Wednesday, April 2, 2014

FEMA Quietly Celebrates 35 Years By Contributing to Rescue and Recovery Efforts in Washington

Yesterday, the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (better known as FEMA) celebrated “35 Years of Commitment” to
protecting and serving American citizens. President Jimmy Carter signed an
executive order on April 1, 1979, which started FEMA’s 35 years of working with
communities that have been impacted by disasters of all kinds – hurricanes,
landslides, tornadoes, floods – quite an extensive list.

Unfortunately, the 35th
anniversary of FEMA occurred around the same time as the horrific
landslide that rocked Snohomish County, Washington on March 22nd. It is a sad 35th
birthday indeed for the FEMA team, as they work on rescue and recovery missions
in the areas that were affected by that devastating landslide.

The mountain overlooking the valley that once housed the neighborhood of Steelhead Haven partially collapsed the morning of March 22nd.
Washington has received a record amount of rain this year, and the ground
simply became too saturated to hold its contour any longer. As the soil (then
mud) gave way and slammed down the side of the mountain, it picked up trees and
other debris along the way as it crashed into homes in the neighborhood. The
landslide itself was over in a matter of minutes, but the clean-up from the
disaster has been going on up until this point, and will continue into the foreseeable

Sadly, at this point
the death toll stands at 29 people. It is expected to rise, as there are still
22 people on record as missing in the surrounding area. Aside from FEMA, many have
joined the rescue and recovery operations, including the National Guard,
authorities in the area, and the loggers that work and live in the area. Snohomish
County is home to many logging operations, and the technical equipment used in
those operations has been helpful in moving the dried mud from the landslide –
mud that, in some places, stands 70 feet thick.

The homes and community
were obliterated, along with the infrastructure necessary to build the
neighborhood back up. Plumbing systems and electrical lines were knocked out,
turning the mud into toxic sludge in many places. This is where solar energy
can really play a part. While solar can’t do a whole lot for the plumbing
situation, solar-powered generators could help those participating in the rescue effort that need to set up some kind of base for communications,
meetings, and other general information distribution for survivors who are
looking for their loved ones. If the electrical grid is unavailable in that
region, they are going to need to get power somehow.

Solar energy can play a
huge part in disaster relief and rescue operations. All in all, SUNRNR is
looking to the future. We are waiting with bated breath to see what happens
with Snohomish County, and we are keeping the victims and their families in our
thoughts at this time. Hopefully, the 22 missing are found alive and well.

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