Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Remembering the Joplin Tornado 2011

The Joplin, Missouri Tornado

Joplin is an urban community in Jasper County that is situated in the southwest corner of Missouri. Although it boasts an average population of around 49,024, the population swells to 270,000 during the day due to industrial, agricultural, and educational employment and resources. Southwest Missouri is considered part of “tornado alley.”

On Sunday, May 22, 2011, Joplin experienced the deadliest tornado in 47 years and the seventh deadliest in U.S. history. “At 2:40 pm, the National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Office issued a tornado watch-out for parts of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.” Three hours later, the Joplin/Jasper County Emergency Management began coordinating with the NWS to track the path of the storm. At 6:17 pm, a warning was broadcast to the public which gave them approximately 24 minutes to secure themselves in a safe environment. Outdoor emergency sirens were sounded then and again at 6:31 pm. “At 6:41 pm, an EF-5 tornado touched down in Joplin with winds exceeding 200 mph. The tornado cut a 22.1 mile path that was 1 mile wide and passed for 6 miles through the city.”

The results of the storm were devastating. The tornado “almost completely destroyed the commercial district of the city.” More than 15,000 vehicles were carried by the wind to new locations, many of them “rolled into balls of bent metal and broken glass by the force of the storm. In parking lots, concrete barriers designed to stop cars, each of them weighing 200-300 pounds and re-barred into asphalt, [were] plucked into the air and tossed as far as 60 yards.”

At St. John’s Medical Center, 183 patients were evacuated by staff within 90 minutes. Approximately 4,380 homes were completely destroyed; 3,884 homes suffered some kind of damage. More than 130 transmission poles went down, causing power outages to 18,000 customers. Thousands of buildings were destroyed, including St. John’s Medical Center and the Joplin High School. Three million cubic yards of debris lay scattered on the ground. The storm resulted in 161 deaths and 1,371 injuries.

Governor Jay Nixon declared Joplin a disaster area and called out the National Guard. Since “FEMA had been conducting disaster response and recovery in Missouri in the months prior to the Joplin tornado,” President Obama quickly mobilized the agency into action. The Joplin disaster was added to an emergency declaration previously declared by the President.

Joplin, Missouri Preparedness and Mitigation

One of the biggest issues to emerge from the Joplin tornado disaster was the weakness in Jasper County’s warning system. This weakness contributed to the catastrophic loss of life during the the Joplin tornado.

Jasper County’s warning system policy is to “sound sirens over the entire county even if only a part of the county is included, so sirens were sounded for three minutes that day [May 22, 2011] when a tornado warning was issued for the northern part of the county but didn’t include Joplin.”

Three minutes after the last siren was turned off, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a tornado warning for Joplin. It was decided not to run the siren again. Residents of Joplin missed the tornado warning unless they were watching TV or listening to the radio.

The sirens did not sound again until the tornado was already descending on Joplin, and it was too late for residents to react.

The Springfield, Missouri National Weather Service misidentified and misreported the location of the tornado three times. Joplin residents were led to believe the “tornado would pass north of the city.”

The same National Weather Service was known for sounding the sirens too frequently. Jasper County’s policy — to sound the sirens for both tornado and severe thunderstorms — was based on the premise that any storm bringing strong winds warranted an alarm. Over a four year period, Jasper County issued 34 tornado warnings and sounded the sirens, even though only two tornado warnings were issued. People had become accustomed to the sirens and did not take them seriously.

On the night of May 22, 2011, residents heard the sirens but waited for confirmation of a serious tornado threat by watching TV or looking outside. They later reported confusion over the sirens that sounded right before the tornado hit because they did not understand the urgency of the situation. That urgency was not communicated to them through traditional channels.

People looking outside would not have seen the tornado because it was “completely and totally invisible” due to rain, making people dependent on the warning system. In spite of advanced technology, weather forecasters still cannot determine the course of a tornado because “radar can’t see a tornado moving on the ground.”

“Only human eyes can see a tornado on the ground; trained spotters remain a crucial part of the government’s warning program.” In fact, at 5:31 pm on May 22, 2011, storm chasers sighted a huge storm system west of Joplin and feared the worst. Eight minutes later, the storm turned into an EF-5 tornado. At 5:44 pm, Joplin residents still were not aware that a tornado had landed. People died due to lack of situational awareness.

Joplin suffered approximately $2.8 billion in economic loss due to the tornado. At least 30% of the city was impacted by the event.

It was later determined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology that houses in Joplin were not built to withstand strong winds. More than 83% of structural damage was caused by winds of 135 mph or less — equal to an EF-2 tornado. And 135 deaths were caused by collapsed buildings.

“Tornadoes have winds that create uplift or vertical suction that will pull a poorly-connected roof off of a house.” Many houses were not bolted to a foundation and roofs were not adequately anchored to walls. Home Depot collapsed because the roof was not properly anchored.

Flying debris from houses increased the overall damage. A study done by the American Society of Civil Engineers found that the use of hurricane ties — metal clips used to secure rafters and trusses to the outside walls of a house — were not required on homes by local building codes to withstand strong winds. Furthermore, U.S. model building codes did not require that tornado hazards be addressed at all in building codes.

The hospitals in the Joplin area were not prepared for the overwhelming influx of patients after the tornado. After St. John’s Medical Center was evacuated, the medical staff conducted field triage and medical treatment in the parking lot. People who were unaware of the damage to the hospital continued to bring patients there. Hospitals were forced to operate on emergency generators. Although EMS and medical personnel set up field triage stations throughout Joplin, they were forced to improvise due to a lack of medical supplies. Ambulances treated people on the spot instead of transporting them to the hospitals.

The Incident Command System was not prepared to deal with thousands of responders and volunteers. Responders did not coordinate with the local ICS even though staging areas and check-in procedures were in place. They lacked equipment and training and did not follow consistent protocols. Some buildings were searched multiple times because different groups of responders used different markings. The freelancing responders also posed a safety issue for other responders.

The Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT) was overwhelmed by fatalities. In spite of assistance from law enforcement and the Department of Human Health and Services, the team was only able to process 1 or 2 bodies per day. Families were identifying victims, but this stopped after a family misidentified a body. The Missouri Highway Patrol took control of the missing persons list in order to expedite matters. To top it off, personnel did not have training in fatality management.

