even tougher winter next year as natural gas stocks are used up and as new supplies to replace Russian gas, including increased shipments from the United States or Qatar, are slow to come online, the International Energy Agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook, released last week.

Europe’s activity appears to be accelerating a global transition toward cleaner technologies, the I.E.A. added, as countries respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by embracing hydrogen fuels, electric vehicles, heat pumps and other green energies.

But in the short term, countries will be burning more fossil fuels in response to the natural gas shortages.

gas fields in Groningen, which had been slated to be sealed because of earthquakes triggered by the extraction of the fuel.

Eleven countries, including Germany, Finland and Estonia, are now building or expanding a total of 18 offshore terminals to process liquid gas shipped in from other countries. Other projects in Latvia and Lithuania are under consideration.

Nuclear power is winning new support in countries that had previously decided to abandon it, including Germany and Belgium. Finland is planning to extend the lifetime of one reactor, while Poland and Romania plan to build new nuclear power plants.

European Commission blueprint, are voluntary and rely on buy-ins from individuals and businesses whose utility bills may be subsidized by their governments.

Energy use dropped in September in several countries, although it is hard to know for sure if the cause was balmy weather, high prices or voluntary conservation efforts inspired by a sense of civic duty. But there are signs that businesses, organizations and the public are responding. In Sweden, for example, the Lund diocese said it planned to partially or fully close 150 out of 540 churches this winter to conserve energy.

Germany and France have issued sweeping guidance, which includes lowering heating in all homes, businesses and public buildings, using appliances at off-peak hours and unplugging electronic devices when not in use.

Denmark wants households to shun dryers and use clotheslines. Slovakia is urging citizens to use microwaves instead of stoves and brush their teeth with a single glass of water.

website. “Short showers,” wrote one homeowner; another announced: “18 solar panels coming to the roof in October.”

“In the coming winter, efforts to save electricity and schedule the consumption of electricity may be the key to avoiding electricity shortages,” Fingrad, the main grid operator, said.

Businesses are being asked to do even more, and most governments have set targets for retailers, manufacturers and offices to find ways to ratchet down their energy use by at least 10 percent in the coming months.

Governments, themselves huge users of energy, are reducing heating, curbing streetlight use and closing municipal swimming pools. In France, where the state operates a third of all buildings, the government plans to cut energy use by two terawatt-hours, the amount used by a midsize city.

Whether the campaigns succeed is far from clear, said Daniel Gros, director of the Centre for European Policy Studies, a European think tank. Because the recommendations are voluntary, there may be little incentive for people to follow suit — especially if governments are subsidizing energy bills.

In countries like Germany, where the government aims to spend up to €200 billion to help households and businesses offset rising energy prices starting next year, skyrocketing gas prices are hitting consumers now. “That is useful in getting them to lower their energy use,” he said. But when countries fund a large part of the bill, “there is zero incentive to save on energy,” he said.

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Puerto Rico Struggles To Reach Areas Cut Off By Hurricane Fiona

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
September 22, 2022

Roughly 900,000 people on the island were without power four days after the storm, and nearly 500,000 people did not have water service.

Hurricane Fiona left hundreds of people stranded across Puerto Rico after smashing roads and bridges, with authorities still struggling to reach people four days after the storm smacked the U.S. territory, causing historic flooding.

For now, government officials are working with religious groups, nonprofits and others braving landslides, thick mud and broken asphalt by foot to provide food, water and medicine for people in need, but they are under pressure to clear a path so vehicles can enter isolated areas soon.

Nino Correa, commissioner for Puerto Rico’s emergency management agency, estimated that at least six municipalities across the island had areas that were cut off by Fiona, which struck as a Category 1 hurricane and was up to Category 4 power Wednesday as it headed toward Bermuda.

Living in one of those areas is Manuel Veguilla, who has not been able to leave his neighborhood in the north mountain town of Caguas since Fiona swept in on Sunday.

“We are all isolated,” he said, adding that he worries about elderly neighbors including his older brother who does not have the strength for the long walk it takes to reach the closest community.

Veguilla heard that municipal officials might open a pathway Thursday, but he doubted that would happen because he said large rocks covered a nearby bridge and the 10-foot space beneath it.

Neighbors have shared food and water dropped off by nonprofit groups, and the son of an elderly woman was able to bring back basic supplies by foot Wednesday, he said.

Veguilla said that in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm that struck five years ago and resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths, he and others used picks and shovels to clear the debris. But Fiona was different, unleashing huge landslides.

“I cannot throw those rocks over my shoulder,” he said.

Like hundreds of thousands of other Puerto Ricans after Fiona, Veguilla had no water or electricity service, but said they there is a natural water source nearby.

