Lionel Jason Ruiz
Upper Iowa University
Principles of Emergency Management/ PA 306-1A-177
September 23, 2018
Manhattan, Kansas has been subjected to numerous floods, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. In this paper, I will identify hazards in my community and the mitigation measures that can be taken to reduce damage when disaster occurs. After an incident is when we realize the things that could have been avoided, citizens in a disaster area will take these lessons learned and apply them to their recovery plans. Whether we are warned or surprised by an incident we always take preventative measure to protect our property and avoid disaster.
In the effort to mitigate hazards in my community in order to prevent a disaster, which is defined by any event that causes a great loss of life, damage, financial hardship and or environmental loss that exceed the community’s ability to recover using their own resources, we find that mitigating against every possible hazard is impossible. Instead of trying to prepare for everything, the community takes the most common occurrence or most likely event/ hazard that could cause a disaster and focuses their mitigation efforts on that.
Flooding is the most common disaster causing event in the world, as is the case in Manhattan, Kansas located in North Eastern Kansas in the heartland of America. Flooding has been a devastating occurrence in Manhattan for over a hundreds years now. (Experts believe that 1844 was the worst flood in history on the Kaw, with floodwaters reportedly reaching what is now the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan, 40 feet above the normal stream level.). (kansasriver.org, 2018) Most recently a flash flood struck the area of Manhattan after a reported 9 inches of rainfall overnight on September 3, 2018. Wildcat Creek was flooded within hours spilling on to residential and commercial areas and surrounding communities. Over 700 people were left without power and over 300 people were displaced from their homes. After assessments of the area were made, it was estimated to have caused $17.2 million in structural damages according to local news sources.
The best mitigation measure one could take to protect their property against financial burden is insurance. Insurance is a key factor when recovering from any disaster. It starts with the individual citizens and what they can do to mitigate damage to their homes. There are flood proofing techniques and flood resistant materials and construction design guideline that we can utilize to lessen the impact of flood damage. These techniques can be found on the FEMA website as well as most city’s emergency management websites. There are more mitigation measures that include building watertight flood walls around entryways, installing foundation drainage systems, installing sump pumps, planting more trees and vegetation on their property, and elevating or relocating your home, which is usually a last resort for most being that it can be very costly to do so. You can also elevate electrical boxes and make sure they are clearly marked as well as have sandbags readily available.
Another naturally occurring event that can sometimes cause disaster are tornadoes. Tornadoes have devastated Kansas longer than the establishment of its statehood. There have been several tornadoes that have struck in Manhattan and the surrounding areas. Since 1950, there have been 76 tornadoes that have struck Manhattan directly. The largest of the tornadoes struck on June 11, 2008 an F4 resulted in a single fatality, destroyed 45 homes and damaged 142 homes in the area. Tornadoes and high winds have caused damage to the area almost annually. Kansas which lies in the middle of “tornado alley” has definitely gained a reputation for tornadoes throughout the years. The last major tornado that wipe out an entire town struck in Greensburg, Kansas.
Ways to mitigate against tornado damage in the area are building new homes with steel foundations and build with stronger wind resistant materials. Most homes in Kansas have basements or safe rooms which are built with reenforced steel and concrete to avoid injury to citizens from flying debree. It is smart to carry insurance to relieve financial burdens after a tornado strikes. There are early warning systems in place and sirens all over the city to warn citizens of a potential tornado threat to the area. Many families also have emergency kits that include food, water, and medicines to last for at least three days in case of an emergency. Items that can be included in these kits are batteries, flashlights, blankets, first aid kits, gloves, and a battery operated radio. When there is a tornado threat one should stay off the roads and look for a hard shelter or emergency shelter.
Thunderstorms in Manhattan happen often and they can cause much damage depending on the severity and violence of the storms. Most damage is caused to the agriculture in Manhattan being that much of the land is farm lad. Thunderstorms can be accompanied by very high wind gusts that can damage rooftops and tear down trees. Sometimes these storms can cause severe hail damage, power outages, flash floods, land slides in areas where slopes are greater than ten degrees, and occasionally tornadoes and fires. Storms are fairly predictable and can be forecasted days in advance. Some of the thunderstorms to cause damage in Manhattan, Kansas happened as recently as August 26, 2018. The hazards included penny sized hail and wind gusts of 60 mph.
In order to protect oneself from injury during a severe thunderstorm, it is recommended to stay indoors or in a protective posture under overhead protection if stuck outdoors. Seek full shelter if possible. Ways to mitigate storm damage to your home or businesses during severe thunderstorms is to upgrade rooftops to metal or tin roof that can withstand storm damage better, install lighting rods and grounding, install shutters and hail resistant siding. Installing surge protection too your home and investing in a generator can also be useful in mitigating hazards associated with thunderstorms. Another good idea is to have informational mailings to homes about the different hazards that can affect your home mailed out by emergency management or use social media platforms to reach the local community on the subject. Riley county has weekly tests every Friday at noon of the emergency broadcast system and emergency siren testing.
In conclusion, there are various hazards that can affect my community at a moments notice or with fair warning. The best thing we can do to avoid disaster is to identify and mitigate the most likely hazards. Having a disaster preparedness program gives us a platform to create a realistic plan to reduce the duplication of efforts and increase the effectiveness of responding to a disaster. Having maximum community involvement would be ideal but is never the case. Applying risk reducing measures can prevent disaster situations, and it starts with the individuals. Taking a hands on approach to protect your community enables those affected by hazards to get back to normalcy much quicker after a disaster. Mitigating hazards successfully requires contributions from everyone to be trained and have the logistical capacity to recover ourselves from disaster using our own resources. Can we completely avoid disaster? Probably not. As long as we keep building and developing and changing the landscape, the threat will always be there.
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Flash Flooding Inundates Manhattan, Kansas, After Nearly 9 Inches of Rain. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2018, from https://weather.com/news/news/2018-09-03-flash-flooding- inundates-manhattan-kansas
Hail Map for Manhattan, KS. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2018, from http:// www.interactivehailmaps.com/local-hail-map/manhattan-ks/
Learn. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2018, from http://kansasriver.org/learn/life-on-the-kaw/ the-historic-kaw/
Manhattan, Kansas, Labor Day Flood Caused $17.2M in Damage. (2018, September 21). Retrieved September 22, 2018, from https://
Manhattan, KS, Tornado Damage. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2018, from https:// www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/images/53506
Mitigation Ideas. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2018, from https://www.fema.gov/media- library-data/20130726-1904-25045-2423/fema_mitigation_ideas_final_01252013.pdf
Viviani, N. (n.d.). Manhattan: Flood victims won’t get direct FEMA aid; public money, loans approved. Retrieved September 22, 2018, from https://www.wibw.com/content/news/ Manhattan-Flood-victims-wont-get-direct-aid-public-money-loans- approved-494003861.html