Volunteers lacked training, supplies, and affiliations with well-established organizations. AmeriCorps took over management of volunteers.

“Communications and information sharing between the [Joint Field Office] and the [Joplin Division Office] proved to be challenging during the initial response.” There was no clear chain of command. The use of large data files with email and voice mail led to poor information management and dissemination. No common operating picture (COP) could be created due to an inadequate information management system. This hurt FEMA’s credibility.

During the tornado, social media was not effective because Joplin residents did not know what exactly was going on. Local leaders later realized that there was not enough engagement between the City of Joplin and the public. The city’s website was difficult to navigate for anybody seeking information.

On the positive side, “participation in the National Level Exercise 2011 (NLE 11) helped to prepare Federal, State, regional, local, and private sector personnel to respond effectively to the Joplin tornado.” From May 16-19, 2011, participants simulated a catastrophic earthquake. FEMA Region VII and the State of Missouri developed the Joint FEMA Region VII and State of Missouri New Madrid Earthquake Response Operations Plan. During the exercises, Missouri emergency management and response agencies practiced plans and procedures for mass casualty evacuation, mutual aid, and EMAC. The resources, systems, procedures, and partnerships exercised were later used in the Joplin response. Agencies learned how to activate and use regional resources. They learned about FEMA grant programs. They learned how to use a mobile field hospital and a patient moving and tracking system.

Over the years, “Southwest Missouri jurisdictions had undertaken a number of regional preparedness initiatives that proved instrumental for the response to the Joplin tornado.” These jurisdictions worked cooperatively on grants, exercises, training, and other preparedness opportunities within the Missouri Homeland Security Region D. FEMA training in ICS and other systems and procedures enabled a rapid, effective, coordinated regional response to the Joplin tornado.

The Response to the Joplin Tornado

The response to Joplin’s tornado followed FEMA’s Whole Community approach. “This only transpired because of the preparedness partnerships that had been developed among Federal, State, local, private sector, voluntary, and non-profit entities.” These partnerships “enabled emergency responders to meet the needs of survivors immediately after the Joplin tornado.”

The Four Corners Emergency Management mutual aid agreements were activated. The Southwest Missouri Incident Support Team provided valuable support to the Joplin/Jasper County emergency operations center (EOC). The team had received training and equipment through grants from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Incident Support Team “used its satellite capabilities to augment communications to the Joplin/Jasper County EOC.”

Four Corners Emergency Management handled all calls for aid from Joplin. The Crawford County Health Department sent nurses and portable refrigerators to Joplin. Greene County provided 110 responders from the Sheriff’s Office, the Office of Emergency Management, the Highway Department, Building and Development Services, and Public Information.”

EMS and medical personnel, with the help of mutual aid agencies, set up field triage and medical treatment stations throughout Joplin. The State of Missouri activated the Missouri I Disaster Medical team, which set up an 8,000 square-foot, 60 bed mobile field hospital to treat patients.

Responders from more than 400 public safety organizations were sent to Joplin from Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, and other states as a result of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). “Within 24 hours of the tornado, more than 800 police cars, 300 ambulances, 400 fire trucks, and 1,100 responders had arrived in Joplin to contribute to response operations.”

The City of Joplin worked with the Southwest Missouri Incident Support Team to create staging areas and check-in protocols. Standard Incident Command System procedures were established, and the daily Incident Action Plan was produced and distributed.

The Joplin Fire department lost two fire stations and necessary equipment during the tornado. But the department had to respond to routine calls as well as deal with the aftermath of the tornado. Help arrived from fire departments throughout southwest Missouri. Rural fire departments provided tanker trucks. The Southwest Missouri Incident Support Team contributed an experienced commander to help with operations. Integrated teams were developed, using both Joplin fire personnel and mutual aid responders. The Pierce Manufacturing Company loaned the city two pumper trucks. FEMA erected two modular buildings to replace the two fire stations that were destroyed.

The City of Joplin kept the community informed through press conferences, press releases, and news alerts. officials used email, the city’s website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to disseminate information about shelters, volunteer opportunities, making donations, disaster recovery centers, and registering for FEMA disaster aid. The city tried to help victims and family members find each other.

Non-profit organizations such as the American Red Cross, AmeriCorps, and Citizens Corps descended on Joplin to help with the response. AmeriCorps established a missing persons hotline and agreed to manage the thousands of volunteers who arrived to help.

The Joplin Humane Society and Joplin Animal Control, with help from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the American Humane Association, the Humane Society of the United States, and Red Rover, opened animal shelters to house the hundreds of animals left homeless by the tornado. The Missouri Veterinary Medical Association sent three Missouri Volunteer Veterinary Corps (MOVVC) veterinarians to Joplin to care for the animals.

Utilities were quickly restored after the tornado due to the dedicated efforts of utility workers and mutual aid assistance from all over the Midwest. Sprint’s Emergency Response Team provided satellite phones and wireless devices to public safety officials. Company representatives from the private sector coordinated with State officials to get utilities restored.

The Federal Coordinating Officer at FEMA assigned Liaison Officers to particular city officials to keep them abreast of pertinent information and to respond to questions posed by city officials. This strengthened the coordination between Joplin and FEMA to provide disaster relief to the city. The Joplin Division Office of FEMA reached out to the community with instructions on how to register for disaster aid.

FEMA already had a strong presence in Missouri due to multiple disasters which had already occurred. On May 9, 2011, President Obama issued declaration FEMA-DR-1980 for five Missouri counties. On May 23, 2011, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate amended DR-1980 to include Jasper County. This allowed FEMA to provide Individual Assistance, debris removal, and emergency protective measures funding to individuals who registered for assistance.

What Changed After the Joplin Tornado

“Recovery and response efforts in Joplin were a combination of public and private efforts . . . the robust recovery in Joplin to date is due largely to federal, state, and local officials’ taking a hands-off approach to the recovery.”

More than 92,000 registered volunteers racked up more than 528,000 volunteer hours on Joplin’s response and recovery as of November 2011. Social media became a crucial tool in coordinating volunteer efforts.

