Freedom is why I ask my students to stand for the Pledge

Featured on PBS News Hour

Freedom is why I ask my students to stand for the Pledge

As an educator, “Please stand for the Pledge of Allegiance” was not a phrase I thought would ever come under scrutiny.

In my 28 years of teaching, and long before the NFL protests in recent months, students had shared reasons why they did not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, including religious reasons. I used these occasions as teaching moments to let students know that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteed the freedoms of religion and speech. I explained that many people had died in order to protect those rights.

While I believed the students were justified in their actions in these cases of religious liberty, I do not feel the same way when it comes to the NFL protests.

Last year, my final year as a high school teacher before retiring, I had two students who decided to take a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance. I wondered why and framed the question in a way they might not have expected.

“Who died for you that gave you the right to stand or not?” I asked.

“No one,” the puzzled-looking students replied.

“I think you are mistaken. Many service members died in order to protect our country and give us our freedom. Some of them may have been members of your family or mine.”

The students looked around and shook their heads. Yes, that teacher mode was now flowing. I felt it my obligation to let students know something personal about my life, something I hoped they would never forget.

I let them know that my father and all my uncles fought in World War II or the Korean War and that my brother in-law fought in Vietnam and my son-in-law completed two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Personally, I did not serve, but I am conscious of the critical role the military has played throughout my 64 years.

For the past 29 years on Veterans Day and Memorial Day, I read my grandmother’s poem, “Our Son,” to my classes. It is about my mother’s brother, my uncle. He was married and the father of a 5-month-old son when he died at age 19 on July 20, 1944 (the same day an assassination attempt on Adolph Hitler was unsuccessful). Lester Bidewell wrote a letter every day to his parents and they knew that something happened to him when the letters stopped coming.

“You have the right to decide to stand or not or to take a knee, but you should know that people around you have strong feelings about the issues and made sacrifices for your freedom and your rights,” I recall saying.

Although I wanted the students to know how I felt, I also know that my teacher-knows-best-mode may not be a great strategy when you are trying to reach young people. I needed to try to understand the students’ point of view, and I think that made a difference with them.

The students explained that the football players were kneeling because of issues related to Black Lives Matter, including the deaths of several unarmed black men by law enforcement. They said they wanted to show their support for the movement and felt they were not disrespecting the flag because they were kneeling.

I told them that I understood and have had a number of students and friends who said they were frustrated to live in a society in which “DWB” (“Driving While Black”) was a crime.

But I also wanted them to see that the lives lost fighting for freedom in the American Revolution, the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, should also be respected.

I wanted them to understand what they were doing and why, because freedom isn’t something we can take lightly.

By David Jungblut

Homeowners Guide to Dealing with Hurricane Damage

Applying Research to Practical Use for Hurricane Katrina Homeowners

I have studied the effects of Hurricane Katrina for the past year (including considerable on-the-ground field research) and have developed a number of techniques to help to determine what happened to dwellings during Hurricane Katrina. These and other techniques helped me to follow the destructive paths of Hurricane Katrina’s powerful wind and water. My findings indicate that many houses were destroyed by water while others were destroyed by wind. However, vast numbers of dwellings were destroyed by both wind and water. Determining the direction that the wind hit your property versus the direction that the water hit, is very important to demonstrate that wind damaged your property during Hurricane Katrina.

The initial major flooding direction was a wind-driven event that hit the shore line from the Southeast, and the initial damage could have been from the wind or wind-driven water. This type of wind event is due to the normal circulation pattern of hurricanes. It is necessary to follow the wind damage out of the flooding area to see if your property may have been damaged by the wind before the flooding hit. See the tracking techniques below on how to do this. The other major direction of impact flooding was from the Southwest due to storm surge, with water flow being hindered by the land. Damage from other directions, other than the Southeast and the Southwest, may indicate that property may have been hit with a downburst. Determining the time of this event as it relates to the flooding is very important. See that geological techniques may help in the determining of the event order.

