Showing posts with label Emergency Management. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Emergency Management. Show all posts

September 19, 2019

Prepare to Survive!

Picture from active shooter training today. 

Saw a great (and scary) video on RUN, HIDE, FIGHT (from http://www.readyhoustontx.gov) -- link to video is here.

Other take-a-ways:
  • Always have a plan A, B, and C. 
  • If you can't run or hide, fight with everything at your disposal--engage and neutralize the shooter!
  • Survive, you're not done until your done!

Please G-d, we should never have to deal with the horror of this, but it's good to learn to be always ready. ;-)

(Credit Photo: U.S. Marshal Service)
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July 31, 2018

Lunch And A Call

This just seemed like a funny photo to me.

In the cafeteria, someone was checking out at the register. 

And on their lunch/food tray, they had, of course, their lunch. 

But also, they had a big black telephone.

Talking about a working lunch!

Wow, is that customer service or what? lol

This reminded me also of the BIG red phone on some top officials' desks --always ready for that critical call in case of near world catastrophe.

So here we go Joe... 

I will eat my lunch and am ready for your call at any time. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 11, 2017

Always Be Prepared

It was nice going to a local festival yesterday and seeing a table set up with brochures for the kids and families on Emergency Preparedness. 

Even when we're having a good time, we need to have in mind the possibility that things can go very wrong.

These last couples of weeks with Hurricane Harvey and Irma, we saw again the destructive forces that Mother Nature can bring. 

And today being the 16th Anniversary since the terror attacks on 9/11 and the almost 3,000 murdered at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we are reminded of the necessity to always be ready for man-made/inflicted disasters as well. 

Now with Axis of Evil nations, North Korea and Iran, continuing to pose alarming threats to the West, the need for preparation and readiness to dangerous WMD--whether from an ICBM or a suitcase bomb--is ever present

Let's just say until the final redemption when peace will reign on earth, we can never just rest securely on our laurels. 

Even on a sunny day, the clouds may be gathering to threaten us.  

So have a plan.  Be prepared.  You and your families lives across our beautiful and free nation depend on it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 2, 2017

Culture Intersects With Preparedness

Just really loved this emergency preparedness poster by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

It builds off of the #1, hit TV show, The Walking Dead that films in Atlanta where the CDC is. 

The show is about a zombie apocalypse and the story of how people survive (or not) amidst a global pandemic and the murderous awakened dead that feast off of the living. 

Here's a link with what the CDC recommends you have in an emergency preparedness kit. 

The CDC also has a comic book with a zombie outbreak theme that further drives home the importance of a preparedness kit and what to have in it. 

I think it's great when government thinks outside-the-box in ways that appeal to everyday citizens to serve them, help them, and especially keep them safe from disasters. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to CDC)
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February 16, 2017

That's One Scary Shot

Wow, this is one scary photo. 

Imagine coming downstairs and seeing this kids body laying on the floor like that. 

Looks like he's dead!

Would you freak out totally?

Call 911.

Get the emergency responders on the scene. 

Try to save his life. 

Thoughts race through your mind. 

Is he sick?  Was it an accident?  A crime scene?  Terrorism?  Is there an active shooter? 

Is he going to make it? 

Where is his family?

OMG, what if they lose him?

Well, it turns out this kids was just acting out and scaring his parents--and everyone else passing by.

Life is so full of surprises. 

You never know if it's the real thing or not.

But you have to be prepared for anything, anytime. 

This is a crazy world we live in. 

Thank G-d when it's just a false alarm and everything is okay. 

Unfortunately not every time is it all well that ends well. ;-)

(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)
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December 10, 2016

{Saving Us From DC Ground Zero}

One well-placed nuclear suitcase bomb or nuclear ballistic missile strike on DC and say goodbye to virtually the entire hub of the Federal government. 

As of 2014, there are over 4.2 million federal employees (2.7M in the civilian agencies and 1.5M in the military). 