“Insurance companies’ quick responses following the Joplin tornado helped tornado victims — both homeowners and business owners — get immediate relief.” Insurance adjusters arrived quickly in Joplin to assess rebuilding needs. “Insurance payments in Joplin exceeded $2 billion.”

Businesses actively participated in donating supplies and money to the recovery. Children became entrepreneurs and sold lemonade in order to contribute to the cause. Most importantly, businesses made commitments to quickly rebuild. Less than four months after the tornado, 69% of destroyed or damaged businesses had reopened.

The American Society of Civil Engineers concluded in a 2013 study that post-tornado houses in Joplin should be required to install hurricane ties that secure the rafters and trusses to the outside walls. But during the first months of recovery, “Joplin city officials unofficially waived building regulations, procedures, and local zoning laws in the immediate aftermath of the tornado” in order to facilitate rebuilding. The same study also recommended that safe rooms be incorporated into schools, hospitals, and other buildings. Yet, Joplin city officials opted not to require the installation of safe rooms in the aftermath of the tornado due to increased building costs. It was not until later that Joplin agreed to mandate hurricane ties on new home construction. The City also agreed to mandate anchor bolts, which attach a building’s frame to the foundation, and masonry reinforced with metal bars. The city finally agreed to start requiring safe rooms and wind-resistant windows in schools, hospitals, and other buildings.

A moratorium on new housing construction was implemented to facilitate debris removal. FEMA agreed to pay for 90% of debris removal and the State of Missouri agreed to pay the remaining 10%.

Six months after the tornado, FEMA released an update on Joplin’s recovery efforts. They revealed that the Army Corps of Engineers had facilitated debris removal and the construction of temporary buildings for schools, the fire department, and the hospital. Since 9,500 residents had been displaced from their homes, the Housing Task Force had been working hard to provide rentals for them.

After the tornado, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommended changes in Jasper County’s warning system that would more effectively communicate urgent warnings to the public. Some of their recommendations included sirens with different sounds, the use of color coding on TV and online to indicate the severity of a storm threat, and using social media and mobile devices to communicate more accurate weather information to the public. The agency also recommended that weather forecasters become more proactive and use ominous and forceful language to convey urgency about imminent threats.

Based on these recommendations, Jasper County applied for federal funding to purchase 10,000 weather radios and construct 4,000 storm shelters, both of which were seriously lacking prior to the tornado.

CivicPlus, a government website builder, agreed in 2012 to build a new website for the City of Joplin. The company built a user-friendly website that enhances two-way engagement between city officials and the public, especially during emergencies.

Other social media networkers have created pages on Facebook and Twitter to prepare their own communities for disaster and provide information on emergency response and recovery. One such site is “Joplin Tornado Info,” started by Rebecca Williams and her mother, Genevieve, right after the tornado. The page still actively relays information about Joplin and its recovery efforts.

Missouri hospitals upgraded their emergency response capabilities after the Joplin tornado. The Missouri Hospital Association concluded: “Hospital leadership and management and emergency planners must continue to make emergency preparedness a top priority within their organizations.”

Mental health professionals conducted a study on the effects of the Joplin tornado on the community and found that “long-term community disaster mental health monitoring, assessment, referral, outreach, and services are needed following a major disaster like the 2011 Joplin tornado.” The effects of such a disaster can lead to long-term depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and cause dysfunction in people who have not received post-disaster mental health services. According to Houston, “a significant amount of mental health outreach and referral was evident in the 1.5 years following the tornado.”

Conclusion

The residents of Joplin, Missouri had grown accustomed to storm threats bypassing their community, so they had no reason to believe that a third of the city would be destroyed by an EF-5 tornado on May 22, 2011.

They had grown accustomed to warning sirens blaring whenever weather forecasters spotted a storm with strong winds. Joplin residents had no reason to believe that the sirens which sounded on May 22, 2011 were any different from the ones they had heard hundreds of times before.

Weather forecasters could see on radar that a terrible storm was brewing, but they did not have the capability to recognize the formation of a deadly tornado until it was too late.

The City of Joplin was ill-prepared to withstand a tornado or any storm system with strong winds. Building codes did not require hurricane ties, anchor bolts, wind-resistant glass, or safe rooms. The city had few, if any, community storm shelters. The use of weather radios was not a common practice.

On the other hand, the City of Joplin, Jasper County, and the State of Missouri were well-prepared to respond to a disaster event. “FEMA had been conducting disaster response and recovery in Missouri in the months prior to the Joplin tornado.” The State already had experience dealing with FEMA and had spent several years building up preparedness relationships. Officials from Jasper County and the City of Joplin had participated in the Department of Homeland Security’s National Level Exercise 2011 program a few days before the tornado. They applied what they had learned to the response. And since President Obama had already issued FEMA-DR-1980 for five Missouri counties earlier in the year, it was easy for DHS administrator Craig Fugate to amend that declaration to include Jasper County.

Joplin’s response to the tornado was based on FEMA’s Whole Community approach. Mutual aid contracts were activated. Within 24 hours, help arrived from other Midwestern states and counties throughout southwest Missouri. Non-profit organizations set up relief shelters, hotlines, and animal shelters. Businesses donated money and supplies.

Joplin leadership encouraged the community to rebuild quickly, using all available resources. The residents of Joplin showed resiliency, flexibility, and adaptability in their recovery.

Dawn Pisturino

October 2019

Thomas Edison State University

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Please contact author for sources.

Leave a comment »

Question Authority

“Question Authority” means questioning Joe Biden and Kamala Harris; questioning the Democrats and the Republicans; questioning the actions of Big Tech and corporate America; and questioning Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and the motives of people on both the Left and the Right. We are free people – not a bunch of sheep!

Dawn Pisturino

May 8, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment »

Chevron – Still a Good Investment

Chevron has been successfully supplying “affordable, reliable, ever-cleaner energy that enables human progress” for more than 140 years. But the company is facing unprecedented challenges in the face of COVID-19, [a hostile political landscape], and a slumping oil and gas market.

Chairman Mike Wirth continues to reaffirm the company’s slogan: “The right way. The responsible way. The Chevron Way.” And he proudly emphasizes the basic solidness of Chevron and its future. Based on the company’s past performance, he is probably right. Chevron has the money, resources, and innovation to weather any storm.

