CYCLONE: SECOND WAVE
Feb 15, 2007
(open – contemplative dramatic music, rain images)
(soundbites under video)
“The car stalls out, the water’s rising…..”
“….I can’t call nobody, I don’t have no phone….”
“This could be dangerous”
“The rain just kept coming and coming…one hour, two hours, three hours…it’s been five years and I’m still not over it.”
IT CAN BE THE MOST UNPREDICTABLE OF DISASTERS
Edith Linton/5:44:36 “I didn’t really believe it was a storm until our lights went out.”
Russell Hill/5:57:37 “…and about three oclock four oclock, man water was everywhere….before you know it.
EVEN WHEN A HURRICANE WEAKENS….AND THE WINDS DIE DOWN TO A BREEZE ……A SIGNIFICANT THREAT REMAINS.
Bill Wheeler 06:24:12 you literally couldn't breath there was so much water in the air
EVERY YEAR HURRICANES AND TROPICAL STORMS CLAIM LIVES AND CAUSE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN DAMAGES DUE TO FLOODING AS THE SYSTEMS MOVE INLAND. THIS IS THE SECOND WAVE.
THE TOLL LED NOAA’S NATIONAL WEATHER TO TARGET THE THREAT.
(Footage of hurricane evacuation/natural sound bed of weather forecaster talking of the threat and warnings)
(Natural Sound/Weathercasters talking of hurricane warning – opening shot is time lapse of Houston Skyline)
WHEN A CYCLONE SENDS IT CALLING CARD, HOUSTONIANS TAKE THE THREAT SERIOUSLY….AS PROVEN BY THE EVACUATION PRIOR TO RITA’S ARRIVAL IN 2005.
(Natural sound inserts from file footage)
TYPICALLY, HURRICANES AND TROPICAL STORMS ANNOUNCE THEIR PRESENCE LONG BEFORE THEY THREATEN LANDFALL, ALLOWING PLENTY OF TIME FOR PREPARATION. BUT OCCASSIONALLY, NATURE BRINGS A SURPRISE.
THAT WAS THE CASE THE FIRST WEEK OF JUNE IN 2001.
(introduce calendar element, music swells and then calendar moves into the day)
Bill Read 851/34
“…during the day on that Tuesday, we went from expecting a lot of thunder storms and heavy rain and some elevated tide to actually having a tropical storm making landfall in less than twelve hours.”
NEWLY-CHRISTENED TROPICAL STORM ALLISON CAME ASHORE WITH AVERAGE WINDS OF ONLY
50 MILES PER HOUR. THEN IT STALLED,
TRAPPED BETWEEN TWO HIGH PRESSURE SYSTEMS.
(interwoven nats from broadcasters talking about storm)
ALLISON DRIFTED BACK AND FORTH ACROSS SOUTHEAST TEXAS FOR FOUR STRAIGHT DAYS.
FINALLY…ON FRIDAY…THE SUN SHOWED ITS FACE.
Bill Read 08:56:37
Every other day that week the skies had been cloudy, well those clear skies were a little misleading. It was just as humid, just as tropical as before, but now we're getting the daytime heating that further destabilized the atmosphere
David Schwertz - Senior Service Hydrologist 09:21:14
And that's what a lot of people were saying, "Oh, it's nice and clear, we're done." Well, no, not really. So yeah, that’s a false sense of security so to speak.
IN THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST OFFICE 20 MILES SOUTH OF DOWNTOWN HOUSTON, METEOROLOGIST-IN-CHARGE BILL READ AND HYDROLOGIST DAVID SCHWERTZ REALIZED BY MID-AFTERNOON THAT NIGHTFALL WOULD BRING WITH IT A GRAVE THREAT.
Schwertz 918/00 it looked like we were going to really get hammered.
Bill Read 09:10:54 We had conference calls at least twice and I think maybe three times during the day on Friday that brought all the emergency managers and weather people and river forecast people together around the phones to discuss the uncertainties, the what-might-happens
THE TROPICAL STORM UNLEASHED A DELUGE .
Russell Hill “The wind was blowing and everything, you know we thought it was a tornado, but everything was flooded over. The water came up to here – this high.”
Diann Porter “It was the sound, like the heavens opened up. Water was standing on the patio about one or two inches above the concrete, and I knew then that I was in trouble.
IN THE NORTHEAST PART OF THE CITY, DIANN PORTER QUICKLY REALIZED CHANGE WAS COMING.
Diann Porter …and I said it’s going to flood.”