Over 500K are located in the DC, MD, VA tristate area. 

But it's not just the numbers, it's that the headquarters of all the major government agencies are located here. 

While, of course, there are backup sites, and emergency doomsday sites like Mount Weather (48 miles from DC), there is no telling how much advance notice, if any we would have, and who would escape and survive a deadly blow to our capital region. 

And it could be a radiological, chemical, biological, or nuclear (RCBN) attack that does us in...whether from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea or other diabolical enemy out there. 

The point is that by concentrating all our federal headquarters and senior leadership and key resources here we are in fact, giving the enemy an easy shot to decapitate the entire country?

While others (like Paul Kupiec in the WSJ) have questioned whether some of the federal agencies can be moved out to other needy cities and communities across the country for economic reasons (to bring jobs and investment) especially those agencies that are actively looking to build new HQS buildings already (e.g. FBI and Department of Labor), to me the far more potent question is one of national security. 

The main advantage of having the crux of the federal government in the DC area is surely one of coordination--the President wants his Cabinet near him and the Cabinet Secretaries want their senior staff near them, and so on and so on. 

So, you get this mass concentration of a who's who of the federal government in and around Washington, DC. 

But what about the advances of technology? 

Surely, through networks and telecommunications and teleworking, we can support a geographically diverse workforce and do no significant harm to our operating as one.

We're talking a very big cultural change here!

It's one thing to have nuclear missiles roaming the seas on attack submarines waiting for orders from Washington, DC and it's quite another to move the actual government intelligentsia and leadership out from the central hub. 

Let's face it, in a real crisis situation, with the chaos and panic and transportation overflow and perhaps simultaneous cyberattacks, no one is really going to be going anywhere--especially in a surprise attack. 

If Pearl Harbor (of which we just celebrated the 75th anniversary) and 9/11 teach us anything is that when the sh*t hits the fan, it hits hard and sticks solid. 

Working in the Metro DC area, selfishly, I'd like to say keep the investment, jobs, and great opportunities here.

For the good of the nation and our survival against true existential threats, we'd be much smarter to spread the federal wealth as far and wide across this great nation that we can. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 16, 2016

Help Find Missing Children

Coming out of the mall into the parking lot, I saw this poster lying on the ground. 

It was a flyer to help find a missing child. 

Every time, I see something like this, I just have to take a big gulp and deep breath, as this seems like one of the scariest things that can happen to a child and their parents.

A child is dependent on it's parents, and when they go missing G-d forbid, the fear of in whose hands they might fall and what may be done to them is unthinkable. 

The goal is to get the word and pictures out to find the child as quickly as possible. 

From 2002, statistics show about 800,000 children go missing every year (or about 2,000 per day)--that is unbelievable!

Of those, about 204,000 were family abductions, 58,000 were non-family abductions, a 115 were taken by a stranger, and the rest were mostly run-aways.

About 1 in 5 runaways are considered likely victims of child sex trafficking. 

A 1997 study showed only 5% of non-family abductions even get reported to police and entered in the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC)--many may not enter a report when a child is gone just a few days or it may get filed under other categories like homicides or sexual assaults. 

In the 1972 and 1981, there were tragic cases of missing children Etan Patz and Adam Walsh, both killed at age 6, with Etan's remains supposedly thrown in the garbage in Soho (he was never found) and Adam's located in a drainage canal in Florida. 

Etan was the first missing child whose pictures were put on the back of milk carton. 

In 1983, the anniversary of Etan's disappearance, May 25, was designated National Missing Children's Day.

In 1984, the Walshes and other child advocates established the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) "to help find missing children and prevent child victimization"--shockingly before this there was no coordinated federal and state mechanism for search efforts.

- NCMEC tip hotline (1-800-The Lost) has received over 4.3 million calls in the last 32 years and they have facilitated the return of 227,000 missing children.

In 1996, America's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) was set up as a a child abduction emergency alert system; it was named after Amber Hagerman, a 9-year old abducted and murdered in Texas. 