In 2019, according to its annual report, Chevron beat its competitors in several important areas. The company “delivered 15.2% Total Stockholder Returns; increased [its] dividend payment 6.2%, making it the 32nd consecutive year of increased per-share dividend payouts; increased share repurchases to a run-rate of $5 billion per year; generated more than $27 billion in cash flow from operations and returned $13 billion to shareholders; lowered [its] net debt ratio to 12.8%, further strengthening the company’s balance sheet.”

Additionally, the company produced 3.06 million oil-equivalent barrels per day, an increase of 4 per cent over 2018. This was largely due to its projects located in the Permian Basin, and the roll-out of the Wheatstone LNG project off the coast of Western Australia. These projects helped to balance out losses and the sale of assets in Denmark and Great Britain.

Chevron also boasted 11.4 billion barrels of net-oil-equivalent reserves, $237.4 billion total assets, and $139.9 billion from sales and other revenues in 2019. The company exhibited a strong corporate balance sheet. But the 2020 annual report has not yet been released [as of the writing of this paper].

The company released a statement on December 3, 2020 that it is reducing its long-term spending on capital investments due to lower oil and gas prices because it does not expect conditions to change very soon. Its position reflects the attitude of the oil and gas industry as a whole. [Since then, Joe Biden has been inaugurated as President and put policies in place that have raised gas and oil prices significantly. His policies threaten the oil and gas industry as a whole].

Chevron only plans to spend $14 billion to $16 billion per year from 2022 to 2025. This represents a 27% reduction in investments from what it had originally forecast. The new forecast is necessary as the company, along with other energy companies, cut oil and gas production, laid off workers, and put projects on hold. Continued spikes in COVID-19 during the winter and a stay-at-home work force have contributed greatly to reduced demand and lower prices [pre-Biden].

While European companies are using these conditions to invest more heavily in renewable energy and low-carbon fuels, Chevron remains committed to oil and natural gas, with smaller investments in wind, solar, biomethane, and hydrogen energy. It plans to invest less money in high-cost projects such as the Tengiz oil project in Kazakhstan and invest more money in reliable projects such as the Permian Basin and the Gulf of Mexico.

Chevron has now surpassed Exxon Mobil in market value, making it the largest American oil and gas company. The company will invest $14 billion in capital projects in 2021, with $300 million set aside for investments in renewable energy. Chevron’s stable business model has allowed its stock to remain a solid investment.

As a multinational corporation with offices, plants, pipelines, partnerships, and subsidiaries all across the globe, Chevron’s success is based primarily on its relationships with its stakeholders — management, work force, investors, partners, contractors, and members of the local community. The company relies on “the inspiration, creativity, and ingenuity of [its] people” to keep the company fresh, innovative, a solid investment, and a positive place to work.

The company’s Business Conduct and Ethics Code, Operational Excellence Management System, and written safe-work practices ensure that all employees will be held accountable for supporting a company culture that gives priority to “process safety, the health and safety of [the] work force, and protection of communities and the environment.” The company’s commitment to lowering its carbon footprint, investing more in renewable energy and ground-breaking technologies (such as methods for reducing corrosion on pipelines and drilling deeper underground and underwater), makes it an exciting investment and even more exciting place to work.

Since the company has been around for a long time, it has the resilience and experience to face any challenge, from operating the world’s largest LNG facility on Barrow Island off the coast of Western Australia, to minimizing its human and industrial imprint on the island’s Class A Nature Reserve, to specializing in recovering natural gas from shale and tight rock formations in underwater fields, to building one of the largest CO2 Injection projects below Barrow Island.

Chevron strives to hire the best-qualified people and contract with the best-qualified companies to maintain the integrity of the company and its projects. In Western Australia, for example, it is a major supplier of natural gas for the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group, which owns the longest natural gas pipeline in Australia, the Dampier-Bunbury Pipeline.

The Dampier-Bunbury Pipeline receives 112,000 hours of scheduled maintenance every year, has operated at 99% efficiency for the last 10 years, and is expected to last for another 50 years. Since Chevron’s largest LNG project, Gorgon Project, is expected to be productive for the next 40 years, this is an ideal situation for both Chevron and the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group.

According to Chairman Mike Wirth, “an investment in Chevron is an investment that drives human progress, lifts millions out of poverty, and makes modern life possible. It is an investment that values operating with integrity, getting results the right way, and striving for humanity’s highest aspirations: to create a more prosperous, equitable, and sustainable world.”

A good example is Chevron’s Gorgon Project, which is located off the coast of Western Australia. The project is expected to pour $400 billion into Australia’s Gross Domestic Product and $69 billion worth of taxes into the federal government between 2009 and 2040. As a result, Australia is fast becoming a leading producer of natural gas in the global market.

Natural gas is safer, cleaner, and more reliable than some other forms of energy, including electricity. It is transported through gathering pipelines, transmission pipelines, and distribution pipelines. But natural gas is also a hazardous substance. Chevron uses risk management principles to identify and minimize risks to property and human lives. Risks are assessed throughout the system, rated according to severity, and safety measures are put in place to minimize and eliminate safety hazards.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is the primary regulator of energy companies and pipelines in the United States. It is responsible for “regulating the safety of design, construction, testing, operation, maintenance, and emergency response of U.S. oil and natural gas pipeline facilities.” The safety of the public and the environment is the primary concern of PHMSA.

PHMSA sponsors an Integrity Management Program which requires all pipeline operators to evaluate the environment and population surrounding a pipeline. It is critical that operators understand the consequences of a pipeline failure to the local community and take measures to prevent an incident from happening. When operators develop this kind of awareness, they are more likely to make certain that inspections and scheduled maintenance get done. They will be better prepared to handle the situation if a pipeline safety hazard occurs.

The Office of Pipeline Safety, which is part of PHMSA, performs “field inspections of pipeline facilities and construction projects; inspections of operator management systems, procedures, and processes; and incident investigations.” The agency can enforce safety regulations when violations are found.

Chevron’s Operational Excellence Management System addresses safety, health, and wellness issues throughout the company and its facilities around the world. Chairman Mike Wirth’s personal mission is “to eliminate high-consequence personal and process safety events. This means no fatalities or serious injuries and no fires, spills or explosions that can affect people or communities.”

