pray that for all the frightened children in Haiti.
Many people were angry at not being able to bring bags. I got very angry listening to that as CNN inside the Embassy droned on and on about all the trapped all the dead all the hurting. I think a bag of possessions is hardly something to fight over. There are lives hanging in the balance and there is no end in sight.
She notes the U.S. embassy staff, who also lost homes, have been doing an amazing job, working without sleep.
Troy tweets this morning that they're working on treating water in the area, and planning on setting up mobile medical clinics.
He also is encouraging donations to World Wide Village.
WWV's president, Randy Mortenson, is organizing a conference of organization with Haiti ties today. "I just felt that it would be simpler for us to come together as leaders here in the Twin Cities and determine exactly what assets and resources are immediately available in Haiti, and then look at that next wave of people and assets that we can put our heads together and be as efficient and effective as we possibly can be," he said.
The Red Cross, citing a network of volunteers, today said the death toll from the earthquake in Haiti is about 50,000. That number -- and our relative inability to comprehend it -- is putting news editors in a difficult position -- whether and how to show images of the dead.
The morning network TV shows appear to have decided not to stray from the shots of its network anchors.
The Boston Globe's Big Picture has compelling images here, and provides a warning for those that are the most graphic.
I'm doing the same for this picture from the Associated Press. Warning: It is quite graphic.
This audio slideshow from the Los Angeles Times doesn't show any of the dead, but is still able to effectively convey the nightmare rescuers face.
The humanitarian effort took another bad turn within the last hour. At the request of the government of Haiti, all flights from the U.S. have been grounded. There's no room at the destroyed airport for them to land, and there's no fuel to get them back home.(1 Comments)
This interactive from the New York Times provides the best sense yet of the extent of devastation in Haiti.
Behind the scenes of an unspeakable human tragedy in Haiti, an economic theory is being tested.
It's possible, some economists argue, that a natural disaster gives a bump to the economy of victimized countries. Douglas Dacy and Howard Kunreuther, two young analysts at the Institute for Defense Analyses, studied the aftermath of the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964, and found that money pouring into Alaska meant many Alaskans ended up better off.
"We got a lot of hate mail for that finding," Kunreuther told the Boston Globe last fall.
Gus Faucher, director of macroeconomics at Moody's Economy.com, also studies the economics of natural disasters, the Globe reported:
Faucher has looked at disasters in regional US economies and found in some cases a dramatic impact. The year after Hurricane Andrew struck southeast Florida in 1992, causing what would today be more than $40 billion in damages, the state saw sharp increases in employment thanks to new construction jobs. And Faucher credits the rebuilding jobs and aid and investment that followed the 1994 Northridge earthquake for helping pull the Los Angeles area out of its early-1990s economic slump. Hurricane Katrina, Faucher says, has proved an exception: Because so many residents left the area and because government aid was so slow to arrive and insurance payouts so low, the area didn't see an economic bounce.
Let's face it: The whole topic is unseemly, especially since some disaster economists say considering the long-term growth of a disaster area is likely to penalize those least likely to contribute to it -- the poor and homeless.
And Mark Thornton, an economist, points to other research that shows that natural disasters in poor countries do little good. Natural disasters, he says, are bad. Period.
Only in the richest of the developing economies studied were there any positive effects and this might provide some clue or clarity to solving the puzzle of disasters. Wealthier countries tend to rebuild after a disaster with more advanced capital goods, while poorer nations do less rebuilding. This rebuilding then shows up in GDP statistics and is thus claimed as positive benefit...
Therefore we can rest the common-sense case that natural disasters are indeed bad. A nation that experiences natural disasters will be harmed directly and will be less preferred by investors to otherwise similar nations that are disaster free. More disasters do not improve the economy, and as with Bastiat's broken-window fallacy, we cannot achieve prosperity in any sense via destruction.
My oldest son today asked a somewhat related question. If Haiti was a human disaster before Tuesday's earthquake, why did it take an earthquake for many of us to step forward and want to do something about it? That, of course, is not an economic equation. The answer is simple: We want to fix that which we see needs fixing. It takes an earthquake to force us to see it.(1 Comments)
Estimated death tolls during disaster are always somewhat suspect (Hurricane Katrina comes to mind), but some of the estimates coming out of Haiti are staggering, indeed.
They also vary widely. Jean-Max Bellerive, Haiti's prime minister, says the death toll is likely over 100,000.
Haiti's president, Rene Preval, says "hundreds" are dead. Youri Latortue, described as a "leading senator" by the Associated Press, says 500,000 might be dead. All admit they have no firm knowledge of a death toll.
Haiti has a population of about 9 million, so all three estimates represent a staggering toll. Based on a similar population scale of the United States, the numbers given so far would equate to 3,000 to 15 million deaths here.
The AP has just posted some raw video of the situation in Haiti. Be aware that some of it is graphic:
The earthquake measured a 7.0. The last time a quake that big hit the United States was 1999. The "Hector Mine earthquake," registering a 7.1, occurred in a remote part of the Mojave Desert. The only damage was a derailed train. There were minor injuries.
A similar-sized earthquake struck in 1992. Two people died from heart attacks.
Former White Bear Lake resident Troy Livesay and his wife, Tara, live in Haiti. He's been providing coverage of the earthquake from his perspective on his blog, The Livesay [Haiti] Weblog.
Thousands of people are currently trapped. To guess at a number would be like guessing at raindrops in the ocean. Precious lives hang in the balance. When pulled from the rubble there is no place to take them for care Haiti has an almost non existent medical care system for her people.
I cannot imagine what the next few weeks and months will be like. I am afraid for everyone. Never in my life have I seen people stronger than Haitian people. But I am afraid for them. For us.
When the quake hit it took many seconds to even process what was happening. The house was rocking back and forth in a way that I cannot even begin to describe. It felt fake. It felt like a movie. Things were crashing all over the house. It felt like the world was ending. I do not know why my house stands and my children all lie sleeping in their beds right now. It defies logic and my babies were spared while thousands of others were not.
(h/t: Kristin Fischer Rosel )2 Comments)
The search for Andrew Lindberg of Farmington ended tragically today when the wreckage of the Farmington man's plane was found in Clearwater County.
Searchers have been looking for Lindberg since he failed to arrive at a hunting outing in Hallock on Friday.
Now the only unanswered question is: What happened? Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board will have a better idea when they get their first glance at the wreckage. Wreckage scattered over some distance might indicate an attempt at an emergency landing. Wreckage in a small area might indicate what investigators refer to as "controlled flight into terrain."
It probably wasn't the former. First, there was no radio transmission. Second, the wreckage was found 21 miles southeast of Mahnomen. In the route map below (click for larger view), the orange line is the route. The airplane (denoted by the "X") was found along that line. An emergency would've led the pilot to turn toward two nearby airports, or turn back toward Park Rapids. He apparently didn't.
A possible factor is the difficulty of flying in the conditions, considering the terrain. It was night-time, there was no moon, and this is the terrain (via Google Earth):
It's also near the Chippewa National Forest. There would've been almost no lights visible on the ground. There was no moon on Friday. It wouldn't have appeared over the horizon in Mahnomen until 5:13 Saturday morning. It would have been difficult to detect the horizon. There's also plenty of swamps and water in the area, and the air temperature was cooling. The temperature/dewpoint spread around that time was less than 2 degrees in Mahnomen. That means fog was likely forming, too.
These are conditions that are challenging for even the most experienced pilot. They would have more so, of course, for a pilot with very little experience. Mr. Lindberg got his pilot's certificate in September, according to reports.(8 Comments)
It's a horrifying moment when news comes that a school bus has been involved in a crash, as one was today in Mendota Heights.
A usual question after a school bus accident is: "Why aren't there seat belts on school buses?"
The National Association for Pupil Transportation says they aren't needed:
Because of its superior size and extensive structural and other safety equipment a school bus tends to come out best in most crashes. Instead of seat belts, school buses use a passive approach called "compartmentalization, "well padded, high back, energy absorbing seats. Simply stated, the goal of this approach is to package children like eggs. It has performed extremely well in providing a high level of safety to the many sizes of children who ride school buses, ranging from pre-schoolers up to high school football players riding to games in full gear.
The National Highway Safety Administration says school buses are
seven eight times safer than cars or light trucks.
The school bus occupant fatality rate of 0.2 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is considerably lower than the fatality rates for passenger cars or light trucks (1.44 per 100 million VMT). The relative safety of school buses was addressed in 2002 by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in "The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment." It found that there are about 815 fatalities related to school transportation per year. Only 2 percent are associated with official school transportation, compared to 22 percent due to walking/bicycling to or from school, and 75 percent from
passenger car transportation to or from school.
Which means that if you give your kid a ride to school, he/she is at greater risk than if he/she took the bus.
(MPR Photo/Tom Weber)(4 Comments)
Once the flames are out , not much attention is paid to wildfires.
The flames are out in the Los Angeles area's Station Fire. That's the one that threatened the Mount Wilson Observatory and most of the communication towers in the Los Angeles area.
(h/t: Boing Boing)
Tomorrow is the 8th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center complex and people are still dying from it.
CBS has provided an outstanding report on the health effects of people who responded to the attacks, many of whom have been denied health, retirement, and funeral benefits by bureaucrats.
"Nobody wants to recognize that my husband served 500 hours down at ground zero giving other people closure and digging for other people and his illness is a direct result of that," the widow of a fireman who died well after the attacks. "Nobody's given me any closure. I have a two-and-a-half year old son to raise by myself now. So it would be nice if somebody admitted it. That was one of his dying wishes."(2 Comments)
In the news business, just about everything can be turned into a controversy. It appears the wildfires in California provide just one example.
The big star of the last 24 hours has been this thing: A 747 tanker that drops fire retardant on the wildfires:
James Rainey, the media critic for the Los Angeles Times, suggests the cool tools are overshadowing the people on the ground:
This week's coverage reminds me of the skewed perspective we get at the start of a Middle Eastern war. The airwaves brim with breathless video-fueled accounts of laser-guided bombs walloping a faceless enemy. We don't see so much of soldiers slogging it out on the ground or the ugly aftermath of combat.
There's money in the wildfire-fighting business. The company that owns the 747 charges $29,500 an hour.(1 Comments)
Here are a couple of new links you may be interested in for coverage of the California wildfires.
KTLA is providing an occasional live online feed from its news helicopter. The feed is occasionally difficult to access (presumably because of bandwidth) but is impressive and unfiltered.
Sky and Telescope Magazine is providing a live blog of efforts to save the famed Mt. Wilson Observatory.(1 Comments)
California is where disaster and art always seems to intersect.
And so it is today with the wildfires that have hit the western states. A massive fire in the Angeles National Forest nearly doubled in size overnight, threatening 12,000 homes today in a 20-mile-long swath of flame and smoke and surging toward a mountaintop broadcasting complex.
Video blogger Eric Spiegelman posted this:
Here's Spiegelman's Vimeo page.
Our sister-station -- KPCC in Pasadena -- has its broadcast antenna on that mountain. Audience members have been sending in their own photos. Many are quite beautiful in their depiction of the disaster.
(AP Photo/DAN STEINBERG)
Update 2:52 p.m. I asked MPR meteorologist Paul Hutter, who also writes the Updraft blog, whether we'd see the effects of that smoke in some fashion in these parts. Here's his reply:
1) Is there enough volume of smoke to reach the Midwest? Looking at the GOES 1km visible satellite today over So Cal I see the plume just north of L.A. from what I assume is the La Canada area. The plume is drifting northward. The question is does it have enough volume to reach the Midwest in a significant way? My guess is most of it will dissipate unless increased smoke volume is generated by the fires. http://weather.cod.edu/analysis/loops/satmaster.pl?S_California
2) Will the flow between 10k and 20k feet reach the Midwest? It looks like the general trajectory over the next few days will move smoke over the central and northern Rockies, then eastward around the ridge toward Minnesota. If there's enough smoke, it could get here. If it does, it should create redder sunsets. http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/namer/nam/12/fp0_024.shtml
The last beam removed from the wreckage of the World Trade Center was the first artifact installed today as part of a Sept. 11 museum on the west side of the site.
Click on the image below to read some of the graffiti written by recovery workers in pit of the site. The graffiti stays.
Find the online version of the museum here.
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A plane that crashed near Tea, South Dakota yesterday, was part of a squadron of private pilots that touted the benefits of ethanol by flying airplanes that use it. Todd Eslick, a corporate pilot, and a 12-year-old were killed when the RV-8 experimental aircraft crashed on Sunday. Witnesses said the plane's engine sputtered shortly before it crashed.
The Vanguard Squadron is sponsored by ethanol manufacturer POET.
It's not known, however, if the plane that crashed was running on ethanol.
Update 4:17 p.m. - The plane did use ethanol for fuel, according to the Argus Leader.
(In this Sept. 21, 2007 file photo, Los Angeles firefighters survey the scene of an accident between a commuter train and an SUV in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles. Most railways offer counseling to engineers who have already literally stared death in the face, as well as to those who can be nearly certain it'll happen to them one day. Psychologists liken the memories, the distress, the sense of isolation, the nagging fear that a deadly event may occur at any moment to the post-traumatic stress syndrome associated with soldiers returning from war. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File))
A story out of Chicago by the Associated Press is unrelated to another light-rail accident in Minneapolis in which one person was killed, but it sheds some compelling light on the often-innocent victims of accidents: the train engineers.
What makes the deaths so traumatic is how personal they can be, with engineers often seeing the expression on a person's face before impact. Details can be etched in their minds. Lough remembers the man he hit in 1992 who wore a black jacket, his hands in his pockets.
Bodies are typically torn apart, so the unshakable memories include gruesome scenes of the aftermath. Shoes often remain in the exact spot where people were struck because the impact lifts them of their footwear.
"You often know where they were standing by where their shoes are," said 55-year-old Gordon Bowe, who, as a Metra conductor, is responsible for walking back to survey the carnage after an impact.
People who want to kill themselves find trains to be an effective way of doing it. In Chicago, the engineers even have a term for it -- Metracide. Said one engineer:
'This is a coward's way to die,"' she thought after her train screeched to a halt. "'You don't want to do it, you want me to do it -- you want me to end your life.' But after the anger, there's remorse."
Seven people have been killed on the Minneapolis light-rail system since it opened in 2004. More than 800 people were killed by trains in the U.S. last year.
I mentioned in Five at 8 this morning that an air traffic controller in Teterboro, New Jersey has been suspended because he was on the phone with his girlfriend when a helicopter and plane collided over the Hudson River, killing all nine people.
Morning news reports said the phone call didn't have anything to do with the crash, but a news release from the National Transportation Safety Board seems to say otherwise.
Here's the release:
The tower controller advised the airplane and the pilot of another helicopter operating in the area of each other and instructed the pilot of the airplane to remain at or below 1,100 feet. At this time, the tower controller initiated a non-business-related phone call to Teterboro Airport Operations. The airplane flew southbound until the controller instructed its pilot to turn left to join the Hudson River. At 1152:20 the Teterboro controller instructed the pilot to contact Newark on a frequency of 127.85; the airplane reached the Hudson River just north of Hoboken about 40 seconds later.
At that time there were several aircraft detected by radar in the area immediately ahead of the airplane, including the accident helicopter, all of which were potential traffic conflicts for the airplane. The Teterboro tower controller, who was engaged in a phone call at the time, did not advise the pilot of the potential traffic conflicts.
The Newark tower controller observed air traffic over the Hudson River and called Teterboro to ask that the controller instruct the pilot of the airplane to turn toward the southwest to resolve the potential conflicts. The Teterboro controller then attempted to
contact the airplane but the pilot did not respond.
As noted above, immediately after the Teterboro tower controller instructed the airplane to contact Newark tower on frequency 127.85, the Newark controller called the Teterboro controller to request that they turn the airplane to a heading of 220 degrees (southwest) and transfer communications on the aircraft. As the Newark controller was providing the suggested heading to the Teterboro controller, the pilot of the airplane was acknowledging the frequency change to the Teterboro controller.
The Teterboro controller made two unsuccessful attempts to reach the pilot, with the second attempt occurring at 1152:50. At 1152:54, 20 seconds prior to the collision, the radar data
processing system detected a conflict between the airplane and the helicopter, which set off aural alarms and a caused a "conflict alert" indication to appear on the radar displays at both Teterboro and Newark towers.