Tracking Techniques

How do you determine if your house was affected by wind, wind and water, or just water? The following tracking techniques can be invaluable to your understanding of what happened to your property. You would start by drawing a map of your property and your neighborhoods with a properly oriented North arrow. Use a good compass or obtain a US Geological Survey 7.5-minute topographic map that shows the direction of North relative to your house/street: Select a scale (for example, 1 inch equals 100 feet) and place the scale on your map so that it will be readable for your area of study. Do measurements with a tape rule if possible, to keep the map consistent with the scale you’ve selected. Also, take photos of all observations to document your findings in the field.

Start at your foundation or foundation wall. On your map, mark the direction that the vertical reinforcing re-bars are bent, if they are exposed. Draw and orient each scratch mark observed on the foundation floor or walls of the building. Notate the number of scratch marks and calculate the orientation of the majority. The next step is to take an inventory of trees around your property. Did they fall or not? If they did not fall, place a small circle on your map. For trees that fell, draw a small line on your map showing the direction that the trees fell. Now place a circle where impact scars are observed on larger trees; leave alone if no impact scars are observed. Look down the ‘fall line from the downed trees. Do you see other trees that fell in the same or similar direction? If so, mark the lines on the map.

The next step is to look at neighboring properties. Follow the lines of force that you observed on your property and compare those lines to what you see in the neighborhood. Do you see similar lines of force in the same orientation (to within maybe 20 degrees)? If so, mark the location and orientation of these forces on your map. Continue to look at the tress and the damage to other properties and document your observations as you move along. Do you now see a reinforcing pattern of force lines in the immediate area or do you see force lines that are predominantly oriented in different directions? Mark your observations on your map. Use additional sheets of paper to make your map in order to keep the scale readable. Continue the map survey as long as you are on safe ground. Safety is paramount! Do not trespass and watch for hazards wherever you are walking. If possible, you may decide to drive around your neighborhood and look to see if your observation of force vectors can be reinforced at a larger, more regional, scale.

Geological Principles

The Geological Principle of Relative Dating can be used determine relative age or order of events that took place during Hurricane Katrina, by showing that different layers were deposited at different times. Try to keep in mind the direction of flooding in your area; compare the flooding direction to sedimentary deposits. It is best to think of the debris as sedimentary deposits even though you are dealing with parts of houses, cloth from clothes, along with normal mud, sand and tree sediment. If you see two or more different directions, document by taking pictures and have a professional investigate because it is possible to determine a relative time line of the events that happened at your property from the debris and sediment deposits.

How might you interpret all of this data once it is collected? Professional help could be invaluable, but you can make an initial assessment yourself. If the re-bars are bent by forces coming from the Southwest (or, conversely, they are pointing towards the Northeast), they were most likely the result of a storm surge hit from the Southwest. If the re-bars are bent by forces coming from the Southeast (pointing toward the Northwest) the resulting force could have been from wind, wind driven waves, or just rising water damage. If you have scratch marks on the foundation floor, the marks may indicate that something was pushed over by wind. However, if the observed force direction was from the Southwest, it most likely resulted from the storm surge and quickly rising water. If the force direction is predominantly from the Southeast, it could be wind or water related and you should have a professional look at it. If you have observed multiple force vectors that appear to be almost radial in direction, or oriented in a direction that differs from the vectors discussed herein, this may indicate you were hit either directly by a downburst or one of the straight-line winds that develop from it. Evidence of multiple force directions in a single area may indicate changing wind patterns over the evolution and movement of the storm.

Some other things to look for, and this is where you may need the help of an engineering professional, include determining if the hurricane straps that hold the roof onto the house have been bent. Such damage might indicate that the roof experienced damage due to high winds. If the roof experienced high winds, the roof would have had an uplift during which the roof was held on by the hurricane straps. Yet the roof may have been damaged or have a gap between the studs the roof line check both the leeward and windward. If this is the case than your house experienced hurricane-level damaging winds. Holes in the roof also may indicate an upward lift. If your house experienced upward lift, it is very likely that the entire house was under wind stress.