According to Wirth, the company must focus on three important areas: 1) understanding the risks and benefits of managing oil and gas operations; 2) identifying the safety measures needed to minimize and eliminate the risks; 3) implementing, maintaining, and improving those safety measures.

All members of the company are expected to take a proprietary interest in promoting a culture of safety. This means every employee takes responsibility for his own and his peers’ actions. Every member must act as part of a team to achieve safety and performance goals.

The two key elements of the Chevron safety code are: “Do it safely or not at all” and “There is always time to do it right.” Failure to follow this code resulted in a major safety hazard during routine maintenance at the Gorgon Project in Western Australia, costing the company millions of dollars.

Driving down costs is also an important part of Chevron’s Operational Management System. Using energy and resources wisely, and maintaining a safe and secure environment, ensures that all stakeholders will benefit from the company’s efficient management of its operations.

Chevron invests a lot of resources in developing its current and future work force. The company is a strong proponent of teaching high school children science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills (STEM). It needs qualified geologists, chemists, IT specialists, healthcare workers, engineers, and other specialists to keep the company performing at a high standard. It supports special programs which help low-income men and women get the job skills they need to land a high-paying job with Chevron or another energy company. And it strongly encourages girls to gain STEM skills. The company promotes diversity and a global perspective that defines it as a “global energy company most admired for its people, partnerships, and performance.”

In spite of setbacks, a global pandemic, [a hostile political landscape], and suffering oil and gas prices [which are now too high], Chevron will be strong as long as it conducts business according to its core values.

Dawn Pisturino

December 22, 2020

Thomas Edison State University

Trenton, New Jersey

Copyright 2020-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Please contact author for sources.

Leave a comment »

DEMOCRAT ATROCITY ROUNDUP: APRIL 22nd — Balladeer’s Blog

From a country starving for Third Parties, here’s a look at Joe Biden’s hate-filled, fascist ways of spreading hatred and division. Plus some notes regarding resistance to Democrat Party hatemongering. Meanwhile, BIDEN CONTINUES TO HAVE RECORD NUMBERS OF KIDS IN CAGES. Corrupt, senile, tiny-handed Joe Biden NOTED RACIST JOE BIDEN CALLS MASTERS CHAMP A “JAPANESE BOY”. […]

DEMOCRAT ATROCITY ROUNDUP: APRIL 22nd — Balladeer’s Blog
Leave a comment »

Legend of the Giant’s Causeway, Antrim, Ireland

Giant’s Causeway, Antrim, Ireland

Although the Giant’s Causeway was formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago, the boundless imagination and creativity of the Irish people saw something more magical in its origins.

Legend has it that Fionn Mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool) was an Irish hunter-warrior of great height and strength who could not get along with a Scottish giant named Benandonner (Red Man). The two went back and forth at each other until, finally, Finn challenged the giant to a fight.

Finn hauled tons of rock from the coastline of Antrim into the sea in order to build a causeway between Ireland and Scotland. When it was completed, Finn bravely and proudly crossed the sea and met his Scottish enemy on Scottish territory.

To his great surprise, Finn discovered that his enemy was, indeed, a giant and much bigger and stronger than himself. He high tailed it back across the causeway. But Red Man spotted him fleeing and gave chase.

On his way back to Ireland, Finn lost a boot — which can still be seen today. The giant’s roars were deafening, and Finn stuffed moss into his ears to deaden the noise.

At home, Finn confided in his wife, Oonagh. She hid him away then greeted the giant which had followed him home.

Oonagh craftily showed Red Man huge boulders and other large weapons to give the giant a false impression that Finn was much larger and stronger than himself. She baked griddle cakes for the hungry giant, inserting the iron griddle itself inside one of the cakes. When Red Man bit into the cake, he broke his front teeth.

Feeling outsized and out-smarted by Finn and his wife, the giant left the house and headed back to Scotland. Finn came out of hiding. He dug up a huge chunk of Irish soil and threw it at the giant. The chunk of soil missed Red Man and fell into the sea, forming the Isle of Man. The hole which Finn had made filled with water and became Lough Derg — the largest lake in Ireland.

There are other variations to the story, of course, but whichever tale is told, the Giant’s Causeway will always be a marvel of natural science, a source of Irish national pride, and the creation of legendary hero, Finn McCool.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Dawn Pisturino

March 10, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment »

REMINDER OF THE JANUARY 6th PROTEST OF THE STOLEN 2020 ELECTION

American Patriots who value the U.S. Constitution and free and honest elections MUST NOT stand by and do nothing! Our entire future hangs in the balance.

Balladeer's Blog

Trump is like jfk One by assassination, the other by vote fraud?

Independent Voter site Balladeer’s Blog is posting this reminder of the January 6th protest in Washington D.C. over the forever-tainted 2020 presidential election results. Just as few now doubt that Samuel Tilden and not Rutherford B Hayes really won the 1876 election or that George W Bush stole the year 2000 election the 2020 election apparently will be remembered for the way America’s cesspool of corruption which masquerades as a government stole the election from de facto Third Party President Donald Trump.

This is not a partisan issue. Regular readers know I despise both the Republicans AND the Democrats and would love to see both parties splinter into multiple smaller parties in order to break their stranglehold on our government. Just like John F Kennedy, Trump has been about the only president to rock the corrupt Washington boat. It looks like…

View original post 165 more words

1 Comment »

Saint Nikolaus’s Companion, Knecht Ruprecht

From out the forest I now appear,

To proclaim that Christmastide is here!

For at the top of every tree

Are golden lights for all to see;

And there from heaven’s gate on high

I saw our Christ-child in the sky.

And in among the darkened trees,

A loud voice it was that called to me:

“Knecht Ruprecht, old fellow,” it cried,

“Hurry now, make haste. Don’t hide!

All the candles have now been lit —

Heaven’s gate has opened wide!

Both young and old should now have rest

Away from cares and daily stress;

And when tomorrow to earth I fly

‘It’s Christmas again!’ will be the cry.”

And then I said: “O Lord so dear.

My journey’s end is now quite near;

But to the town I’ve still to go,

Where the children are good, I know.”

