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#162941 - 01/13/09 07:28 PM Refinery fire evac observations
red Offline
Member

Registered: 02/24/07
Posts: 175
Had a small evacuation (100 homes) last night during a ride with a state trooper (friend).

He first saw the flames arching into the sky (the blast area was called 1/2 mile in diameter, but I doubt it was actually that big) from about 2 miles away. We scoped it with binocs and then responded when a call came out for any available unit to assist.

Four unfortunate guys got burned pretty bad and had to be life flighted out. All in critical condition.

I was amazed how many people just came out to watch the fireworks. That dumb propensity for humans to just mill around and talk. We had to keep telling people to go home, get their loved ones, and scoot. Most people were calm about it. But I noticed very little in the back of hatchbacks or pickups as they left. Lucky for them, they were allowed to come back in a few hours. Also, incoming traffic was allowed if they lived in the area.

Two reverse 911 calls were sent out. Traffic was orderly. I was very impressed with command center.

Shelters were easily set up with the local churches and a city building.

The things that struck me were the vast amount of resources gobbled up by this smallish evac. With a large evac, there is no way we or anyone else would be able to get the blind lady, the non-ambulatory, etc. that were unable to self-evacuate. That's the biggest worry I have in a major natural disaster. We independent souls on this forum tend to clap ourselves on the back for our own preparedness (which is good!). But I grieve for those who are sick or unable to get out if "the big one" hits our area.

Another thing was how important a 72 (or 96hr) kit is to have in the vehicle at all times. you may not be able to get back to your home.

I know, Darwin's rules and all. But it's still sad. One thing I believe is communities that are closely organized and work together have a far better chance of getting through natural disasters. I think CERT training is good and all, but the main thing is get to know your neighbors and do favors for them...it will come back to you when you are in need.

I sometimes shake my head at the "I'll shoot anyone who comes looking for food" mentality. Far better to act cooperatively and share valuable resources. Few will have everything they need, no matter how well prepared they think they are.
_________________________
When the SHTF, no one comes out of it smelling pretty.

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#162945 - 01/13/09 07:58 PM Re: Refinery fire evac observations [Re: red]
benjammin Offline
Rapscallion
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
Red, that conclusion assumes that everyone in the community is on a level playing field. "If you don't plan on bringing anything to the game, don't expect to play" would be a more appropriate characterization of the mentality. Don't confuse charity with cooperation either. For a community to function properly, there must be a sense of equity in action, otherwise what you are asking for is charity, which is not necessarily in the best interest of the community in a given situation. Charity has its place, but it isn't the same as cooperation.

With that, I'll concur that there are those insane individuals that trust absolutely no one, and who only look out for themselves. Good luck to them I say. I will get with my friends when TSHTF and we will fare better I think. No man is an island, but neither should he be expected to provide for the less fortunate simply because they are unable/unwilling to do so for themselves.
_________________________
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

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#162949 - 01/13/09 08:16 PM Re: Refinery fire evac observations [Re: benjammin]
Tom_L Offline
Addict

Registered: 03/19/07
Posts: 690
What I really can't understand about evacuations - most of the time there is actually quite a bit of advance warning for most people (at least those outside the immediate danger zone, which tends to be small). That means there is enough time to prepare even if you don't keep any BOB/emergency supplies. In my book, 15 mins is plenty to get everyone dressed properly and grab the critical supplies. But for some reason, most people just fail to prepare themselves adequately and leave their homes in inadequate clothing and footwear, with minimum water and food if any, let alone all the other stuff they might need in the event they couldn't return for a day or longer.

That's something I've experienced first hand but could never quite comprehend. Who knows, maybe it's just the human nature these days. As much as I hate that word, "sheep" really describes it well.

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#162966 - 01/13/09 10:07 PM Re: Refinery fire evac observations [Re: Tom_L]
scafool Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/18/08
Posts: 1534
Loc: Muskoka
You are right, 100 homes and it is a large event.

