Disaster Relief Slows When Hurricanes Disrupt Communication

Weather forecasters predict a more active Atlantic hurricane season than usual this year. If it happens, this will be the sixth consecutive year for that. 

AccuWeather forecasts 16 to 20 named storms for the 2021 hurricane season. The average is 12. That’s based on factors such as atmospheric conditions and ocean temperatures.

They also predict 7 to 10 hurricanes. With three to five becoming major. That means Category 3 or stronger. The hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. 

The Colorado State University weather team calls for 17 named storms in 2021. Including eight hurricanes, with four becoming major. 

2020 Hurricane Season a Record-Breaker 

If this season is anything like last year, watch out. In 2020 there were 30 named storms. That set a record. Fourteen of them developed into hurricanes. Of those, six became major hurricanes.

Among the worst hurricanes to reach the U.S. last year were Laura, Sally and Delta. Category 4 Laura made landfall in Cameron, Louisiana in late August. It caused more than two dozen deaths. And approximately $10 billion in damages.

Sally rolled in a few weeks later. It was the first hurricane to make landfall in Alabama since 2004. Several tornadoes were spawned by the Category 2 storm. Damage totals were at least $8 billion.

In October, Hurricane Delta struck our shores. It was the third Category 4 storm of the year. Delta made landfall in Louisiana. This hurricane killed six people and caused extensive damage.

Storm Victims Struggle to Communicate

One of the many problems associated with violent weather is communication disruptions. Just when people need to communicate more than ever. And this issue can continue long after electrical power is restored.

Netblocks.org is a watchdog organization. It monitors cyber security and the governance of the Internet.

Reporting on damage from Hurricane Laura last year, the Netblocks site read this way. “The network outages are likely to significantly impact communications with storm victims. And may hamper rescue and recovery efforts.”

The site also reported that communications infrastructure collapsed in some areas. Due to wind damage, severed lines and storm surges. Past communications disruptions occurred during Hurricanes Dorian and Florence. 

Power Restored; Communications… Not So Much

In September 2017, Hurricane Irma slammed South Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

A total of 94 people lost their lives in America as a result of the storm. More than $50 billion in damages was reported. 

Twelve days later, thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of Floridians had no Internet or cable service. Despite the fact that 99 percent had their power back.

Exact numbers were unavailable. Internet and cable providers were not required to report how many customers they had. Or how many were without service.

Electricity Is Top Priority

Why can electrical power be restored more quickly than communications services? Including phone, Internet and cable?

For one thing, electricity is considered a more pressing problem. Heat in winter and air conditioning in summer are higher priorities. Not to mention lights and electronic medical devices.

For another, electrical utilities are separate from phone, Internet and cable providers. For Internet and cable providers, electronic cards are installed in boxes. They’re located throughout neighborhoods they serve.       

Power surges and outages can disable those cards, which transmit data. It takes more time and people to replace those cards than it does to restore electricity.

Gus Hurwitz is a law professor at the University of Nebraska. He said this. “The physical wires that connect houses to the Internet are far more complicated and time-consuming than restoring electricity.”

Phone Service Lags Behind

Cell Phone service usually returns quicker than Internet and cable services following outages. Mainly because, again, it’s a higher priority. Especially for those who need to call 911. 

But phone service can still lag behind electricity restoration. As we saw in 2012. Hurricane Sandy knocked out 25 percent of the region’s wireless cell towers in Northeastern states.

Flooding in Lower Manhattan offices containing telecom equipment was part of the problem. Phone, Internet and cable services were all negatively affected. 

The lack of cell phone service can seriously slow disaster relief. And that’s a big concern as hurricane season approaches.

It’s Hurricane Prep Week

National Hurricane Preparation Week began yesterday. Among the advice Ready.gov offers in connection with this week is the following.

  • Understand the risk for a hurricane in your area.
  • Know your evacuation zone.
  • Learn how to recognize extreme weather warnings and alerts.
  • Review your important documents, including insurance policies.
  • Strengthen your home against a hurricane. Including de-cluttering drains and gutters, and installing hurricane shutters.
  • Bring in outside furniture.
  • Gather supplies in advance. Such as food and water, and medications. As well as disinfectant supplies and a fully-stocked bug-out bag.

Emergency Radio Provides Vital Info

Another important item for hurricane season ties into today’s main topic – communication. 

It’s a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio. This is a great way to keep tabs on weather threats.

These radios broadcast official National Weather Service warnings 24/7. Plus watches forecasts and other hazard information. Having access to critical information is key to surviving in any emergency.

That’s why 4Patriots created the ultimate tactical information hub. It’s the Liberty Band Emergency Solar Radio. This lightweight radio features NOAA weather alerts. And it recharges with the sun.

It has seven 24/7 weather channels and AM/FM and shortwave radio. Plus LCD display clock with alarm and an ultra-bright flashlight. It can even power your cell phone when you need it most. See why the Liberty Band Emergency Solar Radio is my top recommendation to stay connected during the most powerful storms.

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