Thursday, November 08, 2012

Any Suggestions For the Next Zombie Apocalypse?

Hurricane Sandy is the biggest storm I've ever endured here in the Lehigh Valley. It follows last year's Halloween snow storm, another bad one. Maybe those damn Mayans were right. But power has finally been restored to nearly all of us. Most of the zombies have been eliminated, although a few of them are still commenting on this blog. Life has returned to normal, more or less. But being an asshole, I still have a question. Could we do better the next time?

Don't get me wrong. Local government officials displayed remarkable dedication during a very serious storm. Whether volunteer firefighters, Mayors, County Executives, public works employees, National Guardsmen or emergency management professionals like Bob Mateff, we owe them our gratitude. They saved lives. Not one zombie fatality. But is there anything we can we do to minimize that even more?

One nice thing about a blog is that its interactivity makes it easy to sound off with suggestions or corrections. So if you were the King or Queen of the Lehigh Valley, what would you suggest?

Here's my ideas.

1) Warming stations. - Increase the number of warming and charging stations, trying to use government buildings when feasible. Last Friday, although the Northampton County Courthouse had power, it remained closed. Most of the homes surrounding it had no power or heat. It is the people's building, although there are obvious security concerns. With planning, part of the building could serve as a warming and charging station. It might even be possible to serve some hot food from the cafeteria

2) Undergrounding. - Local government officials, in concert with developers, engineers and the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, should sit down with PPL and Met Ed and arrive at a plan that will gradually replace overhead power lines with under ground infrastructure. Because of the cost involved, this should be done in a long-range plan.

Current Pennsylvania law requires any new residential development, consisting of five or more contiguous lots, to install underground electrical service and distribution lines. This law should be expanded so that it applies to commercial, industrial and institutional development as well, and should apply to any new residential development, regardless of the number of homes involved. Exceptions to this requirement, based on physical impossibility or undue hardship, could only be granted by the state PUC, and only with the assent of the municipality affected.

In addition to reducing power outages, this would save the municipal expense of trimming trees.

3) The CCC. - A volunteer Civilian Conservation Corps should be established in each municipality. In the event of a power outage, emergency management officials can alert them to go door to door with announcements concerning warming and emergency shelters, and other important information. In addition, they would be charged with the responsibility of checking on elderly community residents.

And watching out for zombies.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

If I were the King, I would suggest an hockey arena in downtown Allentown built with municipal bonds for a private investors and to privatize the public waterworks for the City of Allentown.

Anonymous said...

I like it. For too long have the right wing radicals on all levels of government thwarted programs like this because they believed the so called private sector should accommodate. Its time to move forward and government provide solutions to real problems faced by people. The Presidential election clearly shows that this is the future. If it were not for government actions solutions to problems like this would not occur. Good observation O'Hare!!

Anonymous said...

"Most of the zombies have been eliminated"


although evidently at least one is running for County Executive...

Anonymous said...

The utilities should be investigated. Their rates skyrocket and their response has been appalling. The call to "show support for power company workers" is a disgusting distraction. They are not victims. They are well paid guys who are working for overtime while millions are unemployed. I don't thank my trash collectors for doing their jobs, either. Power companies should be held to account or they'll never get better.

This is Hurricane Katrina - again.

Dave Houser said...

Bangor Boro council was given an update and debrief by our EMC..John Rigione..Monday night. He said that all the county EMC's would be meeting with the county this week to discuss their efforts..what went wrong and right during and after the storm hit. Bangor did ok and nothing serious occured and we have 3 high rise, high occupancy elderly housing units in the boro. Always room for improvement and we are eager to get better in anticipation of the next crisis that will eventually come our way.

DH said...

The cell phone black out was the most disturbing issue and caused major problems. Not sure what we can do to correct that?

Bernie O'Hare said...

6:29, Thanks for providing absolutely no suggestions and just going on a political rant. We already know aout extremism.

Bernie O'Hare said...

DH, Not sure what local gov't can do, except maybe meet with telecom providers and ask. Maybe more towers. Maybe higher towers. Maybe not. Cell was knocked out a good day for me.

Carol said...

Morning Bernie, again we can thank our volunteer fire departments for checking on their residents' needs and safety; as for 7:01, my oldest son was a lineman for PPL for 20 years, try climbing poles in ice storms with wind blowing hot wires, bringing in units from other states, sleeping when they can, working and eating, hotel beds if they are lucky, or cots, tents and trailers. We need to count our blessings no matter what. Carol

Anonymous said...

I would take your suggestion on "under grounding" even further. I would suggest a minimal monthly surcharge on all utility bills that would be collected and than "lock boxed" into an account that could only be used for infrastructure up grades. Perhaps the PUC could also mandate that a small portion of existing utility bills be put into this account. The condition of our utility infrastructure is often very poor but no one seems to have the will to raise the funds to improve the situation. My comment is applicable not only to electrical power but also to natural gas and perhaps even publicly owned water and sewer systems.

