Disaster mitigation has become a very critical subject in modern day hazard and vulnerability assessment. Several disasters continue to wreak havoc in the communities around Washington and specifically Spokane County. The county is considered one of the vulnerable places in the United States and is often characterized by several cases of environmental disasters. The disasters are both manmade and natural and despite the efforts put by the local government and other environmental agencies, the disasters have continued to strike thus leading to loss of several lives over the past two decades (Shannon, 2015). There is thus proper necessity to implement thorough mitigation planning that will help minimize the chances of disasters occurring or to a greater extent curb the hazards
Hazard Analysis and Vulnerability Assessment
The two main hazards to be assessed and mitigated are flooding and terrorism. The main objectives of the mitigation planning are to help reduce the hazard risks, encourage participation of corporates partners in the disaster mitigation, and formulate a system that evaluates disasters (Shannon, 2015).
The catastrophe of floods in Spokane dates back to early 20th century in which several adverse effects have rendered residents at risk. The floods in Spokane are often caused by heavy rains that cause the rise in the water levels in the Spokane streams. Floods are always a common natural hazard in Spokane County. They cause a lot of destruction of properties and infrastructure. They are a result of sediment deposition and serious stream erosion. Flooding is common during the winters in which the water levels raise rapidly and too unbearable levels. In a shorter period, the floods occurring during winter can be extreme peaks in as little as two days. The floods are normally caused by the heavy rains. The heavy rains on the snow events are considered catastrophic (Shannon, 2015). They typically follow periods of cold weather extremities. There are also spring floods that are caused by the melting down of the snow. They are often low in levels. During rains, such levels can rise and lead to disasters. They normally last longer and sometimes last up to two weeks.
History of floods in Spokane
Washington State has been at the forefront of flooding disaster, with a record twenty-eight declarations, made by the federal authorities for major floods in the area. All the counties in Washington State have at least experience a flood declaration between 1956 and 2014. In Spokane, federal flooding disasters have been declared three times from the 1980s. The counties of have experienced heavy floods that have led to agent need for mitigation. The results of the floods have been detrimental to the community. They have been affected both in financial terms and infrastructure. Destruction of infrastructure has also been a common factor. There are two critical concerns for mitigation. They include; flood elevation and flash floods due to topography and structures. Water velocity, overflowing water streams, and dam failures are few causes of floods in Spokane (Lyles et al. 2014)
The area is often prone to flash floods characterized by thunderstorms, frozen ground, and light vegetation that make it hard to absorb the moisture thus leading to clogging. Such vulnerabilities in connection with others have been the main causes of flooding in the area. The area also has alluvial fans, steep ravines, breakaway ice, and rainy weather. Several homes in the floodplains are often vulnerable to damage from floods. Also, increased population adds to the vulnerabilities in the area. It necessitates the desire to develop marginal land close to the flood plains. These developments in the area make the drainage basins to “built-out” thus increasing the flooding area.
Methods of protection from floods
Certain methods have been successful in the protection of the areas from floods. Dams have been constructed to help manage the flow of river water and act as a reservoir. It has been successful in help contain certain levels of water thus preventing the outbreak of floods from reaching the community and wreaking havoc (Lyles et al. 2014). The county has also built flood protection panels and barriers that have been a success in homes and commercial places. Defense barriers have also been useful in helping mitigate floods in Spokane. Other protection methods have been through the use of automatic flood barriers that act in automated form to the flood situation. FEMA has provided flood panels, water doors, and barriers. All these protection techniques have helped limit the effect of flooding on the community. Settling on the flood plains continue to be a serious vulnerability that should be addressed.
The local government gets involved in the emergency response. While the state gets involved at the during extremities, while the federal government provides technical support during the emergency response such as authorizing soldiers that help in the rescue mission under extreme disaster conditions. Organizations like FEMA and NGOs also provide support during an incident management (Lyles et al. 2014). To plan for the safety of the community; tanks for storing the hazardous materials should be kept free from flooding. Also, bridge abutments should be protected.
Providing early warnings have been used as one of the mitigation strategies to minimize the effect of flooding. It has been effective in helping evacuate those living in the vulnerable locations. The culverts on the roads should be able to adhere to the standards of a 100-year flood policy. It has been able to allow for quality roads that are not destroyed by floods easily. Additionally, bridge abutments have protected by the state agencies to ensure that they are intact. The abutments have been useful in mitigation process. Other mitigation strategies that can be employed to encourage locals to plant trees on the river banks through motivation strategies like incentives (Lyles et al. 2014). Create awareness for the residents of flood-prone areas of the possible threat they face. The mitigation strategies can be conducted through volunteer groups and willing parties. It will require a single day awareness campaign every month. The projected cost for the services will be;
Sources of funding are environmental bodies and state funding. UNEP and FEMA provide the local mitigation funds.
Terrorism and civil disturbance
Hazard identification and risk assessment
It is considered one of the world’s dangerous activities in the modern day. Due to the availability of modern technology, access to information has become very easy. People can get information about weapons and how they are used. Terrorist poses a serious threat to security and are regarded as the worst manmade disaster that inflicts direct pain on the victims. Through the use of explosives and incendiary materials, they cause serious damages to the community. Spokane suffers from the homegrown terrorism that comes from the early 1990s. Such groups like Phineas Brotherhood caused certain attacks, especially in Tacoma (Shannon, 2015). It thus requires that mitigation measures must be adopted to ensure that the situation is taken care of, and the sense of security is reinstated. Washington has had several militias that cause troubles in the local community. They have used pipe bombs to wreak havoc in the community. The groups are often a result of frustration and culture of violent beliefs that are either instilled with the proponents of heartlessness. Communities are often left vulnerable to both the forms of attacks that rise from terror activities (Shannon, 2015). It is worth to note that domestic terrorists are a serious threat to security and must be addressed to ensure that security and safety of the local population are guaranteed. They target both government institutions and private institutions owned or operated by their perceived enemies. It includes the military properties. There are very many potential terrorist targets within the Spokane that can be wreaked by terrorism.
The county should monitor usage of information technology devices and services to ensure that people use them for legitimate purposes only. Proper methods of identification should be deployed to ensure that terrorist behaviors are detected within the time before any potential danger is caused. The local government should train the locals on terrorism emergency response to enable them to fight for safety during disasters (Shannon, 2015). The government should also create programs for assessing and identify the terrorist behavior. Proper security training should be offered to make the locals aware of terror suspicious behavior. The local government should also improvise a method for aiding the citizens to report cases of suspected terrorism. It should also train public safety agents to respond to terrorism situations.
United States budget on counter-terrorism is over $16 billion. To adequately prepare for terrorism in Spokane, the local government should spend approximately $300 million on terrorism awareness and response training to the locals. The source of funding for security training is national government allocation through homeland security.
Shannon, C. (2015) ‘Understanding community-level disaster and emergency response preparedness’, Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 9(03), pp. 239–244
Lyles, W., Berke, P. and Smith, G. (2014) ‘A comparison of local hazard mitigation plan quality in six states, USA’, Landscape and Urban Planning, 122, pp. 89–99.