If you have computer access, go to: and look at the NOAA Hurricane Katrina Air Photos. When you get to your property location, click on the picture (see button on the right side bottom of the screen) for a close up of your area. Find your property and look for confirmation of the lines that you just drew on your map. Do the force directions observed on the photo and your map match? Look at the larger region using the photos. Do you find reinforcement of the downdrafts, straight-line winds, or predominant storm-force winds observed on your property? If you find that your observations on the ground and the observations ‘in the air suggest that wind force may have significantly impacted your home, have your results evaluated by an independent (not-related to your insurance company) professional.

You should also ask for the engineers complete report, because wind speeds vary greatly and the top winds ‘speeds record are different from the estimated winds speeds for your area. Good luck in your quest.

By Geologist David Jungblut and Environmentalist Joseph Hockreiter

Thank You for Research Help

Hurricane Katrina Study Acknowledgements

A Big Thanks to All of the Help I Received During this Hurricane Katrina Project

WLOX ABC 13 the Station for South Mississippi: Katrina South Mississippi Story

National Geographic Society: Cyclones

David Jungblut, Geologist: Wind or Water

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations National Geodetic Survey: Hurricane Katrina Images

United States Geological Survey: Hurricane Katrina Impact Studies

David Jungblut, Geologist: Geological Principles and Hurricane Katrina

David Jungblut, Geologist: Why Were So Many Properties Destroyed During Hurricane Katrina?

David Jungblut, Geologist: How Was My House Destroyed; Was It by Wind or Water?

T. Theodore Fujita: DFW Microburst ON August 2, 1985
T. Theodore Fujita: The Downburst Microburst and Macroburst

A number of Oakcrest High School staff members have helped me, they include:

Joanne Carr and Brenna Baker, with editing;

Chris Monroe, with smart board technology;

Charles Chip Lockwood III, with a documentary of the trips to Mississippi.

Three students have worked on the documentary; they are: Colleen Dirkes, Leanna Dattolo and Kierstin Wunder.

Christopher Sopuch, with placing my paper with pictures on the web. Two students are working with him; they are: Vincent Brunetti and Gena Petrillo.

I am teaching students how to evaluate pictures from the hurricane site. To help with assess damage. Some students that are doing nice work are Michael Schumacker and Todd Dorn.

Brenna Baker, Joe Seaman, Lea Fitzpatrick and Nathan Schreiber have helped with content discussions.

Joe Hockreiter, senior environmental specialist from Yardley, Pennsylvania has conducted a peer review of my research.

Future plans include using my research as a teaching tool and having students do projects related to events that happened during Hurricane Katrina.

Respect for Our Servicemen


“Our Son” was written my grandmother Mrs. Ruth Mary Bidewell, in memory of her son and my uncle, Lester Earl Bidewell killed in action in France, July 20, 1944, and in memory of all sons who have given their lives for their country. The family photos were supplies by my mother, Mrs. Ruth Mary Bidewell Jungblut. The original video was done with my voice for the Oakcrest High School Remembers and Relives World War II, May 26-28, 2004.


Opinion Published on PBS News Hour

Freedom is why I ask my students to stand for the Pledge

Princeton University Research

David Jungblut, Oakcrest High School has been invited to attend three week long instructional and research opportunities with Princeton University.

1. Sustainability – Living on the Edge -Engineering in the Next Generation Science Standards focuses on designing solutions to humans’ wants and needs. To develop successful strategies for mitigating risks of earthquakes and volcanoes it is critical to understand how humans interact with their environment. Teachers will deepen and enrich their understanding of geologic processes by exploring activities at tectonic plate boundaries, analyzing risks to human populations, and evaluating strategies to mitigate those risks. Using Google Earth, we will analyze geological process data to identify patterns and develop models. We will design solutions to keep a disaster from becoming a catastrophe.

2. Hawk Mountain, July 26-29, 2014 in Kempton, PA.

3. Light and Life in the Bay, August 2-6, 2014 in Barnegat Bay, NJ.

Program Overview

Educators will have the opportunity to participate in field-based experiments that support researchers’ understandings about the environment. This is an invaluable experience intended to be transferred to the classroom and shared with students year after year. 