- AMBER Alerts, between 1997 and 2015, were credited with the safe recovery of 723 children. 

My heart goes out to these children and their families! 

Anything that each of us can do to help with the desperate situation of missing children and their safe recovery is worth not only our attention, but our utmost vigilance and helpful tips. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 19, 2016

Bird's Nest Surveillance

I took this photo today of a bird's nest on top of a surveillance camera. 

I find this fascinating!

The pure irony of a bird finding safety and shelter in a nest atop a surveillance camera looking out for bad things like criminals and terrorism. 

On one hand, safety and security.

And on the other hand, the fear and insecurity of it all. 

A bird may find a peaceful nesting place there.

But for the rest of us, the world continues to be a very dangerous place. 

Often walking the streets of a major urban city, I think to myself the chaos and danger that could so easily ensue if events took a sudden and serious turn for the worse where society as we know it can completely start to unravel, and as they say, "the sh*t hits the fan!"

I believe that many, if not most people are worried about this, hence the incredible popularity of shows and movies far and wide such as:

 (Fear) The Walking Dead
Containment
The 100
The Last Ship
Jericho
Mad Max
Road Warrior
I am Legend
The Book of Eli
The Postman
World War Z 
Waterworld
Children of Men
Outbreak
Armageddon
Oblivion 
The Day After Tomorrow 
and more. 

The camera is surveilling and the bird is watching from their perch. 

We go about our days like the post apocalyptic zombies that wander the Earth.

But not so deep down, in our minds and hearts is the terror of what can happen at any moment and what is likely destined to happen eventually. 

This is not about doom and gloom, but about what the threats are out there, what is being done or not done about them, and who will ultimately survive and would you even want to. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 8, 2016

Help Is Coming

So I used to have a boss who said something really funny.

He used to go, "Everybody says they want to help us" and then bemoaningly he would seem to repeat that a few times. 

The next part which he didn't need to explicitly say was that "But no one does!"

It was the words, but also much the tone--yes, the walls could be caving in, the ship could be sinking, everything going up in flames, and of course, everyone is there looking on, shaking their heads pitifully, and seemingly stretching out their hand in an offer of help. 

For this boss though, the help couldn't come fast enough or with enough resources to help resolve all the issues going on at the time. 

I suppose first and foremost, we have to help ourselves. 

Secondly, there needs to be a core understanding from the beginning of what is really doable and what is simply fantasy fare. 

Third, if help is on the way--great, but it's got to be timely enough and come with enough raw horsepower to make a genuine difference. 

Finally, sometimes miracles do happen and everything works out great--the day is saved--but even then so much underlying damage has been done that you need to rebuild from the core foundations again. 

And for the next time, you'll need to ensure capabilities beyond what was ever imagined before. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 6, 2015

Are We Ready For Anything?

So contingency planning is a critical part of risk management.

You never know what can happen in life...

So you must have a solid business continuity plan (BCP) and disaster recovery plan (DRP). 

That way in case of natural disaster or terror attack--we are prepared!

So what was really sad-funny this week was when I became aware of an annual contingency planning exercise that was being conducted as a table-top exercise--that's legit. 

It was well-planned, scripted to really challenge the participants, and I heard it went very well.

But then just that evening as it turned out there was a real contingency.

What happened?

Everyone was working well to address what happened and how to fix it and kudos to some super great people. 

The only problem was no one seemed to really know or was following what to do from a contingency plan perspective.

In the end everything turned out fine, but it was incredible how planning and training can deviate so far from real life. 

It's like in school, when administrators conduct fire drills for the teachers and students and everyone gets up like good boys and girls and goes out in an orderly fashion, maybe even in a nice buddy system, but then when G-d forbid there is a real fire, everyone starts screaming and running crazed for the exits. 

Perhaps table top exercises should be thrown out the window and testing should be conducted with realistic scenarios and under mandated lifelike circumstances. 