Anonymous said...

Public service comes in many shapes and flavors. We all do our best and help where we can. That's what makes this country great..helping our neighbors no matter what their political persuasion or economic situation. We're ALL in this boat together.

Anonymous said...

The public water and sewer systems were unaffected for the most part and natural gas service was not affected either in most urban areas. Tha abscence of heavy rains with the storm was a good thing as resources did not have to be used for pumping/flooding.

Anonymous said...

If you have $ to invest..buy stock in generator manufacturing companies asap. They will be inundated with orders for stand by systems.

Anonymous said...

For the cellphone issue I would go with the cell tower in a suitcase . They run off car batteries and have a 2 mile coverage area .

Anonymous said...

Here are some ideas that will never fly because there'd be major resistance, but hey, it's an idea.

1. Redefine critical facilities to include gas stations, pharmacies and require standby power.

2. Require all cell towers to have standby power. The industry fights this tooth and nail even after Katrina, even after Sandy.

3. While I hate to say it, get more aggressive with the tree trimming so there's less trees to fall on the lines.

PippySqueek said...

Always make sure there is plenty of beer in the fridge(or in an outside cooler)for the husband. Keeps him very happy during power outages and he doesn't seem to mind the cold.

Anonymous said...

government tells us to have on hand an emergency radio to listen to broadcasts. I had my radio and government relied on the internet which requires power to receive. government needs to set up communications with one or two of the stations for broadcasts. Relying on tv and the internet does not work. On radio there were few if any emergency instructions.

Anonymous said...

actually for radio a small town like bangor or easton could get an am radio station with a limited radius for emergency broadcasts for next to nothing. same is true for county emergency planning

Anonymous said...

Good ideas..we need to think differently as it now appears we here in the East have become the new hurricane/storm alley.

Anonymous said...

Heard that Verizon was hardest hit cell phonewise and that's cause they don't have back up power on most of their towers. Maybe some governmental regulation is called for? Could eat into the profit margin but what's more important?

Anonymous said...

you people must remember, this world runs on electricety!!with out that we are dead in the water! when it comes to cell sites they need it also!! up here in northern NC we had no power for 5,6,7 days! telco did there best running generators from remote to remote to keep up dial tone!! if people still have old time HARD WIRED PHONE(not cordless that needs power)would have had phone service!! so please stop bitchin!! ALL utility workers have been working around the clock to get EVERYBODY(even all you nasayers of UNIONS)back in service

Anonymous said...

I agree with all your suggestions, but I'd actually take each of them a little further...

1) Warming stations...school districts have a responsibility to their communities. In many cases last week, school district buildings had power or had backup generators providing light and some heat, but the schools remained closed because of transportation issues. Every school that has power should be opened to the community when events like this happen.

2) Burying power lines needs to become a priority, and I agree with the previous poster who advocated a bill surcharge. We need to set a goal and put in plan in motion to have all utility lines buried within a certain period (10/20 years). Until then, the budget for tree cutting needs to be increased. While I'm normally all for minimizing taxes and bills, this is something we HAVE to invest in for our own good in the future.

3) Community Organizations. It amazed me to see trees and large tree branches lying across streets almost a week after they fell. There needs to be some sort of organization in each community to handle it's own basic needs, and not wait for outside help to come. And in situations where outside help is required (for example, if the tree is on power lines), the community should be able to coordinate it's response with utilities/government.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, don't tax my energy bill. We are over taxed.

Anonymous said...

"Enough with these "first responders" feeding from the trough.

Right, Clem?

11:41 AM"

;)

-Clem

Anonymous said...

2) Burying power lines needs to become a priority, and I agree with the previous poster who advocated a bill surcharge.

If it is to be done, this is the way. No tax, which would simply result in the LeNorco joint electric line burying commission and a 20 year study before the first trench was dug.

Pay as we go, and stop when it's paid for.

-Clem

monkey momma said...

I would suggest hiring back all the guys at PPL who were laid off in a cost saving move some time ago. You know, the guys (mostly guys) who had 20-30 years experience and were replaced by recent college grads.

We could have dug out of this hole in PA much faster had we kept experienced workers on the job. Same with last year's storm.

In the mean time, everyone needs a generator.

Anonymous said...

@anon 9:05.....I purposely included natural gas, and public water and sewer because natural disasters come in many forms. Last time it was a super storm with high winds but the next time might be a flood, an earth tremor or a sink hole. Anyone who thinks all of our utility infrastructures are in good shape is over optimistic.

To all those that think an infrastructure surcharge on utilities is a tax, I would only add that I consider it a legitimate cost of doing business in the market place. I never suggested that the surcharge be levied by the government except in cases where the utility is government owned.