Fiona sparked an islandwide blackout when it hit Puerto Rico’s southwest region, which already was still trying to recover from a series of strong earthquakes in recent years. Some 62% of 1.47 million customers were without power four days after the storm amid an extreme heat alert issued by the National Weather Service. Some 36% of customers, or nearly half a million, did not have water service.

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent hundreds of additional personnel to help local officials as the federal government approved a major disaster declaration and announced a public health emergency on the island.

Neither local nor federal government officials had provided any damage estimates as Puerto Rico struggles to recover from the storm, which dropped up to 30 inches of rain in some areas. More than 470 people and 48 pets remained in shelters.

“Our hearts go out to the people of Puerto Rico who have endured so much suffering over the last couple of years,” said Brad Kieserman, vice president of operations and logistics at the Red Cross.

After Puerto Rico, Fiona pummeled the Dominican Republic and then swiped past the Turks and Caicos Islands as it strengthened into a Category 4 storm. Officials there reported relatively light damage and no deaths, though the eye of the storm passed close to Grand Turk, the small British territory’s capital island, on Tuesday.

“God has been good to us and has kept us safe during this period when we could have had a far worse outcome,” Deputy Gov. Anya Williams said.

Fiona was forecast to pass near Bermuda early Friday, and then hit easternmost Canada early Saturday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The center said Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 130 mph on Thursday morning. It was centered about 485 miles southwest of Bermuda, heading north-northeast at 13 mph.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Strong Earthquake Shakes Mexico´s Pacific Coast; 1 Killed

By Associated Press
September 19, 2022

There were some early reports of damage to buildings from the quake, which hit at 1:05 p.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A magnitude 7.6 earthquake shook Mexico’s central Pacific coast on Monday, killing at least one person and setting off a seismic alarm in the rattled capital on the anniversary of two earlier devastating quakes.

There were at least some early reports of damage to buildings from the quake, which hit at 1:05 p.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which had initially put the magnitude at 7.5.

It said the quake was centered 23 miles southeast of Aquila near the boundary of Colima and Michoacan states and at a depth of 9.4 miles.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said via Twitter that the secretary of the navy told him one person was killed in the port city of Manzanillo, Colima when a wall at a mall collapsed.

In Coalcoman, Michoacan, near the quake’s epicenter, buildings were damaged, but there were not immediate reports of injuries.

“It started slowly and then was really strong and continued and continued until it started to relent,” said 16-year-old Carla Cárdenas, a resident of Coalcoman. Cárdenas ran out of her family’s hotel and waited with neighbors.

She said the hotel and some homes along the street displayed cracks in walls and segments of facades and roofs had broken off.

“In the hotel, the roof of the parking area boomed and fell to the ground, and there are cracks in the walls on the second foor,” Cárdenas said.

She said the town’s hospital was seriously damaged, but she had so far not heard of anyone injured.

Mexico’s National Civil Defense agency said that based on historic data of tsunamis in Mexico, variations of as much as 32 inches were possible in coastal water levels near the epicenter. The U.S. Tsunami Warning Center said that hazardous tsunami waves were possible for coasts within 186 miles of the epicenter.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum tweeted that there were no reports of damage in the capital

Alarms for the new quake came less than an hour after a quake alarms warbled in a nationwide earthquake simulation marking major, deadly quakes that struck on the same date in 1985 and 2017.

“This is a coincidence,” that this is the third Sept. 19 earthquake, said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle. “There’s no physical reason or statistical bias toward earthquakes in any given month in Mexico.”

Nor is there a season or month for big earthquakes anywhere on the globe, Earle said. But there is a predictable thing: People seek and sometimes find coincidences that look like patterns.

“We knew we’d get this question as soon as it happened,” Earle said. “Sometimes there are just coincidences.”

The quake was not related to or caused by the drill an hour or so earlier, nor was it connected to a damaging temblor in Taiwan the day before, Earle said.

Humberto Garza stood outside a restaurant in Mexico City’s Roma neighborhood holding his 3-year son. Like many milling about outside after the earthquake, Garza said that the earthquake alarm sounded so soon after the annual simulation that he was not sure it was real.

“I heard the alarm, but it sounded really far away,” he said.

Outside the city’s environmental ombudsman’s office, dozens of employees waited. Some appeared visibly shaken.

Power was out in parts of the city, including stoplights, snarling the capital’s already notorious traffic.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Eye Of Hurricane Fiona Nears Battered, Powerless Puerto Rico

U.S. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in the U.S. territory as the eye of the storm approached the island’s southwest corner.

Hurricane Fiona struck Puerto Rico’s southwest coast on Sunday as it unleashed landslides, knocked the power grid out and ripped up asphalt from roads and flung the pieces around.

