Puerto Rico

Discussion in 'The Backstage' started by Frogfur, Sep 30, 2017.

  1. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    Not much. If the brass so desired, they could send a Prime BEEF team in, by ship if there's no runways, to set up/clear airbase ops. Such teams include ATC teams, portable radars/LORAN, fire crews, and fuelies.

    C-17s are very well-designed for rough-airstrip ops, and carry a hell of a lot of cargo. These planes, four-engined jets carrying about as much as a couple C-130s, can work on dirt runways if need be.

    This is a mission we trained for in the early 90s. I would imagine the capability nowadays is much further advanced.
     
  2. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    I'll take "Loaded Premises" for $500, Alex.
     
  3. Roberteaux

    Roberteaux V.I.P. Member

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    First, @parts: this is not a retort to your rhetorical question, and I'm not really attempting to communicate with you directly beyond this disclaimer. Instead, I simply used your comment as a sort of springboard from which to proceed.

    So:

    I don't know about Houston. In the case of Puerto Rico, I'm not quite sure how well-prepared to deal with a Cat 5 hurricane anybody on an island in the middle of the ocean is likely to be. I personally saw what happened to Biloxi, Gulfport, and New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina, and in the case of Biloxi and Gulfport-- where the wind damages were most severe-- what was left of both cities was reminiscent of photos of Berlin immediately after World War II. Large buildings (including the multiple story city hall in Gulfport) literally crumbled and smaller ones along the coastal highway were gone. Basically, most everything within about a half mile from the shoreline was wrecked.

    The wind damage produced by Katrina in New Orleans was not quite so evident, though they got hit fairly hard. But it was the floods that screwed that city after Katrina... and I sure can tell others a lot about that-- if I felt like writing about it all night, anyway.

    Rather than reproduce the numerous reports detailing what went wrong down there, I'll just hit a couple of the bigger factors-- that is, those that were related to infrastructure.

    There were myriad failures whereas adequate preparation for the deluge that followed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina was concerned. Some were the fault of the city's administration-- which was fairly lackadaisical regarding preparations for such events, perhaps because the last time a hurricane really got their attention was during Betsy, back in 1965.

    One of the more tragic elements in place was this: the pumping stations that keep the city from becoming the mud hole it would be without them (even without a major storm) didn't have auxiliary or backup power to run the screws. Instead, they were all hooked only to the city's power grid, with no generators on site. When the power went out, so did the pumps.

    The city was well-aware of that potential, but blandly claimed that the reason they never did put adequate generators in place was due to the slim odds that another storm like Betsy would come along any time soon. They considered Betsy to be a "100 year storm", even though storms that were just as bad hit the city back in 1915 and again in 1926. It's also the case that New Orleans had suffered 21 really devastating floods-- along with a lot of lesser deluges-- since the hurricane of 1722 blasted hell out of the then-nascent city and set everybody to dog-paddling.

    The Army Corps of Engineers kept pointing out the fact that those pumps would fail if the grid were damaged-- but there was little response by the mayor's office or city council regarding the situation. Hey: what were the odds? :dunno:

    It's also the case that the city had been warned that 14 pumps wouldn't be sufficient if there were multiple breaks in the various levees ringing the city, and that's even if the grid did hold-- which, of course, it didn't.

    The CoE recommendation prior to the flood was 17-20 pumps, but eh: that costs a lot of money. Every administrator from Mayor Schiro to C. Ray Nagin had a tendency to poo-pooh the warnings that were provided by numerous civil engineers. Even with federal funding available to offset a lot of the costs, the city was just too damned cheap to do anything about the situation.

    As an aside: during Hurricane Betsy, Mayor Schiro made a statement that was incredibly laughable, though I don't suppose he meant to be funny when he said it. Right after the city decided to sacrifice the lower 9th Ward to save the upper wards by dynamiting the Industrial Canal levee, Schiro told the press, "Don't believe any false rumors unless you hear them from me". :laugh2:

    By the time the deluge of Katrina came along, drainage for the city was also in terrible shape, and thus completely failed in most places when the flood occurred. This, too, was portended by warnings from the CoE-- but once again the city didn't want to shell out the bucks to replace this feature of their infrastructure. And that's even though it was labelled by numerous experts as "rotting" and "in desperate need of replacement" in the years before the K-Bomb went off on the Gulf Coast.

    Right now FEMA is attempting to shake 2 billion dollars out of the city for not having maintained its drainage system. Their point is that there was no excuse to allow the system to degrade to such a degree. We'll hear what the city says about that in the court records, I suppose.

    Then there was great concern regarding the levees. The Industrial Canal levee had been repaired after being breached via dynamite during Hurricane Betsy, but CoE (and others) opined that those repairs were inadequate-- and that's when the fixtures were freshly repaired. But once again the city fathers shrugged and asked, "What are the chances of another storm like Betsy coming along?"

