Archive for 'Environment'

Moving to the state of Oklahoma to report the news, I got a rude awakening of just how life-changing the weather can be. Growing up in Georgia, I’ve experienced tornadoes before but certainly nothing like the historic ones that hit the state of Oklahoma in May 2013. For a while it was like they didn’t stop. I covered my first one on May 19th in Carney, Oklahoma, which was devastated small town, where I interviewed a woman who pulled from rubble. I was in the city of Shawnee the next day for coverage of the same tornado that destroyed homes there. And while back at my news station, the big one struck. It was late afternoon on May 20th. Our meteorologists kept talking of more twisters to come, but the day was sunny and hadn’t the state suffered enough already?
Well apparently not, since the sky turned black out of no where, and it began to rain and hail and sirens went off. Then it happened, we’re watching storm chasers on live broadcast track the tornado that wiped out two elementary schools in Moore killing 7 children.

I had never seen anything like it. I heard Moore was “Tornado Alley” since it experienced several tornados in the last two decades, but like lighting, you rarely think it’ll strike the same place twice. Then the widest tornado recorded hit El Reno, Oklahoma on May 31st. And this one destroyed a vocational school, farms and even killed a National Geographic storm chaser. I was covering this storm for weeks, since sadly that’s how long it took for rescuers to find bodies of a couple families that took refuge in sewer drains in Oklahoma City. The waters got so high, did a flash flood, and these two families with very little children were washed away. Many of the families still survived, but babies died.
Again, nothing like I had ever seen before or imagined.

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Is it me or have natural disasters been coming in with a bang lately? First, the Northeast experiences a record winter with roofs caving in of snow, then the New Year brought cataclysmic earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan, and before the world can catch its breath, it’s Tornado Season! And what a titanic of a season its been. The Southeast has been shattered from these violent wind storms.

In mere days, tornados took the lives of hundreds in Alabama alone. The storm totally ravaged my cousin Della Johnson‘s home to nothing. She wasn’t even able to grab her purse when the tornado hit and rescue crews found her under her gas stove (which was on) crying for help. CNN’s Don Lemon interviewed her outside the remains of her house in Forestdale. Please keep her in your prayers.

Just 90 miles away from Forestdale, the powerful twister killed 27 people in Hackleburg, Alabama. One woman from the small town, now residing in California, is organizing a fundraiser by herself to help aid the tornado victims. Many of her relatives’ homes got destroyed as well.

Here’s her story that I wrote for NBC LA:

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I’ve hidden under desks in duck-and-cover Tornado drills and evacuated buildings in a single file line in fire drills but never before had I seen people ask nurses and highway patrolmen questions in a mock Press Conference. That’s what I witnessed this week when I trucked it down to Irvine in the O.C. to cover drills being done at and about the San Onofre nuclear plant.

The 84-acre San Onofre plant, located on the Pacific Coast, generates a lot of power and though FEMA officials say there has never been a fatality at a any nuclear plant in the U.S. Thoughts of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and the recent crisis at the Fukushima plant come to mind.

This week as the plant in Japan reached a Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (the highest level), white “smoke” was still observed coming from 3 of the Units. Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency reported that the Tokyo Electric Power Company had begun to install a backup line for providing fresh water to the Reactor Pressure Vessels. Overall, the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is still very serious, but there are signs of recovery in some functions, such as electrical power and instrumentation according to the International Atomic Energy Agency

California Emergency Management Agency officials urge the public to prepare a safety kit, which includes multiple bottles of water, batteries, flashlights and non-perishable food. They say to make sure you have a meet-up plan set up with your family and loved ones, so that everyone knows exactly where to meet up. More of their safety tips can be found on the Cal Emergency site.

Southern California Edison ensures that in the wake of a disaster, the San Onofre plant can withstand it. “We have a ton of backup generators,” says Steve Conroy of Edison.

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