Forecasters said the storm would cause massive flooding and threatened to dump “historic” levels of rain, with up to 30 inches possible in eastern and southern Puerto Rico.

“The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,” said Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.

“I urge people to stay in their homes,” said William Miranda Torres, mayor of the northern town of Caguas, where at least one large landslide was reported, with water rushing down a big slab of broken asphalt and into a gully.

The storm also washed away a bridge in the central mountain town of Utuado that police say was installed by the National Guard after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017.

Fiona was centered 10 miles west of Mayaguez with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. It was moving to the northwest at 9 mph.

Fiona struck on the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which hit Puerto Rico 33 years ago as a Category 3 storm.

The storm’s clouds covered the entire island and tropical storm-force winds extended as far as 140 miles from Fiona’s center.

U.S. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in the U.S. territory as the eye of the storm approached the island’s southwest corner.

Luma, the company that operates power transmission and distribution, said bad weather, including winds of 80 mph, had disrupted transmission lines, leading to “a blackout on all the island.”

“Current weather conditions are extremely dangerous and are hindering out capacity to evaluate the complete situation,” it said, adding that it could take several days to fully restore power.

Health centers were running on generators — and some of those had failed. Health Secretary Carlos Mellado said crews were working to repair generators as soon as possible at the Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Fiona hit just two days before the anniversary of Hurricane Maria, a devastating Category 4 storm that struck on Sept. 20, 2017, destroying the island’s power grid and causing nearly 3,000 deaths.

More than 3,000 homes still have only a blue tarp as a roof, and infrastructure remains weak.

“I think all of us Puerto Ricans who lived through Maria have that post-traumatic stress of, ‘What is going to happen, how long is it going to last and what needs might we face?'” said Danny Hernández, who works in the capital of San Juan but planned to weather the storm with his parents and family in the western town of Mayaguez.

He said the atmosphere was gloomy at the supermarket as he and others stocked up before the storm hit.

“After Maria, we all experienced scarcity to some extent,” he said.

The storm was forecast to pummel cities and towns along Puerto Rico’s southern coast that have not yet fully recovered from a string of strong earthquakes starting in late 2019.

Officials reported several road closures across the island as trees and small landslides blocked access.

More than 780 people with some 80 pets had sought shelter across the island by Saturday night, the majority of them in the southern coast.

Puerto Rico’s power grid was razed by Hurricane Maria and remains frail, with reconstruction starting only recently. Outages are a daily occurrence.

In the southwest town of El Combate, hotel co-owner Tomás Rivera said he was prepared but worried about the “enormous” amount of rain he expected. He noted that a nearby wildlife refuge was eerily quiet.

“There are thousands of birds here, and they are nowhere to be seen,” he said. “Even the birds have realized what is coming, and they’re preparing.”

Rivera said his employees brought bedridden family members to the hotel, where he has stocked up on diesel, gasoline, food, water and ice, given how slowly the government responded after Hurricane Maria.

“What we’ve done is prepared ourselves to depend as little as possible on the central government,” he said.

It’s a sentiment shared by 70-year-old Ana Córdova, who arrived Saturday at a shelter in the north coastal town of Loiza after buying loads of food and water.

“I don’t trust them,” she said, referring to the government. “I lost trust after what happened after Hurricane Maria.”

Puerto Rico’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, activated the National Guard as the Atlantic hurricane season’s sixth named storm approached.

“What worries me most is the rain,” said forecaster Ernesto Morales with the National Weather Service in San Juan.

Fiona was predicted to drop 12 to 16 inches of rain over eastern and southern Puerto Rico, with as much as 25 inches in isolated spots. Morales noted that Hurricane Maria in 2017 had unleashed 40 inches.

Pierluisi announced Sunday that public schools and government agencies would remain closed on Monday.

Fiona was forecast to swipe the Dominican Republic on Monday and then northern Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands with the threat of heavy rain. It could threaten the far southern end of the Bahamas on Tuesday.

A hurricane warning was posted for the Dominican Republic’s eastern coast from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo.

Fiona previously battered the eastern Caribbean, killing one man in the French territory of Guadeloupe when floods washed his home away, officials said. The storm also damaged roads, uprooted trees and destroyed at least one bridge.

St. Kitts and Nevis also reported flooding and downed trees, but announced its international airport would reopen on Sunday afternoon. Dozens of customers were still without power or water, according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

In the eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Madeline was forecast to cause heavy rains and flooding across parts of southwestern Mexico. The storm was centered about 155 miles south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes Sunday morning, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph.

 Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Hurricane Fiona Rips Through Powerless Puerto Rico

U.S. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in the U.S. territory as the eye of the storm approached the island’s southwest corner.