During interviews both controllers stated that they did not recall seeing or hearing the conflict alert. At 1153:19, five seconds after the collision, the Teterboro controller contacted the Newark controller to ask about the airplane, and was told that the pilot had not called. There were no further air traffic control contacts with either aircraft.
The National Transportation Safety Board cautions against drawing any conclusions, but it would appear likely that the crash, which had caused politicians and others to call for more restrictions on the airspace above New York, is instead going to lead to questions about the ability of air traffic controllers to police that for which they already hold some responsibility.
Earlier, the union for controllers called suggestions they had anything to do with the crash "absurd and insulting."
Ironically, the situation comes hours after the federal government and the union reached an agreement on a new contract for the controllers after contentious negotiations.
The newsroom is working on the plane crash in Eden Prairie today. You can find the particulars here.
I don't -- yet -- have permission to post the images of the plane from the people holding the copyright, but here's one from the 1980s. And another. (Received permission tonight. Thanks to Gary Chambers! Gary says he last saw the plane parked at Flying Cloud's Air Expo last month. Its left engine was undergoing maintenance.)
It's obvious that it had a life as a commuter in Florida before it was restored to its original splendor.
The registration of the plane is a little spotty. The FAA, officially, says the registration -- N3038C -- is "in question"
The last time it had a trackable flight plan via online sites was in 2006.
Of course we don't know what happened and won't -- officially -- for months, but we can take the current evidence and reach an educated view of what might have been factors in play. Reports say the plane was in trouble right after it took off. That suggests an engine problem. It was returning to the airport and crashed north of it, and witnesses said it was wobbling just before it crashed, which indicates it had stalled (in aviation, stalling doesn't refer to the engine, but to the inability of the wings to provide lift because the airplane had slowed to the point where enough air wasn't flowing over the wings to provide the lift, and it simply falls).
Quite often, flight instructors advise against trying to return to the airport when a plane has an engine problem but to land "straight ahead." Attempts to turn back and land on a runway frequently fail. This is why "safety zones" are created around airports. Building is restricted around an airport just for such occasions as today.
A controversy about the need for those, for example, is currently brewing in St. Paul, where residents say it's too restrictive.
At the time of the crash, the winds at Flying Cloud were from the south, indicating that the plane may have taken off on runway 18.
In the picture below, this is the runway that intersects the two, right to left (click for larger image).
The one area that doesn't have a safety zone is runway 18. The airport is on the edge of a bluff overlooking the Minnesota River. Ahead is Valleyfair Amusement Park and Canterbury Downs racetrack, both of which would've been full of people today. (The main parking area for the PGA Championship at Hazeltine is Canterbury.) At the approach end (on the right in the picture above), there's nothing but trees and a lake.
Today's fatalities were the second and third general aviation accident fatalities in Minnesota this year. In June, a pilot was killed when he landed in a late-night rainstorm at Crystal airport. Today's were the first deaths at Flying Cloud airport since 2001.(2 Comments)
How can two aircraft collide with each other in New York City airspace as two did Saturday over the Hudson River? Aren't air traffic controllers keeping them apart?
There's a section of New York where pilots can fly without being under the control of air traffic controllers. It's no different than the area around Minneapolis-St. Paul, where there has also been the occasional mid-air collision.
As former CNN anchor -- and pilot -- Miles O'Brien notes, it's not inherently unsafe, but it does require pilots to pay attention to what's around them.
One of the busiest spots in this busy corridor is right near the Heliport at 30th St. on a pier on the Manhattan side of the river. The tour choppers there come and go frequently. They take off, go straight across the river and then turn down to the south for a trip to the statue. The chopper involved in this collision was doing just that. The plane was flying south - unsure what speed or altitude.
But here is an important point: it was a Piper PA-32 - A Cherokee Six or Saratoga (the sort of plane John Kennedy Jr. flew to his demise). It is a low wing airplane with a rather long nose. In level flight, downward visibility for the pilot is not so good. So the ascending chopper might very well have been completely obscured by the wing and engine cowling.
Why would private pilots fly in this busy corridor? The Statue of Liberty, and the breathtaking views, of course. Who wouldn't want to see those sites by air?
This is not, by the way, the same area where former New York Yankee Cory Lidle died in a plane crash. That was the East River corridor of New York, where airspace restrictions create a boxed-in canyon for pilots, forcing them to turn around in tight quarters.
There is no similar situation over the Hudson River.
Why did the aircraft crash? After an extensive investigation, the answer is likely to be the obvious one: They just didn't see each other.
(Photo: Flying the New York VFR corridor, by Ted Chang)(1 Comments)
Mark Rosenker told President Barack Obama he's quitting the National Transportation Safety Board today.
At least in these parts, Rosenker was a controversial figure, partly because of his career in politics. He oversaw the NTSB investigation into the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis. In the aftermath, he was the federal face of the bridge collapse.
He often clashed with Rep. James Oberstar during the bridge investigation.
He's the second board member in two days to resign.
The French version of the National Transportation Safety Board -- the BEA -- released preliminary findings in the crash of the Air France Airbus off the coast of Brazil last month. You've probably heard about it on your favorite public radio station newscast.
Here's the full English version of the report, which says the plane did not break up in flight, but hit the ocean at a high speed belly first.
The pictures of some of the wreckage are somewhat stunning because they're far bigger than what we usually see in plane crashes.
It seems increasingly unlikely the "black boxes" will ever be found. Without them, we may never know why this flight crashed, when so many others in similar situations have not.
As investigators continue to focus on faulty airspeed indicators as the cause of the Air France crash off the coast of Brazil, the National Transportation Safety Board says a Northwest Airlines Airbus 330 may have had a similar problem.
In a release late Thursday, the NTSB said the Northwest jet was flying between Hong Kong and Tokyo on Tuesday when it apparently had faulty readings for airspeed and altittude. "The aircraft landed safely in Tokyo; no injuries or damage was reported. Data recorder information, Aircraft Condition Monitoring System messages, crew statements and weather information are being collected by NTSB investigators," the release said.
Investigators in the Air France case are trying to determine if icing on the external speed sensors called -- called pitot tubes -- caused incorrect airspeed readings and allowed the crew to fly the plane far beyond its capability to to withstand an in-flight break-up.
Earlier this week, the National Transportation Safety Board held hearings on last winter's crash of a jet near Buffalo, and appeared to lay the blame at the feet of the pilot. It -- and we in the media -- pointed out the few seconds the pilot had to do something about a plane that was dangerously close to falling out of the sky, but he had not been "trained." So he pulled up, made the problem worse, and he and all aboard died.
Let's get the perspective from inside the cockpit. The semi-anonymous blogger who writes "Blogging at FL250" provides plenty of compelling analysis.
There was plenty of pressure to be had in the last thirty seconds of Colgan 3407. That the stick shaker was a complete surprise is self-evident. We don't know where the Captain's attention was in the moments before stick shaker activation; perhaps looking at the wingtips to see how the deice boots were coping, perhaps around the cockpit to see if anything had been missed during the rushed descent and approach checks. Maybe the long day had got to him and he was simply zoning out. It doesn't really matter; it's very unlikely he had any clue that the stick shaker was coming before it went off.
It is difficult to explain to those who have never flown airplanes with stick shakers just how jarring their activation is - even in the sim, much less the real world. The whole idea behind them was to have one signal in the cockpit that is so overpowering and unmistakable that the crew cannot possibly ignore or misinterpret it. Both yokes shake so heavily that you can feel it even if your hands are nowhere near the yoke. Loud clattering noise fills the previously quiet cockpit. The autopilot disconnects with the accompanying lights and aural warnings. In the Q400's case, this is a loud horn that repeats over and over until you acknowledge it by pressing the autopilot disconnect button on the yoke. The Colgan crew never did so - they had their hands full enough already - and that sound must have surely contributed to the chaos and confusion that filled that cockpit in the last 30 seconds.
According to Matthew Wald of the New York Times, the NTSB may recommend a change it recommended after the crash that killed Sen. Paul Wellstone in Virginia/Eveleth -- more warning equipment. But some pilots apparently think more flashing lights, horns and gizmos only add to the distraction pilots face.
In February, I wrote about the similarities between the Colgan Air (flying as Continental Express) crash near Buffalo and an Express II (flying as Northwest Airlink) crash in Hibbing in the '90s, noting that the big airlines -- in the name of "branding" -- don't exactly go out of their way to make it clear to paying passengers that when they leave a big airliner and get on a smaller plane, they're changing airlines and entering a different world.
Why that fact matters is tragically apparent today as the National Transportation Safety Board holds a hearing into the crash and releases cockpit transcripts. Fact: Sometimes the pilots aren't very qualified to transport you safely from one place to another.
The Washington Post reports:
First Officer Rebecca Shaw, in conversation with Captain Marvin Renslow, expressed wariness about the possibility of being promoted to captain without proper training.
"I've never seen icing conditions," Shaw tells Renslow. "I've never de-iced. I've never seen any-- I've never experienced any of that. I don't want to have to experience that and make those kinds of call[s.] You know I'd have freaked out. I'd have, like, seen this much ice and thought, 'Oh, my gosh, we're going to crash."
It gets worse. The captain in the crash had never received any training in the "stick shaker," the device that warns pilots when the plane is dangerously slow and near "stalling" -- falling out of the sky.
As I reported in February, the captain had over 3,000 of flight time. But nobody ever got around to teaching him about a critical safety device?
Matthew Wald, writing over the weekend in the New York Times, described a "safety net" that gets tighter with every crash. The problem is: It doesn't. The way pilot Marvin Renslow slipped through the cracks -- poorly trained and flunking flight tests -- reads almost the same as the way Marvin Falitz, the pilot of the ill-fated Northwest Airlink flight in Hibbing, slipped through. The only difference seems to be the passage of 16 years.
It would be unfair, of course, to say that regional airlines as a rule are unsafe. But there are troubling -- more than troubling -- signs that systemically, they've got a problem.
Local regional pilot "Sam," who writes the excellent Blogging at FL250, pointed to the crash of a regional jet on its way to Minneapolis (without passengers but with joyriding pilots) in 2004 as the "canary in a coal mine."
When I wrote that post about regional airline safety, I regarded Pinnacle 3701 as a "Canary in the Coal Mine." That accident was a quintessential regional airline accident. I don't think it could have happened at the today's major airlines. Once upon a time the majors suffered a string of similarly senseless accidents, but they ended up taking the lessons to heart, changed the way they did a lot of things, and ended up with a safety culture where reckless and careless behavior simply isn't tolerated. There were a lot of lessons the regional airlines could've taken from Pinnacle 3701. Nobody really changed anything of importance, though. Maybe two lives and a destroyed airplane and house weren't enough to grab their attention. Maybe it was too easy to write the pilots off as two loose cannons and miss the broader implications of their behavior.
Then there's the 2003 Air Midwest accident that crashed in Charlotte, apparently because a mechanic had never worked on that kind of plane before. The NTSB said the FAA was aware of the training deficiencies, but had not addressed them.
A long-standing problem in airline safety in the United States is the NTSB doesn't have the authority to force the FAA to do anything.
In the meantime, there are more efforts to help you find out that chocolate mulch can kill your dog, than to require airlines to tell you you've stepped onto an airline with questionable safety.
(Note: The NTSB Web site is down, but when it returns, you can find the Colgan Air documents here.)(1 Comments)
2:03 p.m. The Winona Daily News is reporting that St. Charles, Minnesota is being evacuated at this hour. "A massive fire at North Star Foods is approaching several large chemical tanks, and smoke pouring over the town may already contain chemicals. Authorities say no one is allowed in the city limits," according to the paper.
(h/t: News Cut reader Aaron Perleberg)
2:06 p.m. - Here's the Web site for North Star Foods. It's a turkey processing company.
2:11 p.m. - The Google view of the area:
2:17 p.m. - The Rochester Post Bulletin says the fire started in an oven. It also reports residents are already concerned about the future of a major employer in the city. Some photos are also available on the site.
2:20 p.m. - Data on St. Charles. The population is under 4,000
2:27 p.m. - Why are there chemicals in a turkey/chicken processing plant? "Anhydrous ammonia is often used in the refrigeration systems inside poultry plants. But if large amounts leak, it can cause serious respiratory problems and even death," according to the Charlotte News and Observer.
2:30 p.m. - Information on the state of Minnesota's anhydrous ammonia program from the Department of Agriculture. Here's an outline for emergency response to situations involving anhydrous ammonia.
When anhydrous ammonia gas or liquid comes in contact with the human body three types of injuries may result:
1. Dehydration. Is the result of ammonia's great attraction for water. Anhydrous ammonia will extract water from body tissue.
2. Caustic burning. Is the result of the strong base formed when ammonia combines with water from body tissue. Once ammonia extracts water from body tissue it forms ammonium hydroxide that can chemically burn tissue.
3. Freezing. As liquid ammonia vaporizes it pulls heat away from body tissue causing frostbite in an instant. Released liquid anhydrous ammonia has a temperature of -28°F.
There is no antidote for ammonia poisoning. First aid consists of decontamination, maintaining open airway, and respiration support followed by rapid transport to an advanced medical care facility. After decontamination no special protective clothing is required for those caring for the injured.
Be aware that children are much more vulnerable to ammonia injury because of their larger surface area to body weight ratio. Also, a child's respiratory system will suffer the affects of ammonia exposure more so than an adult because children have a greater lung surface area relative to their body weight.
2:44 p.m. - Holly Rognholt, customer service specialist with the city of St. Charles, says people are being asked to go to the county fairgrounds for evacuation. She talked with MPR's Mark Zdechlik. Listen
2:47 p.m. - Here's a University of Missouri extension service document on how to fight fires involving agricultural chemicals.
2:59 p.m. - More pictures from the ABC TV affiliate in Austin.
3:07 p.m. - Background: The last time ammonia caused an evacuation of a city in Minnesota was 2007, when about 100 people in Lake City had to leave their homes because of a leaky railroad tank car.
3:24 p.m. - MPR's Mark Zdechlik is talking to a St. Charles resident, one of our Public Insight Network members. I hope to have it posted here within a few minutes.
3:41 p.m. - Here's the interview with Tom Ames, the St. Charles superintendent of schools, who was closing up a school when reached by MPR's Mark Zdechlik. Listen
4:53 p.m. - Is it time to reconsider the law that prevents Minnesota cities from being able to order mandatory evacuations? Counties can, but cities can't. We saw that up in the flood zone in Moorhead. Walt Kelly of the Winona Emergency Operations Center told MPR News, "You cannot have a mandatory evacuation so they are collecting if anybody refuses or says they are not going to leave they are taking identity information and address and next of kin just in case it is serious they do want people to leave."
5:03 p.m. - Sorry TV copters, the FAA has made St. Charles a "no fly" zone:
ZMP MN.. FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS ST CHARLES, MN. EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. PURSUANT TO 14 CFR SECTION 91.137(A)(1) TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS ARE IN EFFECT FOR CHEMICAL FIRE WITH ANHYDROUS AMMONIA TANKS NEAR. ONLY RELIEF AIRCRAFT OPERATIONS UNDER DIRECTION OF FAA AND MARK DARNELL - OLMSTED COUNTY SHERIFF ARE AUTHORIZED IN THE AIRSPACE AT AND BELOW 3000 FEET AGL WITHIN A 3 NAUTICAL MILE RADIUS OF 435645N/0920359W OR THE ROCHESTER /RST/ VOR/DME 062.0 DEGREE RADIAL AT 25.0 NAUTICAL MILES. FAA AND MARK DARNELL - OLMSTED COUNTY SHERIFF TELEPHONE 507-285-8580 IS IN CHARGE OF ON SCENE EMERGENCY RESPONSE ACTIVITY. MINNEAPOLIS /ZMP/ ARTCC TELEPHONE 651-463-5580 IS THE FAA COORDINATION FACILITY.
5:33 p.m. - MPR's Sea Stachura has arrived in the St. Charles area. She was on All Things Considered a few minutes ago. I'll encode the audio and post it here.
6:00 p.m. - Here's Sea's report with Tom Crann on All Things Considered. Listen
6:01 p.m. - According to Minnesota's Department of Homeland Security, the ammonia tanks are being emptied into hazardous material containers. Officials say they do not now expect the tanks to explode.
