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Posts tagged: Natural Disaster

Secretary’s Column: Helping Americans Through Natural Disasters

These past months have brought tough times for folks across the nation.  Unusual weather patterns – too much water in some places, not enough elsewhere – have driven thousands of Americans from their homes, and threatened their livelihoods.

Other families have seen their lives turned upside down by tornados or threatened by historic wildfires.

In these difficult times, my heart goes out to all of those who have been touched by these disasters.  And I want folks to know that at USDA – and across the federal government – we are we are doing our best to serve all those who have been affected. Read more »

Is Your Family Prepared?

Tornadoes take lives and cause hundreds of millions of dollars of damage each year in the U.S.

Tornadoes take lives and cause hundreds of millions of dollars of damage each year in the U.S.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Every family should take steps to prepare for the disaster they hope never comes.  The Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) has recently made two new family disaster preparedness resources available. Read more »

Five Years After Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, USDA Continues to Assist Gulf Residents

Samantha Hills and her children spent the last five years living with relatives. Using funds provided through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act she now owns her own home. Here, she holds the key to her house. August 24, 2010. (by John Audibert, USDA Rural Development)

Samantha Hills and her children spent the last five years living with relatives. Using funds provided through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act she now owns her own home. Here, she holds the key to her house. August 24, 2010. (by John Audibert, USDA Rural Development)

Cross-posted from the White House Blog

Devastation caused five years ago to the Gulf region by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita remains historic in proportion. It resulted in loss of life, families being displaced, homes and businesses destroyed, and communities left in ruins.  In the midst of this great tragedy, USDA Rural Development lent their knowledge and time to assist in the immediate hours following the passing of the storms.  It was a new, but critical role of supporting other Federal agencies in swiftly establishing 80 disaster recovery centers; assisting local residents and leaders as they faced unparalleled adversity. Read more »

Blog Week 1, (June 21-23) – Fire Adapted Communities

The term ‘restoration’ usually conjures up pictures of fine antiques, autos, or other rarities and collectibles, restored to original condition but not necessarily used in their original roles: you won’t find many restored autos in rush hour traffic. Read more »

USDA Rural Development Homeownership Project Helps Tornado Victims in Mississippi

Mississippi’s Rural Development State Director Trina N. George and USDA officials, along with municipal and community leaders took a day last week to help rebuild a home that was severely damaged by a recent tornado that swept through Yazoo City, as part of the agency’s recognition of June as National Homeownership Month. Read more »

Out of the Ashes: Mount St. Helens 30 Years Later

By Phil Sammon, Forest Service

Hindsight always proves to be most clear the farther you get from an event. The myths and legends of the event and the anecdotal side stories fade with time when held against the truths of the event or situation. Similarly, the projections and visions of the future impacts of the event can be quite different than what is first conjectured immediately afterward.

As we observe the 30th anniversary of the Mount St. Helens eruption, we can stand back and marvel at the ability of the natural resources to not only bounce back, but to flourish and astound us in its ability to literally rise up from the ashes of complete destruction. The evidence, including historic photos, data, and first-person accounts, are displayed on the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument website, hosted by the US Forest Service. Beyond the science, the research, and the analytics of it all, stands the majestic Mount St. Helens as a tribute to the resilience and restorative power of the natural resources the agency manages.

The actual day of the eruption, Sunday May 18, started out bright, clear, and with no warnings or signs of the impending disaster that loomed just a mile below the volcano’s dome. Having spent Saturday night on duty at an observation post about 6 miles both of the volcano, US Geologic Survey volcanologist David A. Johnston radioed in laser-beam measurements he had made earlier that morning. The status of the measured activity showed no change from the pattern of the preceding month. About 20 seconds after 8:32 a.m. PDT, the bulged, unstable north flank of Mount St. Helens suddenly began to collapse, triggering a rapid and tragic chain of events that resulted in the now-famous widespread devastation. When the rumblings and upheaval diminished to a point where such details could be assessed, 57 people, including volcanologist David Johnston, had died.

The assessment also showed that 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways, and 185 miles of highway had also been destroyed. The eruption caused a massive debris avalanche, reducing the elevation of the mountain’s summit from 9,677 ft to 8,365 ft (more than 1300 feet), and replacing it with a 1 mile wide horseshoe-shaped crater. The debris avalanche contained up to 0.7 cubic miles in volume. To put that into perspective, the debris avalanche from the eruption would completely fill all 32 NFL stadiums in the country 31 times.

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan and the U.S. Congress established the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, a 110,000-acre area around the mountain and within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The Johnston Ridge Observatory there is named in honor of David A. Johnston.

If you have the opportunity to spend any length of time on or around the Monument, you will be struck by the breathtaking panoramas and landscapes of the area. If you have the occasion to hike or camp there, you will only be more and more inspired by the ability of the natural resources to rebound: plants of all shapes and sizes are flourishing; wildlife has returned to many parts of the area; lodge pole pines are once again reaching toward the skies that 30 years ago were blackened out by the heavy plums of ash, smoke, and debris exploding onto the eastern Washington sky.

Mount St. Helen 

View of the north side of Mount St. Helens overlooking Spirit Lake from the Boundary Trail at Norway Pass. This side of the volcano was literally blown off – more than 1300 feet was blown up and out from the eruption.