Hurricane Fiona struck Puerto Rico’s southwest coast on Sunday as it unleashed landslides, knocked the power grid out and ripped up asphalt from roads and flung the pieces around.

Forecasters said the storm would cause massive flooding and threatened to dump “historic” levels of rain, with up to 30 inches possible in eastern and southern Puerto Rico.

“The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,” said Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.

“I urge people to stay in their homes,” said William Miranda Torres, mayor of the northern town of Caguas, where at least one large landslide was reported, with water rushing down a big slab of broken asphalt and into a gully.

The storm also washed away a bridge in the central mountain town of Utuado that police say was installed by the National Guard after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017.

Fiona was centered 10 miles west of Mayaguez with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. It was moving to the northwest at 9 mph.

Fiona struck on the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which hit Puerto Rico 33 years ago as a Category 3 storm.

The storm’s clouds covered the entire island and tropical storm-force winds extended as far as 140 miles from Fiona’s center.

U.S. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in the U.S. territory as the eye of the storm approached the island’s southwest corner.

Luma, the company that operates power transmission and distribution, said bad weather, including winds of 80 mph, had disrupted transmission lines, leading to “a blackout on all the island.”

“Current weather conditions are extremely dangerous and are hindering out capacity to evaluate the complete situation,” it said, adding that it could take several days to fully restore power.

Health centers were running on generators — and some of those had failed. Health Secretary Carlos Mellado said crews were working to repair generators as soon as possible at the Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Fiona hit just two days before the anniversary of Hurricane Maria, a devastating Category 4 storm that struck on Sept. 20, 2017, destroying the island’s power grid and causing nearly 3,000 deaths.

More than 3,000 homes still have only a blue tarp as a roof, and infrastructure remains weak.

“I think all of us Puerto Ricans who lived through Maria have that post-traumatic stress of, ‘What is going to happen, how long is it going to last and what needs might we face?'” said Danny Hernández, who works in the capital of San Juan but planned to weather the storm with his parents and family in the western town of Mayaguez.

He said the atmosphere was gloomy at the supermarket as he and others stocked up before the storm hit.

“After Maria, we all experienced scarcity to some extent,” he said.

The storm was forecast to pummel cities and towns along Puerto Rico’s southern coast that have not yet fully recovered from a string of strong earthquakes starting in late 2019.

Officials reported several road closures across the island as trees and small landslides blocked access.

More than 780 people with some 80 pets had sought shelter across the island by Saturday night, the majority of them in the southern coast.

Puerto Rico’s power grid was razed by Hurricane Maria and remains frail, with reconstruction starting only recently. Outages are a daily occurrence.

In the southwest town of El Combate, hotel co-owner Tomás Rivera said he was prepared but worried about the “enormous” amount of rain he expected. He noted that a nearby wildlife refuge was eerily quiet.

“There are thousands of birds here, and they are nowhere to be seen,” he said. “Even the birds have realized what is coming, and they’re preparing.”

Rivera said his employees brought bedridden family members to the hotel, where he has stocked up on diesel, gasoline, food, water and ice, given how slowly the government responded after Hurricane Maria.

“What we’ve done is prepared ourselves to depend as little as possible on the central government,” he said.

It’s a sentiment shared by 70-year-old Ana Córdova, who arrived Saturday at a shelter in the north coastal town of Loiza after buying loads of food and water.

“I don’t trust them,” she said, referring to the government. “I lost trust after what happened after Hurricane Maria.”

Puerto Rico’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, activated the National Guard as the Atlantic hurricane season’s sixth named storm approached.

“What worries me most is the rain,” said forecaster Ernesto Morales with the National Weather Service in San Juan.

Fiona was predicted to drop 12 to 16 inches of rain over eastern and southern Puerto Rico, with as much as 25 inches in isolated spots. Morales noted that Hurricane Maria in 2017 had unleashed 40 inches.

Pierluisi announced Sunday that public schools and government agencies would remain closed on Monday.

Fiona was forecast to swipe the Dominican Republic on Monday and then northern Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands with the threat of heavy rain. It could threaten the far southern end of the Bahamas on Tuesday.

A hurricane warning was posted for the Dominican Republic’s eastern coast from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo.

Fiona previously battered the eastern Caribbean, killing one man in the French territory of Guadeloupe when floods washed his home away, officials said. The storm also damaged roads, uprooted trees and destroyed at least one bridge.

St. Kitts and Nevis also reported flooding and downed trees, but announced its international airport would reopen on Sunday afternoon. Dozens of customers were still without power or water, according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

In the eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Madeline was forecast to cause heavy rains and flooding across parts of southwestern Mexico. The storm was centered about 155 miles south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes Sunday morning, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph.

 Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Southwest China Quake Leaves At Least 21 People Dead

By Associated Press
September 5, 2022

The 6.8 magnitude earthquake triggered landslides in the Sichuan provincial capital Chengdu, which sits on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau.

At least 21 people were reported killed in a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that shook China’s southwestern province of Sichuan on Monday, triggering landslides and shaking buildings in the provincial capital of Chengdu, whose 21 million residents are already under a COVID-19 lockdown.

The temblor struck a mountainous area in Luding county shortly after noon, the China Earthquake Networks Center said.

Sichuan, which sits on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau where tectonic plates meet, is regularly hit by earthquakes. Two quakes in June killed at least four people.

Along with the deaths, authorities reported stones and soil falling from mountainsides, causing damage to homes and power interruptions, state broadcaster CCTV said. One landslide blocked a rural highway, leaving it strewn with rocks, the Ministry of Emergency Management said.

Buildings shook in Chengdu, 125 miles away from the epicenter. Resident Jiang Danli said she hid under a desk for five minutes in her 31st floor apartment. Many of her neighbors rushed downstairs, wary of aftershocks.

“There was a strong earthquake in June, but it wasn’t very scary. This time I was really scared, because I live on a high floor and the shaking made me dizzy,” she told The Associated Press.

The earthquake and lockdown follow a heat wave and drought that led to water shortages and power cuts due to Sichuan’s reliance on hydropower. That comes on top of the latest major lockdown under China’s strict “zero-COVID” policy.

The past two months in Chengdu “have been weird,” Jiang said.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded a magnitude of 6.6 for Monday’s quake at a relatively shallow depth of 6 miles. Preliminary measurements by different agencies often differ slightly.

China’s deadliest earthquake in recent years was a 7.9 magnitude quake in 2008 that killed nearly 90,000 people in Sichuan. The quake devastated towns, schools and rural communities outside Chengdu, leading to a yearslong effort to rebuild with more resistant materials.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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How to Prepare Your Home for Severe Storms and Weather

As a lifelong resident of Lafourche Parish in southern Louisiana, Jeanne Gouaux knew the storms that cut through the region demanded preparation. She had wind and hail insurance, a solid savings account. But it wasn’t until Hurricane Ida’s 150-mile-per-hour winds peeled back part of her roof last August that she experienced the fury — and its aftermath — up close.

“In a matter of one day, one storm came through and knocked out everything I worked so hard for all these years,” said Ms. Gouaux, a single mother of four and director of pharmacy for a surgery center near her home in Lockport, La.

With the cost and frequency of weather-driven disasters on the rise, girding your financial house for such a catastrophe — to the extent that you’re able — is increasingly crucial in parts of the country.

damage to residences, businesses and municipalities, according to an analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

too weak (or simply unenforced) to withstand damage.

But climate shifts are “supercharging the increasing frequency and intensity of certain types of extreme weather that lead to billion-dollar disasters,” said Adam Smith, the climate scientist who led the NOAA analysis, “most notably the vulnerability to drought, lengthening wildfire seasons in the Western states and the potential for extremely heavy rainfall becoming more common in the Eastern states.”

“It hints that the extremely high activity of recent years is becoming the new normal,” he added.

Ms. Gouaux, 45, had a bad feeling about Ida. In a prescient move, she packed up her family and, for the first time, left her home before the storm hit.

state program — while the home was gutted and repaired. Only in June, after 10 months, was the family able to partly move back in. With the house incomplete, meals are still cooked in the camper.

went bankrupt, causing the state guarantor to take over claims, gumming up an already slow process. It took nine months to collect her first insurance check.

Not all households have the wherewithal to prepare themselves for the worst. But there is some safeguarding that everyone can attempt. Here’s where to start:

tools can provide a starting point for assessing your home’s risk to earthly hazards.

Risk Factor has created a user-friendly tool that outlines flood, fire and extreme-heat risks (and soon other perils, including wind) for most homes across the country. Plug in an address, and it drills down to the property level, illustrating potential hazards. For example, it can show the probability that a property might flood, where the water is likely to pool, the damage it might cause and how much repairs might cost.

hazard maps for earthquakes, while the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Flood Insurance Program maintain flood maps (which also determine whether a home with a federally backed mortgage is required to have flood insurance). The flood program has recently overhauled its rating methodology, called Risk Rating 2.0, but you’ll have to contact a flood insurance agent who can share more about your property’s unique risk, said Jeremy Edwards, a FEMA spokesman.