Please check the MPR Web site for the latest through the evening.
6:11 p.m. - I'm not exactly sure what this is telling us, but NOAA has released an animated image showing the smoke plumb.
Watch the animated version here.
And this National Weather Service radar image shows the smoke being detected.
9:32 p.m. -Thanks to Chelsa Kern of Dover for these shots:
These were taken around 11:30 Friday morning...
And Craig Hilmer of St. Charles took this picture around 1:30 on Friday afternoon.
9:38 p.m. - The fire is nearly out, according to MPR's Jess Mador.
Many, many thanks to the News Cut readers who helped us out on this story!(4 Comments)
This update from Riverview Circle in Moorhead by way of Donna Morse:
Wanted to give you a bit of an update as to what is happening here since you left...
The water continue to go down and it is now off of our sandbag walls. Todd has pulled the pumps that were pumping the water from behind the sandbags back into the river. It's still really quite around here and very little traffic. Occasionally we see an military, police, city, or fire vehicle pass, yet other than that, traffic is next to none. They have lifted the evacuation ban on this area this morning so I'm sure we will begin to see more movement. Sad to say, I heard this morning that there were looters in this area last night. Guess they didn't get away with anything and are being tracked down. Was hoping we weren't going to see any of that, yet if it's limited to this once that will be great!
Other than that, we continue to keep the basement dry. Coming home from work on Monday, I found that Todd couldn't take the mess any longer and had the kitchen and living room back to somewhat normal. He even got the garage cleaned up enough for the car to be put in. We are both hoping to get back to a routine. I started cleaning and wiping things down...can only take dirty for so long...guess it's 2 weeks!
Again, thanks for covering our story, Bob. I truly appreciated working with you and having a documented piece of history is a great bonus. Please make sure to come back for a visit (or move here). ..I know the Brummers and Johnson's feel the same. You are a great reporter and truly brought our story to life for so many that read it. Those that meet you and work with you are blessed for it!
Hugs to you...Donna
Meanwhile, John Brummer reported (yesterday, but I missed the email because I was out) that the water is off his sandbags now, too. He celebrated with his granddaughter, Addie.
NASA's Earth Observatory has released an image of the swollen Red River taken on March 28th when the river was at its record crest of 40.82 feet.
Head over to the Earth Observatory site where they have a 5 MB high-res version of the photo.
A second image shows you just what would happen if the levees and dikes weren't in place in Fargo-Moorhead. Beyond the city limits, the river is blown out well beyond its banks.
You really get a sense of how vast and flat the landscape is on either side of the river.(1 Comments)
If not quite normal, it was at least quiet on Riverview Circle in Moorhead today. John Brummer's stairs to his backyard continue to reappear. Inside the house, John is putting things away and preparing for a trip to Mississippi this weekend. His daughter is heading there for some additional National Guard training.
There was no answer at the Johnson house. If there's any justice at all, they're sleeping.
Donna Morse has gone off to work. "Fighting these things takes money," Adam Stewart says as he works in the garage. Donna's brother, Mike, is heading back to Colorado by a southern route to avoid the coming blizzard, which nobody seems that concerned about.
The Woodbury Fire Department -- my hometown crew -- arrived today and has been assigned these houses to monitor. As I talked to them, I learned more about the critical point at which this battle was won.
According to a Moorhead firefighter, it's the moment that I captured on video. This one:
(Update 4:05 pm Tues 3/31 - I just realized that in this video above, you'll see a firefighter in blue pointing and deploying other firefighters. He's the one who told the story to us.)
All of the firefighters were supposed to be going the same way the rest of us were. But as you can see, they refused to leave. "We heard a splash and saw the sandbags going," the firefighter said to me and the Woodbury crew. A metal rod, used to reinforce the dike, was bent over, triggering the possible calamity. I didn't realize at the time I was filming the exact spot where the wall was collapsing.
If you were listening to All Things Considered last Friday, you heard it happening, too.
When the breach was plugged about 1:30 a.m., he says he turned to his friend and acknowledged that maybe that wasn't such a smart thing to do. Maybe. Protocol and common sense says the firefighters shouldn't have stayed to fight. But they did. Because they did, 1,500 homes were saved.
For me, the most memorable moment, however, happened on Thursday, when the Morses, their family, some neighbors, and friends were trying to reinforce the dike. I was passing sandbags when I dropped a sandbag, ruining the rhythm that a 'bucket brigade' requires. A moment later, I stumbled on the stumps of some bushes. "I'm not helping anybody at all, here," I said. "You're doing fine," someone else said.
Later in the day, over at John Brummer's house, a young teen was straining under the weight of lifting huge sandbags to begin the brigade. He'd just emptied a pickup truck full and now he was working on a pallet. His face contorted with pain with every bag. "Are you OK, kid?" someone said. "I'm good," the kid said.
The river is still up to the sandbags and still presents a threat, but residents are allowing themselves to relax and in some cases leaving home and going to work.
So this is a good time for me to leave work and go home. I'm bringing an autographed sandbag with me.
(I hope the neighborhood will post updates over the next few days in this spot. I'll try to keep this last post from scrolling off the page. Meanwhile, to read all of the dispatches from Riverview Circle, go here.)
Update 3:54 p.m. Tue. 3/31/09 - John Brummer has a message in the comments section below. I'm taking a few days off (it turns out I'm not as young as I used to be). When I stopped in to MPR on Monday evening, I did an interview with Tom Crann for All Things Considered. (Listen) I'll be back here in a few days.(9 Comments)
Highlights from the 8am flood meeting in Fargo
* Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker is reading from a statement. I've been too busy to hear what's been said or written about him but he emphasized that "the buck stops with me," and he accepts full responsibility for what he's said.
* Walaker addressed people who were upset about his good-natured ribbing of the University of North Dakota, which lost a hockey game. Seriously. Some UND supporters paused long enough to get upset about a joke. So today Walaker is wearing a "Fighting Sioux" cap.
* Walaker said his "thrill" today was meeting Al Roker.
* City Commissioner Tim Mahoney says it's unsettling not to get a call at 3 a.m. anymore, but "things are calming down." But the river is only four-tenths of a foot below the high-water mark of the historic 1997 flood.
* Here's the latest river projection:
* A blizzard is heading this way. 8-12 inches is expected. A lot of streets weren't plowed from the last storm.
* Bruce Johnson checked in (by way of comments below) and reports good things on Riverview Circle:
Hi Bob, It is in the middle of the night and I am in the garage taking a break from managing the pumps in our back yard. This is the first time I have had time to go to your blog and see your good work. All of my family in Nebraska are concerned about what is going on up here so I will get them on your site! It is quiet out here tonight. I just talked with 5 firemen from Duluth that are walking the dike. They were told they can go home and get some sleep in a half hour. Last night we had firefighters and national gaurd walking thru the yard every 10 minutes or so. This is a good sign. We have food and coffee in the garage but this is the first night nobody is hanging out in here. I have the fire pit glowing with a nice fire outside. I am down to 2 pumps and they are not runing full time so the seepage is really slowing down. Time to check the dike and pumps. Keep up the good work! Bruce
* The wind is kicking up and will affect outlying areas.
* Schools are closed on both sides of the river. No date for reopening yet. Buses aren't available for students because they're being used for emergency purposes.
* By noon, they'll suspend sandbag-making.
* The focus is shifting to relocating medical cases and special needs back to the area. That will be done over 3 days probably starting at mid-week.
* A doctor again cautions that people need to maintain humor. "One of the things returning warriors talk about is the 'new normal,'" he said. "For those who don't get back to feeling normal, ask for help, talk among yourselves. It's a very good gauge for telling whether you're getting on track. The houses are not the family. Continue to work on the relationships."
It looks the river will fall below the Riverview Circle sandbags on Friday afternoon, a day earlier than predicted yesterday. I have had a touch of food poisoning (dinner, not from my friends in Moorhead!), and will try to hobble back to the neighborhood late this morning, check in with everyone and then if all is calm, probably head back to the cities. I plan on returning on the weekend.1 Comments)
There is no high drama to tell you about on Riverview Circle today. People are sitting in garages with "hot dish" and BBQ and coffee and beer -- as the Johnsons were doing at lunchtime, or standing in driveways at the Brummer household, or in the backyard kicking ice and shooting the breeze at the Morse home.
The Brummer's railing on the stairs down to what once was -- and will soon be again -- their backyard, has reappeared.
An Excelsior firefighter, walking the dike, stopped to chat with Todd Morse and I awhile ago. He's been here since Friday, staying at the high school, but mostly has been out in these neighborhoods. About three dozen firefighters from Carver County are here and most are going back tonight. Why? He has to go back to work tomorrow.
That's the thing with the sacrifices many of the out-of-town volunteers; they've got real jobs to get back to on Monday. For this guy, it'll be a long drive back, and a short night's sleep.
I'm hearing more of that from residents now -- talk of work and real life resuming.
Today, from what I hear, a resident from up the road took a kayak down the river. Three Coast Guard Sea Fury helicopters made sure he got the message.
Meanwhile, the furniture has been taken off the counters at Todd and Donna Morse's house. It's true that anything can still go wrong, but the reality is that the amount of pressure the water has exerted on this sandbag wall is markedly reduced.
The face of the neighborhood doesn't tell the story of this week as well as the hands of the neighborhood. John's are raw from 8 days of near-steady work.
Others have rings of Band Aids, the wounds of a battle nearly won. My hands are embarrassingly healthy.
I won't be the one to jinx things by saying the 'flood is over,' because it certainly isn't. But barring unforeseen events overnight, by tomorrow evening, I'll probably be making the trip home, too.
Somewhere in the Morse house, there's a bottle of champagne that will get opened when the water drops below 37 feet. The latest river projection suggests that will be sometime between 1 and 2 o'clock next Saturday afternoon.4 Comments)
Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker today urged people to keep their humor to keep the stress down. They didn't have to tell John Brummer and his son, Danny, this morning. John was unfazed by the obvious water hazard that's appeared in the last week in their Moorhead neighborhood.
Sunday has brought a sense of relief to Riverview Circle, but not a sense of victory. Not quite yet anyway, or at least not to the extent where people seem willing to jinx their improving fortunes by exhaling.
The water flowing into the street has slowed remarkably. Compare the amount coming out of the pump hose with previous pictures (also note the dark ring on the trees showing the dropping water level).
But that's not entirely good news. The slower flow means it's hitting the bottom of the dike and potentially creating a weak spot. With help from Moorhead firefighters, firefighters from other cities, the Morses next door, and the Brummer family, a solution is devised.
Adam Stewart places a ladder out in the river, and landscape lumber is used to hold the hose farther out.
With that done, the neighbors, family, and firefighters haul sandbags -- many of which are unfortunately frozen -- to reinforce the dike. The best weapon the Red River Valley has against the flood has been its own ingenuity.
Out front, reunions are taking place. Donna Morse hasn't seen, John Brummer's wife, Jeanie, since all of this started.
Bruce Johnson stopped over for an update from the Morses.
Bruce left shortly thereafter. "I have to go check a pump," he said.
And other neighbors are emerging to catch up on one another's status.
I stopped over to the Johnsons first today. I had intended to bring doughnuts to all three families, but the stores are mostly out. The Johnsons got my meager offerings today. Vikki's parents have arrived today, the basement is still dry, and they were able to get some sleep.
The neighborhood is still very quiet.The one portable toilet on the street has been removed. "That's a good thing," Vikki says. It means someone -- somewhere -- thinks the sewage and water system will hold up.
Firefighters are walking the street in groups, as other fire vehicles -- I saw one from Savage awhile ago -- drive the riverfront. They've worked incredibly hard. And deserve a break and a check-in to see how their own families are faring.
Nobody thinks this fight is over. But a few moments of humor, an occasional bit of relaxation, and the well-timed visit from a neighbor is an account from which the Riverview Circle folks can withdraw when and if the river makes its next move.
Update 1:44 p.m. - The latest river projection is very encouraging. The level was expected to go up today, now it's projected to go straight down.
At the current level, this side of the street may be out of danger by next Saturday. The river may drop much faster than expected earlier today.
(Please note: I know a lot of folks are coming to this blog for the first time. Our navigation isn't very good for following a single-theme over many days. So if you'd like to follow all of the flood posts, go here. Start at the bottom and work your way up. And thanks for stopping by!)(2 Comments)
At a news conference, Mayor Dennis Walaker says "we are different here in the valley," and says evacuations are not automatic and they will not give up neighborhoods. The CEO of the school, Bruce Messelt says one of the school's dike patrols found the leakage in the school's permanent flood walls. The wall was constructed after the 1997 flood and is built of steel. The water came from underground and not from the wall itself.
(This shows why these seemingly small leaks are so worrisome to people here.)
The buildings are below the river at this point and basements and the first floors are filled, including at a performing arts hall and a gym. "Our buildings can be rebuilt, our students can recover, but God's faithfulness will never be questioned," he said.
(I'm trying to figure out a way of visually showing the changing projections)
"Thank you for that example," Mayor Dennis Walaker of Fargo said sarcastically, obviously a hurting Fighting Sioux fan.
"Thank you for sharing that story," Walaker said. Apparently he's a fan of the rival (and Fargo-based) North Dakota State University.
Maybe he heard Dale Connelly's Radio Heartland last night. The show started with Mavis Staples singing "We will not be moved."
My plan today: I'm heading, again, to Riverview Circle. I've been staying in Rothsay for the last few nights. Roger, who runs the Comfort Zone Inn, provides excellent Ole and Lena jokes. We need more Ole and Lena jokes right around now.
But it takes awhile for me to get back in the area, and I usually have to stop and restock some of my provisions, and then it takes me a fair amount of time to quickly check how everyone's doing, and write a post. So I apologize in advance that it may be a few hours until I get to post the next update, but let's just assume no news is good news.6 Comments)
(Update 9:44 p.m - I've embedded some video below)
When you're in the "maintenance" portion of a flood, you have periods of relative calm punctuated by panic. Within the last few hours, we've had two such panic periods, both coming at the same time.
Seepage got pretty severe at one point of John Brummer's dike. But there was no immediate help. Moorhead shut down the volunteer center, and the city doesn't need any more, and we're told there are plenty of sandbags somewhere. But not here.
John's wife, Jeanie, ran down the street looking for help. Fortunately, the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department was there. They came running...
So did several SUVs of firefighters from Moorhead and cities as far away as Roseville.
And so did the Morses and other neighbors. This is John's wife leading the charge..
John had one pallet of sandbags in the driveway, but they were frozen. A frozen sandbag does you no good.
A second problem was going on in John's basement. A drain has stubbornly refused to be plugged, and two ShopVacs weren't keeping up. So Ed Dorsett and I headed to Fargo for drain plugs.
Go into any store here and boots, drain plugs, bottled water, and sump pumps are lined at the front. A clerk at Lowe's said they hadn't stocked up on drain plugs and were short until a day or so ago.
When we returned, an hour later, a third problem had broken out. That leak in the next-door neighbor's house -- the one John was talking about with the National Guard earlier today (see previous post) -- had alarmed fire officials. And they ran to the area. A flatbed brought the sandbags, and the fork life operator (this guy is another of the unsung heroes of this street) was bringing them off as fast as the firefighters could stack them.
After two hours of furious work, the flow was slowed, and a sump pump was keeping up with things. A Moorhead firefighter adjusted it and headed for the next emergency, leaving Riverview Circle empty.
Down at Bruce and Vikki Johnson's house, things have been moved out of the basement. The front step features a freezer (or refrigerator) and a suitcase...
Bruce is concerned about a big leak at the corner of this peninsula, so we walk down to take a look, and it's coming in faster than it's leaving. Water has poured in the back windows of a nearby house.
(If the video above doesn't play, go here.)
This, as it would turn out later, would be the next moment of high drama for the combined fire departments and law enforcement people.
Meanwhile, up at Highway 75, the "contingency dike" that threatened to ring in the neighborhood never developed into much. While some Minnesota State Troopers stopped vehicles, by late afternoon, the neighborhood was wide open, if empty.
Someone asked for pictures of the houses down the street where the emergency dikes were built yesterday. This is where everyone was running to in that video I posted yesterday during an evacuation.
The sun is setting over a Red River that's lost ground today. But the night watch has begun, and the threat is far from over.