PORTER WAS SUPPOSED TO PICK UP HER SISTER FROM ST LUKE’S HOSPITAL DOWNTOWN.
Diann Porter “She called us and we told her we couldn't get to her”
THROUGHOUT THE AFTERNOON AND EVENING, THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FIRED OFF WARNINGS AS BAYOUS OVERFLOWED THEIR BANKS.
THE FAST RISING FLOOD WATERS EXPOSED AN ACHILLES HEEL.
Judge Eckels 08:07:20 We found during Allison, that in spite of all the technology, the media // once people get water in their house there is no television, there is no radio, there is no telephone
Diann Porter 06:01:36 And the feeling of, you're trapped... If it had happened in the daytime, you could see. But it was at night, and you couldn't see anything, and you didn't know what was going on down the street or around the corner
THE STORM WAS DUMPING AS MUCH AS FIVE INCHES OF RAIN EVERY HOUR.
Bill Wheeler 06:25:53 (Audio under Video) Tropical Storm Allison snuck up on you.
BILL WHEELER RUNS THE TEXAS MEDICAL CENTER’S EMERGENCY RESPONSE SYSTEM, WHICH IS CHARGED WITH PROTECTING THE 43 BUILDINGS THAT COMPRISE THE COMPLEX, INCLUDING THE HOSPITAL WHERE PORTER’S SISTER HAD UNDERGONE SURGERY.
Dain Porter “they lost power, they didn’t have any food and there’s nothing you can do because we couldn’t get to her.”
Bill Wheeler “Power's your lifeline. Especially with water rising at this rate, all of your electrical infrastructure and your emergency power systems eventually failed .
(Music/night storm pictures)
I was standing in the street in the middle of Downtown Houston at 2:15 on a Saturday morning in a torrential rain and watched a five million population city downtown area completely go in the dark. It blinked twice and went in the dark. It was the first time I was ever fearful for my life
LARGE SECTIONS OF THE NATION’S FOURTH LARGEST CITY WERE UNDERWATER. NO ONE KNEW WHAT SATURDAY MORNING WOULD BRING.
(insert time bug Saturday morning)
Greg Kilgore 09:55:50 just watching the news and hearing reports there was lots of flooding, mainly up in the north, north side of town, we figured we'd be pretty busy
COAST GUARD PETTY OFFICER GREG KILGORE TOOK OFF AT DAYBREAK ON ONE OF MORE THAN A DOZEN CHOPPERS THE CITY CALLED TO HELP RESCUE THE THOUSANDS WHO WERE STRANDED.
Kilgore 09:56:29 people were on the rooftops, cars were kinda floating down the street, the water was up to the roof-line on most of the houses
MORE THAN A MILLION PEOPLE HAD BEEN IMPACTED OVER AN ESTIMATED 130 SQUARE MILE AREA. IN THE HARDEST-HIT NEIGHBORHOODS FLOODWATERS REACHED A DEPTH OF 10 FEET. BY SATURDAY AFTERNOON, EMERGENCY WORKERS IN THE AIR AND ON LAND HAD RESCUED ALMOST 7-THOUSAND PEOPLE.
Wheeler “You have to understand this is the first time in 50-60 years that the health care infrastructure was brought to its knees.”
AT THE TEXAS MEDICAL CENTER, A FRANTIC DAY’S WORK BEGAN TO PAY OFF.
Bill Wheeler 06:34:04 // I think it was at 1700 hours on Saturday when some facilities got some minimal power back.
THAT SAME AFTERNOON, DIANN FINALLY CAUGHT UP WITH HER SISTER.
Diann Porter 606/57 It's been five years and I'm still not over it. // You are concerned every time it rains longer than an hour.
THE DISASTER DROVE HOME THE IMPORTANCE OF HOUSTON’S WATERWAYS IN HELPING TO REDUCE FLOOD DAMAGE.
(motion graphic )
AN AMAZING 3000 MILES OF STORM DRAINAGE SYSTEMS CRISS CROSS THE AREA, TYING INTO 22 BAYOUS AND WATERSHEDS AS WELL AS BOTH FORKS OF THE SAN JACINTO RIVER. IN THE FIVE YEARS FOLLOWING TROPICAL STORM ALLISON, LOCAL…STATE…AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES INVESTED $856 MILLION DOLLARS IMPROVING THIS NETWORK.
Wheeler 637/26 “ the whole community’s come together. //637/42 “uh huge tunneling and drainage projects around the system.” //on cam 637/35 “to carry the water flow away from here, away from coastal communities and put it in the Gulf of Mexico.”