“But have you then that great sack?”

“I have,” I said, “It’s on my back,

For apples, almonds, fruit and nuts

For God-fearing children are a must.”

“And is that cane there by your side?”

“The cane’s there too,” I did reply;

“But only for those, those naughty ones,

Who have it applied to their backsides.”

The Christ-child spoke: “Then that’s all right!

My loyal servant, go with God this night!”

From out the forest I now appear;

To proclaim that Christmastide is here!

Now speak, what is there here to be had?

Are there good children, are there bad?

Theodor Storm

Translated from the German by Denis Jackson, Isle of Wight.

BIO: Theodor Storm (1817-1888) was a German poet, novelist, and lawyer known for the lyrical quality of his work. He died of cancer in 1888. Knecht Ruprecht (Krampus) is still a popular figure seen in Germany at Christmas, even today.

Leave a comment »

The Butter Thief

Many years ago, a little boy named Krishna lived in a small village in India.

Every morning, the women of the village would milk the cows and churn the thick, sweet cream into golden butter. Then they would place the butter into cool clay pots.

Krishna loved butter. One day, he sneaked into a neighbor’s hut and stole the pot full of butter.

Sitting under a shady tree, Krishna shared the butter with some hungry monkeys. When they were all full, he threw the pot on the ground and broke it.

The next day, Krishna sneaked into another hut in the village. But the pot full of butter was sitting on a high shelf. Krishna could not reach it. He stacked some wooden boxes under the shelf. Then he climbed up the boxes and stole the pot full of butter.

Krishna shared the butter with his friend Balarama. They had fun smearing butter on each other’s faces. When they were both full, Krishna threw the pot into some bushes.

The next day, Krishna sneaked into another hut in the village. But the pot full of butter was hanging from the ceiling. Krishna could not reach it. He could not find any wooden boxes to stand on. But in the corner of the hut, Krishna found a long wooden stick. He broke the pot with the stick and ate all the butter.

As Krishna was licking butter from his fingers, a young woman entered the hut.

“Krishna, why have you stolen all the butter?” she said.

“Why do you accuse me of stealing?” Krishna asked. “There is plenty of butter in the village.”

The women of the village complained to Krishna’s mother. She saw the butter on Krishna’s face.

“Open your mouth and let me see,” she said to Krishna.

Krishna opened his mouth. But instead of teeth, tongue, and tonsils, Krishna’s mother saw the whole universe. She saw the sun, the moon, and all the planets. She saw all the stars in the Milky Way. She saw the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. She saw comets shooting across the sky.

Krishna’s mother was amazed at what she saw, but she thought it was all a dream. She scolded him for stealing the butter then held him on her lap.

The next morning, the women of the village found all their pots full of sweet golden butter. And they were never empty again.

Dawn Pisturino

2008

Copyright 2008-2020 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment »

Halloween Treat

The Van Emmerick house was the most feared house in the neighborhood. For ten-year-old Tommy James, it was a dark reminder of things long ago and best forgotten; a relic of the past, old and mysterious, built by people who had lived and died many decades before he was born. He was curious about the past; fascinated with history; and the more he became aware of the house, the more he longed to explore its hidden secrets.

Tommy walked by the old Van Emmerick place twice a day, before and after school. Over the years, he had noticed many interesting details about the house. In the morning, when the sun shone full against the front of the house, two arched windows marking the second story seemed to smile at him with a “good morning!” kind of smile. The dark green paint didn’t seem so faded and cracked. The old stone porch, rudely assembled from local rocks, didn’t seem so forbidding and uninviting. The big plate glass window with the frilly white curtains seemed to sparkle in the morning light.

But in the afternoon, when the sun was low in the sky, making shadows lengthen across the old frame house, the peaked roof with the two small smoke stacks and faded red shingles gave the barn-like appearance of the house a more sinister expression. The entire structure seemed foreign and out of place. The old Victorian ornamentation, placed squarely between the two arched windows, reminded him of death and wrinkled old ladies dressed in black. The tall wrought-iron fence, set in more local rock, surrounded the property with deadly grace, effectively keeping out the curious and unwanted.

Tommy shivered, made the sign of the cross as he always did, and hurried home as fast as he could.

~

“The old Van Emmerick house, you say? Why, sure, I know all about it,” his grandfather told him one crisp afternoon in October. They were raking leaves in his own backyard while his mother prepared dinner in the kitchen. His father was still at work, and his oldest sister had left for her ballet lesson.

His grandfather had lived in Blakeville his entire life and knew a lot about the history of the town.

“Peter Van Emmerick built that house in 1880,” he recalled. “Folks around here have always called it a monstrosity. The architecture isn’t right — doesn’t fit in with the rest of the town. But Peter, being Dutch, was homesick for his own country and built the house to remind him of home. He had six children in that house by two different wives. It’s never been empty, that’s for sure. Old Amy Van Emmerick lives there now. Inherited the house from her mother. As far as I know, she’s the last of ’em. They gradually died out around here, as all old families do. The cemetery is filled with their headstones. I’ll take you there sometime to see the old graves. Would you like that, Tommy? Halloween’s coming up!”

“Sure, Gramps, any time. You know how much I like history.” But privately, Tommy wasn’t so sure. The idea of visiting a cemetery for fun, especially on Halloween, gave him the creeps.

“That’s my boy. Someday, you’ll be teaching history at the high school, just like your old granddad.” His grandfather winked at him, and Tommy stopped raking.

“Say, Gramps, how come nobody ever sees Amy Van Emmerick? I mean, how do you know she’s still alive? She could’ve died and nobody would even know it!”

“Oh, they’d know it, alright. She has a woman who comes in once a week to clean the place up and run errands for her. Selma Baintree — that’s the woman’s name. I ran into her not too long ago, and she told me that the old lady’s not doing too well, getting more frail as time goes by. It’s just a matter of time before the house will be empty, she said.”

“I’m sorry. How old is Amy Van Emmerick? I mean, you must’ve known her, Gramps!”

Yep, that’s right, Tommy. She was my first love.”

Tommy blushed. He couldn’t imagine his grandfather ever being young enough to have a first love. “Why didn’t you marry her, Gramps?”