Not more than 20 feet from the hot tub at the home of Donna and Todd Morse, son Hoss is taking a well-earned break. He's been the overnight guard of the dike that's keeping the Red River from this neighborhood. Last night, he and the family built the dike up nearly another foot. He'll be back on duty tonight.
The river level is dropping and much of the attention in the neighborhood today is inside. Drains in basements are giving the Red a way in, but the neighbors are ready.
Next door at the Brummer house, a St. Paul heavy equipment operator, Matthew Siede, is vacuuming up the water as it comes up through a sandbagged drain. Matthew went to the FargoDome -- Sandbag Central -- but they've got all the heavy equipment operators they can use. Here, a filled ShopVac, qualifies as heavy equipment.
At the Morse house, they've discovered a drain under a cabinet has been the source of some flooding. Donna's brother, Mike, and family friends and relatives have moved sandbags inside to direct it to a still-working sump pump.
That's the thing with this river. It wants into this neighborhood, if not through the dikes, then up through the drains. As this photo from the Brummer household shows, any possible way into the house, has to be considered a threat:
John Brummer's wife, Jeanie, is making cookies. The Salvation Army has just delivered sandwiches, water, coffee and hot chocolate. I talked with one volunteer from Fergus Falls. She's been here since Sunday.
John Brummer is trying to convince someone, anyone, to pay some attention to a stream that's coming from under the dike on the far property line. His son, wearing a black T-shirt on this cold day, is constantly walking the dike, looking for trouble.
A couple of Army National Guard soldiers, down from Crookston, are walking the dike and offer a sympathetic ear but make clear that carrying sandbags isn't their current mission.
At the Johnson home across the way, Bruce says he's concerned about the dikes on this side of the peninsula. Over on this side, Todd Morse says he's concerned about the ones over there.
It's a gloriously sunny day in Moorhead. Water is dripping from the snow melting on the roof. Every drop of melted snow is a threat.
Out back of Riverview Circle, ice flows -- a big concern -- occasionally hit-- and smash-- small branches sticking out of the water; they're connected to big trees underneath.
The stick I've been using to measure the river, is now floating on top of it.
Yesterday, I used the stick to show the river wasn't going up. But it turns out it was actually frozen in the ice, and the ice was rising.
But the ice rings around the trees are telling a better story than all the equipment at the weather service, or my stick: the river is dropping.
It's relatively quiet in the neighborhood, except for the pump that's been throwing water back at the Red, and the occasional National Guard, Border Patrol, or TV news helicopter, none of whom are seeing -- accurately -- how it is the flood of any century is being frustrated by a small army of people who are pausing to take a breath, and getting ready for the river's next assault.
The tide may have turned. And the people of Riverview Circle -- the ones who are still here -- are growing more confident, that they'll beat the flood.
So far, they are.(2 Comments)
I'm back in Riverview Circle, riding in a pickup over very icy and rutty roads. I'm riding with Ed Dorsett of Moorhead, who goes to the same church as Todd and Donna Morse. We're heading to the store to get some ShopVacs and a marine plug. The plug is for John Brummer's boat, which he's preparing, just in case.
The neighborhood is about to be mostly cut off. They're building a dike along Highway 75. We understand one road will be kept open for now,
We've just passed rows and rows of fire trucks from out of the area -- Roseville, Grand Lake, Elko, for example.
Things are quiet in the neighborhood.
I checked in with Vikki and Bruce Johnson. Their dog is back home with them and they were able to get a little sleep last night. That look in Bruce's eyes captured in a post downstream, is still there today. He's concerned about the dike down at the Brummer and Morse side of the street, and one downstream from their home.
"I hope you're able to stand there (in the hall) two days from now," he said.
Indications are I will. Todd Morse, who's sitting with an icepack on his knee ("I'm at least mobile," he said ) just showed me the river forecast which is a much brighter picture than even 6 this morning. The crest will -- if they're right -- not last as long and be lower than expected.
Snow is due tomorrow.(4 Comments)
From the safety of Rothsay, I'm watching the daily flood meeting in Fargo
8:04 a.m. - A lot more emotion at the meeting this morning. "The eyes of the nation are upon you. People can still make a difference in this country with their attitude and hard work. We can win it. We will win it. And it's because of the extraordinary people in the community. Go get 'em!" Sen. Kent Conrad said (at least I think it was Kent Conrad; it was hard for me to tell.)
8:07 a.m. - Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker apologized to Greg Gust and the National Weather Service for criticism he's leveled over flood predictions, especially over the projections on the Wild Rice River.
Gust says for the next week, the river could be "bouncing a few inches either side of 41 feet." That sounds like a lowering of the projection. But he says "a little ice in the wrong place," could change things significantly.
Snow and wind are possible in future days, but it won't affect the river. "But the wind is the factor," he said.
8:11 a.m. - Tim Bertschi of the Army Corps of Engineers, says "folks will see less contractors working but you'll see them working through the week." Says most of the levees will be completed today.
"It's not over yet," Walaker says.
"It's not even halftime, yet," Bertschi responds.
8:17 a.m. - Pat Zavoral, the city administrator, says people in Fargo should call the city engineering department if they see a leak. "Unless it's an absolute gusher," he says. National Guard is patrolling the levees in NoDak. That's not the case in the Moorhead area I've been in. The Moorhead Fire Department, and many other fire departments, are in charge. The Guard has a different mission, apparently, and is on standby in their trucks and Humvees around the neighborhood.
8:20 a.m. - Travel ban on most Fargo streets (University Drive, for example) has been lifted.
8:22 a.m. - Mark Bittner, city engineer, speaks about the 'architecture of sandbag dikes.' "Sandbag dikes are built to leak. Expect to have some leakage. If it's just trickling out, just keep pumping. If it's leaking too bad, we'll support you with additional pumps." In Moorhead yesterday, people were burning out sump pumps pretty quickly.
Adide - If you haven't seen Donna Morse's photos of the advancing Red in her back yard last week, please go here. I hadn't had a chance to see what their backyard normally looks like until late last night. It's unbelievable.
8:26 a.m. - Zavoral said they had to dispel a rumor yesterday that they were issuing a mandatory evacuation. Gen. Dave Sprynczynatyk of the NoDak National Guard says thee are 1,850 Guard members on the Fargo side.
On the Minnesota side, MPR's Tim Nelson just sent along this:
The Minnesota National Guard is activating yet more soldiers to aid in the flood fighting efforts in the Red River Valley. The Guard said late last night it was sending 50 soldiers from the Duluth-based 1st Squadron, 94th Cavalry to Camp Ripley to prepare for duty in Moorhead this weekend. They join nearly 500 members of the Minnesota Guard's Moorhead-based 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th that were activated last week. The calvary unit is the fourth to report for flood duty. The St. Paul-based 133rd Airlift Wing and Duluth-based 148th Fighter Wing are on the scene with high-tech communications trailers to provide emergency phone, radio and data communications if regular systems are knocked out or shut down.
8:33 a.m. - "Significant challenges" finding places for people with health issues who need evacuation. All the nursing homes are filled. "Where's my mother?" Mayor Walaker asks.
8:35 a.m. - No plans to disconnect any electrical grids, the utility company says. Xcel official says things are going well.
8:46 a.m. - "We do a mandatory evacuation, you better get out of that area," City Commisisoner Tim Mahoney says.
8:47 a.m. "The focus has been on Fargo. The focus has been Moorhead. We are the focus of all the press, but we can't forget about the other areas," Walaker said. "Our concerns go out to those people to whom we can't provide services. We try to treat everyone the same. Our response is to our city."
9:27 a.m. - Heading back to Moorhead. I'll post a quick update when I get there.(5 Comments)
Flood fatigue. It's been only one week since Moorhead residents like Vikki and Bruce Johnson of Riverview Circle first learned they had to start preparing for the worst. That's two fewer weeks than they had in 1997. You may recall earlier in the week, Bruce said that when they were out sandbagging last Saturday, the river was so far away they wondered why they were out there.
Photographer Jeff Thompson took this picture Friday morning and I think it captures everybody and everything pretty well.
I was relieved to hear from Vikki (in comments in the thread upstream) this evening:
Hey Bob, Bruce and I are fine. Bruce stayed behind when we evacuated earlier today. I went back home around 8 tonight. Our dike is strong and our pumps are working. Brian Cole, Moorhead Orchestra teacher is manning our pumps so Bruce can sleep! Another one of those theatre guys to the rescue! The battle is not over - the river has not won! We will continue to fight on!
Vikki and I talked earlier today. I encourage you to listen. Listen
A few minutes later, Donna and Todd Morse were planning their strategy for the day.
When the big equipment isn't moving, the volunteers aren't around, and when the sun goes down, I imagine it can get pretty lonely. So reader Jeff Olsen's picture tonight provides a good reminder that plenty of people are still sending help.
Shortly after the evacuation, I was on All Things Considered. (Listen)
Driving over to Rothsay (the only motel I could find a room available), I saw three empty buses from the Twin Cities, a lot flatbed trucks, and some construction equipment heading toward Fargo-Moorhead.
The sun was out Friday although it was cold. There were many more helicopters and airplanes in the sky today, one of them was a Civil Air Patrol damage assessment flight (turn down your speakers) :
The latest projection for a crest looks like this (See updates here)
The crest stays through April Fool's Day.
It looks like I'll be back up on Riverview Circle later on Saturday morning. It may be the last day I'll be in the area. I've got to restock and then return. These people can take a punch. And they can throw one.
Until I get back up there, I hope family members will continue to post updates below. Vikki, Bruce, Todd, Donna, John and Jeanie and their families have a lot of friends they've never met.1 Comments)
If the message above says "this video is no longer available, go here.
I was helping John Brummer set up a sump pump behind his sandbag dike when we heard sirens. "That's not good," he said.
"It must be just sandbags," I said, because the police had been escorting flatbeds full of sandbags earlier this week.
"Dad, we've got to go; mom's grabbing her purse," her son said. And John didn't wait, running for the car. I headed to the Morses who were already heading for their SUV, Todd going back inside to get a critical piece of equipment: my laptop.
A levee had broken -- or was intending to -- up the street, we were told (Note: We don't know that this is the case, we only know what we were told) . I headed in that direction. Volunteers and residents were streaming out. Firefighters were streaming in.
Up near Highway 75, more sirens. State troopers and local police escorted more flatbeds of sandbags in.
Just minutes before that, things seemed to be going well, despite some obvious hardships, one of which is the lack of pumps. Sump pumps would burn out quickly. Water started coming into the basement of Todd and Donna Morse's house. This gentleman in the black is a mechanic who worked all day practically rebuilding this pump.
But when it was hooked up and started, it immediately blew a seal. There was no time to try to open it up again, so Todd and his family and friends tried to minimize the damage and pump out what could be pumped out.
Update 9:44 p.m. As you can tell from the comments below (family members, please keep the updates coming!), the problem has been repaired and the people are still at it. I've found a motel in Rothsay and I hope to return on Saturday.
Photographer Jeff Thompson, just sent this picture from Fargo, and says it's "spooky quiet" there.
9:48 p.m. - Vikki Johnson has checked in (comments below) and reports she and Bruce are fine.(18 Comments)
Left for dead this morning, Riverview Circle is coming to life. Down the street they're building sandbag dikes around the front of several houses, whose dikes in the back yard are in peril. That means truckloads of sandbags are heading back in to the neighborhood for the fight.
And -- even more encouraging -- volunteers are being allowed in:
Next door, John Brummer is feeling better. With the sandbags being brought in, and an obviously high-ranking fire department official intervening, a pallet-load of bags has stemmed the flow from the uncovered city drain. There's hope.
The man nearest the camera, by the way, is one of the unsung heroes of Riverview Circle. I know him only as "Dean from the fire department." He's been here with these few houses every day and every moment since the dike work started. He can make things happen, and he has.
Here is the problem they've been dealing with over at John's. The storm drains run from the street, though John's driveway and into the river. There's a "check valve" installed that prevents water from coming back through the storm drain system when the river comes calling. But the valve is located between the street and this manhole cover, not between the manhole cover and the river.
Why did they do it that way? "We didn't think the river would get this high," one of the firemen speculated.
Todd Morse came in a few minutes ago, long enough to check everyone's favorite Web page, the hydrology report.
"They're still projecting 42 feet," he said. I couldn't tell whether he was encouraged or disappointed by that. I checked the measurement outside a half hour ago. The river has not gone up at all today; but it hasn't gone down either.
"I'll take that," Adam Stewart said to me. "Thank God it's cold." And it is. The water that's getting through -- by whatever means -- is freezing fairly quickly. But the sun is out, the volunteers are coming , the heavy equipment is moving, and the sense is that all is not lost.
By the way, we are all very cheered by your best wishes. Chad, commenting upthread, said he felt like a jerk sitting in his cubicle. I know what you mean. Every now and again, I come in from sandbagging or trying to help out in order to post, and I feel guilty that I'm inside and everyone's outside working. But these people -- the Johnsons, the Brummers, and the Morses -- have been entirely gracious allowing me to intrude, and they'd be last the people to tell you you're a jerk for being in a cubicle, and doing what you can to help -- even if it's just sending best wishes and good thoughts.8 Comments)
That river of water that's pouring out of John Brummer's driveway, and threatening Riverview Circle in Moorhead is not coming from the sandbag dikes that he and the neighbors have been building since last Saturday.
It's coming from a storm drain the city put in after the flood of '97, and he's waiting for the city to come and cap it. He's been waiting a long time.
Meanwhile, up the Circle a few houses, the city is building a dike in front of houses quickly. They're being sacrificed for the good of the city that has scurried to what passes for higher ground in these parts.
Here in the Morse household, people munched on pizza while watching the news conference out of Fargo. Gov. Pawlenty, Sen. Klobuchar, and Rep. Peterson are on the TV now, but there's nobody here watching. They're back outside and have rejoined the battle.10 Comments)
The three families who stayed behind to fight the Red River in the southern Moorhead, Minnesota neighborhood of Riverview Circle, are mostly on their own. Some firefighters with the Moorhead and Callahan Fire Departments are with them.
But up at the sandbagging station outside the Johnson's home, the "volunteers" now are all family members of Todd and Donna Morse and John Brummer next door. A family friend who works for the Morses, Adam Stewart, is loading sandbags into a truck. "Yesterday my wife was teaching college boys how to make sandbags," he said, adding, "God, I love that woman!"
The concern is a trickle-turned-river from
the dike a storm drain that's growing. There's tremendous pressure on these sandbags right now and Todd and his relatives and friends are throwing sandbags into the water, entrapped by a black tarp.
The stench of mineral spirits permeates the Morse house. A pump with bad gas isn't working and the carburetor is being cleaned to try to coax it back to a useful life.
John Brummer has sandbagged around his house. His son his here and his daughter, a member of the Air National Guard, has arrived, but I overheard a Moorhead firefighter say, "that's an awful lot of water to be coming from a dike." (As it turned out, it's not coming from the dike.) Abut a half hour later, I also overheard him report to another fire official, "we think we're getting ahead of it out at the street where a city pump has been hurling water back at the Red for the last four hours. He added, however, "if we don't get this fixed....we could be in trouble."
After Mark Seeley's appearance on Midday, I called him and asked him to talk to John and from I understand, there was some encouragement that at least as far as water levels beyond the dike, it's not getting noticeably worse. Beyond that, much of the information you're hearing on MPR and reading on the Web site, isn't getting through here; there's no time to listen to the radio.
In that way, perhaps, Riverview Circle is cut off in more ways than one. Occasionally, I duck inside to file a blog update or video, and feel guilty that I'm not back outside helping. I check the comments and find messages from around the country for these three families -- and the Red River Valley at large -- and their eyes brighten when I relay them.
If clinging to hope and three families' refusing to quit is all it took to beat back a flood, the Red River would be a punch-drunk loser.
But it takes more. The unanswered question, however, is how much more?
(To see all of the flood posts, go here)
I'm in the Morses' house, we're getting water behind the dike now. Next door at John's house, there's a small group trying to make sandbags, lots of water coming through there. No volunteers, sandbags or sand being allowed in the neighborhood. I'll go over there to help out as soon as I finish this post.
An ice ring has formed around a tree out back here...indicating that the water MAY actually be going down.
