Thursday, September 21, 2017

Mexico: The Aftermath

In just two weeks, Mexico has been hit by two major earthquakes. The first was a magnitude 8.1 off the coast of Chiapas. Most recently, a 7.1 magnitude, happened in Mexico City on September 19th.

The earthquake was a dark reminder of a previous quake that shook Mexico city on the same day in 1985. It killed more than 10,000 people and left many other injured and homeless.

This recent earthquake has been the largest and possibly deadliest earthquake since 1985. At around 1pm violent and prolonged shaking caused buildings to shake and crumble. The earthquake struck without warning despite a system set in place designed to send out an alert before hand.

Disaster Relief and Rescue

The current death toll has reached 245, with desperate rescue attempts throughout the city underway. Of the dozens of buildings that collapsed, one has really shown the resilience and determination of the people in Mexico City.

A four story elementary school collapsed Tuesday afternoon during the earthquake. Search teams made up of firemen, paramedics, and even local residents came together to comb through the rubble looking for survivors.

Here's a first hand account of the scene from NPR's Carrie Khan:

"It is a heartbreaking scene. Hundreds of volunteers and rescue personnel have flooded to this neighborhood around the school... all are emotionally drained, tired, but just holding on to the hope they can reach some of the children alive... under all that rubble.

"One wing of the school, three stories just pancakes in the powerful quake. One right on top of the other, making the rescue and chances of survival very difficult. 

 "But the volunteers keep coming... with hard hats and fluorescent vests, They're removing the rubble with picks, shovels, their hands... whatever they can. And dozens more are taking donations, feeding the rescuers, just wanting to be there and do something for those children either dead or trapped in the building.

Reports came through Thursday afternoon that several days after the event all children were at last accounted for with at least 21 children having died from the collapse.

The united efforts of emergency services and civilians lending a hand are paying off, just as we have seen the efforts help many in Texas and Florida during the natural disasters we have seen there.

Why were only certain buildings affected?

From reports we receive from Mexico, it seems that there were fewer buildings affected and a very different type of building that was affected than the previous earthquake. Why is this?

While structural integrity is of course crucial any buildings ability to outlast an earthquake. The type of earthquake and location can have an important impact as well. Just because a building survives one earthquake does not mean it will last another.

In 1985 buildings that were 5-20 stories tall suffered more damage than shorter buildings. In this earthquake, the shorter buildings saw more damage, with many of them crumbling.

The reason for this is similar to why a wine glass will shatter with certain frequencies and survive others. An earthquake creates vibrations and frequencies that can play off of a building causing more damage. 

If the epicenter is close then small buildings will see more damage than taller buildings, whereas typically if the epicenter is farther away, the taller buildings may face more damage.

Always be prepared

While the two major earthquakes have aleviated much of the stress on that fault line, we should still keep an eye out, and by that I mean, be prepared! Earthquakes are nigh impossible to accurately predict when, where, and how one will strike.

If you live in an area with an active fault line, it's best to be prepared. Even if you have survived a previous earthquake with little to no damage. That can lead to a false sense of security.

Take time to prepare your homes for an earthquake, and most importantly prepare yourself, and your families! 

Here are some quick tips:
  • Have an emergency plan for your family, where to meet if you are separated, how to evacuate your house, and an outside contact incase phone lines in the city are busy.
  • Have extra food and water supplies at your house
  • Have an emergency grab and go bug-out bag for your family with appropriate supplies
  • Have an emergency kit with food and water at your work locations, and small kits for your children to have at their school.

This is a great starter list to build off of, what are some other preparation ideas you have?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The next apocalypse? September 23rd

The literal interpretation of Revelation is that the constellations align on September 23.
The word apocalypse is derived from Greek meaning uncovering; or, as the book How Jesus Became God explains, "a vision of heavenly secrets that can make sense of earthly realities". In other words, it is knowledge of things that help us make sense of the world around us.

In modern vernacular, the term apocalypse has come to mean an "end of the world" event, especially having to do with a religious belief. This comes from the book of John's Revelation, originally called Ἀποκάλυψις Ἰωάννου, Apokalypsis Ioannou. The book talks about prophecies of an end of the world event.

For years, humans have been fascinated with things they can't control; for example, an end of the world event— an apocalypse. 

