Thursday, February 5, 2015

Interdisciplinary Clean-Up

Tornadoes are not an uncommon occurrence in the United States. These powerful storms produce damage that can cost millions. 

Wedge Tornado in Bennington, Kansas (2013)
Photo Credit: Brett Rathbun

In an article from Reuters, they discussed the severe weather in the southern U.S. on Christmas Eve 2014 and what was being done to help the clean-up process. 
The article opens with telling about some of the severe weather events that occurred: flooding and a small tornado in North Carolina and a tornado in Mississippi that killed at least four people and injured twenty. These storms were associated with a frontal system. Meteorologist forecasted that there was a risk of severe storms for both Christmas Eve and the day before.

People have been working to start cleaning up by removing debris and covering buildings with tarps. The American Red Cross and Salvation Army were giving out food to those affected by the tornado in Mississippi. The hospital close to where the tornado hit was running on a generator in order to help those who got injured. Luckily the hospital did not get any damage but houses nearby were completely destroyed. Another article from Reuters stated that Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency for the counties in which tornadoes caused widespread damage. These storms were projected to move to parts of Virginia, eastern Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania where meteorologist stated that there was a risk of severe storms to occur.

Do you give much thought into all those impacted by severe weather? When you sit and really think about it, this one tornado affected so many people. People lost power, their homes, and possibly loved ones. Reading the articles you can get a sense of how bad it was from the way the people spoke. These articles are so compelling because they show just how much severe weather can not only change a town, but those who take action after the storm. 

As bad as severe weather can be, it does serve as a way for people to come together. People from all different types of disciplines joined in helping to clean up a town that was just destroyed. Officials such as policemen and firefighters helped to find people who were missing and stuck under debris. Political figures such as the governor of Mississippi was active in getting more help from others by declaring a state of emergency. Those in the medical field worked their hardest to help those who are injured even if the hospital was running on a generator. Humanitarian organizations came to distribute food for those helping with the clean-up and affected by the storm. Lastly, meteorologists forecasted the possible severe weather as well as issued warnings so people could seek shelter in a timely fashion. 

All these people from various disciplines coming together shows what interdisciplinarity is all about: disciplines integrating in order to have a successful outcome in those affected by the tornado.  

What could you do to help when severe weather strikes? What in your discipline (whether that be health, communications, etc.) could help clean-up processes in a severe weather event?


  1. This is great (really nice having the video embedded!), and it makes me wonder if perhaps it could be one role of a weather journalist to show how so many different perspectives converge when you are talking and thinking about weather. Perhaps politicians are another group responsible for making sure that all of these different stakeholders (meteorologists, homeowners, activists, charities, medical personnel, fish and game, on and on and on) work together, but blog posts like the ones you write are one of the real places where we can see how interconnected we all are.

  2. I had not thought too much about this circumstance, unfortunately. But in reading your blog I became very connected to this and realized that Art Therapy would be very beneficial in times such as this. Having the backgrounds I studied I would be able to work with the whole community. Especially those who have lost.

    Great post! Something I will continue to think about!

  3. Heather! You're already such a good weather journalist! I think communication of these events is so important in every way. Tornado danger awareness is something that people need to understand better (both of our interdisciplinarities coming together!) through education and seeing impacts. A couple years ago I organized a clothing drive through social media to send to a girl I found online in Texas who had her town completely wiped out. Tools like social media are allowing greater commutation and connections like this to be made, which is really incredible and helpful to what we're both trying to do.

  4. This is really awesome! I completely agree with you that as sad as this is affecting so many people in many different ways whether it's losing power, losing a home or losing a loved one, it brings so many people together. Not just in a small community but other people are jumping to help as well! I never really thought about how it brings many disciplines together until now. You have the meteorologist that informs people whats happening, you then have a whole medical team for injuries, you have the police and firemen to help clean up debris and find people who are missing and then in the end you have all those other people coming together to help out these families that lost things in the storm.

    This was a very interesting article and said things that I knew, but never really took time to look at the interdisciplinary aspect of.