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Author: Jessica Stapf
What lies beneath the ashes of any wildfire-torn community? Stories. The stories of heirlooms destroyed. Families lost and displaced. The sadness and hopelessness we all would expect when everything is lost. When black soot is all you can see and smell, with the remnants of what once was a kitchen crumbling beneath your sneakers. What else lies beneath those ashes? Hope. Resilience. Community pride.Over the course of the last year, many communities have been faced with the ashes and destruction left behind by savage wildfires. But, in the face of these adversities, communities have come...
Posted On: January 31, 2018
Author: Jessica Stapf
In the early-to-mid nineties, the term “bomb” was slang for something that was awesome or really cool. Now, all my “fellow kids” are using it (and other flowery terms) to describe what is a rapidly intensifying nor’easter: the “bomb cyclone.”According to the National Weather Service, a nor’easter is:“A strong low pressure system that affects the Mid-Atlantic and New England States. It can form over land or over the coastal waters. These winter weather events are notorious for producing heavy snow, rain, and tremendous waves that crash onto...
Posted On: January 4, 2018
Author: Jessica Stapf
Year in review. Top 100 [albums or songs or articles—you name it, there’s a list]. It’s, once again, the time of year where publications big and small, and even individuals take a step back and look at the last twelve months and all that has happened.2017, to put it in the most rudimentary terms, has been monumental, particularly as it pertains to disasters; it was one for the record books.With the first storm of the year occurring in late April with Arlene, prior to the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, the stage was set for a season that would be out of the...
Posted On: January 3, 2018
Author: Jessica Stapf
Over the last two days, parts of southern California have been wrought by sudden, violent wildfires. This may sound eerily familiar, as other parts of the state faced similar, sudden onset fire emergencies earlier this year.The southern California fires, the Thomas fire in Ventura County and the Creek and Rye fires in Los Angeles County, have been raging and swiftly heading toward areas that are heavily populated and full of rich cultural history. However, those facts don’t matter to fires.  Local officials have issued evacuation orders for places they believe these fires may be...
Posted On: December 6, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
While not the only areas impacted by the wildfires, when many think of Napa and Sonoma in California, it conjures up images of lush vineyards with rolling hills and vibrant green landscapes. Those mental images are in stark contrast to images of devastation wrought by the fires—filled with bold orange flames and gray ash as far as the eye can see. Vineyards, some of the hallmarks of the area, are being reduced to singed grapes and empty fields with nothing for a 2017 vintage; a somber reminder of its own. Many areas are being scorched, reduced to nothing more than their frames and...
Posted On: October 20, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
Editor's Note: On October 7, we updated the title of this blog to reflect the new status of the storm. October for many brings thoughts of postseason baseball and pumpkin spice lattes. For us, it doesn’t change a whole lot, just the page of the calendar and maybe our coffee preferences, as we continue to monitor the potential for tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic.Hurricane season doesn’t actually end until November—after the revelry of Thanksgiving has finished and some places in northern parts of the country have already seen their first snowfalls.This...
Posted On: October 5, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
Two hurricanes, Irma and Maria, have devastated the Caribbean in quick succession, causing an unprecedented amount of damage.Because the storms traveled so closely together, the teams we had deployed and were already on the ground in response to Irma had to shelter in place during Maria, choosing their shelter-in-place locations wisely.Now that the storms have passed, the response and recovery can begin.Federal agencies have come together to provide a variety of resources for impacted communities.Nearly 7,000 federal employees are on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to...
Posted On: September 23, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
Over the years there have been several news articles to come out about a little something called the “Waffle House Index.” This index is pretty ingenious—it relies on the open or closed status of the well-known diner chain in disaster-affected areas.The index itself isn’t just about whether or not you can get pralines on your waffles or if you can get waffles at all, but rather about the damage in a neighborhood.If a Waffle House can serve a full menu, they’ve likely got power (or are running on a generator). A limited menu means an area may not have running...
Posted On: September 20, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
Peak hurricane season runs from the middle of August to the middle of October.1 Right now, we’re in the middle of it.Back in May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put out their outlook for this year’s hurricane season and pegged it as being “above average.”2 With the strength of Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma, their prediction could be said to be spot on.Around here, it’s been a truly “all hands on deck” effort. Our support for affected—and potentially affected—areas has not wavered.Harvey caused an immense...
Posted On: September 8, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
In the early days of Twitter, one of the biggest and most rampant uses of the platform was to spread false rumors of celebrity deaths. I’ve seen several of them in my day, fallen for a few, and in the years since, I’ve managed to determine the difference between the real ones and the fake ones.With the rapid pace and sheer volume of information that’s available via social media, pieces of that information can be altered easily. Content can go “viral” at any moment, regardless of whether or not it’s accurate, which is how many people find false celebrity...
Posted On: August 17, 2017