Clemson to play this weekend with storm battering coastline
By PETE IACOBELLI
AP Sports Writer
Friday, September 14
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson is moving forward with plans to host its scheduled football game on Saturday while Hurricane Florence wreaks havoc on the Carolinas’ coastline with officials bracing for historic flooding and record-setting rainfall that has forced people to evacuate their homes to escape the wrath of the storm.
School officials reiterated their plans Friday morning, saying the kickoff against Georgia Southern remains set for noon Saturday.
“Clemson Athletics and the University administration continue to monitor the forecast related to Hurricane Florence very carefully,” the university statement said. “The safety of fans and the student-athletes from both universities are our top priority.”
But while Clemson officials believe the school and stadium — which are about 250 miles from the South Carolina coast — are not in harms way, there has been backlash for what is being viewed by some as a narrow view of the situation.
There have been questions about how safe it can possibly be to have about 80,000 people — many traveling on South Carolina highways to and from the game in what could be rapidly changing conditions — together for football game and placing more demands on already strained state resources.
Instead of the usual 100-110 state troopers on hand for the game, there will only be 16.
Clemson (2-0) is the only major conference school from the Carolinas and Virginia playing its scheduled home Saturday. Hurricane Florence made landfall on Friday and began a trek expected to take it into South Carolina.
No. 13 Virginia Tech, North Carolina and North Carolina State all canceled home games. Virginia’s home game with Ohio was moved to Nashville, Tennessee. Clemson’s state rival less than 150 miles East, South Carolina, called off its game Saturday night due to the storm.
Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner said canceling his team’s game was the only choice to make. Hotel rooms and resources football fans might have used in Columbia would be freed up for coastal evacuees. Of all the things people might need this weekend, Tanner told 107.5 FM, “a football game wasn’t at the top of the list.”
Clemson’s decision to play a game that is not expected to be competitive — the Tigers are 33½-point favorites — has raised questions about the school’s priorities.
University officials did move up kickoff to noon EST from its planned 3:30 p.m. start and Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said the earlier start time gives both the teams and the fans time to clear the area before Florence’s effects hit the Clemson-area Saturday night and Sunday.
The National Weather Service forecast calls for just a 20 percent chance of rain Saturday in the Clemson are, and the chances for rainfall go up to 70 percent Saturday night and 90 percent Sunday. The weather service also has issued a flash flood warning for the area from Saturday morning through Monday
But the backdrop of the contest and the potentially good weather at Clemson are winds from Hurricane Florence ripping through communities.
Florence made landfall in North Carolina on Friday, but is moving at a very slow speed, making its path difficult to predict.
As the storm pounded away, it unloaded heavy rain , flattened trees, chewed up roads and knocked out power to more than a half-million homes and businesses.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is trusting Clemson’s administrators that playing early is the right path.
“There’s a lot going on,” Swinney said. “This is a monster storm and who knows what could happen. You just have to rely on folks that this is what they do.”
There are many reasons for Clemson to want to play the game.
The Tigers are ranked No. 2 in the country and are seeking a fourth consecutive trip to the College Football Playoff. They are heavily favored against Georgia Southern and at the end of the year, a decisive win could be the difference between getting into the playoffs or staying home.
Clemson’s timing to try and reschedule is troublesome, too. It’s off-week is Oct. 13 and playing then would mean 10 consecutive games leading into it’s expected appearance in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship on Dec. 1.
There are financial considerations, as well. Clemson earned close to $20 million in football ticket sales in 2016 and losing a game would cost the athletic department several million dollars in revenue.
But Radakovich has insisted safety is the school’s top priority. The Clemson AD has asked fans planning to attend to leave earlier for arrival and have patience as Clemson will have operate with different traffic control personnel.
Things to watch on and off the field when No. 2 Clemson hosts Georgia Southern on Saturday with Hurricane Florence battering the Carolinas’ coastline:
AN EYE ON FLORENCE
No one’s quite sure of what to expect from Hurricane Florence on Saturday. The forecast for Clemson, South Carolina, indicates the most severe weather is expected to come once the game is complete. Although the National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for the area from Saturday morning through Monday.
Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts is from Clinton, South Carolina — about an 90 minutes northwest of Clemson. He says this game with Clemson is more important to him than others. Despite the impact of Florence, Werts said many family members are expected to attend Saturday’s game.
“I would like to say it would be just another game, but it’s not,” Werts said. “Growing up there, just going to one of those places I wanted to go to.”