In the book of Revelations and a few other parts of the Bible, there are signs that will appear to warn the faithful of the coming apocalyptical disaster. These signs have been watched for closely by faithful believers.

According to some religious scholars and believers, the signs will be coming to pass on September 23rd 2017, and following will be the Apocalypse. 

Their theory: 

The sign is based off of a verse in Revelation 12:1-2 which in the ESV reads: 

1. And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  2. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 

This month, the sun, moon, and Jupiter will be in the constellation Virgo.  While this is claimed to be a rare occurrence, in actuality this occurs every twelve years. There is, in addition, a more rare occurrence. The constellation Leo (which is being associated with the Lion of the tribe of Judah) is also in alignment with Virgo.

Virgo represents the woman in heaven (the starry sky). Jupiter is the child which will be leaving from what they claim is the womb of Virgo. They say that Leo has nine stars, and that three planets— Venus, Mars, and Mercury— count as the other three stars, making up the crown of twelve stars.

Its fairly easy to follow along with this so far, but this is where it gets interesting. Later in the verse it talks about a red dragon, waiting to devour the infant. This dragon is claimed to be Planet X.

Have you heard of planet X? Chances are, probably not, scientists have shown that a planet X doesn't actually exist in our solar system, but there are some that claim that Planet X is a planet that orbits the sun 90 times more distant than earth. 

As it supposedly comes around, it can cause havoc on earth. Biblical Literalists believe this planet has caused some of the events in the bible. According to them, this red dragon, Planet X, may be the cause of the apocalypse that is set for September 23rd.

Our View

There are some important facts to be taken into account though, when looking at the signs for the supposed date.

This event isn't that unusual of an event, nor can it be taken word for word from the biblical literalists. Jupiter passes Virgo about once every twelve years. In addition there is Leo, which is claimed to have 9 stars, in most astrological maps it is connected by either 13 or 10 stars, which rules out the perfect alignment of the 3 planets. 

And then there is Planet X. If there really was such a planet, it would have knocked earth out of orbit a long time ago, so it is unlikely the red dragon will be coming around. 

So is the world really ending on the 23rd? Probably not; we should be okay for the foreseeable future. But that's the point isn't it? We always seem to be okay for the foreseeable future, but what about unforeseeable events? Things in our lives we aren't expecting.

It's the unforeseeable future that reminds us to be prepared. 

It's the unforeseeable future that reminds us to always live in a way we can be ready for any disaster. 

It's always a good time to start  working an emergency kit or continue your preparations for any potential disaster or problem!

Interested in reading more about the upcoming date for the apocalypse? Here's our sources:

Thursday, September 7, 2017

1.5 Million Acres Ablaze in the US

Yesterday evening as I was driving home, I glanced up at the sky. It was hard not to notice the gray haze that had blocked the view of our towering mountains. What I noticed for the first time was how red and dull the sun looked. The Salt Lake Valley where I live has been covered in the haze of wildfires for near a week now.

In the wake of the devistation of Hurricane Harvey and the impending threat of Hurricane Irma, other areas of the US are fighting a very different kind of threat. 

As of today there are 51 uncontrolled large fires in the unites states according to today's incident management situation report. Most notably are the fires ablaze in the Montana area, near Oregon and Washington, and in Southern California near Burbank. 

The effects of the wildfires range far past the near 1.5 million acres in the US that are directly affected by the wildfires. The fires burn land, and structures causing severe devastation to families and communities and then the smoke from those fires carries across the US.

Where I live, there is a fire around an hour from my house. Even though I am an hour away from that fire and many more hours away from the Washington and Oregon fires, I am still affected. The air in our valley is very polluted. And many people especially older and sick people are the main affected ones. The poor air can cause issues with breathing.

I say this not to take away from the tragedy of homes lost, but to show just how far reaching any natural disaster can be. As unfortunate as it is disasters are often the best calls to action. 

Where are you at on your emergency preparations? Do you have a bug-out bag ready to go? 

Think about some of these basics to have handy just in case.
  • Food
  • Water
  • Extra clothing
  • Important documents
  • Extra cash
  • N95 masks (Prevents you from breathing in harmful smoke)
  • Full tanks of gas in your cars
  • Extra cans of gas (one of the first resources to come into short supply)
Remember, preparation is a lifestyle choice. When you are prepared you can worry less about those you love. Keep Safe!