Wednesday, March 28, 2018

After Action Report from Australia: 17 Lessons from Cyclone Marcus





Hi Ferfal,
On Saturday March 17th the city of Darwin in Australia has been hit by a Category 2 Tropical Cyclone, on the Australian tropical cyclone intensity scale, named Marcus.
The whole population was aware of it's coming but we were all expecting a Category 1. Only on the Friday afternoon/evening were we aware that it might develop into a Category 2 which it did.
Their were extensive infrastructure damages that are still being evaluated but fortunately no casualties. This was the strongest cyclone in Darwin in over 30 years.


Here are, in no specific order, the facts/lessons that I have learned from this event:

 - Most neighborhoods lost power and water. My neighborhood was spared solely because all the power lines are underground.

- Some areas will see their power restored 4-5 days after the events. The main city and closest neighborhoods had their power restored within 48 hours.

- The areas that still had running water were told to boil it for drinking purposes. Water boiled in a saucepan will have a strong metallic. I chose to keep drinking boiled tap water instead of using bottled water that I had stocked keeping it in case we were to stop having running water

- Cash is king. Plastic is a betting game. Most businesses closed down the day of the cyclone. Some convenience stores reopened if they had electricity some could take credit card some wouldn't. A bit of cash ($100-$200) will help

- Avoid driving at night. Street lights were mostly gone making for poor visibility especially of older less well-maintained vehicles (no position lights). Also, traffic lights were all out of order making intersections quite dangerous. Fortunately, local drivers were understanding of the situation stopping to let other cars cross intersections.

- Walking at night is even more dangerous than driving. If you must walk at night wear reflective clothing or stick some reflective tape on the back of your clothes or backpack to be visible to drivers

- If you drive around, a lot of streets and roads will be blocked by fallen trees heavily restricting 
traffic and leading you to go through a maze of unknown areas. the GPS on you phone will be your best friend.

- Power banks were a great commodity to have in those situations as we relied on smartphones especially Facebook Messenger to communicate and data usage (Wi-Fi and especially 3G/4G) can deplete your batteries very quickly

- No casualties fortunately as most people stayed indoors during the duration of the event. Knowing 1st aid will nevertheless be useful in case a loved one or a neighbor were to be injured. Enroll in a 1st aid course or better yet volunteer as an EMT if you can. I did it for 3 years and I believe practicing skills for this amount of time allows for you to retain them far longer than if you were to learn them in a two-day course and never use them. On top of that you would help your local community

- Fill in your car's gas tank before the event. After the event when power is down you won't be able to fill it up for a while

- A lot of people had drinking water stored up at home but absolutely no one I met have made any provision for flushing water in their toilet. You can shower at some neighbor or at a friend’s place or, worst comes to worst, go to the swimming pool (not as effective but better than nothing) but it is impractical to have to use somebody else's toilet. Most people were shocked in realizing this oversight.


- Stores were still fully stocked

- No looting events, whether houses or businesses

- As soon as possible neighborhoods have organised themselves to clean-up the streets wherever it was possible with simple equipment (lots of chainsaw usage) as long as it wasn't putting anyone in danger (think downed power lines) nor preventing insurance payments (the clean would make the proof of damages disappear)

- Going to the gym and being as fit and strong as possible helps a lot during cleaning efforts (I am lucky enough to be able to train up to 12 hours a week, 6 in Krav-Maga and 6 in CrossFit)

- Checking on your neighbor's well-being is a good idea, as long as you are not intruding

- Being patient, polite and smiling helps a lot to deal with people's frustration and bad mood

I hope this might help people finding themselves in the same predicament in the future

 Regards

 Kevin

1 comment:

MJX said...

Yes, I live in South Florida and we had a similar event last year. No electricity for days and boiled water order. Good points you made. We were fortunate in regard to petrol availability and food. If they were running short things would get ugly and fast!
So take heed, get yourself a Berkey water filtering unit, stock up on food and some metal jerry cans just in case. Here in Florida no air conditioning makes it unbearable for a lot of people. Generators only work with petrol.
If we got hit as hard as Puerto Rico it would be gonzo.
Then having some protection would be a must have.