    And indeed: it did take 40 years before something that big and bad came along... but by then, the canal levees and storm walls were crumbling in all places other than along the Mississippi River and along the 17th Street Canal.

    Since then, the Industrial Canal (and other) levee(s) have been refurbished-- but all on the US taxpayer's dime. Then too, the number of pumping stations has been increased from 14 to 17, and hey: now they even have generators on-site. And guess who paid for all that stuff? The Louisiana Recovery Act of 2006 was a 120 billion dollar package-- but recovery was stalled considerably, once again by the ineptness of the city's leadership. C Ray and his pals seemed to think that the feds planned to just hand over suitcases full of cash or something, and then balked at the reporting procedures designed to keep gangsters, grifters, grafters, and other large-scale fraudsters and their hocus-pocus out of the mix.

    I honestly didn't see much by way of major repairs beginning to take place until about 2010-- five years after the flood. It was amazing to me-- and not in a good way.

    Meanwhile, the leading congressman from the district overseeing New Orleans went to federal prison, along with his brother (who died in custody), and poor C. Ray Nagin ended up occupying a cell in Club Fed himself. Which all kinda figures.

    The city played poor mouth through the entire Katrina recovery debacle-- and this time, I'd say that they probably weren't lying about being broke. After all, the incredibly high rate of crime drove all but two Fortune 500 corporations out of the city altogether, it's been quite a while since the harbor was a major shipping destination, and really, all the city has now is tourism. Pretty much every factory down there closed years ago and decamped to places such as China and India, and good jobs are rather scarce.

    There are many, many more points that might be critiqued here... and though I only picked on the city administration in this post, the fact is that the Corp of Engineers has dropped the ball many times, and FEMA sure as hell wasn't ready for what happened after Katrina. To those in the know, there was only one big surprise, with that being that nobody expected the 17th Street Canal levee to fail. That one canal was seen as being ready for the worst. The other 49 levee and flood wall failures that happened were long foreseen. And if Katrina had come along while the river was at high tide... then the so-called "sliver by the river" (including the French Quarter) would have gone blub, blub, blub...

    Now, I could go on and on about this... I barely scratched the surface here... but I won't carry on.

    My point is merely this: there are things that can be done in preparation for a major storm, even though all ends cannot be foreseen by anybody who is not in possession of some sort of uncanny prescience. But as I said: quite a few of the failures were long-predicted, though by people with slide rules instead of Ouija boards.

    1,833 people died as a direct result of Hurricane Katrina. 258 of those souls died in Mississippi, with the rest of them going over in New Orleans.

    Most of the victims in NOLa were elderly persons who were unable to evacuate. And as it happens, evacuation is an issue that we could discuss while speaking of preparation for natural disasters in New Orleans... and elsewhere, I'm sure.

    Ah, but all that costs money...

    "We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap."
    --Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

    --
    R :facepalm:
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017
  4. northernguitarguy

    northernguitarguy SWeAT hOg

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    I can't imagine a headline stating 'Americans Die From Cholera Outbreak'. I hope I'm correct. The other threat I was wondering about is flesh-eating diseases. Wasn't a Houston woman diagnosed with that? Horrifying, but at least she could seek proper treatment, and she was just one case. Could an outbreak be managed?
     
  5. Tone deaf

    Tone deaf Senior Member

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    Roads, power grid and telecom infrastructure (although wireless/microwave networks can be rebuilt, faster) are long lead items.
     
  6. Tone deaf

    Tone deaf Senior Member

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    Actually, in the Southeast US, there are occasional outbreaks of flesh eating disease, as there are in lots of warm water areas. As for cholera, there are occasional outbreaks in South America, usually along the mid-Pacific coast, IIRC. With the damage to infrastructure, it is not unreasonable to think that it would be in the gray/black water. The key is that it is unlikely that many people would consider using these sources for drinking water. I would expect most adult in PR know that post storm one should boil water (that isn't bottled), before using. Boiling water will kill cholerae (the bacteria that causes cholera). I would think that hepatitis and staph are bigger concerns.
     
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  7. northernguitarguy

    northernguitarguy SWeAT hOg

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    I also don't think people would drink it-unless desperate. But a huge number have likely been wading in it, whether to rescue themselves, loved ones, pets, others, etc. Bacterial infections have other ways in besides orally.
     
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  8. Tone deaf

    Tone deaf Senior Member

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    Agreed. I picked up gardia (100+ miles form civilization and indoor plumbing) and I can assure you that I didn't drink the water. Since that experience, I am even more careful (always was careful) with potential waterborne bacteria. Near out house, there is a stream. Years ago, I was down there with my daughter (prob about 9 years old) and she said "So and so drinks the water straight from the stream..." I said something to the effect of "Well so and so is an idiot. If you want uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhea, please feel free to drink from the stream." As far as I know, she never did.
     