People forget to account for the logistics of moving large numbers of people.
Most of our cities are so large and dense that they are almost impossible to order evacuated.
When you try to imagine a large scale evac don't just jump one order of magnitude, jump at least 2.
100 homes is only one large apartment block, a thousand homes is 10 or 20 of them.
Think of at least 10 thousand homes.
Then think of at least a million people needing to move instead of 3 or 4 hundred.
Then look at the size of cities like L.A., New York or New Orleans, and their everyday traffic problems.

Not only is there no way to round up and herd that many people, there is no path to herd them down, or place to herd them to.

This is another reason to leave the theatre early if you have advanced notice.


Edited by scafool (01/13/09 10:47 PM)
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May set off to explore without any sense of direction or how to return.

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#162976 - 01/13/09 10:55 PM Re: Refinery fire evac observations [Re: scafool]
OldBaldGuy Offline
Geezer

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
"...place to herd them to..."

And that my friend is a real biggie!!!
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OBG

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#163144 - 01/14/09 07:13 PM Re: Refinery fire evac observations [Re: OldBaldGuy]
Still_Alive Offline
Finally, I am a
Member

Registered: 04/08/08
Posts: 119
Loc: Utah
I live within 20 miles of the area of this fire, and didn't hear about this until after it had happened. I realize that's why the police go door to door, but I have this question: does anyone have a strategy to hear about these types of things early on and thereby have a chance to evacuate before the masses? I receive text messages of breaking news and check the local news updates about 2-3 times a day on my mobile device, but in this instance, neither would have helped.
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“Learning is not compulsory... neither is survival.”
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#163145 - 01/14/09 07:17 PM Re: Refinery fire evac observations [Re: Still_Alive]
wildman800 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 2828
Loc: La-USA
The best I've been able to find was through the Louisiana Office of Emergency Management.

I signed up on their Email notification system, which leaves much to be desired since I don't check my Email every 5 - 10 minutes, 24/7.

Text messaging via cell phone would be much more timely!
_________________________
QMC, USCG (Ret)
The best luck is what you make yourself!

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#163148 - 01/14/09 07:28 PM Re: Refinery fire evac observations [Re: Still_Alive]
scafool Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/18/08
Posts: 1534
Loc: Muskoka
Refineries blowing up are pretty sudden events, so there is not a lot of warning given.

The other side of this is if you live near fuel storage or rail routes that handle large shipments of dangerous goods you just have to be aware of the risks.

You know that the owners of extremely hazardous industrial sites are not going to advertise it much, so you should be checking it out.
Then you can decide if you want to move or hang around for the major event to happen.
The major event might not be as dramatic as a fireball erupting in the middle of the night.
It might be as mundane as being slowly poisoned by them scrimping on their pollution controls.
Being downwind of a plant making nerve gas might not be good no matter how great their safety record is, and a coal fired generating station releases more radioactive material as ash than a nuclear plant releases.
_________________________
May set off to explore without any sense of direction or how to return.

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#163149 - 01/14/09 07:36 PM Re: Refinery fire evac observations [Re: Still_Alive]
Desperado Offline
Veteran

Registered: 11/01/08
Posts: 1530
Loc: DFW, Texas
Originally Posted By: Still_Alive
I live within 20 miles of the area of this fire, and didn't hear about this until after it had happened. I realize that's why the police go door to door, but I have this question: does anyone have a strategy to hear about these types of things early on and thereby have a chance to evacuate before the masses? I receive text messages of breaking news and check the local news updates about 2-3 times a day on my mobile device, but in this instance, neither would have helped.


The city I live in has a reverse 911 system that alerts for many things. We have already benefited from this during tornado season, and one train derailment. See CODE RED website

NOAA All Hazard (S.A.M.E) radios will also alert to this if the authorities pass the info along to NOAA.

Both systems also react to "Amber Alerts" when it happens in the area.

I also have a smart phone and tend to check the email and news frequently.

Oh yeah, police/fire/ems scanners work well also.
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I do the things that I must, and really regret, are unfortunately necessary.

RIP OBG

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#165913 - 02/01/09 03:17 AM Re: Refinery fire evac observations [Re: Still_Alive]
red Offline
Member

Registered: 02/24/07
Posts: 175
The reverse 911 calls only went out to the homes within the "blast area". Even though they sent it twice, the paper was complaining about the lack of notification.