Teachers will better understand the Science Practices as specified in the Next Generation Science Standards for their application in classroom instruction, curriculum and assessment:   

  • Asking questions
  • Developing and using models
  • Planning and carrying out investigations
  • Analyzing and interpreting data
  • Using mathematics and computational thinking
  • Constructing explanations
  • Engaging in argument from evidence
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Expedition – Hawk Mountain

The cost and flexibility of food searching flights on avian scavengers

Although Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures rank as the world’s two most common and widely distributed avian scavengers, we remain largely ignorant of the costs and benefits of their food searching flights. This is unfortunate as these two avian scavengers represent species that are doing well at a time when most other vultures are in serious decline. Teachers’ research will inform questions about food searching, and provide clues for determining why many other vulture species are in decline. 

Supported by Jules Winter, Ph.D with Erin Brown and researchers at the Acopian Center for Conservation Learning. 

The research will inform the extent to which food-searching flight behavior differs between turkey and black vultures, as well as the extent to which flight behavior with each species shifts due to environmental factors.  Teachers will engage in field observations of the flight behavior of both species.  In small groups they will design questions, collect, analyze, and present preliminary data that furthers an understanding of predator/prey relationships under varied environmental situations.

Expedition – Light and Life in the Bay

Explore one of the most extensive salt marsh ecosystems on the East Coast and contribute to research about the Terrapin turtle.

Terrapins prey upon crabs and snail which are most often found underwater; are terrapins able to forage effectively when turbidity caused by boat activity reduces visibility? Teachers will develop their own questions, collect original data and complete their own analyses to help identify conservation concerns. These results will help inform our understanding of human impacts not only on terrapins, but the aquatic community as a whole in Barnegat Bay and beyond. After completion of this course, teachers will be confident in their understanding of the scientific method by experiencing first-hand the thought process that scientists implement every day. The program will include data collection, data analysis and group discussions, supported by researchers Abby Domini and Jules Winter, Ph.D.

In this field-based program teachers will capture, tag and measure terrapins, as well as collect prey items to evaluate whether visual cues used by terrapins to find prey are affected by anthropogenic activity in the bay. Most important, you will be mentored in how to observe biological patterns and how to frame research hypothesis/questions and then gather data to address those inquiries. This long-running teacher program in the US has shown that field opportunities refresh and energize teachers, inspiring them to share their first-hand experiences of the natural world with their students. They learn about environmental sustainability and gain hands-on experience in the valuable skills of scientific inquiry and observation – and their field experiences provide real-world context for teaching textbook principles.

The Great Insurance Debate

The Associated Press article on “Catastrophic losses threaten future of insurance industry coverage” that ran in the Atlantic City Press on Sunday November 20, 2005 only tells part of the story. The estimated “insured” losses of 34.4 billions dollars do not give the actual losses by the people in the Gulf Coast area that were insured.

This past summer I spent a lot of time in New Orleans Louisiana, Gulf Port, and Biloxi Mississippi. As Hurricane Katrina approached, I was on one of the last fights out. Six weeks later, I returned for a week and found the area in an insurance nightmare. “The Great Insurance Debate,” as I call it, has not received much press outside of the hurricane damaged areas, but everybody needs to understand this is a big problem to all of us.

In my opinion the insurance problem resulted from a common practice of banks giving homeowners stipulations on what we need to do and have for closing on a house. All of us are accustomed to hearing that your house is so many feet from a river, gulf, or ocean and we are below 12 feet and need flood insurance. We understand that flood insurance is a federal program because insurance companies do not want to cover major events like hurricanes. Homeowners feel safe with our investment because the banks feel safe giving us all that money in a mortgage to close and own a great place to live. Banks in the Gulf Coast region also required that people purchase insurance called Hurricane Wind Insurance above flood prone areas.

