The US Geological Survey has announced that September is National Preparedness Month. Preparing for what? Just about every imaginable natural disaster and hazard you can think of: earthquakes, hurricanes and other storms, flooding, drought, wildfires, landslides, sinkholes (not as rare as you might suppose), magnetic storms, and even volcanoes.
Although it might seem that lumping all these phenomena together dilutes the seriousness with which people will respond to the message, there is a certain logic to it. In many cases the preparations are similar, and seeing this exhaustive list might at least start us thinking about what our particular areas are vulnerable to—including some things we might not have suspected.
In our line of work, landslides—or debris flow, as the USGS terms it—is of particular relevance, and the agency provides links to a demonstration flash flood and debris flow early warning system. It also provides a Drought Information System , including a link to the US Drought Monitor, which we’ve covered here before and which can help in long-term planning.
Have you taken advantage of any of these resources from the USGS or other government agencies? Do you find them useful in communicating or explaining risks to the public? Let us know in the comments.