Tag Archives: Irene

Disaster Planning: Free Market vs. Government

Sadly, most conversations regarding damage, preparedness and reaction to catastrophes take place during or AFTER an event takes place.  Such is the nature of people, and is what separates us from even squirrels.  Even they gather for the winter.

However, there are people, organizations who do look ahead and plan.  They take the responsibility seriously and give great thought to the subject.  These people study disasters and recoveries.  In fact, the organizations they work in are aptly named; Disaster Recovery.  We have one for my company, in fact, we have staff at my building.

As with anything, there are certain people more skilled at this than others.  In fact, again, just like we would expect, there are groups of people, organizations, that are better at it than other groups of people.  It should not surprise anyone that when it comes to government preparedness and the private sector’s planning, who’s side I’ll take.

Consider this: Via Carpe Diem

Forecasters don’t expect Hurricane Irene to make landfall until Saturday. But for nearly a week now, big-box retailers like Walmart and Home Depot have been getting ready.

They’ve deployed hundreds of trucks carrying everything from plywood to Pop-Tarts to stores in the storm’s path. It’s all possible because these retailers have turned hurricane preparation into a science.

At Home Depot’s Hurricane Command Center in Atlanta, for example, about 100 associates have been trying to anticipate how Irene will affect its East Coast stores from the Carolinas to New York.

At times like this, the Command Center looks much like NASA Mission Control during a shuttle launch, says Russ Householder, the company’s emergency-response captain.

“We’ve got all the key news agencies on the big screens up front,” he says. “We’re also monitoring our store sales so we can better be in tune to what’s happening in our stores, and we’re also connected live one-on-one with district managers in the impacted areas.”

Walmart is able to anticipate surges in demand during emergencies by using a huge historical database of sales from each store as well as sophisticated predictive techniques, Cooper says.

He says that with Irene on the way, that system is helping them allocate things like batteries, ready-to-eat foods and cleaning supplies to areas in the storm’s path.

Walmart also has the advantage of having a staff meteorologist, Cooper says.

Walmart’s preparedness system helped the company emerge as a hero after Katrina, says Steve Horwitz, an economist at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., who studied the company’s response.

“They know exactly what people want after a hurricane,” he says. “One of my favorite stories from Katrina is that the most popular food item after a major storm like this is strawberry Pop-Tarts.”

Wanna see what Wal-Mart’s preparation for moving supplies in, before Katrina, looked like?

Care to see the Government’s preparation for moving people OUT?

As 1,000’s of people needed to leave the city, a city that sits BELOW sea level, the government left a fleet of buses to simply flood.

Government simply can not DO like the private, for profit, sector operating in a free market.


Hurricane Irene Update

The view down my driveway to the street.  So far, just an afternoon of cleaning up twigs, leaves, pine cones and junk.  We’ve been lucky.

The rest of the state has a bit more in terms of damage:

But Progress Energy is doing yeoman’s work:

The company has amassed an army of more than 1,000 line workers, tree crews and support staff from five states – more than three times the normal complement of workers in the region – and crews are ready to conduct damage assessment and begin large-scale repairs as soon as weather conditions permit. In some areas, tropical storm-force winds are expected to linger through Saturday evening, hampering repair efforts. To ensure their safety, crews cannot work in winds of 39 mph or higher.

North Carolina counties with the largest numbers of outages as of 10 a.m. included New Hanover (58,000); Carteret (22,000); Onslow (19,000); Craven (16,000); Johnston (13,200); Wake (12,000); Lenoir (10,200); Pender (10,000); Columbus (9,000); Brunswick (8,300); Duplin (8,000); Sampson (7,000); Nash (6,600). Numerous other counties had scattered outages from the coast to the Triangle.

Keep those workers in your thoughts and prayers.

But, do we think we’ll suffer the fate of Japan?

NEW YORK, Aug 27 (Reuters) – Nuclear power plants along the U.S. East Coast are braced for the impact of Hurricane Irene which is churning north toward New York and New England after making landfall in North Carolina on Saturday.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it sent additional staff to monitor conditions and storm preparation at the fourteen nuclear units from Maryland to New Hampshire in Irene’s path as well as a nuclear fuel production plant in North Carolina.

Plant employees are securing equipment and readying extra staff for the storm.  Dominion Resources Inc will reduce power at its two-unit 2,111-megawatt Millstone plant in Connecticut ahead of the storm, a company spokesman said on Saturday.  Progress Energy’s Brunswick nuclear plant, perched on the North Carolina coast, cut to 65 percent power late on Friday and does not expect to return to full power until after the storm has fully passed, a spokesman said on Saturday.

Dominion shut down its North Anna nuclear power station because of an earthquake on Tuesday.  The two-unit, 1,950-megawatt North Anna nuclear plant will remain shut through the storm.  The company’s two-unit, 1,598-MW Surry plant in Virginia was designed to withstand winds of 360 miles per hour and is expected to remain at full power throughout the storm, a spokesman said on Saturday.

It appears that our power plants are well tended to:

It’s not over, she’s slowed down, but it appears that it could have been a lot worse here in Carolina than it could have been.

God’s speed to those in her path as she moves North!

The Lamb’s View of the Lion

Some quick shots of Irene as she’s huntin’ North Carolina:

All shots by me.  With my iPhone.

Ice and Gas Shortage: Hurricane Irene

She’s coming.  There’s been little doubt about that now for 2 days.  Irene is coming and she is big.

As the storm hits and does her damage, residents in her path are going to find that they’re short critical supplies; water, ice, gasoline, propane to name a few.  Part of the reason we’ll be short these key commodities is because people have bought more than they usually would have in advance of the storm.  The second is because we’re just gonna use more of ’em.

Demand will impact supply.

And, just as the law of supply and demand would dictate, as those items begin to run out, the price will rise.  In some cases doubling or even tripling.  This does several things:

  1. It reduces the desire of people to hoard.
  2. It signals to suppliers that a need has been established and in the interest of profit, will work to fill that need.
  3. It activates politicians to fulfill the law of politics: Pass laws that try to break the law of economics.

See, people vote politicians in, so politicians react in irrational ways to this problem:

RALEIGH, NC (NCDOJ) — North Carolina’s strong price gouging law is now in effect because a state of emergency has been declared due to Hurricane Irene, Attorney General Roy Cooper notified businesses and consumers today.

“We’re warning price gougers that you can’t use a crisis as an excuse to make an unfair profit off of consumers,” said Cooper.

Price gouging—or charging too much in times of crisis—is against North Carolina law when a disaster, an emergency or an abnormal market disruption for critical goods and services is declared or proclaimed by the Governor. The law also applies to all levels of the supply chain from the manufacturer to the distributor to the retailer.

What people WANT is for suppliers to supply goods at the normal price even as the cost of doing so goes up.  IF the law above were written to say :

The people of North Carolina have decided that during times of crisis, we do not want to encourage exceptional efforts to deliver necessary and critical goods.  We don’t want to pay any price for this effort and would rather, instead, save our money and do without.

THAT is what this law is doing.

And if you don’t think so, or if you think that we should allow prices to reflect demand, then I suggest YOU buy a U-Haul truck of water or a refer truck full of ice and drive to the coast and deliver that water and ice yourself.