On the field, Kelly Bryant may have taken a huge step in slowing down Clemson’s two-quarterback system. The experienced Bryant led two crucial scoring drives in the second half of the Tigers 28-26 win at Texas A&M. He has shared series with promising freshman Trevor Lawrence through two games. Both are expected to play Saturday.
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Hurricanes can cause enormous damage inland, but emergency plans focus on coasts
September 13, 2018
Craig E. Colten
Carl O. Sauer Professor of Geography, Louisiana State University
As Hurricane Florence approaches the U.S. coast, over a million people have been ordered to evacuate from barrier islands and low-lying areas from South Carolina to Virginia. Precautions like this have been part of common hurricane preparations since the 1950s.
Coastal residents also prepare for major storms by building homes elevated above anticipated high water levels, in order to minimize damage and qualify for flood insurance. And building codes commonly call for reinforced construction to endure high wind speeds.
All of these sensible and essential preparations focus on wind and storm surge in coastal zones. Today, however, risk from hurricanes is extending inland. Some of the worst damage from Eastern Seaboard hurricanes in the past several decades has come from inland flooding along rivers after storms move ashore. Hurricane evacuations typically direct coastal residents to retreat inland, but river flooding can put them at risk if shelters and accommodations are not situated safely.
Much of my research, including my book, “Southern Waters: The Limits to Abundance,” has focused on the complex historical geography of water in the American South. What I have seen is that inland river flooding linked to hurricanes and heavy storms is a huge risk in the Southeast, but receives far less attention in emergency plans than coastal areas.
Warm, rainy watersheds
The U.S. Eastern Seaboard is particularly susceptible to river flooding due to tropical weather that moves onshore. From New England to Georgia, a dense network of rivers flows down from the eastern Appalachians across the Piedmont – a broad, rolling plateau extending from the mountains to the coastal plain – and drains into the Atlantic Ocean. Steep gradients move water quickly down the mountain slopes.
On the Piedmont, many small streams merge and then become meandering rivers on the low-lying coastal plain. When tropical weather systems lumber onshore and move inland, they rise up the steep face of the Blue Ridge Mountains. As the saturated air moves upward, it cools and releases huge quantities of rain – a process known as orographic precipitation.
This phenomenon, coupled with heavy rainfall dumped on lower elevations by these tropical systems, unleashes dramatic downpours that funnel into river networks and rush toward the sea, often spilling over the banks of overwhelmed channels.
Planning centers on coastal communities
A series of storms in the 1950s prompted federal agencies to start planning for extreme tropical weather events. In August 1954, Hurricane Carol grazed the Outer Banks of North Carolina before battering Long Island and Rhode Island and causing extensive flood damage in New England. Hurricane Edna followed a similar path two weeks later, but remained offshore. And an October storm dumped up to 10 inches of rain across the Appalachians as it moved inland, causing serious flooding, damage and fatalities in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
In 1955 Hurricane Connie unleashed huge amounts of rain over upstate New York. Days later, Hurricane Diane produced modest damage along the coast, but caused extensive river flooding as it continued across New England. Although both of these storms made landfall in North Carolina, their impacts in the more heavily populated northeast spurred federal action.
Following these tragic back-to-back seasons, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers launched a series of hurricane risk assessments for communities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and the Weather Bureau – the forerunner of the National Weather Service – commenced studying tropical weather systems. The Corps considered building structural protection for most cities, but found that flood walls were too expensive in most locations. Instead, it recommended evacuations, building codes and zoning to limit exposure in areas subject to storm surge – that is, in the immediate coastal zone.
The Weather Bureau issued a model for hurricane planning in 1959 that used a hypothetical community situated directly on the coast. It emphasized effective emergency communication, public education, preparation, and most importantly, evacuation. Neither agency paid any significant attention to inland flooding.
The growing inland threat
Hurricane Floyd in 1999 showed that tropical weather events could wreak havoc inland, mainly through river flooding. Floyd moved onshore near Cape Fear, North Carolina, in mid-September with wind speeds of about 105 miles per hour and traveled northward, dumping up to 20 inches of rain along a path stretching into New England and Canada.
Copious rainfall pushed inland ahead of the storm’s eye overwhelmed most of the rivers in eastern North Carolina. Emergency responders conducted hundreds of inland freshwater rescues. Some river flood crests did not occur until over a week after the storm had passed. Millions of hogs, chickens and other farm animals drowned, and dozens of animal waste lagoons overflowed, contaminating water supplies.