You may be able to find more local hazard information, too. Californians, for example, can enter their address into the MyHazards website. And if you’re new to a community, talk to neighbors.

you can do to minimize damage if a flood or fire strike. The costs of mitigation will vary, but it may reduce your insurance premiums. Some insurers, for example, provide meaningful discounts in hurricane-prone regions after homeowners install roof braces or straps, said Alyssa Bourgeois, an insurance producer with MarshMcLennan in Metairie, La.

The Risk Factor website provides suggestions for hazards facing specific properties, and many regions have programs offering residents financial help to harden their homes against specific hazards, though funding is often limited.

Evaluate insurance needs. The insurance market varies greatly by locality and the hazards inherent to the area. Standard homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies do not cover all hazards. Floods and earthquakes always require separate coverage. Wind and hail (hurricane) coverage may carry its own deductible as part of your homeowners’ insurance, or it may be a separate policy, at least in certain areas. Wildfires, meanwhile, are often incorporated into many policies, experts said.

Flood insurance (see Ann Carrns’s guide here) is generally available through the National Flood Insurance Program, which FEMA manages. Most Californians buy earthquake coverage through the California Earthquake Authority, a nonprofit entity created through state law to provide policies through its member insurers.

enough coverage to replace your property — that is, to rebuild it, not what you’d pay to buy it again, said Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, a consumer advocacy group.

But many households in the highest-risk areas, including hurricane-prone states like Louisiana and Florida, are having trouble finding affordable coverage as insurers exit the market in droves.

Jude Boudreaux, a financial planner in New Orleans, said he receives calls weekly from clients questioning whether they should continue living there given the increased insurance costs. “A lot of carriers are leaving Louisiana, so people with policies are getting nonrenewal notices, and there are fewer choices out there,” he said.

Until rates stabilize, many people are resorting to the usual strategies to keep costs manageable, like increasing deductibles and reducing some coverage, including on “other structures” such as garages and personal property.

cars and other vehicles. Comprehensive auto coverage, required by auto lenders, generally provides protection against natural disasters. But older, low-value cars may not have comprehensive (and it may not be worth the cost anyway). “In those cases, we’d recommend setting aside the amount of the premium you’d pay each year into a savings account instead of giving it to the insurer,” Mr. Heller said.

home inventory spreadsheet, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners has a related app, and there are other inventory apps as well.

The least time-consuming method might be to walk through each room of your home with your mobile phone’s video camera, narrating the contents along the way. Don’t forget to open up closets, cabinets and drawers, as well as storage spaces and the garage. Then email the file to yourself, or store it securely online (and perhaps on an external hard drive).

There’s real money at stake: Ms. Gouaux was able to recover only roughly $14,000 of the $53,000 in contents coverage on her wind and hail policy.

“The night we left, someone posted: Make sure you take photos of all the rooms,” she said. “We didn’t do a good job. By the time we got back, everything was all over the place, and it was very hot.”

fireproof and waterproof box. Consider storing electronic copies on an external hard drive (using password protection) or in the cloud.

FEMA’s financial emergency kit has an exhaustive check list of what to gather and protect, along with a 41-page emergency financial first-aid kit that can be filled out online and stored in a secure place. The American Red Cross has a version of its own.

If you have to leave your home, experts suggest taking key documents with you in case you need to file a claim with your insurer or apply for FEMA assistance.

Keep emergency funds. Having access to money for any basic needs is also something to consider. If there’s no electricity and A.T.M.s aren’t working, you’ll probably need cash. Stash some in a safe place.

And if you receive any federal benefits through paper checks, now is the time to switch to automatic electronic deposits. Ditto for any other payments you may receive by mail.

take. Mr. Boudreaux, who has lived with the threat of hurricanes for most of his life, said to walk through your home and think about what’s irreplaceable — it probably fits into a plastic box.

“Define what those things are, or create a list so if someone knocked on your door and said, ‘The fire is coming in 30 minutes’ — what would you take?” he said. “It’s also good life perspective exercise.”

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Strong Earthquake Kills At Least 5 People In Northern Philippines

By Associated Press
July 27, 2022

Dozens of people are still missing in a mountainous area of Abra province following the 7 magnitude quake.

A strong earthquake set off landslides and damaged buildings in the northern Philippines on Wednesday, killing at least five people and injuring dozens. In the capital, hospital patients were evacuated and terrified people rushed outdoors.

The 7 magnitude quake was centered in a mountainous area of Abra province, said Renato Solidum, the head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, who described the midmorning shaking as a major earthquake.

Bureau of Fire Protection via AP

“The ground shook like I was on a swing and the lights suddenly went out. We rushed out of the office, and I heard screams and some of my companions were in tears,” said Michael Brillantes, a safety officer of the Abra town of Lagangilang, near the epicenter.