This Hurricane Wind Insurance coverage was a surprise to me since I always thought a homeowner’s policy would cover wind damage. Gulf Coast area the homeowner’s insurance does hurricane wind, so they need a second policy. The people in Gulf Coast had homeowners for fire and liability, flood or hurricane wind from hurricane damage, so they felt insured.

So much for being insured when the flooding went to 20 feet and in some areas over 30 feet above the mean sea level. Most of the people even 200 yards from the Gulf of Mexico were above 15 feet and therefore had to have homeowners and hurricane wind damage policies. I have heard so many people say something like this, “I have insurance but the insurance company said my house was damage by a flood and I’m not covered.” The insurance agencies should have done something to help. Money for clean up at the very least, instead of letting the houses mold over. Oh, by the way, the insurance companies have removed mold from the new policies and have limited coverage on older policies. I can not believe the insurance companies feel no obligation to help these people.

Have the insurance companies done there part or just covered the insured with despair and a plea from the area for help? I have received numerous e-mails from people in the area like Jilianne Bocek, who writes, “Our neighborhood was completely leveled. Out of 67 homes not one is left standing, they are all slabs. The outlying area looks similar for a 1-2 mile radius….We, like our neighbors…in outlying areas are receiving the run around from insurance. They are saying this is only flood damage.” The people have to prove they have wind damage before the flood to have a claim. Insurance companies have told thousands of insured policy holders that they have uninsured losses.

But, why is this problem for us in New Jersey?

First, the New Orleans, Gulf Port and Biloxi are not built on barrier islands like we are in New Jersey. The area affected by this hurricane hit areas up to Interstate 10 and along rivers and low lying areas up to 10 miles inland in some areas. Interstate 10 and The Garden State Parkway are about the same distance from the coast; their coast is really like our bay area. I wonder: how many people are above 12 to 15 feet and without flood insurance along the Garden State Parkway? Second, would we be covered by our homeowners insurance if we were not flooded but our house was leveled or damage by a hurricane wind event? Third, I talked to a lot of young couples with their first house, will they get enough support or will they lose everything? Will banks go under because of foreclose losses? Will banks be interested in continuing to give mortgages any where along the shore? Finally, everyone needs to have the right insurance since I have found out that the more policies that are required, the less insurance you have. One property, I once owned, needed four different insurance policies, each giving me protection but I felt that with all the exceptions I was not truly protected, even though I was paying about four thousand dollars each year for insurance. Two policies were not enough for the gulf coast; they needed three, mold is now not covered you need four, or is it five to be truly covered?

I personally think that the insurance industry must determine which direction they want to follow: Write policies that truly cover people in their homes when those moments of need hit or they need to look for other investment places. If the insurance companies do not wish to be involved then the only thing that makes sense to me is all homeowners policies in the entire United States are given over to the National Flood Insurance Agency. All policies written will cover fire, liability, hurricane wind and flood. A comprehensive policy that truly covers people in need, not two, three or four that have clauses written in them so the insurance company can get out of the contract. This will give the agency money to deal with all true emergencies. People not living near a coast line might not be interested in flood insurance but the truth is any house can flood when it happens to rain thirteen inches in any given day. Let’s cover everyone, everywhere the right way. We need insurance but we need to be covered correctly so we do not lose everything because of the fine print of an insurance contract.

By David Jungblut, Geologist
The Great Insurance Debate, Part 2 further highlights issues and solutions with respect to insurance.

The Great Insurance Debate, Part 2

On November 20, 2005, I wrote an article about how insurance problems are hurting people because we need several policies to feel covered, but when a major event happens, we find out we were not covered properly.   I called that article, “The Great Insurance Debate.”  Friday night, I went to FEMA meeting at Pineland High School and I felt that same frustration that I saw on the faces of the victims of Sandy that were on the victims of Katrina seven years ago.  Our insurance policies do not help people the way that insurance policies originally intended to do.

At the meeting last night, I found out new flood maps were being worked on the past two years that contained information about storms (not Sandy) that showed properties may have flood problems that were not available to homeowners or their mortgage company when they purchased their home.   If the information was available, some of the people at the meeting might have had flood insurance.