Lots of people -- well, what few people are here -- are upset that the city/county gave up on this neighborhood. "We had this thing licked," Todd Morse's father said to me a few minutes ago.
There was a pump that the city dropped off earlier this week to be used to pump water behind the dikes. But it wasn't being used. Todd told them to pump out the water from the street where it's getting deeper and icing over (Memo to self: Move my car!).
"You're worried about water in the street?" one cop said. But of course this is the way the river works in this area, the flood comes from behind you when you're looking at what's out beyond the dikes.
Here are the pictures Donna gave me to upload. Her brother, by the way, has just pulled in. He drove all night from Colorado Springs.
Here are Donna's pictures going back to last weekend:7 Comments)
I'm probably going to be doing quick posts today, so forgive me if they don't all make sense.
I stopped by Vikki and Bruce Johnson's this morning. They're still here but are prepared to leave if need be. "The neighborhood is quiet," Vikki said. I've got an interview with her and I'll try to post it soon. Bruce will be on Midday this morning with Gary Eichten. They've been getting calls from the media today, who apparently picked up their story via News Cut. So I apologized for that.
I'm currently in the kitchen of Todd and Donna Morse. The fire department is out back looking at the dike. Their son and his wife, where they stayed last night, have shown up to help sort things and it's been difficult for them.
Donna has given me 142 pictures she's been taking so that I can resize them and get them posted for her -- and you -- so their relatives from other places can follow them.
John Brummer is back working this morning although I haven't been over yet, other than to check out a steady stream that's coming down the driveway.
The National Guard is in the area. I'm told that Hoss asked them for a pump and some help with a weak spot. "That's not our mission," came the reply. And, of course, it's not. They're here to get people out.(4 Comments)
Most people appear to have left. I stopped back in at John Brummer's house and, indeed, they're all gone. Water streaming down the driveway and into the street. By way of comments, I've learned that Vikki and Bruce Johnson are still there, so I'll try to stop by.
Note the quiet.3 Comments)
I made it onto Riverview Circle a little bit before sunrise. The police roadblocks were gone. The sandbag stations were abandoned. There were no giant piles of sand, signifying that everything the city brought, the residents used. And still, it wasn't enough.
The National Guard humvees have been replaced by troop trucks, indicative that there are still more people that need to get out.
At the Morse's house, son "Hoss" was trying to warm up. Hie was in bare feet with his pants rolled up, his waders were wet from trying to help a neighbor whose basement was being overtaken by the Red River, which had found its way in through a drain. The sump pumps burned out trying to save it.
Everyone out at the Morse house was gone. I told him I was sorry for what his family was going through, he smiled -- as everyone has this week -- and said "what are you going to do."
This neighborhood, and this city, which is getting far too little recognition as the media makes its mad dash to Fargo, did in five days, what it took three weeks to do in 1997, and they've done it better, and they've made the dikes higher.
I think a lot of people though that if it all went south, it would do so with water flowing over the top of a dike, and people still trying to stop it. But it didn't end that way.
The street outside John Brummer's house has about a half foot of water on it, again from the drains. Hoss says John evacuated last night, but I have not been able to confirm that.
Over at Bruce and Vikki Peterson's house, a light burned in a front room, and I think I saw Vikki at a computer, but I couldn't tell for sure, I stepped in water outside their house and water poured into the last pair of dry boots I had. Compared to Riverview Circle, I've got it good.
Update 7:38 a.m. - Now that the sun is (almost) up, I stopped by John Brummer's house.
Water is streaming down the driveway. Nobody is home. Only the sound of birds punctuates the neighborhood. A pallet of sandbags still sits in the driveway. They never made it to the wall.(5 Comments)
I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to post this before. But this Googlemaps view gives you a better idea of what Riverview Circle has been battling. Click for a larger view. The pushpin is 3521 Riverview, the home of the Morses. John Brummer's house is just above that, and Bruce and Vikki Anderson's is in the cul de sac across the street. You can even see the swimming pool in the Morse's backyard, that has been well documented on the News Cut site below.
The water is right up to the backyards now and you can see why there's been an evacuation. As soon as there's a breach, the Red River is going to try to run straight, rather than around the neighborhood, and it's going to cut almost directly through the Morses' property, over to the Johnson's and then back to its normal route toward downtown Fargo.
And here's the houses in better times -- Morses on the left, John Brummer's on the right.
I'm not sure when I'll be posting again. I have a cellphone modem and I'll be living out of the car for a few hours while I try to figure out where to go. Apologies in advance if things aren't quite as detailed as they've been the last few days. I'll be on with Cathy Wurzer on Morning Edition this morning.3 Comments)
MPR's Ambar Espinoza sent this picture along late last night. A trickle of flood victims has started showing up at a Red Cross shelter at Moorhead High School. More will start showing up today.
It's ironic, actually, that Moorhead has been the community where the neighborhoods are being swallowed up first, because it's also the one that is universally ignored in most of the flood coverage. Fargo is bigger, lower, and has all of the news media. The fight is still going on there and it will, no doubt, be well documented.
Maybe they'll have better luck than the people of Moorhead.2 Comments)
A little before 8 tonight, the word came. An evacuation of this neighborhood -- including the motel where I've been staying -- is now mandatory. The fight is over. We're now flood refugees. Since I'd already written a lengthy piece, I'll post it as written.
There is the message we got:
As of 3:00 PM today, the National Weather Service issued a revised forecast that the Red River will crest at 42 feet on Saturday, March 28th. Based upon this prediction, the City of Moorhead local Law Enforcement officials direct that ALL residents within the area South of I-94 and West of 8th Street evacuate the area immediately.
Please seek shelter with family or friends outside of the flood zone to conserve emergency resources. A Red Cross public shelter is available at Moorhead High School, 2300 4th Avenue South.
Bring your identification and a 7 - 10 day supply of medications.
Bring baby supplies if you have an infant.
Pets will NOT be accepted at the Red Cross shelter. Animal shelter may be available at the Doggy Depot (3224 8th Street South, 218-236-DOGS) and the Mutt Hut (1214 Main Avenue, 218-236-9935). Call ahead; please bring your animal's food and health records. Pet shelter space is extremely limited, so please try to make accommodations with family or friends outside of the flood zone.
Once you are at a safe location, call 218-477-4747 to register your home's address and temporary location so emergency personnel and your family and friends can know you are safe and how to reach you.
If you need assistance with relocation, please call the relocation hotline 218-477-4747.
If your family needs special assistance with relocation, you may also contact the Clay County Emergency Operations Center at 299-7768.
(Here's my conversation with MPR's Tom Crann on All Things Considered tonight. Listen)
Nobody was giving up on Riverview Circle, but they're not ignoring reality, either. There were a fair number of people biting their lips late on Thursday as word spread that the new crest projection suggests a 43 foot crest. That sent homeowners to the backyard to look -- again -- at the Red River from behind their sandbag fortresses -- fortresses that they've worked again to raise to ... 43 feet.
Todd and Donna Morse have a Plan B.
The smaller of their vehicles has been parked at their church on higher ground. The larger one is ready to be filled, if need be. The younger kids have been sent off with relatives. The family pictures are being sent out this evening. Their son, "Hoss", who spent the day seemingly holding the Red River off singlehandedly, will be back tonight to keep an eye on the sandbags.
Here's what he'll see:
Compare it to Wednesday:
Meanwhile, next door at John Brummer's house, a bucket brigade is still at work moving sandbags to a low spot where his sandbag dike meets the neighbor on the far side.
"Seepage" is occurring because the water has now reached the sandbags. They're frozen and won't fill in any gaps the water eats away.
This trickle doesn't seem like much...
But it is. Down the street, Moorhead firefighters have found a poorly constructed sandbag wall, and are rushing sandbags in. If there's a weakness in this neighborhood, that may be it. There's also rumors that there are icebergs in the river and if one hits a sandbag, the show is over. These are things that are keeping Riverview Circle up at night.
Here's the view at John Brummer's back door:
By the way, I've been passing along your best wishes and they obviously are too busy to jump online and read them now, but they will.
Update 9:23 p.m. The motel bar is full (the motel is just around the corner from the neighborhood and is in the evacuation zone). I'm guessing if people leave, it won't be until tomorrow.
Update 9:31 p.m. - We've been ordered out by 6 a.m..(5 Comments)
This is Riverview Circle's response to Moorhead's Code Red that indicates evacuations are likely. Another pickup with another load of sandbags has just pulled into John Brummer's garage and another crowd of volunteers has arrived to stack it on the sandbag dike that rings this neighborhood along three miles of shoreline.
I asked him if he has a plan if this effort fails and he says his house is a foot above the crest line. For the record, he's not thinking it won't work, of course. "We've given it the good fight," he said. And for the first time in three days, his smile waned and his humor gave way for a second. So he paused, clapped his hands twice, and headed out to the sandbags.
There's still work to be done.
Buses are still streaming into the neighborhood, but getting enough sandbags has been problematic all afternoon.
Throughout Moorhead this afternoon, police are escorting conveys as if they're in charge of the nation's money supply. In a way, they are. On Riverview Circle -- and most of the Red River Valley -- the only currency that matters today is a filled sandbag.
As a Code Red was issued this afternoon, signifying an evacuation is possible from Riverview Circle, and the surrounding neighborhoods, the Morses and John Brummer were not giving up.
After uploading the video, I'm heading back into the neighborhood. My motel is just around the corner. A note slipped under the door a few minutes ago announces "We're in Code Red. Please be prepared to evacuate at short notice."
I'm not leaving unless the Morses and Brummers do.(5 Comments)
The Red River can be very sneaky. This is what's happening now at 3521, the home of Todd and Donna Morse. Through the morning, they've been adding width to the sandbag dike in their backyard, the river is now touching the sandbag dike, but it's strong and well built.
We took a break for lunch, and then found that a drain along the edge of their swimming pool was the Red's way in. Now they're trying to get the drain covers off to plug the unexpected breach.
A Shop Vac is borrowed from John Brummer next door. Sump pumps are being deployed.
Without admitting defeat at the dike, their son "Hoss" orders sandbagging to begin around the door to the house.
"There'll be no happy pictures of us today," Donna says to me.
All of the attention is no longer on reinforcing the massive dike at 43 feet; it's on a 4 foot drain embedded in concrete.
Meanwhile, the river isn't waiting. Here's the view today.
Note that stick. It marks the expected crest at 41 feet:
I took that picture at 11 this morning. I took this one just 45 minutes later.
As the Morses and John Brummer work outside, they probably don't know that the city wants them to start thinking about getting out. They issued this alert:
There has been no breach to the dike system; however due to the significance of the flood threat, the City recommends you prepare to evacuate your home as this area is vulnerable to flooding. Take the following actions to prepare your home and evacuate to a location outside of the flood area:
Please seek shelter with family or friends outside of the flood zone to conserve semergency resources. A Red Cross public shelter will be available at 3:00 PM today at Moorhead High School, 2300 4th Avenue South.
Bring your identification and a 7 - 10 day supply of medications
Pets will NOT be accepted at the Red Cross shelter. Animal shelter may be available at the Doggy Depot (3224 8th Street South, 218-236-DOGS) and the Mutt Hut (1214 Main Avenue, 218-236-9935). Call ahead; please bring your animal's food and health records.
Pet shelter space is extremely limited, so please try to make accommodations with family or friends outside of the flood zone.
Before you evacuate, call 218-477-4747 to register your home's address and temporary location so emergency personnel and your family and friends can know you are safe and how to reach you.
If you need assistance with relocation, please call the relocation hotline 218-477-4747.
Prepare your property for dike failure/sewer failure as follows:
Plug all sewer drains including floor drains and sinks in lower levels
Shut water off (if you need assistance with water shut off, call 218-477-4747)
Leave electricity and natural gas services on
Up the block, none of the thousands of volunteers who have been bused in are ready to give the Red River the satisfaction:
Volunteers pick up sandbags in their trucks and haul them back to their backyards where volunteers seem to appear out of nowhere to form a chain to deliver them to the three-mile-long wall.
"Swing, don't drop," Hoss instructs the group of mostly rookie sandbaggers. During breaks, he asks his grandfather for another "chew" to provide his energy.
Then the saddest two words this week are shouted. "Last one."
The volunteers pause for a moment, then realize John may need help next door.
When there's no sandbags to throw, Donna's mother, Eileen, serves up soup in the garage with the enthusiasm that a good bowl of corned beef soup can stop a flood. She tells me the story of helping out in St. Peter after the tornado left the town devastated in the '90s.
The Red River isn't kidding around. But neither is Riverview Circle.(4 Comments)
The daily meeting of officials battling the Red River flood is underway in Fargo.
8:03 a.m. - Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker holds up a gift from his staff, a Moses-like staff, which he says he can use to part the water. Then saying, "we need all the help we can get," he asks an official from the Salvation Army to begin a prayer.
8:05 a.m. - The river is rising three feet a day. "We going to be at 40 tomorrow. I've used the term 'uncharted territory' because it's a learning curve for all of us." He says at a meeting last night the city was being criticized as unorganized. Not at all what I've seen.
8:08 a.m. - Mark Bittner, the Fargo city engineer, says they have "some concerns" that already have some seepage. They're going to start building "secondary levees." Efforts today will include further protecting the city water plant and the water treatment plant.
8:10 a.m. - 76th Avenue in Fargo will be closed today. Highway 81 will be closed between the Wild Rice river and the Maple Prairie subdivision.
8:13 a.m. - A warning that residents who "want to come out, have to come out during the day." The county sheriff says people who refused to be evacuated by boat yesterday called this morning at 1 or 2 "angry at us for not coming to get them."
8:17 a.m. - "We are not abandoning anybody," Walaker says to news of complaints that secondary dikes in neighborhoods are isolating them.
8:18 a.m. - Here's the 7:15 flood projection. It's not pretty.
8:19 a.m. - Tim Mahoney, Fargo city administrator: "I might get tears in my eyes like the mayor soon because the volunteers have been terrific. But, buck it up because you have to do it one more day."
8:20 a.m. - On Wednesday, another half million sand bags were produced by volunteers working on the Fargo side. The focus today is getting bags delivered as quickly as possible. "Anytime you see Bison basketball shirts standing next to Sioux Hockey shirts, we've really come together and that's a story that needs to be told," an official says.
By the way, you saw than Than Tibbetts great video, right? No? Here.
8:28 a.m. - Public safety officials are asking people not to drive directly to sandbag sites. Go to the sites where buses will take people there.
8:36 a.m. - Sara Lepp, the volunteer coordinator said people from Florida, Alaska, and Michigan have showed up to help. "It's not just Minnesota and North Dakota," she said.
8:38 a.m. - Steve Carbno of the Salvation Army says "we're going to be stretched thin today."
"Any time you see the Red Cross and the Salvation Army working hand in hand, that's a good thing," he said. Hmmm.
"Any time you see the Red Cross and the Salvation Army working together, that's a disaster," Walaker said.
8:40 a.m. - Sherl Thomsen of the Minnkota Red Cross says they're opening shelters. Four more are on standby.
8:42 a.m. - An animal shelter is being set up at the Red River fairgrounds. The Minnesota animal disaster coalition is enroute.
At a news conference afterward, Walaker said the mood of the area is still good, "but there's maybe 10 percent of the people who are having difficulty with this."
"I give us a 4-to-1 shot at winning this thing," he later said. "And those are good odds at any horse track in the country."(2 Comments)
I'm getting some emails about how people can volunteer. It's a pretty simple process in the Fargo Moorhead area. Call 701-476-4000. That's the volunteer hotline number. You can learn more in a post I made on Monday.
If you're heading for the Moorhead side, the central location is the Nemzek Field House on the Minnesota State University Moorhead campus. From there, they bus you out to sandbag sites.
In Grand Forks, the hotline number is (701) 787-8052. This hotline is for people looking to volunteer, people looking for help from volunteers, and people looking to receive sandbags.
If you're heading to the region, be sure to drop me a note and send a cellphone number.
In a previous post, I introduced you to another of the Riverview Circle residents I'm following this week -- Vikki and Bruce Johnson. Here's an update.
With the order to raise the sandbag levee by another foot, I couldn't imagine having the gumption to get back out and sling sandbags. When I was by earlier in the day, there were few people on the street. So this evening I headed back to the neighborhood. I needed to do something more to help than write words.
