The Hope Slide

On our way home from the long weekend in Osoyoos, we made the effort to finally stop at the viewpoint for The Hope Slide. This would mark about the 6th or 8th time that I’ve gone passed it, so we finally followed through on the thought of stopping to get out and take a first hand look at this incredible, natural disaster.

Rubble at Hope Slide

Missing parts of the mountain

It’s such an impressive sight when you first lay eyes on this scarred side of a mountain. It gets even more confounding when you get more of the details behind this event that happened 43 years ago.

The Hope Slide was one of the largest landslides ever recorded in Canada. It occurred in the morning hours of 9 January 1965. An earlier, small avalanche had forced four people to stop their vehicles a few miles southeast of the town of Hope, British Columbia (150 km east of Vancouver), on a stretch of the Hope-Princeton Highway below Johnson Peak. As those people contemplated waiting for clearing crews or turning around, a small earthquake below the mountain triggered the main slide, which obliterated the mountain’s southwestern slope.

The slide buried the victims and their vehicles under a torrent of 46 million cubic meters of pulverized rock, mud, and debris 85 m thick and 3 km wide, which came down the 2000-metre mountainside . This mass of debris completely displaced the lake below with incredible force, throwing it against the opposite side of the valley, wiping all vegetation and trees down to the bare rock, then ‘splashed back’ up the original (now bare) slope before settling. […]

Rescue crews only found two of the four bodies—the others have remained entombed in the rock, with their cars, since 1965. [wiki]

Hope Slide

Hope Slide

The Hope Slide

Mother nature is forever unpredictable. Awe inspiring and frightening, all at the same time.

What tornado damage looks like from the inside, as it happens

The Des Moines Register posted this video on their site of the security cameras from inside of a bank that was destroyed during the tornado in Parkersburg, Iowa over the recent Memorial Day weekend. The video is astounding. You can see what the wind can do as the windows are blown out, and then the tornado hits the building dead on, eventually taking out the cameras.

Update: The Des Moines Register also posted this video footage from the same storm that destroyed much of Parkersburg, Iowa. It’s truly shocking.

Tornado that hit Parkersburg, Iowa destroyed all city hall records

It’s been a tough few weeks in the Midwest of the U.S., and some might say a year if you consider the tornado that nearly wiped Greensburg, Kansas[wiki] off the face of the earth almost a year ago.

Over the past weekend, storms have been hitting close to home back in Iowa, and the reports keep painting the picture clearer as to what happened in the small town of Parkersburg, Iowa. Growing up, you know about these things and understand what they are capable of. This is a bit different.

Rescuers continued picking through the wreckage in search of possible victims, but officials said they were hopeful no one else would be found. In addition to those killed, about 70 people were injured, including two in critical condition.

The damage in this town of about 1,000 was staggering: 222 homes destroyed, 21 businesses destroyed and more than 400 homes damaged. Among the buildings destroyed were the city hall, the high school and the town’s sole grocery store and gas station.

“There’s so much hurt here, I don’t know where to start,” said U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, who owns a farm near New Hartford. [myway]

What is even more astounding is that not only was the city hall destroyed, but so was all the data records.

All records stored at Parkersburg’s City Hall were lost in Sunday’s tornado, officials confirmed this morning.

Backup computer information might be available, they said, but the first order of business will be the massive cleanup effort that awaits.

At a community meeting this morning, officials announced that a system has been established to let property owners inform crews when they have finished trying to salvage belongings. Resident were instructed to register at the Veterans Building community center for special green and tan lawn stakes that signify when property is ready for demolition. [desmoinesregister]

I’ve been through my share of storms and seen the damage these things can do, but I cannot fathom what it would take to have damage on this wide of a scale. Houses and barns are what you expect, and it never feels typical when it happens. No matter how small the town is, it’s still a town, and it’s hardly a town now.

If you would like to help out with the cause, please consider pledging to the Red Cross who is helping out with the disaster recovery.

Satellite view of before and after the cyclone in Myanmar

What follows below is a before and after shot from space of the area that was devastated by Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar about three weeks ago. The first photo is from April 15, 2008, and the second photo was taken on May 5, 2008, just a matter of days after the cyclone slammed into the country. Credit to Paul Kedrosky who created this image from NASA satellite photos.