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  9. pnuggett

    pnuggett Senior Member

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    Still haven't heard from my best friend and wife in PR. They live on a mountain next to the rain forest. I did hear from a third party that they were ok a few days after the hurricane. They had still been without electric from Irma when Maria hit. They are very resourceful people and had stocked up at least two months of food prior to Maria. They have a generator and get their water from a natural spring. Hope the water pump keeps working. Even with that they have no communication and I don't know if their house suffered damage. I'm sure it's no picnic for them but others, no doubt, have it a lot worse. I've visited with them on occasion and communicate with them almost daily normally.

    Even before the hurricanes Puerto Rico was a mess. They had driven themselves into a state of disrepair and debt. Power failures were regular occurrences even before the cutbacks of gov't workers due to the black hole they were in economically. When the cutbacks came things got even worse, Foliage that had to constantly be cleared from power lines was not being maintained. Power failures were becoming even more frequent. The power sources were in really bad shape . When the hurricanes hit it was no surprise that it would be destroyed.

    Puerto Rico was a disaster in the making. It has been mismanaged by a corrupt gov't that depended on handouts to survive. It has a poverty rate twice that of the state with the highest poverty level being Mississippi. It had a debt of 74 billion dollars with no chance of repayment. The economy was getting worse. A lot of their best educated people had been leaving the the island in record numbers. Doctors, engineers, teachers etc. were going to the mainland.

    Estimates of the cost to rebuild are 90 billion dollars. The power grid is gone. Roads are washed out by landslides. Businesses are unable to operate. Agriculture is mainly destroyed. There will be an exodus of people leaving for the mainland. So if and when it is rebuilt how can it ever become self sustainable? It really never has been and has been surviving on a bootstrap economy. It seems "Welfare Island" has some really tough times ahead.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017
  10. Scooter2112

    Scooter2112 Senior Member

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    So sorry to hear this about your friends. I hope that you hear from them soon. It sounds as though they are pretty resourceful and planned ahead, so hopefully that has served them well. I fear more for a societal breakdown amidst chaos may have affected them, but they may have planned for those contingencies as well.

    I was in PR in November of '94 and couldn't believe the wide spread poverty and living conditions on the island. On a bus ride from SJ airport to the seaport it seemed like miles and miles of homes (not much more than corrugated metal lean-twos) built almost on top of each other. Yes, there were some very shiny sprawling estates and attractions, but they were very few and far between. Can't vouch for many areas outside of that city.
     
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  11. MikeyTheCat

    MikeyTheCat Senior Member

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    Here's a wrinkle, Puerto Rico has been exploring and developing Private-Public Partnerships for it's infrastructure. PR-22 is already a PPP and PR was looking to do more deals to raise money. Who pays for the repairs, the US government or the PPP companies? And if the USG and PR does a deal with the PPPs who gets the money.


    http://www.slate.com/articles/busin...co_s_electric_utility_prepa_to_privatize.html
     
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  12. parts

    parts Senior Member

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  13. MikeyTheCat

    MikeyTheCat Senior Member

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    Nice graphic, I was looking for one like that. So the main roads are in really bad shape but usable by FEMA and company, with the western roads in worse shape.
     
  14. pnuggett

    pnuggett Senior Member

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    The graphic shows only the main roads. Many are inaccessible. Imagine what the the roads off the main highways look like. I've been there numerous times and a lot of the roads were crap even before the storms. It's gonna take time to clear all the roads. Some of the roads need more than clearing as they were damaged by landslides. No one should expect this to be a quick job.
     
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  15. Bill Hicklin

    Bill Hicklin Senior Member

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    The military has awesome logistical and sustainment capabilities-- for a given definition of "awesome." A Navy amphibious group carries, lands and sustains a Marine Expeditionary Unit- a reinforced battalion, about 2200 men. The Army's 101st Airmobile Division has the chopper capacity to sustain itself (~10,000 troops)..... for five days.

    We are talking 3.5 million people here, folks. With no working electric or comms infrastructure, and in most places no water either (and water is heavy). A lot of the criticism of FEMA in this episode is, while perhaps on point in particular details, broadly just a case of whining that they don't have magic wands.
     
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  16. pnuggett

    pnuggett Senior Member

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  17. northernguitarguy

    northernguitarguy SWeAT hOg

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  18. Marshall & Moonshine

    Marshall & Moonshine Senior Member

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    If people only lived in places with no natural disasters, I don’t know where we’d all go.
     
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  19. northernguitarguy

    northernguitarguy SWeAT hOg

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    Southern Ontario is remarkably low incident. So are many, many other places. The Caribbean will be a target for stronger and stronger storms, indefinitely. I dunno where I'd be headed, but I would be getting myself and my family out.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
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  20. Marshall & Moonshine

    Marshall & Moonshine Senior Member

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    So, can I put them down for 10m refugees, from various locations?
    :)
     
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