His grandfather stopped raking and looked at him with a faraway expression on his face. “Oh, I don’t know. The Great War started, and I went off to Europe to fight the Germans. Getting married wasn’t on my mind back then. And Miss Amy went off to school in Chicago. I heard later that she was engaged to a young man from an old Chicago family, but he was killed at Dunkirk. She must’ve loved him very deeply because she came home to take care of her mother after her father died and never got involved with anybody again. She hardly left the house after that and became a regular recluse. Poor Miss Amy! She was the most beautiful girl I ever saw. The biggest blue eyes, and long golden hair like spun flax. She’d beat out the likes of Paris Hilton any day of the week!”

Tommy laughed, then stopped, when a sudden thought struck him. “Hey, Gramps, I just had an idea. Why don’t you go visit Miss Amy before she dies? I bet she’d like that a lot!”

His grandfather stroked his white-whiskered chin thoughtfully. “You know, Tommy, I never really thought about it. It seems like an invasion of the old lady’s privacy. She probably wouldn’t even know me after all these years!”

“Aw, I bet she would. She’s probably lonely shut up in that old place.”

“Maybe so,” his grandfather said. “You might just be right.”

~

“Hey, Tommy, watch this!”

Butch Abernathy pulled an egg out of his trick-or-treat bag and hurled it against the front of the old Van Emmerick house. “That’ll wake up the dead,” he shouted with glee.

The two boys hung onto the wrought-iron fence with sticky fingers, peering through the bars with eager eyes, their hearts racing with excitement. But no lights appeared. The house stared at them with black, lifeless eyes, its silhouette rising silent and dark against the cloudy night sky.

“Let’s go,” Tommy whispered. “It gives me the creeps.”

“What’re you whispering for?” asked Butch. “The fun has just begun.” He rummaged through his trick-or-treat bag and pulled out a large rock.

“No!” cried Tommy, grabbing at Butch’s arm. But it was too late. The sound of shattering glass filled his ears. His heart pounded in his chest until it hurt.

“I’m outta here!” Butch shouted; and grabbing his trick-or-treat bag, he bolted down the sidewalk.

Tommy stood alone on the sidewalk, paralyzed with fear. I never should have come here, he thought. My parents are going to kill me. And Gramps will be so disappointed . . . He couldn’t bear to disappoint his grandfather. But if he left now, who would know? Butch would never tell.

I’m going home, he thought; but as he turned to leave, the wrought-iron gate suddenly creaked open, and Tommy screamed. He ran as fast as he could to the corner, then stopped and looked back. The street was silent and deserted except for an old stray cat. A few jack-o-lanterns grinned brightly in the darkness, but the trick-or-treaters had left long ago, hurrying home before the rain started. A strong gust of wind hurled itself against him, kicking up dead leaves and dirt into his face. Coughing and sputtering, he wiped the dirt out of his eyes and headed down the sidewalk.

The old wrought-iron gate stood open before him, an invitation too tempting to resist. After all, what was the worst that could happen? He would apologize to the old lady and take his punishment liked a man.

Bracing himself, he walked slowly up the weed-infested sidewalk toward the old stone stairs. There was nothing but blackness at the top of those stairs, blackness so deep and dark, it was like a giant mouth waiting to engulf him and swallow him whole. Trembling with fear, he wanted to turn around and run as fast as he could to the nearest, brightest light. But he knew in his heart that he could not face his grandfather as long as the broken window went unpunished.

Heart pounding, he trudged up the stone stairs, peering into the blackness. As he stepped onto the porch, the moon suddenly peeked out from behind a cloud, throwing a pale, silvery beam of light into the darkness and revealing a solid oak door. He raised his hand to knock on the door, when it suddenly opened with a slow, painful groan.

Tommy gasped, and his heart pounded in his ears. Breathing heavily, he stepped over the threshold, hanging onto the door for dear life. He stood still for a moment, listening hard, and waited for something to happen. But nothing did.

As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he realized he was in a large foyer. He rapped his knuckles against the door and shouted, “Miss Amy, are you here?”

Absolute silence filled his ears except for the ticking of an old clock. He pushed the door open wider and stepped cautiously into the room. He felt for a light switch on the wall but found none. Why didn’t I bring a flashlight, he berated himself angrily.

Tommy crossed the old wooden floor and opened a set of double doors to his right. The sweet scent of roses filled the air. Outside, the wind began to howl, and raindrops splattered against the large plate glass window on the other side of the room. Tommy thought he could make out the curved outline of an old Victorian sofa under the window and the globe-like shade of an old lamp next to it. Groping his way carefully in the darkness, he was about to reach out for the lamp when a loud clap of thunder split the air, making him jump, and a bright flash of lightning lit up the sofa through the gauzy white curtains.

A figure dressed in white lay on the sofa, its long white hair spread neatly over a pillow, the wrinkled old face glowing white in the lightning flash, the large, faded blue eyes open and staring at him. The mouth hung open wide, revealing a cavernous blackness, and Tommy waited for the scream that would surely come, but no sound issued forth between those dark, thin lips. The figure’s arms were crossed over its breast, like a corpse, the fingernails long and blue. It was the most horrible thing that Tommy had ever seen in his life, and he screamed and screamed and screamed as he turned and raced for the double doors, tripping over an old ottoman in his path.

But when he looked up, something blocked his exit, a tall figure dressed in white, reaching out for him with long, clawed fingers . . .

When Tommy woke up the lights were on, and his grandfather was cradling him in his arms. “It’s okay, Tommy, it’s okay.”

“It was you!”

“Yes, it was me,” his grandfather said; “And old Miss Amy. I went to visit her, as you suggested, and we cooked up this little Halloween treat for you! Here, I want you to meet her!”

He helped Tommy to his feet, remarking on the wonderful acting job Miss Amy had done. And that make-up! Could anybody else have done a better job?

But when they leaned over the sofa to tell her it was all over, and she could stop playing around now, his grandfather suddenly became silent and felt for a pulse in the old lady’s wrist. Tommy stared, horrified, into those dead blue eyes and the slack, open mouth, and the scream rose up from his tightening throat . . .

Dawn Pisturino

2009

Copyright 2009-2020 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Leave a comment »

The Vampyre by John Stagg

Nosferatu

The Vampyre

by John Stagg, 1810

~

“Why looks my lord so deadly pale?