Instead of smoke and mirror planning, we need serious preparation for the day when it isn't child's play or cool drawings on the whiteboard only. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Sharyn Morrow)
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October 13, 2015

Rescue Yourself


This is an awesome potential lifesaving solution for getting out of a burning multi-story building. 

In an emergency...

Put on and fasten the SkySaver Rescue Device..

Attach it securely to a pre-installed anchor.

Now for this next part, you need some guts...exit and lower safely via an automatic mechanical breaking system for a controlled descent (hope this works). 

Carries up to 300 lbs from as high as 260 feet (and apparently a story is approx. 10 feet although this varies). 

I am not endorsing any vendor or product or giving advice on how to survive in an emergency like this, but I really like the thinking behind this product:

Self-Help

Portable 

Compact

Life-saving

Great idea! ;-)
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December 16, 2014

Chaos On Metro

Sheer chaos on the Washington, D.C. Metro this morning. 

A water main break suspended the running of the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines.

The Metro spokeperson told me pointing with his hand up to his the neck that the water was filling the tunnels and getting way up there--nice!

At the same time, disabled trains on the Red line brought things to a "Major Delay," followed by the offloading of crowded trains because the conductors couldn't get the doors shut.

At the stations themselves, numerous escalators were out of commission, you can see them at boths ends of the station here, and the people were backed up all along the platforms. 

At one point, I got caught on the edge of a platform with a huge crowd pushing up against me, and had to tell the person behind me to please take a step back (that I didn't want to end up on the tracks, why thank you, and believe it or not, some not-so-nice people actually laughed at that!). 

Ufortunately, it didn't take much to see how most of the city can be brought to a snarl or taken right out of commission. 

After 9/11, one has to ask, what have we learned as the Capital of the nation that our basic infrastructure and support systems cannot endure the ups and downs of weather and age, let alone G-d forbid another attack on our soil. 

Hopefully, someone will wake up and step up the planning and preparations here, rather than just spending trillions abroad and with what results. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 22, 2014

In Case Of Emergency


Washington D.C. Metro Emergency Instructions

Ugh, long and boring.


How 'bout this instead:


- Don't Freak Out

- Don't Get Out 

(unless your in immediate danger)

- Don't Take Your Bulky Stuff Out

- Don't Fry When Your Out 

(stay away from the electrified 3rd rail--zap!)

Easy, smeazy. ;-)


[Note: Follow instructions at your own risk.]


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal - sorry so fuzzy, train was moving)

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Dire Warnings On CyberSecurity

This week Adm. Michael Rogers, the Director of the National Security Agency and head of U.S. Cyber Command issued a stark warning to the nation about the state of cybersecurity:

With our cybersecurity over the next decade, "It's only a matter of the 'when,' not the 'if,' that we are going to see something dramatic."

The Wall Street Journal reports that he gave " a candid acknowledgement that the U.S. ISN'T yet prepared to manage the threat!"

China and "one or two others" [i.e. Russia etc.] are infiltrating our SCADA networks that manage our industrial control systems, including our power turbines and transmission systems,.

The cyber spies from the nation states are "leaving behind computer code that could be used to disable the networks  in the future."

Can you imagine...you must imagine, you must prepare--not if, but when. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 15, 2014

It Can Happen To Anyone

Life is unpredictable. 

Today, at the pool, someone collapsed. 

Looks like a heart attack or something serious.

Most of the people at the pool are in amazing physical condition. 

The young folks on the swim team are fast as hell. 

The older people, many seem like they never aged and can do still perform adroitly.

I find the whole crew generally quite competitive and if you can't keep up...you may even get shove to the side. 

When I heard the whistle blow this morning, it was unlike the usual stop running or horsing around--this time is was long and shrill. 

Everyone stopped and pulled to the ends. 

Instead of splashing water, you could hear a pin drop. 

Lifeguards started running. One ran back to the control center and I could see him through the glass window dialing quickly on the phone for help. 