THIS IS ONE OF THE FASTEST GROWING REGIONS IN THE COUNTRY. URBANIZATION AND DEVELOPMENT BRING THEIR OWN UNIQUE CHALLENGES.
Eckels 08:11:48 For example in Brays Bayou, I lived in Sharpstown, and the neighbors complained so they fixed the street. They eliminated the benefit of fifty acre-feet of detention space we had built and wound up causing water to go into the homes of Meyerland
Bill Read 09:15:07 malls, subdivisions, tennis courts, you name it, all kinds of things are being built out there that change how the water reacts when it falls on the surface.”
Eckels “We practice and plan every year, but then we have an event and go back and analyze it and look at what we’ve done right and what we’ve done wrong. Tropical Storm Allison gave us a new impetus to move quicker on the planning and flood control efforts. We work closely with the Weather Service on modeling and what could happen in various events.”
HOUSTON’S HOPE IS THAT POST-ALLISON IMPROVEMENTS WILL PREVENT THE NEXT STORM FROM PARALYZING THE CITY.
BECAUSE NATURE…ONE DAY…IS CERTAIN TO ISSUE ANOTHER CHALLENGE.
Gary Carter 00.00.21 Inland flooding is a very significant risk. In the last twenty years, we’ve averaged 4 billion dollars a year in average damages to inland flooding and 90 fatalities.”
ALLISON KILLED 24 PEOPLE IN TEXAS AND LOUISIANA. 17 MORE DIED AS THE STORM MOVED ACROSS THE UNITED STATES BEFORE DISSAPATING IN PENNSYLVANIA.
WHEN WE COME BACK, AN ENORMOUS HURRICANE LEAVES ITS MARK ON NORTH CAROLINA, AND IS THE CATALYST FOR A NEW FLOOD WARNING SYSTEM.
WHEN HURRICANE FLOYD BEGAN TO MOVE INTO NORTH CAROLINA, FORECASTERS AT THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IN MIAMI ACTUALLY FELT RELIEVED. ….. THIS STORM, WHICH AT ONE POINT WAS ALMOST 600 MILES WIDE, SUDDENLY LOST STRENGTH JUST BEFORE LANDFALL…DROPPING FROM A CATEGORY FIVE TO A CATEOGRY TWO.
Ed Rappaport/ 844 “…so the winds came down and the storm surge was not as great as they could have expected otherwise, came ashore category two intensity, but still was a very large hurricane, brought a lot of moisture and heavy rainfall and associated floods into the eastern part of the united states.
AS THE WIND CAME OFF THE WATER, IT SLAMMED THE TIDE INTO BEACHFRONT HOMES AND PUSHED THE STORM SURGE INTO SEASIDE COMMUNITIES BUT IT APPEARED NORTH CAROLINA LARGELY WOULD BE UNHARMED. THEN FLOYD MOVED INLAND AND STALLED. IT DUMPED
19 INCHES OF RAIN ON A STATE WHERE THE GROUND WAS STILL SATURATED FROM HURRICANE DENNIS, WHICH HAD HIT TWO AND A HALF WEEKS EARLIER.
Etheridge “So as a result of that, we just had a devastating flood.”
IN WASHINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA CONGRESSMAN BOB ETHERIDGE REALIZED THE THREAT AND RUSHED HOME.
Etheridge “Looking back, probably wasn’t the smartest thing we could do, but it was the only way to get home -- no planes were flying, we just decided we’d drive in. ///And the situation was probably one of the most catastrophic events in terms of flooding that we had dealt with in the United States at that point.
EVEN THOUGH THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ACCURATELY PREDICTED THE FLOOD RISK DAYS BEFORE FLOYD CAME ASHORE, THE STORM TOOK MANY RESIDENTS BY SURPRISE. THE HEAVIEST RAINS OCCURED UP TO 105 MILES INLAND, WHERE PEOPLE THOUGHT THEY WOULD BE SAFE.
(Motion graphic showing flooding rivers)
INSTEAD, RIVERS IN THE EASTERN PART OF THE STATE OVERFLOWED. WATER SLOWLY PUSHED ITS WAY DOWNSTREAM.,,,INUDATING EVERYTHING IN ITS PATH. SOME REGIONS DIDN’T EVEN BEGIN TO FLOOD UNTIL ALMOST TWO WEEKS AFTER THE HURRICANE.