At least five people died — mostly in collapsed structures. One villager died when hit by falling cement slabs in his house in Abra, where dozens of others were injured. In Benguet province, a worker was pinned to death after a small building that was under construction collapsed in the strawberry-growing mountain town of La Trinidad.

Hundreds of houses and buildings had cracked walls, including some that collapsed in Abra, where President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who took office less than a month ago, planned to travel Thursday to meet victims and local officials.

Marcos Jr. told a news conference he was in his office at the riverside Malacanang presidential palace complex when the chandeliers began swaying and making clanking sounds. “It was very strong,” he said of the ground shaking.

In a chilling near-death experience, Filipino photojournalist Harley Palangchao and companions were traveling downhill in two vans in Mountain Province when they suddenly heard thunder-like thuds and saw an avalanche of boulders as big as cars raining down just ahead of them from a towering mountain.

Amid screams of his companions in their van to “back up, back up!” the 44-year-old father of three raised his camera in the front seat and snapped what he feared could be the final pictures of his life. The van in front of them was grazed by a boulder, injuring one, but he and others in the second van drove backward fast enough and escaped unscathed.

The Red Cross issued a picture of a three-story building precariously leaning toward a debris-covered road in Abra. A video taken by a panicking witness showed parts of an old stone church tower peeling off and falling in a cloud of dust on a hilltop.

Patients, some in wheelchairs, and medical personnel were evacuated from at least two hospitals in Manila, about 265 miles south of Lagangilang, but were later told to return after engineers found only a few minor cracks on walls.

The quake’s strength was lowered from the initial 7.3 magnitude after further analysis. The quake was set off by movement in a local fault at a depth of 10 miles, the institute said, adding it expected damage and more aftershocks.

The Philippines lies along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of faults around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes occur. It is also lashed by about 20 typhoons and tropical storms each year, making it one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries.

A magnitude 7.7 quake killed nearly 2,000 people in the northern Philippines in 1990.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Dutch Government Activates ‘Early Warning’ Because of Russian Cutbacks on Gas

The Dutch government said on Monday that Russia’s tightening of gas supplies to Europe had prompted it to declare an “early warning” stage of a natural gas crisis, a move that will allow more electric power to be generated by burning coal.

Russia’s actions in recent days — chiefly the reduction of flows by about 60 percent through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany — have markedly darkened the mood in Europe on energy. Governments and industry in Europe are now convinced that Moscow plans to use gas as a political weapon against the largest European economies in the coming months. This means that major European nations, not just a handful like Bulgaria and Poland, are likely to see gas supplies trimmed or cut completely and need to take steps to reduce their vulnerability.

Already gas flows have been cut not only to Germany but to other countries, including Italy and France, analysts and government officials say. The Dutch government said there were as yet “no acute gas shortages” in the Netherlands but that declining supplies “could have consequences.”

the German government took similar steps with regard to coal, and Austria said it would allow the conversion of a gas-fired power plant to coal.

Groningen gas field, a major provider in the north of the country that officials have scheduled to close because of earthquakes triggered by the extraction of the fuel. The government appears to be trying to keep its options open on Groningen, which is operated by a joint venture owned by Shell and Exxon Mobil.

The government said in its statement that it had decided not to shut “any wells definitively this year” because of what it called “uncertain geopolitical developments.”

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How Intel Makes Semiconductors in a Global Shortage

Some feature more than 50 billion tiny transistors that are 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. They are made on gigantic, ultraclean factory room floors that can be seven stories tall and run the length of four football fields.

Microchips are in many ways the lifeblood of the modern economy. They power computers, smartphones, cars, appliances and scores of other electronics. But the world’s demand for them has surged since the pandemic, which also caused supply-chain disruptions, resulting in a global shortage.

That, in turn, is fueling inflation and raising alarms that the United States is becoming too dependent on chips made abroad. The United States accounts for only about 12 percent of global semiconductor manufacturing capacity; more than 90 percent of the most advanced chips come from Taiwan.

Intel, a Silicon Valley titan that is seeking to restore its longtime lead in chip manufacturing technology, is making a $20 billion bet that it can help ease the chip shortfall. It is building two factories at its chip-making complex in Chandler, Ariz., that will take three years to complete, and recently announced plans for a potentially bigger expansion, with new sites in New Albany, Ohio, and Magdeburg, Germany.

Why does making millions of these tiny components mean building — and spending — so big? A look inside Intel production plants in Chandler and Hillsboro, Ore., provides some answers.

Chips, or integrated circuits, began to replace bulky individual transistors in the late 1950s. Many of those tiny components are produced on a piece of silicon and connected to work together. The resulting chips store data, amplify radio signals and perform other operations; Intel is famous for a variety called microprocessors, which perform most of the calculating functions of a computer.