Other issues that were discuss during the meeting and the results as I see them are:

  • First; second homeowners, sorry no money is available to help you at this time.  That may change but do not count on it.
  • Second, the new federal regulation that deals with insurance rates does not contain the word “grandfather” anywhere in the regulations, so the old rules about being “grandfathered in” is not part of the new regulations.  The grandfather clauses in the old laws are dead when the local governments accept the new FEMA regulations.   So rates that were “grandfathered in” will no longer apply and the rates will go up. The flood insurance premium rates will go up 25 percent each year until the insurance amount becomes equal to the “actuary amount” need to protect the home base on how high your house is above the mean sea level.
  • Third, do the local governments have to adopt the new FEMA regulations?  No, they do not but local areas will be out of the federal flood program in two years, if they do not adopt the new regulations into law.  So, all local governments will have to accept the new regulations with the new flood maps.
  • The last issue that was in the minds of all the people that were in attendance, should the local government accept the new regulation and change zoning rules fast so they can have redevelopment that makes us safer in the long run?  I think this might be a good idea.  But haste is not always best, and in this case it depends on clarifying how people need or want to rebuild.  Which brings us to the definition of “substantial damage.” One definition that can be used is 50 per cent of market value the other is 50 per cent of assessed value of the improvements, which in some cases can be considerable below the market value.  Why is this important?  If your house is determined to be substantially damaged, it needs to be raised to the minimum requirements.  Some houses cannot be raised so they will have to be demolished even if they are well below 50 per cent of market value.  In other cases it is good to have your house determined to be substantial damage because then you would qualify for 30,000 dollars to raise your property (sorry second homeowners you do not qualify for this).   Which brings us to the cost of raising a house, one homeowner said that she received a price of 80,000 dollars.   For some houses this is more than the assessed value.  I would hope that smaller units would be priced much lower than that.

So trying to determine what you need to do here is a quick check list and you can pick only one:

  1. Rebuild at the height it is now, your final flood insurance rate will be based on the “actuary amount” rates and remember that you will soon not be “grandfathered in” so rates will go up. Also to rebuild, you cannot have “substantial damage” so check with city hall quickly about the definition.
  2. Raise your house, if you want better flood insurance rates or if you had “substantial damage.”  If you think the 30,000 can help you to raise your house you need to check with city hall quickly about the definition of “substantial damage.”
  3. Still confused or cannot decide than wait six months as the money problems and regulations will be determined and laws rewritten that will determine what your neighborhood will look like in the near future.

Let’s cover everyone, everywhere the right way!  We need to evaluate high risk areas and I think everyone agrees to that, but we need to do it with one vision and one insurance that does not delay people receiving money, the money they are in need when they need it.

David Jungblut, Ocean City

Reinventing Local American Corporations

Reinventing Local American Corporations

By David Jungblut, Geologist

People out of work or in low level dead end jobs; local banks that served the community are for the most part gone; businesses leaving an area after they contaminated the local environment forcing taxpayers to pay for it; the Wall Street mess and global corporations no longer benefiting the American working class. Towns, townships, cities, counties, states and the country left to find solutions without money from the people who put us in this mess. Local money only a few decades ago would stay in a community and be used many times by local governments and businesses from employers to employees. Now money can enter a local bank that maybe owned by National or International Corporation and local area’s economy may not have an opportunity to use that money again. How do we fix the problems? We reinvent The Local American Corporation.

What I am proposing is that we make new Local American Corporations work on solution to local problems. This new corporations could be set up as semiprivate corporation that can have all local taxpayers owning 50% of the stock, and county, state and national government owning the rest of the stock. The corporations can become totally private and after ten to twenty years buying out the government stock. Another model that can be used and one that may be easier to establish, would be a new public authority that can be converted to public corporate ownership later. Public corporations are used throughout the country to build housing or do special projects. Why not include the local taxpayers in the corporation with stock ownership to promote communities businesses or tackle community problems.

