After Hurricane Irma’s dissipation on September 15, 2017, the residents of Florida can now begin to assess the damage caused by the strongest hurricane making landfall since Katrina in 2005. According to early estimates, Irma has caused over 62 billion dollars in damage. However, amongst the destruction there is a silver lining; the damage caused was significantly limited by building regulations that went into effect in 2002. Homes and buildings that would have otherwise been destroyed by Hurricane Irma were able to survive, and suffered only minor damage.
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s severe flooding, the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas has made quite the media splash. Rising waters left the plant without power, forcing workers to transfer volatile organic peroxides into large refrigerated trucks with independent generators. In up to six feet of water, several of the trucks’ refrigeration systems failed, resulting in combustion of the hydrogen peroxide, a hazardous material under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. This is not the first example of chemical plants having issues with natural disasters; there were significant hazardous material concerns after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and more recently the Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011. With no indication that these problems will be resolved, it is important to once again look at regulations placed on chemical plants in response to emergency.
In the midst of a natural disaster people gather their children and pets, try to locate a temporary home, and worry what situation they may come home to. The first things people think to grab have nothing to do with their prescription drugs. However, according to a study performed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, from 2011-2014, 46.9% of the population was prescribed a drug in the last 30 days; prescription drugs are an important factor in many peoples’ lives. When portions of the population are displaced from their homes during a natural disaster, they often forget their pill bottles and/or prescriptions. Thankfully, following Hurricane Katrina, regulations were put in place to help people in these situations.