But there's more gumption here than water. Flatbed trailers full of sandbags lined the streets, people were walking toward Riverview Circle, after parking some distance away. The sandbag machine was back in action.
By the time I arrived, most of the work seemed to be done. I looked in at the backyard of the Morses. Check. And John Brummer's. All good. Across the way at the Johnsons, however, two sandbag lines had formed, starting with a pile that had been unloaded in the driveway. I jumped in there.
There's a method to this. You stand kitty-corner from a person across from you. I was at the beginning, picking up a bag, handing it to the person across from me who handed it to the person across from them. One line snaked down the backyard to the far neighbor's house, another went to the other side.
Periodically we'd stop as the line was moved as if it was a firehose.
The "theater kids" from Moorhead High School, my sandbag neighbor told me, were at the end of the line. They'd been here since about 1 p.m., about 7 hours ago. Why? One of the kids in one of these houses is a 'theater kid."
She -- my sandbag neighbor -- had been down the street at the sandbag filling area for several hours. "You freeze down there," she said. "Here, you stay warm by moving." She was proud, apparently, that the flood was the #2 story on the Today show, this morning. I said if we can just get a Hollywood actress to come schlep sandbags, we could be #1.
A Moorhead fireman joined the line and told me he's been working 14 hour days for four straight days. He'll be working them for more than four days more.
An older man from up the road crawled over the pile, trying to pry some frozen bags loose. We talked about how valuable the college kids have been in the tradition of students helping out during flood season over the years. "I remember the flood of 1969," he said. "We were the college kids, then," he added with a touch of sadness.
Two hours after I got there, we handed the last sandbag down the line. A cheer went up and within about two minutes, all of the people -- perhaps 200 were involved -- were gone.
Down at the now-43-foot levee, a few men added more sandbags to the river side of the wall, then stretched plastic over the top of the bags, and held it down with a few more bags. These were big men -- in some cases young men. But they've been doing this for several days now, and they struggled to lift the bags to the top of the wall.
Watching them, it was clear that people who live on the river must read up on the art of making a sandbag wall.
Meanwhile, the Red River is rising, of course.
Here's the view last Wednesday morning. Note the compost bin. The water is still considerably lower than it.
Here's the view on Wednesday night around 9 p.m.:
As I walked back to the car, parked several blocks away, three flatbed trailer trucks loaded with more sandbags were pulling in. Just in case.
Update 11:58 p.m. - Moorhead's sandbag central -- Nemzek Hall at the Minnesota State University Moorhead campus is now open 24 hours. They're calling for volunteers to help fill sandbags.(1 Comments)
I'm no expert on flood preparations, by any means. And nobody's thrown in the towel in Fargo-Moorhead, but you can almost feel the collective shoulders of the region sag a bit this afternoon with the latest projection that the Red River will crest at 41 feet this weekend.
That's only a foot lower than the top of the dikes that have been built along the river here, and that's not a lot of wriggle room. And that's if the weather people are right.
More roads are being closed in the area this afternoon, and more are going to be.
At the Highway 75 entrance to westbound Interstate 94, the beginnings of a clay dike are emerging. The river is thataway just a few hundred yards. Expect I-94 to close at some point.
I didn't bring a tripod to Moorhead with me, and my camera is pretty low-end. But perhaps with this stitched-together panorama, you can get a sense of what things look like out the back of these homes. You can move your mouse back and forth and up and down. Apologies that this is somewhat crude.
I'm standing right behind the sandbagged dike (now under a cover of snow) , that stands at 42 feet. The flood crest is going to be at 41 feet on Saturday.
Think about that, for just a moment. The river here runs back beyond that second set of trees, it's crept out of its banks and across the backyards and is now heading up the bankings to the homes.
By Saturday, the water will be one foot below the top of the dike you see in front of you. If it breaks, and people aren't quick enough to fix it (there aren't extra sandbags in people's back yards), it's going to pour through, it'll go into people's homes and down their driveways and into the street. The street here is below the top of this dike.
Now imagine you're a homeowner and you get to three days with the river in this state and the danger that the dike could give way at any moment. There won't be much sleep on Riverview Circle this weekend.
I was back on Riverview Circle in Moorhead today.
Temps in the 30s have replaced yesterday's 50s. Snow is covering the mud and already partially flooded streets. The kids who made the street buzz yesterday...
... are gone. Remnants of their sandbag-making are still in the street, along with a few sandbags.
The Red River, of course, is still here and getting closer.
Yesterday, at 3517 Riverview Circle, the water was starting to climb the stairs...
Today, it's got a lot fewer steps to go...
Teams of Moorhead firefighters are walking through the backyards of homes, checking the three-mile-long sandbag dike the residents and volunteers have built since Saturday. "Shooting elevation" they call it in flood prep lingo.
It's not always a happy "everybody pitches in to help the neighborhood" story.
As I sat with Bruce and Vikki Johnson at 3526 Riverview Circle, a firefighter knocks on the back door to tell them the wall behind a house a few doors down has to come up another foot. It's bad news. The man who lives there has refused to help build the dike, and didn't want it there in the first place. The fire chief gave him an ultimatum -- let the dike come through the backyard, or the city will build a clay dike in the front, and cut him off.
During the flood of 1997, it was "everyone for him/herself" in Moorhead. But this time, the decision was made to build one long dike around this neighborhood.
The Johnsons have been taking a breather today, but now they know they'll have to go back to work along with other neighbors, building up the dike behind the man's house. They'll have one less pair of hands to help. Their daughter, a high school senior, has left to help a friend whose family's home is "in trouble" somewhere along the Red..
Across the street -- at 3521 -- Todd and Donna Morse -- are thinking some of the water in the swimming pool in the backyard should be pumped out. Donna welcomes me in with the words that can make a grown man cry real tears: "I was just reading your blog."
Then, bad news comes on the phone: Emergency sandbagging is underway down in Wolverton, about halfway between here and Breckenridge. The river is higher than expected, and it's heading this way.
Teams of rescue specialists have surveyed where to store airboats, just in case river rescues become necessary later. Riverview Circle is one site that's been selected.
Kevan Rehm of Brooklyn Park drove to the Fargo Moorhead area this week to help out. He's like dozens -- perhaps hundreds -- of Twin Citians who are here. Just walking through the motel lobby a few minutes ago, the lobby is thick with men from the Twin Cities in workclothes and muddy boots, who've been working all night, some of them telling tales of running heavy equipment and sliding off the dikes.
Kevan sent us a detailed account of his experience. Here is his story.
(Update -- Kevan was later on MPR's All Things Considered. Listen)
I drove up yesterday evening and stayed at the Super 8 in north Fargo, just a mile or so from the FargoDome. They had a 15 to 20 % discount for sandbaggers. Every guest in the place had on work clothes. :-)
I arrived at 9:30 PM and worked 10 PM until 2 AM last night. My first sight was walking into the FargoDome. When you were a kid, did you ever kick open an ant hill? Suddenly the entire ground seems to be alive with constant motion as the ants are moving every which way. Well, that was the FargoDome.
They took out the floor and started dumping huge piles of sand everywhere. Around each sand pile was a dozen or more people filling sandbags, tying them off, and stacking them on pallets. Bobcats are whizzing around picking up full pallets and bringing back empty ones. Large bulldozers would rebuild the sand piles (5 feet high) each time that people would just be about done shoveling up the previous one. It was organized chaos; how you could have that many moving people and equipment and not have anyone run over, I'll never know.
Today when I went back and counted, there were 14 separate sand piles being processed by volunteers at the same time, with Bobcats and bulldozers flying around in between.
I got on the bus and went to Sandbag Central. They had three sand spiders working there. Each is a conveyor belt taking sand up high, then dumping it into the top of a cone shape which is really ten connected pipes each about 8 inches in diameter. The pipes are connected at the top, and flare out as they go down. At the bottom of each pipe, a person has a bag over the bottom of the pipe. When his bag is full, he pulls it off and his partner slips on the next bag. The sand coming down these pipes is continuous, so you can't stop. A third person or fourth person ties the sacks as they get them from the fillers. Other folks take the tied sacks and either pass them down a line to a truck or stack them on pallets. Each pipe needs about 5 people to manage it, and there's about 10 pipes per sand spider, and they had three spiders, so that's 150 people just to keep those three machines going.
In addition to the spiders, there are the piles everywhere where people are filling sacks with shovels. After an hour on the spider I switched to the sand piles because it's much more dynamic. If someone gets behind on filling sacks or tying sacks, someone else can switch jobs and help take up the slack. In the four hours I was there, you never stop.
The Red Cross is there with plenty of food. They even had scalloped potatoes with ham in heated trays. Does that count as hot dish? :-) You certainly wouldn't starve there.
People were amazing. Everyone wanted to work. If something would start to bog down, someone would notice and say "I'll take this" and deal with it. If the line for passing sacks from fillers to pallets got a little long, someone would step into the line and help pass. Nobody stood around; everyone jumped in and helped.
I can't tell you how many times someone thanked me for coming to help. You work with someone on the line, they don't know you're not a local, but as you start to leave, they turn and say "Thanks for coming to help". It's times like this that I know why I live in the Midwest, in spite of the weather. :-) I feel like these people are my neighbors. They're not my next-door neighbors, but they're my neighbors. :-)
At two AM I went back to the hotel and crashed, woke up at 9 AM, checked out, and went back for another four hour shift from 10 AM to 2 PM. I had hoped to work the dikes today, but I ended up at Sandbag Central again. They have folks on the radio constantly, including the bus drivers, so if people start to leave at Sandbag Central, they know immediately and send the next bus load of people there to replace them.
Today I learned how to tie the sacks shut. (Last night I spent all 4 hours piling sacks on pallets.) It turns out that the way you tie off a sandbag is the same way that you tie rebar at construction sites. I told my line partner that I'm prepared for a new career in construction in case I get laid off in my current job.
Two people can fill a sack in 15 seconds easily, usually less. Another person can tie off sacks and keep up with a pair of fillers. Another person can probably handle the output of two people tying sacks, filling the pallets with the tied sacks. If I'm doing my math correctly, that means two teams of fillers, or 7 people total can do about a thousand sacks per hour. There are at least two of these sets of people per sand pile. Just awesome.
I worked until two PM today, then decided it was time to go home. I felt guilty, but the hotel didn't have Internet, so I couldn't log in and work during the off hours, so I needed to get back to my day job. Still, I am really glad that I went. I met a lot of great, hard-working people, who have obviously been doing this day after day after day, and they are still cheery. I hope others keep coming into town to help them out. They need to keep up today's rate all the way through to Saturday if they are going to make it. Tell everyone to come and help!(6 Comments)
The daily briefing of public safety and government officials is underway in Fargo. The mayor of Moorhead, Mark Voxland , has been invited over and both are stressing that neither city ignores the other.
8:04 a.m. - Voxland says they hope to have all the sandbag dikes up to 42 feet today. He credits GPS technology with improving the flood preparations this year. Members of the Moorhead Fire Department (I wrote about this below) check all the homeowner and city walls with GPS to make sure they're all at 42 feet.
8:06 a.m. - The Army Corps of Engineers says it needs a day and a half to complete preparations and most are in the southern end of Fargo. The Moorhead side of the river should be "buttoned up" by this afternoon. Then the National Guard will be redeployed to the north side of the city.
Aside: I exchanged e-mails last night with one volunteer who was helping a friend in the southern end of Moorhead, who says the house has now been cut off because sandbagging and dike work completely encircled the neighborhood. In those cases, would you stay in the home or would you go?
8:09 a.m. - Officials have been asking people not to use much water. They're concerned about the sewage treatment plant be overloaded, although officials said the amount of "flow" dropped overnight. This is another upgrade from the flood of '97.
In Oxbow, the sewage treatment plant has failed and the pumps are "flooded" out. The National Guard is delivering another pump today.
8:14 a.m. - It snowed about 3-4" overnight. The city's are not plowing the neighborhoods.
8:15 a.m. - Fargo officials say they don't need as many volunteers now. There are areas where they don't want to bring busloads of volunteers, they'd rather have neighbors doing the sandbagging, City Commissioner Tim Mahoney said.
8:19 a.m. - A city official says at 5 p.m. yesterday, there were trucks loaded with sandbags at both sandbagging locations "with no orders left to fill." They're still making sandbags -- 150,000 are in heated storage -- in the event additional ones are needed.
8:21 a.m. -- Here's a live stream of downtown Fargo, from valleyfloodwatch.com.
8:22 a.m. -- Police officers are on 12-hour shifts. Signs have been posted on the dikes ordering people to stay off. The Guard and police are patrolling the dikes looking for areas where they may be failing.
8:25 a.m. - Fargo City Manager Pat Zavoral: "We're winding down. But if people want to do some sandbag filling, we're going to do that."
8:28 a.m. - A national Weather Service official, Greg Gust, from Grand Forks says the snow "is not an immediate player." They're still looking for a 40-foot crest early Saturday morning. "We have record flow coming from the south," he said. He says it's "scary." "It's uncharted territory for the flood plains," he said.
8:32 a.m. - Health official says they're encouraging nursing homes and hospitals 'to reduce their census." She suggests canceling elective surgery, sending patients home earlier. They're also identifying people in the area who are living at home, and "who may need extra help relocating if that becomes necessary."
8:33 a.m. - Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker "Elective surgeries is one thing but some can't be forestalled. They have backup generators." He says he's told the hospitals to be 'self contained," in order to stay open.
8:35 a.m. - North Dakota State University has canceled classes through Thursday. The university, however, has not been closed. "We want to keep those jobs flowing," an NDSU official said.
8:38 a.m. - Salvation Army served 9500 sandwiches on Tuesday, serving 38,000 people. 130,000 bottles of water. $30,000 of local Salvation Army money has been spent. "It scares the heck out of me to see what we're doing," an official said.
8:39 a.m. - Walaker joked that he was taken to task in 1997 for his comment on the quality of the sandwiches served in the great flood of '97. "They have improved dramatically," he said,
8:39 a.m. - Interstate 29 north of Fargo will be closed soon. The northbound side from Wahpeton, ND has been reopened.
-- End --
This morning I'm staying on the Moorhead side and talking to some more neighbors who are switching to wait-and-see mode.(1 Comments)
MPR's Than Tibbetts has sent along this view of the Fargodome, now known as Sandbag Central. Be sure to click it.
Now we wait. John Brummer of Moorhead is finished with his portion of the giant sandbag dike that snakes along the Red River south from I-94. With any luck at all, he'll get some sleep soon.
A crest that's taking longer than expected, and thousands of young volunteers working harder than anyone could have imagined have some people in the neighborhood feeling better about things.
"I heard one guy say, 'I'd like to say I'm feeling good, but you're still nervous,' and doing these little things like plugging these drain tiles, it provides better sleep medicine," he told me on Tuesday.
"The college kids, high school kids and elementary kids have been fantastic. That keeps our attitude going in the right direction," he said. "You feel all alone the week before. How are we going to get this done and woe is me, but when these guys show up, it's 'let's have a party.'"
MPR's Tom Roberson did a great job describing how things have changed in Fargo-Moorhead from the devastating flood of 1997. Brummer has one more for the list: better coordination between public safety officials and the homeowners.
"Dean from the Moorhead Fire Department (below) has been tremendous. Those guys are going around, shooting elevation on the sandbags, and letting us know whether we're too high or two low," he said. The locals are getting plenty of help from their counterparts in the Twin Cities. Firefighters from the Eden Prairie and Hopkins fire departments were stationed in Brummer's neighborhood.
Out back, Brummer was ready for one final task. "We're going to pull the plastic over (the sandbags) and it'll be Miller time."
Todd and Donna Morse weren't around for the Great Flood of 1997 -- they lived in Coon Rapids then -- but they've quickly learned the art of flood protection against a river that has a penchant for taking detours through neighborhoods like theirs in Moorhead.
As she stood next to a backyard swimming pool where the flood of '97 stopped, Donna said her neighbors who were here in 1997 have been saying how surprised they are about how fast the Red River is rising toward them this year.
When I visited with them on Tuesday, they -- and dozens of volunteers from a school in Fergus Falls -- were putting the finishing touches on the portion of the neighborhood sandbag wall that will stop growing when it reaches 42 feet.
Then they wait.