We didn't have the manpower to go door to door (we had just set up a perimeter to keep out non-locals) but SAR started going door to door. Later, I found out the number of homes was much more than 100 (stupid news agencies, can't get an accurate story!) so it just outstripped the available manpower.

I get emails on my blackberry and it makes a nice chirp real time when I get one. My emergency email notification is usually weather related but it's had a few nice local events on it. I've signed up with mine at: emergencyemail.org. As has been said, it's certainly imperfect. But I never miss a storm!
_________________________
When the SHTF, no one comes out of it smelling pretty.

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#166141 - 02/02/09 10:58 PM Re: Refinery fire evac observations [Re: red]
philip Offline
Addict

Registered: 09/19/05
Posts: 639
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
> We didn't have the manpower to go door to door

This is a good use of local CERT volunteers. My town is having just such an exercise in March - sending CERT volunteers door to door to simulate distributing information to city residents. We'll be handing out flyers to advertise CERT training, but we could be telling people to evacuate.

There are clearly problems other than people leaving home empty handed. If there is a refinery, the refinery itself needs to have plans for fires, explosions, and leaks. Those plans should include agreements with local schools or other places where people can shelter, and the locations should depend on what the problem is. The local police should know where people should go, instead of telling them to go away. Cops, firefighters, and EMTs should be aware of what the problem is and what the planned response is.

And yes, people should have taken their bail out bags. If they didn't, it's a clear indication that there needs to be training. There needs to be a CERT program in that area so that people know what problems they face, what symptoms they may experience in a leak, how to treat victims, and so on.

(And since it's a refinery, they should be using cyalume instead of sparking flashlights and such. :->)

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#166297 - 02/03/09 09:57 PM Re: Refinery fire evac observations [Re: philip]
ki4buc Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/10/03
Posts: 710
Loc: Augusta, GA
Originally Posted By: philip
> We didn't have the manpower to go door to door

This is a good use of local CERT volunteers. My town is having just such an exercise in March - sending CERT volunteers door to door to simulate distributing information to city residents. We'll be handing out flyers to advertise CERT training, but we could be telling people to evacuate.


I think it is important to let individuals know that is what you could be doing. If they're not there, there should be supplementary paper that states it was for training.

Also, most places from what I can tell do not recruit daytime businesses in their area. You can have a much larger daytime population, but everyone you have trained is not where you need them. Approach businesses about being a good "corporate citizen" and allowing workers to be available for local emergencies. The employee can do the training on their own time, but work can give them time off without penalty. The best way would be offer training in the immediate area of their business so they can attend easily.


Edited by ki4buc (02/03/09 10:02 PM)

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#166628 - 02/06/09 11:30 PM Re: Refinery fire evac observations [Re: benjammin]
red Offline
Member

Registered: 02/24/07
Posts: 175
I've been thinking about what you posted for awhile now. I agree with the "If you don't bring something, you can't play" mentality to a point...but there were several individuals that night that couldn't bring much to the "party". (Blind, nonambulatory, etc.) Who tells them they can't "play"? And yes, that would be charity to be helping them.

Your own safety/well-being and your family's come first, but I don't look forward to having to turn away someone in need, especially someone handicapped or injured.

I've been an independent-minded guy for awhile now (as most on this forum are) but I worry that the concept of cooperation with one's neighbors is glossed over, or simply shrugged at.

Ben, I'd urge you to read about a real SHTF situation, that of Sarajevo, a modern city surrounded and besieged. According to some interesting accounts, those who learned quickly to cooperate with their neighbors had a good chance of getting extra food, medicine, etc.







_________________________
When the SHTF, no one comes out of it smelling pretty.

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#167024 - 02/13/09 03:28 AM Re: Refinery fire evac observations [Re: red]
Jakam
Unregistered


This has come up several times, and I agree- as much as I will do whatever I can to protect myself and my spouse by being prepared, I am also preparing for those around me that can't or won't.

I want to have lots of friends, resourceful or not, when things get hairy.

Strength in numbers and all that.

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