Another young women was getting help from the pool supervisor--the young one ran, the older one strode sternly to ascertain the situation. 

People started swimming in the main pool again, while the collapsed man was out of sight around the corner in another pool area.

The floating lady water runners were kibbutzing about what happened and is he going to be okay.

Eventually the swimming continued, but even then, people were looking around and had those worried faces on.

There was a realization that even with the dozens of people there, this person could've been anyone--any of us. 

The ambulance and fire truck rescue came, the stretcher was brought in.

I asked the lifeguard with concern what had happened to the man and he said in a monotone, almost practiced voice, "The ambulance is here; everything is okay."

It sort of sounded like don't anyone panic and shut the heck up. 

Anyway, it was upsetting to see someone up early, getting themselves to the pool, trying to stay healthy and fit, and struck down at the scene, while trying their best. 

I'm a little shaken and am still hearing the whistle in my head. :-0

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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February 24, 2014

Google Fiber 4 The Nation's Capital

How About Google Fiber for Washington, D.C.? 

- Lead, by example, the rest of the nation forward.


- Speed up the functioning of the government.


- Helpful for Emergency Management


- The Patriotic thing to do! ;-)


All Opinions my own. 


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Cameron Yee, & no idea why it's in Spanish, but I like it!)

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February 5, 2014

Sitting Ducks, Sitting In The Dark?

If you read the Wall Street Journal, then you heard today about the attack that took place last April on the power grid in San Jose, California. 

Yes, "the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred" and in San Jose in 2013!

Some assailants cut the telephone cables in an underground vault and shot for 19 minutes at a electrical substation with more than 100 rounds from an AK-47 and "surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley."

In this isolated case, power was able to be rerouted around the damaged site, but it still took 27 days to make the necessary repairs.

What if this was a broader attack--what could have happened? 

Firstly, since our roughly 2,000 nationwide giant transformers sit mostly in the open surrounded by nothing more than chain link fences and some cameras, an attack is possible, if not probable.

According to the then Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), "if a surprisingly small number of U.S. substations were knocked out at once that could destabilize the system enough to cause a blackout that could encompass most of the U.S."

Further, since each transformer is custom made, weighs up to 500,000 pounds, costs millions to build and are hard to replace, a large scale attack could result in "prolonged outages as procurement cycles for these components range from months to years."

Is this an isolated incident and nothing to worry about?

Uh, no! Domestically, there were 274 incidents of deliberate damage in three years. And overseas, between 1996 and 2006, terrorist organizations were linked to 2,500 attacks on the power grid. 

"Utility executives and federal energy official have long worried that the electric grid is vulnerable to sabotage." 

The Former FERC Chairman said, "What keeps me awake at night is a physical attack that could take down the grid. This is a huge problem."  

Do you think the lights will be on forever or is it just a matter of time? 

On a personal level, have you given any thought to how you will feed your families, light and warm your homes, run your businesses, gas up your cars, and send and receive information?


Our Achilles' heels--is anyone even paying serious attention?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal; this is not an endorsement of this book, but rather symbolic)
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July 10, 2013

Emergency Alert Or R U Kidding?

BBC News Technology (9 July 2013) reports on how the U.S. Emergency Alert System (EAS) was hacked. 

The EAS is a program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and was set up "to allow the president to talk to the entire country within 10 minutes of a disaster." It also provides the public with alerts on local weather emergencies, such as tornados and flash floods. 


EAS replaced the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) in 1997 and with it came security weaknesses.


Earlier this year, those vulnerabilities were tested and exploited when the Montana Television Network was hacked with an alert of a zombie attack.


And it provided advice on how to survive--"Do not approach or apprehend these bodies as they are considered extremely dangerous."


This is reminiscent of the hoax in 1938 when over the radio came a warning that a meteorite had smashed into New Jersey and aliens were attacking New York--an adaptation of H.G. Wells "War of the Worlds."