Floyd’s impact was compounded by the fact that it followed Hurricane Dennis by about 10 days, so soils were already saturated. And rivers were still at higher-than-normal stages when Hurricane Irene arrived a month later. Total damage from Floyd alone was estimated at US$6.5 billion, much of it from inland flooding.
Massive floods in Columbia, South Carolina, in 2015 and southeast Louisiana in 2016, caused by rare heavy rainfall events, soaked major urban areas and triggered evacuations – again, mainly through river flooding. And in 2017, Hurricane Harvey dropped at least 52 inches of rain on Houston in six days, an amount NASA described as “unfathomable.”
As the record shows, places adjacent to the sea are not the only danger zones during hurricanes. Inland river flooding from hurricanes is a major risk, particularly in areas with dense populations. Urban expansion and suburban sprawl have placed more people in areas where no one lived in 1955.
As warmer ocean temperatures contribute to heavier rainfalls and slower moving hurricanes, inland flooding is likely to increase. Until hurricane planning acknowledges this threat, coastal communities will risk evacuating people straight into harm’s way.
How social networks can save lives when disasters strike
September 13, 2018
Daniel P. Aldrich
Professor of Political Science, Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Director, Security and Resilience Program, Northeastern University
Daniel P. Aldrich has received funding from the Fulbright Foundation, the Abe Foundation, the Japan Foundation and Facebook among other institutions.
Soon after my family moved to New Orleans in the summer of 2005, we heard Mayor Ray Nagin’s first warnings about Hurricane Katrina. With two young children, a job I hadn’t started yet, and little in the way of savings, my wife and I couldn’t wrap our heads around leaving our freshly furnished home to spend money on a hotel in some distant city. So we ignored the call for evacuation.
As our neighbors began to pack up and head out, we figured they were overreacting. Then relatives began to make increasingly frantic phone calls and Kathy, a member of our religious community, dropped by at midnight to persuade us to leave. We got in our van around 3 a.m., some 12 hours before the rain began to fall.
Many deaths that occur due to flooding, fires, hurricanes, mudslides and other disasters could be prevented if more people left vulnerable areas in time – as my family did at the last minute. But people don’t always move, even after the authorities order their evacuation and warn them about imminent risks.
Since evacuating from New Orleans in 2005, I have traveled to vulnerable communities around the world to study how people get through and bounce back from major catastrophes. Through research in Japan, India, Israel and the Gulf Coast, I have sought to capture the factors that create resilience.
Given that evacuation almost always saves lives, I wanted to understand why people often don’t leave in the face of danger. To do so, I teamed up with colleagues, including some who work at Facebook, to analyze evacuation patterns based on information that people shared publicly on social media before, during and after hurricanes. We found that social networks, especially connections to those beyond immediate family, influence decisions to leave or stay in place before disasters.
Insights from social media
Many communities that are vulnerable to disasters put a lot of resources into providing residents with early warnings. For example, in Montecito, California, during the January 2018 mudslides, local authorities and disaster managers tried to warn residents through channels that included emails, social media alerts, press releases and deputies going door to door. Despite these efforts, not all residents evacuated, and nearly two dozen lost their lives.
Traditionally, much emphasis has been placed on the role of physical infrastructure preparedness during crisis. But in light of findings about the importance of social capital during crises, our team wanted to better illuminate human behavior during these events.
To understand evacuation behavior, social scientists have typically asked survivors weeks or even years after an event to recall what they did and why. Other researchers have waited at rest stops along evacuation routes and directly interviewed evacuees fleeing oncoming hurricanes or storms. We wanted to better capture nuances of human behavior without having to rely on memory or catching people as they stopped for gas and coffee.
To do so, we worked alongside researchers from Facebook using high-level, aggregated and anonymized summaries of city-level data before, during and after a disaster to construct the outcome variables “Did you evacuate?” and “If you did, how soon after the disaster did you return?”
Facebook engages in numerous academic collaborations across engineering, business and research disciplines. We believe that our research team is among the first to study the movement of so many people across multiple disasters using geolocation data.
Tight local networks may encourage staying put
Based on research showing that social ties provide resilience to people during crises, we suspected that social capital might be a critical factor in helping people decide whether to stay or go. By social capital, we mean people’s connections to others and resources available to them through their social communities, such as information and support.