Either model could be used by New Orleans’ where all taxpayers (not just land owners) would receive 50% of the stock equally in a new American Corporation. For example; the New Orleans’ Ninth Ward American Corporation could be formed to tackle the problem of rebuilding that area. This corporation would receive houses and other properties that have been taken over by the government and money from the oil industry for say ten years. A second Ninth Ward company can be started with oil income available for them to tackle another problem after the first goes hundred percent independent.

Why should the oil companies contribute to this new local company? According to a governmental study [1], up to 45 states have experienced subsidence for varying reasons and one of the stated reasons for the subsidence in the Greater New Orleans Area was the removal of petroleum by the oil industry. The report concluded in 1991 that the New Orleans area is now more acceptable to further subsidence and flooding. One could argue that this conclusion was confirmed during the flooding of New Orleans in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit. Though all nationally significant energy decisions would remain with the national government some money should be received for local benefit.

Is rebuilding the Ninth Ward in New Orleans a good idea or should we go another direction? Let the people decide. The semiprivate company would be made of taxpayers from this area who would work on the best solutions for this area as a whole. The stock holders would therefore have financial reasons to see that they can work toward for the common good and not just individual benefit. The people would determine the best direction for the Ninth Ward and make recommendations to the local and state governments as to the best direction for the people, city and state as a whole.

Other areas of the country like the inner cities can decide the direction that is best for the location and the people. Where would money come from if the area was not affected by oil removal subsidence? Some communities will be deciding to allow oil companies to drill for oil or not, to place wind or solar on public property and public buildings or not; communities are making decisions that will affect how they live. Why not allocate some percentage to go to local corporations that are semiprivate to be used for the benefit of a local community? The corporation of local people and government would be in a good position to determine future problems that can come up and have solution and money available. Problems from oil include spills to land settlement issues. Solar is safe in my opinion but a lot of solar panels can have an effect on the climate, maybe for the better if we want to lower the total energy that the world must deal with. Wind power is not without problems since it deals with secondary power from the sun and takes out energy from a stream of air after the energy already heated the ground and water before it was removed for commercial use. A few windmills are a novelty but millions are an eyesore on land and ocean. Windmills may have undesirable side effects that are not fully understood at the present time. So there is some risk with any venture and the general population should receive some direct benefit since public property is used.

Other governmental property and assets can be used, like schools. Schools have professional people that can give vast amounts of knowledge to local corporations and understand the personally needs of the area. They can help to educate the unemployed and develop a local work force that can be trained for local jobs in the local corporation as needed. Other newly owned governmental assets can be used for the benefit of local corporations. For example, government buyout corporations like AIG could be used for insurance needs and can supply technical helps of the young and new Local American Corporations at reduced rates, since we are all part owners in the bailout corporations.

The people are paying; the government is planning to give away public land for corporation use. Why not local corporations? When we needed water, sewer and electric it was local corporations and local banking that did the job. Now that we need to rebuild a city or decide the direction of the town, it should be local corporations that “we the people” can control and work with for the better United States.

[1] Mitigating Losses from Land Subsidence in the United States (1991), by Sinclair, W. C. and J. W. Stewart

Insurance Questions

Question and Answers About Insurance Claims

What your insurance does not want you to know about wind damage during flood events! Did your home insurance company say that they would not cover your losses because they are not responsible for flood damage? Do you have wind damage BELOW the flood line? Here’s how to make a case for the insurance company to cover that damage. Geologist David Jungblut, teacher and author of It’s a Monster Hurricane! (Hurricane Katrina Study). The book is about his study about wind and water damaged properties during Hurricane Katrina in the above at and below the flood line.

Question: How did you help homeowners in Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina?

Answer: I studied the effects of Hurricane Katrina including considerable on-the-ground field research and have developed a number of techniques to help to determine what happened to dwellings during the storm, which helped me to teach homeowners follow the destructive paths of Hurricane Katrina’s powerful wind and water. My findings indicate that while many houses were destroyed by just water or just wind, vast numbers of dwellings were destroyed by both wind and water. Determining the direction that the wind hit your property versus the direction that the water hit is very important to demonstrate that wind damaged your property during any hurricane.