Myanmar, before and after the cyclone

I simply found this image shocking. The thing is, conditions are not that much better for a lot of people in the area, but help is slowly getting into the country. The military controlled government is making the overall situation tough in terms of allowing foreign aid into the country, and the same can be said about letting much information out of the country for the rest of the world to really get a sense of the conditions there.

I did a bit of searching and the best thing I could come up was the website that is probably having the most success in getting relief to the area. You can find out more on their website here as well as a way to help donate to the effort.

Help the victims in Greensburg, Kansas

I know it’s not much, but the post I made about the tornado that hit Greensburg, KS is compelling me to pass on some information that I caught wind of. Raed in the Middle got an email from a friend of his who is in the thick of things from said area. The pictures are mind blowing, but the core of the message is a list of items that they need as they go through this rebuilding process.

Please visit his post to get all the details. I implore you to help out if you can. As I said in my previous post, I can’t even imagine the amount of devastation that they have gone through. I do know what it’s like to not have the things you take for granted. Once you wrap your head around that, try to conceive how these people are feeling.

A tornado nearly two miles wide

The other day, Rebecca and I were on the topic of the recent tornado that swept through Greensburg, Kansas. She said something to the effect that she heard that it was two miles wide. I could not believe that and was assured that she had her facts a little misconstrued, if not a little off. Growing up in the Midwest, I’ve been through my share of scares and seen a few funnel clouds. Haven’t seen, first hand, a lot of tornadoes on the ground, but it’s one of those things that everyone just knows about.

Shockingly, I was wrong, and she was right.

Since the tornado flattened Greensburg on Friday night, emergency responders have struggled to find out how many of its 1,600 residents may be safely staying with friends or relatives, rather than in shelters.

The massive tornado, an enhanced F-5 with wind estimated at 205 mph, was part of a weekend of violent storms that tore across the Plains and were also blamed for two other deaths in Kansas.

The death toll could have been much worse, but for a 20-minute warning – a rarely issued “tornado emergency” alert – that gave people time to take shelter in basements and storm cellars. [myway]

Greensboro, KansasLook at this photo, too. When I heard the initial reports that the city was basically wiped off the face of the earth, you think that it’s just journalistic sensationalism. After reading that, I think about what it was like to go through the handful of close calls in my lifetime and how intense a storm like that could be. In fact, I couldn’t imagine.

Growing up, there was the small town Worthington, smaller than the small town I grew up in, that was hit straight on by a tornado. The trail of debris and destruction was, as I recall, was a few hundred feet wide. Basically, you could follow the exact path, and it was one of those typical scenes. What was tore to shreds in one place, the object next to it was pristine and not damaged at all. Even though we were total gawkers, checking out the destruction in our car and getting on the nerves of the National Guard who were there to clean things up, I learned exactly why you need to take tornadoes seriously.

Ever been huddled under a blanket in the corner of the basement while waves of rain, wind, and chunks of trees slam into the house above you? It was enough to have my mother start saying her last goodbyes, and I was right there with her. That wasn’t even a tornado. Microbursts[wiki] are just as hair raising, as I discovered on that one summer afternoon. Our house was spared, but within five minutes, we lost a lot of trees in our neighborhood. I did end up getting cut on my arm while helping with the cleanup, and there was no power until the next day.

It’s unbelievable to think that a tornado struck a town straight on at a width of nearly two miles wide. That is a vision of a nightmare, and I have a hard time wrapping my head around this fact. Envisioning it is scary enough. I feel for those who were affected. Even though I’ve kinda been there, what happened in Greensburg is a hundred times worse. Can only hope that they have the strength to rebuild. Rebuild an entire town, that is.

Speaking of distilling water

You can never be too prepared, so in an effort to find out some information to refresh my idea of being able to distill water in a pinch, I found this site with some good information. I’ve lived through a few tornado hits in my lifetime to understand that it’s rare to find anyone who is truly prepared for disaster. Maybe this will help you if the situation arises. I pray that it never does. Continue reading “Speaking of distilling water”