Intel has managed to shrink transistors on its microprocessors to mind-bending sizes. But the rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company can make even tinier components, a key reason Apple chose it to make the chips for its latest iPhones.

Such wins by a company based in Taiwan, an island that China claims as its own, add to signs of a growing technology gap that could put advances in computing, consumer devices and military hardware at risk from both China’s ambitions and natural threats in Taiwan such as earthquakes and drought. And it has put a spotlight on Intel’s efforts to recapture the technology lead.

Chip makers are packing more and more transistors onto each piece of silicon, which is why technology does more each year. It’s also the reason that new chip factories cost billions and fewer companies can afford to build them.

In addition to paying for buildings and machinery, companies must spend heavily to develop the complex processing steps used to fabricate chips from plate-size silicon wafers — which is why the factories are called “fabs.”

Enormous machines project designs for chips across each wafer, and then deposit and etch away layers of materials to create their transistors and connect them. Up to 25 wafers at a time move among those systems in special pods on automated overhead tracks.

Processing a wafer takes thousands of steps and up to two months. TSMC has set the pace for output in recent years, operating “gigafabs,” sites with four or more production lines. Dan Hutcheson, vice chair of the market research firm TechInsights, estimates that each site can process more than 100,000 wafers a month. He puts the capacity of Intel’s two planned $10 billion facilities in Arizona at roughly 40,000 wafers a month each.

After processing, the wafer is sliced into individual chips. These are tested and wrapped in plastic packages to connect them to circuit boards or parts of a system.

That step has become a new battleground, because it’s more difficult to make transistors even smaller. Companies are now stacking multiple chips or laying them side by side in a package, connecting them to act as a single piece of silicon.

Where packaging a handful of chips together is now routine, Intel has developed one advanced product that uses new technology to bundle a remarkable 47 individual chips, including some made by TSMC and other companies as well those produced in Intel fabs.

Intel chips typically sell for hundreds to thousands of dollars each. Intel in March released its fastest microprocessor for desktop computers, for example, at a starting price of $739. A piece of dust invisible to the human eye can ruin one. So fabs have to be cleaner than a hospital operating room and need complex systems to filter air and regulate temperature and humidity.

Fabs must also be impervious to just about any vibration, which can cause costly equipment to malfunction. So fab clean rooms are built on enormous concrete slabs on special shock absorbers.

Also critical is the ability to move vast amounts of liquids and gases. The top level of Intel’s factories, which are about 70 feet tall, have giant fans to help circulate air to the clean room directly below. Below the clean room are thousands of pumps, transformers, power cabinets, utility pipes and chillers that connect to production machines.

Fabs are water-intensive operations. That’s because water is needed to clean wafers at many stages of the production process.

Intel’s two sites in Chandler collectively draw about 11 million gallons of water a day from the local utility. Intel’s future expansion will require considerably more, a seeming challenge for a drought-plagued state like Arizona, which has cut water allocations to farmers. But farming actually consumes much more water than a chip plant.

Intel says its Chandler sites, which rely on supplies from three rivers and a system of wells, reclaim about 82 percent of the freshwater they use through filtration systems, settling ponds and other equipment. That water is sent back to the city, which operates treatment facilities that Intel funded, and which redistributes it for irrigation and other nonpotable uses.

Intel hopes to help boost the water supply in Arizona and other states by 2030, by working with environmental groups and others on projects that save and restore water for local communities.

To build its future factories, Intel will need roughly 5,000 skilled construction workers for three years.

They have a lot to do. Excavating the foundations is expected to remove 890,000 cubic yards of dirt, carted away at a rate of one dump truck per minute, said Dan Doron, Intel’s construction chief.

The company expects to pour more than 445,000 cubic yards of concrete and use 100,000 tons of reinforcement steel for the foundations — more than in constructing the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

Some cranes for the construction are so large that more than 100 trucks are needed to bring the pieces to assemble them, Mr. Doron said. The cranes will lift, among other things, 55-ton chillers for the new fabs.

Patrick Gelsinger, who became Intel’s chief executive a year ago, is lobbying Congress to provide grants for fab construction and tax credits for equipment investment. To manage Intel’s spending risk, he plans to emphasize construction of fab “shells” that can be outfitted with equipment to respond to market changes.

To address the chip shortage, Mr. Gelsinger will have to make good on his plan to produce chips designed by other companies. But a single company can do only so much; products like phones and cars require components from many suppliers, as well as older chips. And no country can stand alone in semiconductors, either. Though boosting domestic manufacturing can reduce supply risks somewhat, the chip industry will continue to rely on a complex global web of companies for raw materials, production equipment, design software, talent and specialized manufacturing.


Produced by Alana Celii

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