Well yesterday it was aliens, today it's zombies, and tomorrow it could be an phony announcement of an invasion by country XYZ or perhaps a imminent detonation of a thermonuclear warhead somewhere over the continental U.S. 


Imagine the panic, confusion, and potential loss of life and property from the ensuing chaos. 


It goes without saying that this is not a way to inspire confidence by the citizens in case of a true national emergency. 


If we cannot count on the systems meant to survive an emergency then how can we be expected to survive the emergency itself? 


The EAS may interrupt your regularly scheduled programming with those loud and annoying tests, but what can really ruin you day is a cyber attack on the system that broadcasts something much nastier and more ominous--and you don't really know whether it's the real thing or just another hack. ;-)


(Source Photo: here with attribution to UWW ResNet)

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May 26, 2013

Mayim Chaim

You can only live about 3 days without water--that's why protecting our water is so critical.

Emergency Management (May/June 2013) says, "There are numerous ongoing threats to our water supply. Some of them [natural or man made] could be catastrophic."

- Water poisoning: Already in the 1st century, Roman Emperor Nero poisoned the wells of his enemies.  These days you'd need a large supply, like "several dump trucks of cyanide or arsenic to poison a reservoir.  Plus the water system is monitored and has purification protections such as chlorine, so it's not that simple. We can also issue "boil alerts" for people to boil the water before drinking it. Then again, we saw what some radiation did to the Japanese water supplies after Fukushima.

- Blowing it up: The water system infrastructure can be disrupted using explosives, so keeping intruders far away from it is important to keeping it safe.

- Earthquakes/Hurricanes: Much of the water system pipes are old--some built during the Civil War--and these can be destroyed by natural disasters or even a construction crew jackhammer hitting in the wrong place. 

- Electrical outage: If you shut down the electricity, you shut down the water pumps...and even with generators taking over for a while, your up against the clock, if you don't get the juice flowing again soon. 

- Cyber Attack: Our water systems, like other industrial control systems are vulnerable to cyber attack. A hacker that gets control of the systems could overheat it, overtreat it, flood it, or otherwise break it and shut it down. 

Keeping our water infrastructure secure, the water supply safe and potable, the transport pipes intact, the electricity working, and the systems under control--are not little matters--they are the difference between life and death for millions. 

As in The Rime of The Ancient Mariner, when the ship gets blown off course into unchartered waters and the crew is thirsty for water and desperate to survive, the poet states, "Water, Water. Everywhere. And All The Boards Did Shrink; Water, Water, Everywhere. Nor Any Drop To Drink."

In Hebrew, there is a short saying that sums up this topic, "Mayim Chaim"--water is life. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

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April 20, 2013

Survivable Water Pipes

When an earthquake strikes, it is not just the immediate loss of life that is a concern, but the longer-term damage to critical infrastructure and the effect on human survival. 

As we know, water is critical to every living creature, and in an earthquake, when there is damage to the water infrastructure, such as the underground piping, people can be left without this basic life-sustaining commodity. 

When traditional solid cast-iron piping is used, an earthquake can cause these to deform and buckle. However, with a new ductile pipe design by Japanese company, Kubota--the pipes are built in a chain-like fashion and expand and contract, flex and bend, but do not easily break.  

According to the Wall Street Journal (14 April 2011), Kubota earthquake-resistant pipes even withstood the 9.0 quake in Japan in 2011, and it can withstand "shaking, landslides, and extreme temperatures. 

Now Los Angeles is piloting this pipe along 2 miles of its 7,000 miles of piping--they are focusing on "the most vulnerable, fault-line-adjacent areas," since the piping is 2 1/2 times the price of regular piping. 

In the absence of having a device like the Star Trek Replicator to synthesize food and water on the fly, it makes a lot of sense to upgrade our water systems and other critical infrastructure to protect us from the disasters that come. 

"Tea, Earl Grey, Hot" needs to be available not just in good times, but also in bad. ;-) 

(Source Photo: Kubota)
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