"(We'll) keep our pumps ready and keep watching it closely and see what we need to do," Donna said. "We've plugged drains in the basement; we've hauled stuff up from the basement in case it breaches on the other side."
They got a boost from the kids on Tuesday morning. "We were out doing it and they came around the corner like the cavalry," she said.
When I took the picture above, I said they looked awfully happy for having a flood on the doorstep. So they gave me this:
The one question that keeps getting e-mailed to me is "what do they do with the sandbags once the flood is over?" Fortunately, All Things Considered's Tom Crann was on the case, and got the answer from Ken Hellevang, an Extension Service agent at North Dakota State University.
"Normally the bags will be removed and the sand reclaimed and used for the normal kinds of construction projects that we'd use the sand for. A lot it will end up in concrete," he said. Listen
You can find the entire interview here.
Residents, however, won't have the considerable help getting the sandbags out that they had putting them in. How are you going to spend your summer? Theirs is now mostly spoken for.
So that's one flood mystery out of the way, let's move on to #2.
Why do TV reporters insist on doing this? If this were the story of, say, a manure lagoon, would they wade in?
HOW TO HELP
I've gotten a few questions today on how to help. Assuming that means you're interested in coming to the Fargo-Moorhead area, call 701-476-4000, which is the First Link volunteer line. I don't have any information for you on the Grand Forks area, but it's worth noting that the flooding wasn't expected to be bad there, and today the region sent several busloads of volunteers to Fargo.
If you do drive out, bring a map. They're closing the off-ramp to Moorhead (I-75) off I-94 on Wednesday morning so they can build a dike across it.
I posted a presentation below about the involvement by this region's young people. Here's my appearance on tonight's All Things Considered, discussing it more. Listen
The flood crest was expected in Fargo on Friday. From the looks of the latest projection, however, it now looks like Sunday morning.
Things were looking pretty bleak for the folks who live on Riverview Circle in Moorhead. They had started sandbagging last weekend. "People were in denial," one resident told me this afternoon. Denial that the river would rise faster than they've seen it, or climb the banking that separates their 1970s-era homes and the Red River, which has every intention of moving in.
That's when these kids from Hillcrest Lutheran Academy in Fergus Falls showed up to help fill sandbags...
... which were delivered by a skid-loader to the driveway of the homes, where these kids from Fergus Falls High School (they were allowed to come as long as they had a C average or above), formed a chain gang to get them to the backyard...
... which was a great relief to Donna and Todd Morse...
... and their next-door neighbor John Brummer.
Their dike, which stretches south along the meandering river from I-94 for more than a mile, has just been built up to 42 feet above flood stage. They're hoping it's enough.
Why are they smiling? Because the kids were smiling, they said.
I'll have more from all of them later this afternoon and I'll be checking in with them as the flood crest approaches
I'm at the daily flood information meeting at the Fargo City Hall. About 30 people -- all men -- are sitting around a table.
Fargo Mayor Dennis Walker announces the Red River has crested at Wahpeton at a level below that which was predicted. "We need another good day and we assume the same is going to happen today," he said.
Gov. John Hovan said he couldn't get home last night because of a blizzard in Bismarck. About 800 North Dakota National Guard members will be in the area by later today.
Hoping to get a federal disaster declaration today. They're hoping to get 90 percent reimbursement. "In 1997, we got 100 percent," the mayor said.
A few officials were upset by an article in the Fargo Forum newspaper today in which a Salvation Army official said he was seeing more "fear."
" Fear. We don't see any fear, we just see people working very hard," the mayor said. "There may be people concerned and they're always concerned."
At the meeting a Salvation Army official apologized for the comment.
The mayor said people are showing up from Minnesota to volunteer. "People in Minnesota are bypassing Moorhead, which I think is kind of interesting," the Fargo mayor said. And he's right. If you didn't know any better, you wouldn't think there's a flood problem in Moorhead.
South Fargo -- Most of the area will be "buttoned up" today, the Army Corps of Engineers said.
Will close University Drive if the water gets over 40 feet.
"We're diking where we've never diked before," one official said.
Preparing to close sewers. Sewage systems are "keeping up."
The goal was 200,000 per day, then 250,000 per day, now trying to get 300,000 a day. They put out a call for volunteers on Monday. A second central sandbagging location was set up on Monday. 280,000 bags were filled on Monday, overnight, another 170,000 bags were filled. "We think we hit the 450,000 bag mark yesterday," an official said to applause.
"The bad news is we still need more. We need to continue making sandbags through Saturday in case we need to fortify levees," he said.
Classes have been canceled at North Dakota State University until further notice. About 3,200 students have been filling sandbags.(8 Comments)
(Moorhead) - This area picked up another half inch of rain in the last 12 hours, the last thing it needed. But is snow and cold temperatures a good or a bad thing?The meteorologists say the cold will slow the snow melt, but also make it harder to stuff sandbags.
We're heading out in a bit to document the effort to save some homes in the area. MPR's Dan Gunderson, based in Moorhead, is in Fargo this morning. Ambar Espinoza will be in Breckenridge when the Red River crests there this afternoon.
Volunteers are streaming into the area. I saw firefighters from St. Louis Park and Chaska last evening. Some are having a hard time finding a place to stay, so some of the colleges here are putting them up.
All three of the colleges in the area are closed again today, so students can help sandbag.
Here are the latest river intentions.
Downstream at Breckenridge, things will be quicker:
On Monday evening, it was pretty clear Highway 210 wouldn't be open for long. I was about halfway through one portion where water had covered the road when I had the image of Mary Lucia telling the story of the blogger who got himself swept into the flood by doing something he knows he shouldn't have been doing. "Turn around, don't drown," National Guard Capt. Chuck Moore intoned when I told him about the situation later.
A Chevy Cavalier isn't much of an off-road vehicle.
Here's a few pictures as arrived in Breckenridge late Monday afternoon. Click the little arrows icon in the lower right corner to see full-sized images.
If you've ever traveled US Highway 1 from Miami to Key West, you know what it's like to drive around West Central Minnesota and eastern North Dakota tonight. Other than the water lapping the road edge on both sides, and the anticipation of a cold drink at your destination, there the similarity ends.
The flood is a disaster still waiting to happen in Fargo and Moorhead, but it arrived on Monday in Breckenridge, a town that was heavily damaged in the great flood of '97, but often loses out to its bigger neighbors to the north when it comes to attention.
Late Monday afternoon, the fire department and other volunteers on the Breckenridge side started putting up a flood wall they purchased after the '97 flood. It took awhile to figure out where Part A connects to Part B, and the Red River wasn't waiting. It had already inundated the town park. Within a half hour, however, the wall was up, protecting the western flank from the rising river, and bulldozers began building a dike across the Minnesota Ave. bridge, cutting the city off. Wahpeton, North Dakota was soon to be on its own.
"I've never lived through a flood before," Breckenridge resident Carri Johnson told me as she helped assemble the flood wall. She said Monday was the first day she's been nervous. "I've never lived anywhere where a flood was even a threat, so I've just been watching people's faces because they lived through the 1997 flood and then day by day you can see the fear and... so I'm really watching my husband's face and when he gets scared, that's when I'm going to get scared."
Her husband, a firefighter, was in Breckenridge for the '97 flood.
"I saw a little nervousness today," she said.
She says she has volunteers ready to help her sandbag around her home if the water goes higher. (Listen)
It will go higher, says Captain Chuck Moore of the Minnesota National Guard (above right). He's in charge of about 40 Guardsmen, who were sent down to Breckenridge at the city's request after they were initially deployed to Moorhead.
In a makeshift office on the second floor of the Breckenridge City Hall, within spitting distance of the river, Moore coordinates six teams who have been deployed around the city. They're keeping an eye on a sandbagging location south of town because he's heard some communities have tried to steal sandbags from other communities.
"Sometime tomorrow (Tuesday) is the crest... they're expecting it to crest for two or three days," he said. (Listen)
It's not just the Red River that's causing the problem. In Breckenridge, the Otter Tail River has also spilled over, leaving mud down one city street. Across the Red River, the Sheyenne River is cutting off access to the bright lights of what passes for the big cities here.
The curse of March is that four or five months from now, if history holds, there'll be a shortage of water here and whatever crops can be planted this year will be parched. But for now, it's Water World in this section of the Upper Midwest.
Not long after I talked to both Johnson and Moore, I found myself cut off from Moorhead, my final destination for the day. I'd already been told that Highway 75 was closed, so I headed to North Dakota for Interstate 29, but it was closed, too. I drove another 25 miles, and found every road north blocked.
I turned around and headed back to Breckenridge, but by then the bridge into downtown had been sealed. I tried several back streets and found Highway 210 open enough to get into town. By the time darkness fell, so had heavy rain, which flooded most of the roadways north to Moorhead.
I shared the road only with the occasional dump truck, carrying sand to the river.(1 Comments)
The coming flood in the Fargo-Moorhead area has already been a test of social networking sites in an emergency. So far, the sites have passed with flying colors.
Photographer Kevin Tobosa, who lives in South Fargo, has helped organize volunteers to fill and move sandbags, and hit paydirt with Facebook, organizing the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Volunteer Network.
"I got an e-mail last Thursday with a call for volunteers. It just kind of hit me that we can really get the word out quickly... to a lot of people in real time using a social network like Facebook. We also have a Twitter account set up. People have this up and running at work, at home, going to their cellphones. E-mail seemed a lot slower, which is funny since it's always been known as a fast method to communicate," he told me today.
Tobosa says when he told Fargo's volunteer coordinator about his idea, "she thought maybe we could get about 50 volunteers and they'd mostly be young people." Tobosa set up the Facebook group on Thursday, sending out 100 "invites" to his network (he runs his photography business via Facebook.)
"Within 24 hours, we'd broken 1,000 (group members), within 48 hours we'd broken 2,000 and today we're at 3,000 people who are receiving our updates as they need volunteers," he said. "When we do put out a call for volunteers, we get that push, and now they're using that as their primary push and the press releases follow shortly thereafter. Just from the messages we've received via Facebook, people are thanking us for organizing it. A lot of people are out on spring break and hadn't realized how serious it is. People don't read the news when they're on vacation, but they are checking their Facebook and Twitter accounts, so that was a significant communication breakthrough."
Over the next week, Tobosa does not intend to change the purpose of his Facebook/Twitter efforts to a full-blown news-reporting effort. "The intent of this was never as a news outlet; there are a lot of news organizations that are already covering that. They have blogs on their sites. It was simply to be a voice for first-link volunteer coordination, to tell people where they were needed and what their urgencies are."
Tobosa has spent lots of time at "Sandbag University, in Moorhead and Fargo, locations where volunteers are filling and moving sandbags. "It's hard work. It's certainly back-breaking work, but there are a lot of people doing it," he said.
After our interview, he headed out to a dike being built a block from his house, which survived the '97 flood, but is on "the bubble" for the flood which is expected to crest Thursday or Friday.
Listen to the entire interview with Kevin Tobasa. Listen
(I'm heading to West Central Minnesota today. If you're in the area, please let me know.)(2 Comments)
Over the next few days, we'll hear a lot about Fargo-Moorhead, but there's more to flooding in the Upper Midwest than the Red River.
Out in North Dakota, the National Guard evacuated some people last evening in the Linton area who were stranded by rising water in creeks that were plugged with ice flows, according to a press release issued by the Guard today.
"The first rescue was of two citizens and two dogs from a farm in rural Carson, N.D. The second rescue of two citizens was from a farm near New Leipzig, N.D. Both farms were surrounded by four to five feet of floodwaters, making overland rescue impossible," it said.
These pictures were provided by the Guard:
These images bring to mind a question I usually have during these types of stories. If you've only got a few minutes, and you can only take what you can grab, what do you take?
I'm heading for the west-central region of Minnesota today, stopping first in Breckenridge and then on to Moorhead. If you're in the area, I'd like to stop and chat with you. Please contact me at email@example.com.(2 Comments)
Pilots hate the media. It's been that way for years. It's not without good reason. They think the media doesn't know anything about why airplanes fly. And some of the cable TV anchors obviously don't. Unfortunately, America often relies on them for news.
Throw a plane crash into this, and the rhetoric can get pretty heated. The Colgan Air crash in Buffalo is one such example. There's no question that media reports are quick to try to piece factoids together into some coherent explanation. That's not a media character flaw. The first question people ask after an accident is usually, "what happened?" Possibilities are not conclusions, however.
On his excellent blog, Blogging at FL250, "Sam" (we don't know his last name or what regional airline out of Minnesota he flies for) gets a good broadside off:
I'm not going to speculate on what caused the crash. All that I know about the circumstances are what's been reported by the NTSB thus far and repeated in the media. The morning after the crash, enough was already known that there were only a few likely culprits. I myself suspected it was one of two scenarios. The first known facts made one seem most likely, and subsequent information is now shifting the investigation towards the second possibility. The media hasn't reported accurately on either scenario, with a few exceptions. There's a decent chance that more information will come to light that will take the investigation in a completely different direction before it's all over. To say I have any idea what really caused this accident would be a farce. I will, however, give my take on some of the ways the known information has been interpreted and reported to the general public.
All those answers will come with time; in the meantime, any certitude on the part of the media, most of their sources, bloggers, or web board participants is mere affectation.
Many of the nation's best aviation reporters are pilots. There isn't a separate set of laws for physics for people who fly airplanes for living vs. those who fly for some other reason.
Take James Fallows of the Atlantic, for example. Fallows, a pilot, does a great job in his post today of explaining what the word "stall" is in aviation.
For the pilot of any airplane, large or small, the practical implications of a stall center on whether you are pulling the airplane's nose up (by pulling the control wheel or stick backwards, toward your body) or pushing the nose down (by pushing the stick forward, away from you). Everyone who has ever flown an airplane has gone through stall-recovery drills. These involve climbing to a safe altitude; pulling the stick back more and more until you raise the nose so high and make the angle of attack so great that the airplane stalls and begins falling toward the earth; and then immediately pushing the stick forwardas the very first step in getting the airplane under control and flying again.
Pilots themselves, of course, object to suggestions the crew might have done something wrong. We don't know they did. We don't know they didn't. Besides, they're dead and don't get to defend themselves.
But it's entirely possible that they were guilty of nothing more than human survival instinct in the 5 seconds they had to figure out what was happening, and get it fixed.
Here's the scenario when a plane stalls close to the ground. Pretend you're the pilot. You're 1,000 feet off the ground when your plane loses its lift because you're going too slow. The ground is coming up fast in your windshield. What do you do? Pull the plane's nose up? Or push it down?
The correct answer? You push it down... toward the ground you don't want to hit. It -- and not the engine power -- is the most immediate way to can gain enough airspeed to get the plane flying again.
Where Fallows errs in his article today -- and where he gives ammunition to the Sams of the world -- is with this paragraph:
So if these reports stand up over time, and if the evidence ultimately shows that whoever was controlling the plane reacted in exactly the wrong way, it will be the rare case of a professional air crew, out of panic or for whatever reason, forgetting an elementary procedure that they certainly knew. After the USAir water-landing in the Hudson, many people observed that the casualty-free outcome was both an individual and a collective achievement. Individually, the air crew (pilot, copilot, attendants) reacted with supreme competence. Collectively, everyone involved did exactly what they had been trained to do. If what the WSJ says turns out to be what really happened, the Colgan-Buffalo crash will be a startling case of individual failure, which in turn will raise questions of how a professional air crew could have reacted this way.
How? Because with only 5 seconds to get it right, every neuron in your brain is telling you not to push a plane closer to the very thing you're trying to avoid.
The truth (probably) is: By the time it got to that point, the result was almost inevitable. The real question -- and I suspect the real focus of the investigation -- is how it got to that point.
The evidence is mounting that icing -- and the crew's reaction to it -- played the main part in last week's tragic Colgan Air crash in Buffalo.
After viewing a video from NASA, one wonders how much the crew -- or most other pilots for that matter -- knew about the existing investigations into what happens when the tails of turboprop aircraft ice up.
The spooky part of the video is at 15:40, when the test plane stalled ("stalling" in an airplane is the absence of lift). The pilots only recovered by retracing flaps, which allow planes to slow down, and descend without picking up airspeed.