(sound/video from Hurricane Floyd tape)
"that's main street there ....the blue area of this map indicates what's currently underwater as of yesterday evening...changing day to day -- from hour to hour now.....what was accessible yesterday afternoon is not now
DAMAGED 55 THOUSAND HOMES AND 12 THOUSAND BUSINESSES. CROP AND LIVESTOCK LOSSES REACHED NEARLY
ONE BILLION DOLLARS. PARTS OF NORTH
CAROLINA WERE FOREVER CHANGED
Etheridge “I think the thing that still affects me was the people. You know you see people all ages, people who worked all their lives, their home, all that they had acquired in a whole lifetime in a lot of cases. And it was all gone. Hard to believe looking back how devastating it was but then we started working on a new index.
FOR 30 YEARS,
FORECASTERS HAVE USED THE SAFFER-SIMPSON SCALE TO ASSESS HURRICANE
(Sound montage of forecasters talking about categories of storms)
THE CATEGORIES ARE BASED ON WIND SPEED. BUT WITH FLOODING, THE IMPACT DEPENDS ON A REGION’S TOPOGRAPHY. A GENERALIZED SCALE LIKE THE SAFFER SIMPSON WON’T WORK BECAUSE EACH THREAT IS LOCAL.
Gary Carter 1131/20 you have to know the extent of the river and its depth and its banks, and the nearby terrain, you have to know how populated the area is and whether it’s urban or whether it’s farmland and the different soil conditions, whether there’s trees or grasses or that sort of thing that will absorb water.
Graziano 00:04:55 Five feet above flood stage at Rocky Mount, North Carolina is going to have a significantly different impact than five feet above flood stage at Tarboro
CONGRESSMAN ETHERIDGE championed LEGISLATION TO IMPROVE THE SYSTEM.
Etheridge: you would say, “Well, you’re going to have a flash flood.” Well, what does that really mean? Are you going to have six inches of water, you going to have ten inches of water, or are you going to have ten feet?
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE USES A 3-TIER IMPACT BASED severity scale THAT CATEGORIZES A FLOOD AS EITHER minor, moderate, OR major.
Graziano “People understand the scale, they like the scale but we learned we need to find better ways to communicate the risk associated with flooding in the scale itself”
NOAA HAS STARTED WORKING WITH FEMA, THE US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY, AND NATIONAL AND STATE AGENCIES TO DEVELOP LIBRARIES OF INUNDATION MAPS FOR RIVER FORECAST LOCATIONS ACROSS THE COUNTRY. THE MAPS, LAYERED WITH AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHS, WILL BE AVAILABLE TO ANYONE WITH INTERNET ACCESS. TO THE LEFT OF EACH PAGE, A SCALE LISTS RIVER HEIGHT AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO FLOOD STAGE. AS USERS SCROLL, THEY CAN SEE HOW A SPECIFIC REGION WILL BE IMPACTED. IN THIS CASE, FOR EXAMPLE, THE MAP SEQUENCE DRAMATICALLY ILLUSTRATES HOW FLOYD TURNED A PENINSULA……INTO AN ISLAND….BEFORE SWALLOWING IT COMPLETELY.
Graziano 00:08:49 essentially what someone could do is they could go to our forecast site, drill down, look at a hydrograph, look at a 24, 72, 96 hour forecast, see at what level the river is going to crest, click on that hydrograph and be able to pull up an inundation graphic that depicts again the area which will be impacted by the flood waters.
Carter 5:36 I think the big impact is that we’ve found a way to more clearly convey which areas will be flooded, when they’ll be flooded, and how long they’ll be flooded and get that out quickly in a way that people can easily understand and interpret.
During the next few years, in coordination with state and federal partners, NOAA will provide on-line access to map inundation libraries for several RIVER FORECAST locations in North Carolina and ALONG THE Gulf Coast. THE AGENCY’S GOAL IS TO EVENTUALLY COVER THE ENTIRE NATION.
WHEN WE COME BACK ….
“I started coming over this way and drove right into the ditch, didn’t know it was a ditch, thought it was the road…”
A NEW PROGRAM ATTACKS THE MOST LIFE-THREATENING ASPECT OF A FLOOD.
Hector Guerrero/103/15 we needed something, because obviously each year people drown.
IN ANALYZING TROPICAL STORM ALLISON, EMERGENCY RESPONSE PLANNERS REALIZED THAT OF THE 22 PEOPLE WHO DIED IN THE GREATER HOUSTON AREA, 16 WERE IN THEIR CARS.