Some aspects of these resources are reflected through social media. With this in mind, we set out to study whether attributes of people’s social networks impacted evacuation behavior.
We looked at three different types of social ties:
- Bonding ties, which connect people to close family and friends
- Bridging ties, which connect them through a shared interest, workplace or place of worship
- Linking ties, which connect them to people in positions of power.
Our research – forthcoming in a peer-reviewed journal – indicates that, controlling for a number of other factors, individuals with more connections beyond their immediate families and close friends were more likely to evacuate from vulnerable areas in the days leading up to a hurricane.
We believe that this happens for several reasons. First, people with more bridging ties have far-reaching social networks. Those networks, in turn, may connect them to sources of support outside of areas directly affected by disasters. Second, people with more bridging ties may have built those networks by moving or traveling more, and thus feel more comfortable evacuating far from home during a disaster.
Linking ties are also important. Our data showed that users whose social networks included following politicians and political figures were more likely to evacuate. This may be because they were more likely to receive warning information and trust authority figures disseminating that information.
In contrast, we found that having stronger bonding ties – that is, family and friends – made people less likely to evacuate leading up to a hurricane. In our view, this is a critical insight. People whose immediate, close networks are strong may feel supported and better-prepared to weather the storm.
One North Carolina woman, trying to explain why she wasn’t leaving her vulnerable coastal home as Hurricane Florence approached, told a reporter that she didn’t want to leave family and friends unprotected. And staying in place could have positive outcomes, such as a higher likelihood of rebuilding in existing neighborhoods.
But it is also possible that seeing relatives, close friends and neighbors decide not to evacuate may lead people to underestimate the severity of an impending disaster. Such misconceptions could put people at higher immediate risk and increase damage to lives and property.
This is an updated version of an article originally published on July 16, 2018.
Danaë Metaxa, a Ph.D. student in computer science at Stanford University, and Paige Maas, a data scientist at Facebook, contributed to this article.
Sept. 14, 2018
ODNR Division of Forestry Assists in Wildfire Protection at Home and Nationally
COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has an important role in a new wildfire strategy recently announced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This strategy involving the ODNR Division of Forestry, entitled Toward Shared Stewardship Across Landscapes, is designed to forge stronger partnerships between state and federal agencies in support of healthy forests.
A key component of the new strategy is that state foresters will work closely with the USDA Forest Service (USFS) on a new, improved wildfire strategy to meet America’s wildfire challenges. The USFS is committed to using the Forest Action Plans created by states, including Ohio, as guides for hazardous fuels management and to utilize new and emerging technologies for preventing, detecting and suppressing wildfires more quickly and safely.
This year has been an active and difficult wildfire year. The ODNR Division of Forestry has already sent four 20-person interagency fire crews as well as equipment and single resources to Missouri, Idaho, Texas, Utah, Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Montana. In addition, the division sent an incident management specialist to Puerto Rico.
In Ohio, 716 wildland fires, which burned 1,518 acres, were reported in fiscal year 2018, which was July 1, 2017, through June 30. The leading cause of wildland fires in Ohio is debris burning.
The ODNR Division of Forestry trains ODNR, federal and private natural resources agencies, as well as fire department personnel from across the state, for interagency wildland fire response to protect life and property in Ohio; manage prescribed fire for forest regeneration; and to aid other states as part of the national effort.
In addition to wildland fire incidents, Ohio crews and single resource personnel have assisted with hurricanes and floods since 1986. Crews and overhead staff are normally dispatched out-of-state for two-week assignments. Travel and wage costs are reimbursed by requesting agencies. Last year, Ohio’s wildfire and engine crews responded to wildfire assignments in California, Oregon, Georgia, Arizona, Wyoming, South Dakota, New Mexico and Montana.
The ODNR Division of Forestry also coordinates cooperative agreements and wildfire training, prevention, suppression and enforcement with 325 fire departments in the southern and eastern parts of the state and around Maumee State Forest in northwest Ohio.
The ODNR Division of Forestry works to promote the wise use and sustainable management of Ohio’s public and private woodlands. To learn more about Ohio’s woodlands and the fire management program, visit forestry.ohiodnr.gov. To learn more about the needed qualifications and how to join Ohio’s interagency fire crew, visit: forestry.ohiodnr.gov/iafc. Follow us on Instagram at @odnrforestry (instagram.com/odnrforestry).
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.