Compare that to the National Transportation Safety Board's timetable of when things started to go wrong for the plane in Buffalo:
The NTSB has said problems for the 74-seat Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 occurred when the pilots lowered the landing gear and tried to set the wing flaps to slow the aircraft for landing.
The video adds an additional part to the equation: The actions a pilot must take for a "tail stall," are nearly the opposite of the actions he/she must take for a wing stall, the much more common type of stall.
How much time did the pilots have to take those actions once the plane was (apparently) stalling? Five seconds.
There are a few similarities between the crash of a regional jet near Buffalo last week and the 1993 crash of a regional flight on approach to the airport in Hibbing, but ice isn't one of them. The Star Tribune noted this week -- incorrectly, by the way -- that icing contributed to the Northwest Airlink crash. It didn't. The plane crashed because a poorly trained pilot executed a banned procedure to avoid suspected icing, and lost track of the altitude of his plane. An additional cause was that the younger co-pilots in the airline were too intimidated to call the pilot on his actions.
"It was a textbook flight right up until the moment it crashed," Mike Brady, the head of the airline that operated the flight told me and reporter Elizabeth Stawicki. We conducted an investigation of the crash which revealed poor FAA oversight of the airline, poor training in the airline, lax monitoring of the actions of pilots, and a system of "branding" among airlines that masked the fact -- at the time -- that when passengers transferred from a Northwest Airlines flight to a plane dressed up to look like a Northwest Airlines plane (except for the logo), they stepped into a substantially different world of airline safety -- a substantially less safe world.
Northwest Airlink wasn't Northwest Airlines. It was actually Express II Airlines, with which Northwest contracted to run the flights to some outstate Minnesota destinations.
Express II is gone now. The federal rules under which the "hidden" airlines operated have been tightened. The requirements for safety equipment on the regional planes are much tighter now than in 1993. Training has been standardized.
Since 9/11, airlines have increasingly turned to their hidden airlines. And they are still doing their best to make sure you think it's all one big airline. It's not. Passengers quite often aren't on the big airline they think they're on.
Just this morning, for example, I heard one network reporter refer to the jet that crashed in Buffalo as Continental Flight 3407. It was painted in the colors of Continental Airlines (See image here). But it wasn't a flight operated by Continental Airlines, and the pilots weren't employed by Continental Airlines.
It was a flight operated by Colgan Air. Colgan, in turn, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pinnacle Airlines. Pinnacle specializes in providing the regional jet flights under contract to big airlines, but the airline is not managed by the larger airline. It operates several "Northwest" flights.
"We leave safety monitoring to the FAA," said a Continental spokeswoman about their pact with Pinnacle and Colgan.
Regional jets are not, by definition, dangerous airplanes. But there is an undeniable fact in the aviation industry: The more experienced a pilot and first officer, the better aviators they are, and the better able they generally would be at handling quickly developing emergencies. Flight crews at these "hidden airlines" are in the comparatively early stage of becoming the next Chesley Sullenberger. Generally, the "hidden airlines" are the entry-level steps to becoming an airline pilot at a major carrier.
Of the five employees on the Colgan Air flight to Buffalo, none had more than four years of experience. The co-pilot on the ill-fated airplane, Rebecca Shaw, joined the airline only last year. She had not yet acquired an Air Transport Pilot rating, which -- among other things -- requires a minimum of 1,500 flight hours of experience. Shaw had over 2,000 hours with the airline, however.
The pilot, Marvin Renslow, who joined the airline in 2005, was 48. He had over 3,000 hours with Colgan, but no other airline experience.
Pilots for regional carriers are not incompetent pilots. Far from it. But they are not the industry's most experienced pilots. Of course, we don't know why the Colgan plane crashed. The weather certainly seems to have been a challenge. Based on NTSB investigations of previous disasters, however, how pilots respond to those challenges is what separates a happy landing from a tragic accident.
Since 2000, there have been eight crashes of regional aircraft. Only one did not involve fatalities. Three of the incidents involved Pinnacle Airlines, Colgan Air's parent company. In one 2004 crash, two pilots of an empty airplane (on its way to Minneapolis St. Paul) died in a crash after they tried to see how high the airplane could go.
Speaking to the Regional Airline Association just four months ago, Robert Sumwalt, the vice chair of the National Transportation Safety Board indicated he has concerns about the safety level of regional carriers:
When a passenger buys a ticket on an airline to go from say, Columbia, SC to San Francisco, he or she may find that the flight from Columbia to a hub city is being operated by a regional airline that is partnering with a major airline, while the next leg will be on a major airline.
The tickets would be issued on the major airline's ticket stock, the passenger would check in through the major airline's ticket counter and they would board planes that are painted in that major airline's livery.
Doesn't that passenger deserves the same level of safety while traveling on the regional airline portion of that flight as they receive on the portion flown by the major airline?
Sumwalt said he sees some evidence they're not.
(Photo: Stan Honda/Getty Images)(10 Comments)
It's rare that a big buildup to a TV news interview lives up to the hype, but Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot of US Airways flight 1549, and his crew did not disappoint on Sunday night's 60 Minutes.
The highlight of the interview was Sullenberger's assessment of what had to happen to avoid calamity.
"I needed to touch down with the wings exactly level. I needed to touch down with the nose slightly up. I needed to touch down at a descent rate that was survivable. And I needed to touch down just above our minimum flying speed but not below it. And I needed to make all these things happen simultaneously."
This is the aviation equivalent of patting your head and rubbing your belly, and this is what happens when it doesn't go right.
But after listing the things that he had to do, Sullenberger delivered the "money quote."
"I was sure I could do it."
Sullenberger and his crew visited the TV morning news shows today, and couldn't escape many of the silly questions for which the hosts are famous.
The CBS Early Show tried mightily to one-up the superior interview on 60 Minutes, by forcing "emotional" reunions between passengers and the crew.
"How important were the rescuers," was one question.
"Do you think you'll all be friends for life? Is there life before Flight 1549 and after?" host Maggie Rodriguez asked at a particularly awkward moment.
"Did you see any change in the expression on his face," Good Morning America's Diane Sawyer asked Sullenberger's co-pilot.
"I wasn't looking at his face," the co-pilot replied.
Good Morning America, scored the biggest "get" of the morning, however, and it didn't come from Sullenberger or his team. It came from a passenger's camera phone, the first image of what the January incident looked like from the wings of the downed airplane.
Later on Monday, the crew got the "keys to the city" from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
(Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)
We're done with Michael Phelps. You're on, Sully. We're going to hear more about the "Hudson River heroes" this week. CBS' "60 Minutes" is heavily promoting its interview with US Air flight 1545 pilot Chesley Sullenberger, who ditched the plane in the Hudson River a few weeks ago. It also has started promoting a segment on its suffering Early Show on Monday, also featuring Sullenberger. The network goes for the trifecta a night later when he stops by David Letterman's show.
THR.com has a nice behind-the-scenes look today at the pilot's coming-out party. NBC had originally booked Sullenberger, who was also honored at the Super Bowl, for the Today show before he backed out on the advice of his union, prompting this unusually harsh statement from NBC.
"What Captain Sullenberger did in the cockpit on Flight 1549 was heroic and admirable. Unfortunately, people close to him have not acted nearly as admirably over the past few days. They gave us their word and then broke their commitment. We wish Captain Sullenberger the best."
The euphoria over the Hudson River "miracle," ended last week, when passengers started complaining that US Air wasn't giving them enough freebies, according to the New York Post.
"You're going to crash me into the water, and you're going to tell me all I get is an upgrade?" asked Antonio Sales, 20, who was traveling with the University of South Carolina's track team. "That's more of an 'OK, you're not dead, I'll give you something to hold on to.' It's not enough at all."
Susan O'Donnell isn't one of those complaining, however. She was an off-duty pilot for American, riding in first class (a courtesy extended by airlines to other airlines' pilots) in the cockpit, and provided an account of the ditching to her union, which issued a press release about it.
The descent seemed very controlled, and the sink rate reasonably low. I believed the impact would be violent but survivable, although I did consider the alternative. The passengers remained calm and almost completely quiet. As we approached the water, I braced by folding my arms against the seat back in front of me, then putting my head against my arms. There was a brief hard jolt, a rapid decel and we were stopped. It was much milder than I had anticipated. If the jolt had been turbulence, I would have described it as moderate. Thinking about it later on, I realized it was no worse than a carrier landing.
There's no end to some of the fascinating insight that comes from Thursday's ditching of the US Airways plane in the Hudson River. It was brought down by a flock of birds. Today, I found an obscure publication -- until last week -- from the Department of Agriculture and the Federal Aviation Administration on bird strikes.
The most interesting part? One of the big reasons birds hang out at airports: worms. If you've ever walked down your driveway during a rainstorm, you know the scenario. Rain brings out the worms, worms bring out the birds.
There are plenty of pictures in that report, and also in this one, which features archived bird-strike reports.
Meanwhile, the pilot of the plane in the New York incident, Chesley Sullenberger III, canceled his appearance on the Today Show this morning at the request of his union.
We love heroes, of course. Sullenberger's name was even invoked in Ireland today. A commentary in the Irish Times said what Ireland needs is, well, more Sullenbergers.
On Facebook this weekend, a marketing specialist in branding (Sullenberger is now a brand), set up a Sullenberger group. In four days, it attracted 368,765 members.4 Comments)
Six must-read items in the aftermath of the water landing of the US Airways jet on Thursday:
>> Here's some of the initial radio transmissions by first responders.
>> Philip Greenspun, who's also a pilot, deftly points out (probably too deftly) that for all of the appropriate credit being given to Chesley Sullenberger, pilot, there were actually two people in the cockpit (James Fallows makes the same point). The first officer's (aka co-pilot's) mother lives in Wisconsin, by the way. It occurs to me also that the now-famous "brace for impact" call may not necessarily have been Sullenberger's.
>> Charles Bremner has a nice piece in the London Times about what was likely happening in the cockpit during the final few minutes of the flight.
>> The Coast Guard released some surveillance camera video of the plane ditching.
>> Students at an aviation college put together a simulation of the flight:
>> Here's an interview with John Ostrom, manager of airside operations at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, who spoke with Newsweek about the danger of birds at airports.
Via Twitter, The Fix's Chris Ciillizza of the Washington Post asks an intriguing question:
Does it worry anyone else that a massive plane can be brought down by a flock of birds?
Any minute now, someone will propose that all airplanes have an additional engine and be wrapped in rabbit wire. Sometimes you just can't plan for the little stuff that creates big problems. And that got me thinking about some of the little things:
It's always something -- often something small. Feel free to add to the list.(15 Comments)
By way of Twitter, here's an image of the plane that crashed into the Hudson River today.
What's amazing to me is the lack of damage to the airplane which, when all is said and done, is simply thin-skinned aluminum.
3 pm. - It was an Airbus 320. How fast was it going? The takeoff speed for an A320 is about 170 mph, depending on how heavy it was. About 300 were said to be on board.
3:04 p.m. - Here's live video from WABC in New York.
3:05 p.m. - An eyewitness says the plane did not have its landing gear down. "This pilot is amazing how he brought that plane down.
3:07 p.m. - The FAA confirms the plane's engines were "disabled by a bird strike." Everyone appears to have survived. The plane -- US Airways Flight 1549 -- was enroute to Charlotte.
3:12 p.m. - This Wikipedia page has some images of the effect of other bird strikes on aircraft.
3:18 p.m. - Here's the flight log:
3:21 p.m. - Here's a list of significant airplane-bird strike incidents.
A similar bird-ingestion incident occurred at LaGuardia in 2003
04 September 2003. A Fokker 100 struck a flock of at least 5 Canada geese over runway shortly after takeoff at LaGuardia Airport (NY), ingesting 1 or 2 geese into #2 engine. Engine vibration occurred. Pilot was unable to shut engine down with the fuel cutoff lever so fire handle was pulled and engine finally shut down, but vibration continued. The flight was diverted to nearby JFK International Airport where a landing was made. The NTSB found a 20- by 36-inch wide depression on right side of nose behind radome. Maximum depth was 4 inches. Impact marks on right wing. A fan blade separated from the disk and penetrated the fuselage. Several fan blades were deformed. Holes were found in the engine cowling. Remains were recovered and identified by Wildlife Services.
3:26 p.m.- This YouTube video shows what happens when a single bird is ingested into a jet engine.
3:29 p.m. -- More images from today's crash via this Flickr photostream.
3:34 p.m. - Closer to home, this newspaper article details a bird strike in Minnesota that led to a private plane to crash during a routine training flight from St. Paul to Grand Rapids.(4 Comments)
The axe is falling on more media personalities.
Nat Hentoff was let go yesterday by the Village Voice, so everyone pretty much knew firings were coming at City Pages, which is owned by the same company.
James Norton and Assistant A-List editor Ben Palosaari have been let go, according to media analyst David Brauer at Minnpost. He also notes that WCCO-AM has dismised overnight talk host Al Malmberg and his fill-in, Brad Walton.
One of the questions for 2009? Is there any local media that will escape the budget-cutting axe?(10 Comments)
Barry Altman of Plymouth, Julie Railsback of Minneapolis, and Muriel Olson of St. Paul didn't have many customers today. That's a good thing; they're disaster relief volunteers with the Twin Cities chapter of the American Red Cross and they've been helping many of the 200 victims of a devastating apartment house fire in Burnsville.
Late yesterday, someone donated $1 million to the victims to help them recover. "There are a lot more smiles around here today," Muriel told me this afternoon. Some of that is because of the money, and some of that is because Muriel, Julie, Barry, and dozens of people like them have been helping since Monday.
Julie, a social worker, has been volunteering one day a week with the Red Cross since January. Barry has been volunteering for four years. Muriel, a registered nurse, is a 40-year veteran of disasters big and small.
They specialize in helping people start over. Their table is set up in the remaining apartment house in the two-building complex where people squeeze between tables of volunteers and TV camera crews waiting for anyone who wants to tell their story.
"We're just waiting to see if they have a health need. I'm also following up on people I talked to yesterday who were waiting for prescriptions from the doctor for some medications," according to Muriel. "Some people lose health equipment. That's going to take a little while to replace. There was a lot of stress and people feeling 'it's overwhelming and I've lost everything; how am I going to start over?'"
For Barry, it's hard work physically and mentally. He helped set up cots at Burnsville High School Monday night. That's the physical. Then there's the mental. "I've been to quite a few different kinds of disasters and worked with clients and after the first couple of them, you learn to not put the stress onto yourself, but to reduce the stress of the people who were involved," he said. "When I come onto a scene for the first time, I think 'what do we need to do to help you make it until tomorrow morning?' I heard on the news one lady came out just with her slippers and nightgown and that was it. What do you do right now? And that's what we're prepared to help people deal with." (Listen)
In the disaster recovery business, there is -- all three acknowledged -- a desire to use one's own resources to fix someone else's trouble. "When I was working at a shelter a couple of months ago, there were six or seven kids and there was nothing to do," Julie said. "So I went home and got some videos and some playcards and things for people to do. For the kids, it's that sense of being normal again and 'I want to play and go out to the park and mom's busy because she's dealing with housing stuff.' You just want to help them as best you can in the immediate." (Listen)
But over time, Muriel says, volunteers realize that helping people through the Red Cross guidelines is the best way to get needs met.
Red Cross volunteers, it would appear, don't get closure on most disasters. I asked the three if they ever wonder what happens to the people whose lives they started to put back together. Some make more impressions than others.
"With the I-35W bridge incident, some people did come back and talk to us and that was good," said Muriel. "The people who came here from Katrina that lost everything. I won't ever forget that. It was really rewarding to work with them." (Listen)
Barry's job during the flooding in Iowa was setting up communications equipment. "I was in the process of unloading something at the truck and a young lady -- maybe 20 -- asked if I was with the Red Cross. I said I was and she just broke down. She was devastated not having anyone to talk to. She had lost everything and just wandered over to us. So I sat with her and she just cried for awhile. We have a stress team that's really good at this and I made sure she was left with someone from that team." (Listen)
"Most people are really grateful," says Julie. "When they see the Red Cross, they know that we're here to help and they're very grateful -- not all, but the majority are."
People all over the Twin Cities are anxious to know whose name is behind the $1 million. We may never know. But we do know the names of some of the people who are making things better in a crowded lobby of a Burnsville apartment complex: Muriel, Julie, and Barry.