Why fades the crimson from his cheek?

What can my dearest husband ail?

Thy heartfelt cares, O Herman, speak!

~

“Why, at the silent hour of rest,

Dost thou in sleep so sadly mourn?

As tho’ with heaviest grief oppres’d,

Griefs too distressful to be borne.

~

“Why heaves thy breast? — why throb thy heart?

O Speak! and if there be relief

Thy Gertrude solace shall impart,

If not, at least shall share thy grief.

~

“Wan is that cheek, which once the bloom

Of manly beauty sparkling shew’d;

Dim are those eyes, in pensive gloom,

That late with keenest lustre glow’d.

~

“Say why, too, at the midnight hour,

You sadly pant and tug for breath,

As if some supernat’ral pow’r

Were pulling you away to death?

~

“Restless, tho’ sleeping, still you groan,

And with convulsive horror start;

O Herman! to thy wife make known

That grief which preys upon thy heart.”

~

“O Gertrude! how shall I relate

Th’ uncommon anguish that I feel;

Strange as severe is this my fate, —

A fate I cannot long conceal.

~

“In spite of all my wonted strength,

Stern destiny has seal’d my doom;

The dreadful malady at length

Will drag me to the silent tomb!”

~

“But say, my Herman, what’s the cause

Of this distress, and all thy care.

That, vulture-like, thy vitals gnaws,

And galls thy bosom with despair?

~

“Sure this can be no common grief,

Sure this can be no common pain?

Speak, if this world contain relief,

That soon thy Gertrude shall obtain.”

~

“O Gertrude, ’tis a horrid cause,

O Gertrude, ’tis unusual care,

That, vulture-like, my vitals gnaws,

And galls my bosom with despair.

~

“Young Sigismund, my once dear friend,

But lately he resign’d his breath;

With others I did him attend

Unto the silent house of death.

~

“For him I wept, for him I mourn’d,

Paid all to friendship that was due;

But sadly friendship is return’d,

Thy Herman he must follow too!

~

“Must follow to the gloomy grave,

In spite of human art or skill;

No pow’r on earth my life can save,

“Tis fate’s unalterable will!

~

“Young Sigismund, my once dear friend,

But now my persecutor foul,

Doth his malevolence extend

E’en to the torture of my soul.

~

“By night, when, wrapt in soundest sleep,

All mortals share a soft repose,

My soul doth dreadful vigils keep,

More keen than which hell scarcely knows.

~

“From the drear mansion of the tomb,

From the low regions of the dead,

The ghost of Sigismund doth roam,

And dreadful haunts me in my bed!

~

“There, vested in infernal guise,

(By means to me not understood),

Close to my side the goblin lies,

And drinks away my vital blood!

~

“Sucks from my veins the streaming life,

And drains the fountain of my heart!

O Gertrude, Gertrude! dearest wife!

Unutterable is my smart.

~

“When surfeited, the goblin dire,

With banqueting by suckled gore,

Will to his sepulchre retire,

Till night invites him forth once more.

~

“Then will he dreadfully return,

And from my veins life’s juices drain;

Whilst, slumb’ring, I with anguish mourn,

And toss with agonizing pain!

~

“Already I’m exhausted, spent;

His carnival is nearly o’er,

My soul with agony is rent,

Tomorrow I shall be no more!

~

“But, O my Gertrude! dearest wife!

The keenest pangs hath last remain’d —

When dead, I too shall seek thy life,

Thy blood by Herman shall be drain’d!

~

“But to avoid this horrid fate,

Soon as I’m dead and laid in earth,

Drive thro’ my corpse a jav’lin straight; —

This shall prevent my coming forth.

~

“O watch with me, this last sad night,

Watch in your chamber here alone,

But carefully conceal the light

Until you hear my parting groan.

~

“Then at what time the vesper-bell

Of yonder convent shall be toll’d,

That peal shall ring my passing knell,

And Herman’s body shall be cold!

~

“Then, and just then, thy lamp make bare,

The starting ray, the bursting light,

Shall from my side the goblin scare,

And shew him visible to sight!”

~

The live-long night poor Gertrude sate,

Watch’d by her sleeping, dying lord;

The live-long night she mourn’d his fate,

The object whom her soul ador’d.

~

Then at what time the vesper-bell

Of yonder convent sadly toll’d,

Then, then was peal’d his passing knell,

The hapless Herman he was cold!

~

Just at that moment Gertrude drew

From ‘neath her cloak the hidden light;

When, dreadful! She beheld in view

The shade of Sigismund! — sad sight!

~

Indignant roll’d his ireful eyes,

That gleam’d with wild horrific stare;

And fix’d a moment with surprise,

Beheld aghast th’ enlight’nin glare.

~

His jaws cadaverous were besmear’d

With clott’d carnage o’er and o’er,

And all his horrid whole appear’d

Distent, and fill’d with human gore!

~

With hideous scowl the spectre fled;

She shriek’d aloud; — then swoon’d away!

The hapless Herman in his bed,

All pale, a lifeless body lay!

~

Next day in council ’twas decree,

(Urg’d at the instance of the state),

That shudd’ring nature should be freed

From pests like these ere ’twas too late.

~

The choir then burst the fun’ral dome

Where Sigismund was lately laid,

And found him, tho’ within the tomb,

Still warm as life, and undecay’d.

~

With blood his visage was distain’d,

Ensanguin’d were his frightful eyes,

Each sign of former life remain’d,

Save that all motionless he lies.

~

The corpse of Herman they contrive

To the same sepulchre to take,

And thro’ both carcasses they drive,

Deep in the earth, a sharpen’d stake!

~

By this was finish’d their career,

Thro’ this no longer they can roam;

From them their friends have nought to fear,

Both quiet keep the slumb’ring tomb.

~

John Stagg (1770-1823) was an English poet known as the “blind bard.” He is now remembered for his Gothic poem, “The Vampyre.” While young, he became blind from an accident. He, nonetheless, married and had seven children. He found a patron for his works in Charles Howard, 11th Duke of Norfolk and other members of the gentry. He died in Manchester.

Leave a comment »

%d bloggers like this: