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Author: Cassie Ringsdorf
Statistics certainly tell part of this story: $5 billion in damages, 53,000 people evacuated, a river 26 feet above flood stage, 95 percent of homes affected.But the voices of those who survived, responded, recovered, and ultimately built back East Grand Forks, Minnesota, give a much clearer picture of just how significant the 1997 flood was along the Red River of the North: Stephanie Larson, Homeowner, East Grand Forks, MinnesotaStephanie Larson, her husband and three young kids lived in Sherlock Park, an area that was underwater within hours after floodwaters started to invade the city...
Posted On: April 10, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
Back when I was in college, I did a lot of community service. One of my favorite and most memorable service projects was helping out at a roller skating event hosted by a local public library. I laced up a pair of skates and got rolling to help supervise the young skaters. It was essentially a perfect project for me; I’d loved skating growing up and hadn’t had an opportunity to do so in nearly a decade.Well, it turns out, when you get older your center of gravity shifts and things that were easy and fun when you were a kid suddenly turn into dangerous pastimes. I broke my wrist...
Posted On: April 7, 2017
Author: Raymond J. Piper
Memories can often be a casualty of natural disasters. Items we cherish, like photographs and other keepsakes, can be ruined by flood waters or destructive winds. However, there are ways to safeguard and even recover these items after a disaster—and we have a task force working on helping do just that.The Heritage Emergency National Task Force was formed in 1995, after the need for a partnership to help protect our nation’s cultural heritage was identified.Co-sponsored by FEMA and the Smithsonian Institution, the task force consists of 42 federal agencies and national service...
Posted On: April 3, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
As a kid, I had a jigsaw puzzle based on one of my favorite books. It wasn’t a standard puzzle at all. It was unique, my favorite, and thinking about it now, it most closely relates to my day-to-day job.Billed as a “family puzzle,” it was designed with larger pieces for kids and smaller pieces for adults—to keep it easy for younger kids and provide somewhat of a challenge for the adults. All of the pieces, a community of them, fit together and connect in the middle to make this big picture.  I’ve been thinking about this puzzle a lot as of late. Not solely...
Posted On: March 31, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
What happens when an umbrella or a raincoat just isn’t enough?Last week I wrote about umbrellas and raincoats and the importance of being prepared for anything from rain events to disasters. While being prepared is important, it’s not going to keep either one from happening. Umbrellas and go-bags aren’t intended to be an impervious shield. They’re designed to help you through the situation.When a disaster happens, that kick-starts the response phase of the disaster cycle. And the first things that come to mind for many after hearing the phrase “disaster response...
Posted On: March 24, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
 There’s an old song that talks about raindrops falling on heads. If you know what song I’m talking about, it’s probably stuck in your head now; it’s quite catchy. (If not, I think it’s definitely worth a quick internet search.)And when raindrops fall on your head, umbrellas and raincoats can be rather helpful. However—they don’t actually keep the rain from falling. They just (hopefully) keep your hair from getting wet.Rain can lead to more damage than just wet hair and it isn’t the only hazard.There are earthquakes, fires, floods,...
Posted On: March 17, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
I’ve written before about how I grew up in upstate New York and how much I dislike snow and the more I think about this storm and the potential it has to bring some not-so-nice weather here as well as in my hometown, the more I keep thinking about the term “nor’easter.” It’s one of those words that if you say it several times in a row it starts sounding more like a garbled bunch of syllables than an actual word.But according to my dictionary of choice, Merriam-Webster, it is still in fact a word, and its first known use was in 17531. Another interesting fact: the...
Posted On: March 13, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
While much of California has been faced with historic drought, the last few weeks have been full of heavy rains and severe storms—a 180 degree turnaround.This week, we’ve been focused on the spillways of the Oroville Dam—about 75 miles north of Sacramento—along with much of the rest of the country.Spillways regulate the flow of water into or out of dams and when they are damaged by erosion, impacted by debris, or hindered in any way, there can be serious consequences—including potentially dangerous flooding.The Oroville Dam’s primary spillway was damaged by...
Posted On: February 16, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s ever rushed out of the house without my keys or wallet. I’m also sure that I won’t be the last one.When I’m trying to leave the house for the day, I’m constantly running through a checklist of all the things I need to bring—and sometimes there are very important things that accidentally get left behind. (My keys and my wallet are two very common ones.)But, with the job I have, sometimes I think about what I would have to do if I weren’t packing my backpack just for an 8-hour workday. What if I were...
Posted On: February 16, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
Being a newlywed comes with a lot of responsibilities, one of which being to make Valentine’s Day a perfect experience. A fancy dinner at a favorite restaurant, a movie outing, flowers and chocolates ordered expressly for the occasion, and strategically placed decorations. It must be perfect. Scripted straight from a greeting card.And just as I hoped, it was shaping up to be exactly that.The flowers and their accompanying chocolates were scheduled to be delivered that day. Movie tickets were ready to go. Dinner reservations had been made at our favorite restaurant weeks in advance....
Posted On: February 13, 2017