Devils Advocate said...

More goverment mandates, less government,more spending,cut cut cut spending. Geeze guys im confused.Then theres entitlement thinking.So we are entitled to power every day 24/7.As crass as it sounds you cant suck it up 4 days without power. Look at the savings on your electric bill.Cry cry cry to mommie for help.Cant make your morning tea.Spend a grand and buy a generator for gods sakes.Tnen theres the cheap skates that buy a generator at home depot then take it back after 4 days and say it didnt work right.Dont believe me,ask them at the depot.Wheres your plan for an emergency?Cry cry cry cut spending then cry for government services during an emergency.How many donate to red cross in good times?

devils advocate said...

Forgot to mention the costs to keep the lights on in the sticks for all those that cry on how they ultimatly pay for city services.Why should city people pay for your power problems.This is a good example as to why we should cut the crying and work together to solve our city and rural problems.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Easton and Pen Argul, both of them urban centers, were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. YTour attempt to turn this inot a city v. suburbs issue is utter nonsense.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Clem, Please ignore the troll. I will delete when I am online.

monkey momma said...

"So we are entitled to power every day 24/7"

Yes. It is 2012. Power is a necessity of life. It is not a reasonable society that shuts down business & commerce for 4+ days because of aging infrastructure and mismanagement on the part of utility companies.

In the event of an actual emergency, yes, we can do without, such as Hurricane Sandy. However, you're a fool if you think the outages needed to last as long as they did. Put the experienced line workers back on the job and update the very outdated infrastructure and watch how quickly this could have been solved. (Here in PA, that is.)

Anonymous said...

Utility workers aren't slave laborers and weren't forced to take the job. Victimizing them distracts from addressing the problem, which is poor maintenance and terrible response. You don't get points for doing your job. Companies should be called into hearings.

Anonymous said...

Given the looting of disarmed ( by statute) New Yorkers, a few extra shotgun shells are also a good idea.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I forgot to mention that large parts of Bethlehem and Allentown were without power for several days. It hit us all.

Anonymous said...

Like allentown farming out the neglected water infastructure, ppl lines are hanging from overburdened neglected poles that have made many millions¿

This will be another farmed out job yet the lehighvalley is bringing in new jobs¿

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see the public works trucks come through the neighborhood with a chipper machine so us homeowners that don't have suv's can get the tree trimmings chipped away on the spot, hell I'll even let them shoot the chips into my yard...

Milestone Motors said...

NJ is proposing mandated generators for Gas Stations... I'm not so sure how I feel about this, but I do know the stations that had power made a killing. I would think it would be a prudent business decision for a station owner to install an automatic one, but I don't like the regulation requiring one.

I also remember tree trimming crews in the summer growing up. Has this become a bygone service? I also looked at a few poles in my neighborhood, and Met Ed date stamps inspections on them with tags... some tags are from 1977 on some poles. A piece of wood in the elements for close to 35 years will become weak... maybe a mandate for pole replacement should be in effect.

As for underground utilities, I don't know how areas with a high water table would fare. I certainly wouldn't want to be the one who has to deal with live wires in a water-filled pipe because tree roots have crushed it.

It was a once in a lifetime storm, and I honestly don't know just how much we'll see something like this ever again.

Chris Casey said...

Hi Guys! Love the suggestions. What we need to do, seeing as we are now less than 7 weeks until the Mayan apocalyptic prophesy, is stock up on firearms, ammo, canned goods, and water.
There are several people in local office who actually believe that they will be assumed into heaven when Doomsday comes, so I will be hitting their houses after it all goes down.
I'm going to wait until most of you have gone zombie and blown each other's brains out before I come out of my sanctuary. I watch Walking dead and Resident Evil movies at every opportunity. I don't consider them entertainment, but more like training films.
I'm ready! Everybody for themself I say! Oh My God that sounds almost REPUBLICAN!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Carol, You are a wise woman (and I knew that) and should be a proud mom.

Mickey Boyd said...

Milestone Motors - Yes, MetEd still trims trees;I have no idea how they choose what areas to do.

Your point about underground utilities is good. We once lived in a area that lost power whenever there was a heavy rain, because the underground lines got wet and the only solution supposedly was to dig up the whole street. The prevalence of sinkholes in this area is another point of caution for the electric going underground.

Anonymous said...

People have generators, but I think that having a couple of solar panels would go a long way in power outages to keeping the minimum electricity going.

Thanks for the great suggestions, Bernie. These disasters are annoying me. Let's develop a plan.

Anonymous said...

Bernie O'Hare said...
Clem, Please ignore the troll. I will delete when I am online.

3:08 PM

Thanks, but please don't delete on my account. For any other reason, obviously, your blog, your call.

-Clem

Anonymous said...

Hey Chris..if the end of the Mayan calendar hits..what good is it to stock up on anything? DUH!

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