Disaster info in the modern world

An amazing website that the guys at Marginal Revolution blogged about. It is called www.scipionus.com. It is a map-based wiki where regular people can insert information geographically about the effects of the storm. There are thousands and thousands of entries.

Surfing around, the devastation doesn’t seem as bad on the wiki as it does on TV. Houses a block or two from Lake Pontchartrain with no flooding, for instance. This shouldn’t be surprising. TV is only showing us the worst. The people in good enough shape to be entering info on the website are probably heavily selected towards those who fared well. The truth is probably somewhere in between.


Anonymous

I couldn't link to www.scipionus.com through the Freakonomics site, nor through the referenced Marginal Revolution site. If you had luck doing so, please post here how you did it. Simply clicking on the url doesn't do it.

Sean Barrett

Well, 80% flooding is 80%; naturally there's the other 20%, so there's a lot of dry houses. I'm not sure it's the news media's fault for not being "fair and balanced" and showing one out of five non-flooded houses; 99% of the country isn't flooding either, but that's not news.

Anyway, most of them appear to be along the high ground along the Mississippi, but if you browse google maps' post-Katrina satellite photos you can find other unflooded areas, e.g., if I recall correctly, the northwest area near the lake.

paul

The Katrina PeopleFinder project is helping coordinate and consolidate the various sites out there listing missing and found people, as well as create an interchange data format.

If you're interested in helping, check out the site and join the mailing list.

rini

Speaking of disasters and economics... I read an article from the British "Daily Mail" that was quite disturbing, not to mention disgusting.

A professor at the University of Kent in Canterbury believes that BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy ie MAD COW) disease was caused by the presence of human (that's right...corpses) remains in the high protein animal feed that the cows recieved. Feed companies in England import from India and Pakistan. Peasants in these countries sell bones that they pick up from the rivers, namely the river Ganges, which is a big burial spot for Hindus.

This professor, Alan Colchester, believes that sporadic CJD (the prion disease Creutzfeld Jakob disease that resembles mad cow disease and occurs rarely in humans) affects enough people that some corpses in the river were likely to be infected. This would then be passed on to the cows and.... you can do the math.

All I can say is yech.. and do the cows in this country eat any of this type of feed?

Read more...

Anonymous

Sean, of course, is right. Have you had your eyes and ears checked recently? The devastation was indeed worse than we could hear or see, because we couldn't smell. Imagine, though, if you will, feces, urine, chemical wastes, thousands of dead bodies, garbage, petroleum, and all the other toxins in that water that covered 80% of the city. Add to that starvation and thirst and the lack of essential medicines. Compound that with the violence and fires. Nevermind the cramped conditions in the convention center and superdome. Now, how in the hell are you going to find something "positive" in all that? I think you're dreaming or positively looney.

cfw

Steven, why is no one asking about how the Bush people justify $100 billion for relief? Let's say we have 400,000 families seriously affected. That amounts to $250,000 to each family. Median home price in NO is something like $125,000. Is Bush just asking for billions expecting to spend less than that or has he lost his mind? Perhaps he is doing this to keep the economy from tipping into recession, and will not actually spend the $100 billion. I thought if your house went to splinters from a hurricane or earthquake you got to apply for guaranteed loans (not grants) from FEMA. Color me perplexed.

Anonymous

I couldn't link to www.scipionus.com through the Freakonomics site, nor through the referenced Marginal Revolution site. If you had luck doing so, please post here how you did it. Simply clicking on the url doesn't do it.

Sean Barrett

Well, 80% flooding is 80%; naturally there's the other 20%, so there's a lot of dry houses. I'm not sure it's the news media's fault for not being "fair and balanced" and showing one out of five non-flooded houses; 99% of the country isn't flooding either, but that's not news.

Anyway, most of them appear to be along the high ground along the Mississippi, but if you browse google maps' post-Katrina satellite photos you can find other unflooded areas, e.g., if I recall correctly, the northwest area near the lake.

paul

The Katrina PeopleFinder project is helping coordinate and consolidate the various sites out there listing missing and found people, as well as create an interchange data format.

If you're interested in helping, check out the site and join the mailing list.

rini

Speaking of disasters and economics... I read an article from the British "Daily Mail" that was quite disturbing, not to mention disgusting.

A professor at the University of Kent in Canterbury believes that BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy ie MAD COW) disease was caused by the presence of human (that's right...corpses) remains in the high protein animal feed that the cows recieved. Feed companies in England import from India and Pakistan. Peasants in these countries sell bones that they pick up from the rivers, namely the river Ganges, which is a big burial spot for Hindus.

This professor, Alan Colchester, believes that sporadic CJD (the prion disease Creutzfeld Jakob disease that resembles mad cow disease and occurs rarely in humans) affects enough people that some corpses in the river were likely to be infected. This would then be passed on to the cows and.... you can do the math.

All I can say is yech.. and do the cows in this country eat any of this type of feed?

Read more...

Anonymous

Sean, of course, is right. Have you had your eyes and ears checked recently? The devastation was indeed worse than we could hear or see, because we couldn't smell. Imagine, though, if you will, feces, urine, chemical wastes, thousands of dead bodies, garbage, petroleum, and all the other toxins in that water that covered 80% of the city. Add to that starvation and thirst and the lack of essential medicines. Compound that with the violence and fires. Nevermind the cramped conditions in the convention center and superdome. Now, how in the hell are you going to find something "positive" in all that? I think you're dreaming or positively looney.

cfw

Steven, why is no one asking about how the Bush people justify $100 billion for relief? Let's say we have 400,000 families seriously affected. That amounts to $250,000 to each family. Median home price in NO is something like $125,000. Is Bush just asking for billions expecting to spend less than that or has he lost his mind? Perhaps he is doing this to keep the economy from tipping into recession, and will not actually spend the $100 billion. I thought if your house went to splinters from a hurricane or earthquake you got to apply for guaranteed loans (not grants) from FEMA. Color me perplexed.