Question: Can you explain the Tracking Techniques that victims of Superstorm Sandy can use?

Answer: To determine if your house was affected by wind, wind and water, or just water the following tracking techniques can be invaluable to your understanding of what happened to your property.

  1. Take pictures of all the damage to your property and your neighbors’ properties, especially the trees. Note any scars on the tree trunks.
  2. Go to Google Earth or get a US Geological Survey topographic map of your property, neighborhood and surrounding area.
  3. On your map, draw the damages by putting an “X” on any house damage, and drawing lines where the trees fell, including an arrow to show the direction of their fall. Mark if there was a scar on a particular side of the tree.
  4. Can you see a pattern of trees falling in a similar direction along a fairly straight path through your map? OR does it look like a giant foot stepped down in the center, pushing all the trees outward, creating something like a circle or semi-circle?

If you answered yes to either question, you may have been the victim of downburst or microburst or straight-line winds.

Question: What are Downbursts, Microbursts and Straight-line winds?

Answer: Downbursts are wind events that happen when the atmosphere is unstable and the air literally falls from the sky. The really large downbursts are called macrobursts, while the smaller, precision downbursts are called microbursts. These mircobursts can be as small as a raindrop, but they can still cause damage if they are moving fast enough. The best way to understand what downbursts are is to compare them to tornadoes. Both have a touchdown vortex, but tornadoes spiral upward to the sky while downbursts spiral down to the ground, just like the water draining from the bathtub spirals down the drain. Tornado paths are formed by air turning into wind as it is pulled into the vortex. While downburst paths are formed by air being pushed down in straight-line winds that radiate outward from the vortex, like a pitcher of air being poured out on the ground. Straight-line winds are jet-like streams of air that typical can move at a rate of 60-120 miles per hour or even faster. Obviously, wind that fast can cause serious damage, knock down trees and even chop a tree in half and blow the top away.

Question: How can homeowners determine if their property was damage below the flood line by wind or just caused flood or a combination of both?

Answer: Well, if the wind caused damage that let the water in, it’s storm damage. If the water forced its way in, it’s flood damage. How do you tell the difference?

  1. Did you have damage to the roof, shingles or vinyl siding? That’s wind damage.
  2. Did you have water coming up through the floor boards with minimal exterior damage? That’s flood damage.
  3. Did you have holes in the siding below the flood line? Could be that the wind let the water in.
  4. Did the flood come from the right and the holes in the house appear on the left, or vice versa? Those holes are most likely wind damage.
  5. Are the contents of your home piled up or scattered around? If they are piled, that’s probably just flooding. If they are scattered, the wind was at work in your home.
  6. Look at your foundation. Does it look like the house was twisting during the storm? Scratches, bent nails, boards ajar, foundation damage could all be indicators that the wind was heading one way and the flood was moving the other way.
  7. Does your roof have holes in it? This may indicate upward lift, which is likely the result of wind stress.

Question: Can a homeowner use other techniques to determine what happened?

Answer: With a little work, the answer is yes. The Geological Principles of Relative Dating can be used determine relative order of events that took place during a storm, by showing that different layers were deposited at different times. This can be tricky, but generally speaking, if you have layers of debris, this could be a sign of multiple instances of wind and/or flood. Each time the wind blew or flood came through, another layer was deposited. It is best to think of the debris as including parts of houses, cloth from clothes, along with normal mud, sand and tree sediment. If you see two or more different directions, document by taking pictures and have a professional investigate because it may be possible for them to determine a relative time line of the events that happened at your property from the debris and sediment deposits. They can feel free to refer to information on this website.

Questions: Are there lessons that have helped students understand these forces during the storms?

Answer: Yes, and homeowners also, one of the lesson is called ‘Microburst, Straight-line Winds and Storm Surge Flooding Lab’. You use a leaf blower, tub, clothes pins, and water, and then test model houses to downburst and straight-line winds. See the picture.