Bill Read 09:00:46
people who have been out to a movie, or dinner, or a show, or other activities come out see all this really nasty weather going on. Now let's say you're a parent and you got your five and seven year old kid at home with the babysitter. What's your first reaction going to be? Get home to my family. Worst possible thing they could do
(3D Animation to illustrate the paragraph below)
AS LITTLE AS TWO FEET OF WATER IS ENOUGH TO FLOAT A VEHICLE. ITS OFTEN DIFFICULT FOR DRIVERS TO ASSESS THE DEPTH OF THE WATER AND WHETHER THE ROAD BED HAS BEEN WASHED AWAY, WHICH MAY CREATE A HIDDEN DROPOFF. IF A CAR STALLS, IT CAN QUICKLY BE PUSHED DOWNSTREAM.
(Back to video from San Angelo)
THAT VERY SCENARIO UNFOLDED NEAR THE WEST TEXAS TOWN OF SAN ANGELO. ON THE NIGHT OF JUNE 11TH, 1999 RUNOFF FROM JUST FIVE INCHES OF RAIN TURNED THIS ROAD INTO PART OF A RIVER. IN A MATTER OF MINUTES, THE DRIVER OF A LARGE PICKUP TRUCK FOUND HIMSELF SUSPENDED SEVERAL FEET ABOVE THE FAST-MOVING WATER.
Todd Sanford 01;49:47 “you're talking about people that's driven through water numerous times in their lives and they go, "Well it's no big deal."
SAN ANGELO WATER RESCUE SPECIALIST TODD SANFORD.
Sanford cont: So you drive right into it, you're car is low to the ground, it gets stalled out cause water hits the engine and cuts the engine off, well then you're stuck. And as that water is rising, as it's moving faster, you just went from "Well I've driven through this place a hundred times" to "Now I'm actually trapped here in middle of a fast moving current.
why are people driving into these flooded low water crossing areas and why aren't they avoided them?
IN THE SAN ANGELO NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE, HECTOR GUERRERO MET WITH LOCAL RESCUE WORKERS TO DRAW UP A PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN TO COMBAT THE PROBLEM…..FIRST, THEY NEEDED A CATCHY TITLE
Hector Guerrero 01:002:00 “Somebody shouted out from the group, "Don't drown, turn around," I said, "Hey I like that."
GUERRERO TWEAKED THE WORDING AND CAME UP WITH “TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN. IN 2003, THE PHRASE WAS ADOPTED BY THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, THE FEDERAL ALLIANCE FOR SAFE HOMES, AND OTHER PARTNERS AS A NATIONAL SAFETY CAMPAIGN.
(Sound from PSA) “…More than half of flood related deaths are from people drowning when they drive on flood-related roads.”
We’re developing public service announcements, we’ve developed posters, we’ve developed brochures, we’ve even worked with the National Safety Council and the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration to develop a new road sign that local officials will deploy in situations where we’ve got water-covered roadways.
THE SIGN IS BRIGHT PINK, AND HAS BEGUN TO SHOW UP AT LOW WATER CROSSINGS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
Guerrero 107/40 “anybody can come up with an idea. And thank god we came up with one we think is effective and it's already helping to save lives.
(Class) “Turn around don’t drown.”
NOAA’S NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AND ITS PARTNERS CONTINUE TO SEARCH FOR WAYS TO SAVE LIVES WHEN SEVERE WEATHER HITS. THE EFFORT’S DRIVEN IN PART BY TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES, LIKE THOSE USED IN THE INUNDATION MODELING…AND IN PART BY COMMUNITY OUTREACH.
Carter “We’re working all the time in our local communities, going and giving talks and outreach in the schools…”
(Teacher) “Can you tell me one thing you remember from our last class?
(Class) “Turn around don’t drown.”
TURN AROUND DON’T DROWN IS NOW BEING TAUGHT IN SCHOOLS ACROSS THE COUNTRY (nats pop) WITH THE HOPE OF INFLUENCING THE NEXT GENERATION OF DRIVERS.
“Water is really strong”
“I wouldn’t take any risk”
Carter “We know we’re reaping benefits, we’re getting the message across, people are becoming more educated, but it’s a big big task.”
WE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO CONTROL NATURE, BUT WE CAN REDUCE THE IMPACT OF FLOODS ON THOSE WHO LIVE IN THE PATH OF A STORM.
STAY TUNED, YOUR LOCAL ON THE EIGHTS IS NEXT.