Monday, June 22, 2009

Amtrak the Way to Really Fly (Off the Tracks)

Hmmm... seems to be a spate of train derailments as of late, wouldn't you agree?

Friday, this fiery crash not too far from my humble abode...

After severe storms, a train hydroplanes, er, hydro-trains off the tracks and the ethanol cargo explodes, killing one and seriously injuring nine*. (I want to be dead rather than experience chemical burns. This is hideous.)

Officials evacuate the area. Not nearly a large enough area, but no one ever admits this. Or that going back to walk on your grass, have your dog lick up puddles or the residue on your roof will kill you from neurological problems a few years from now. But hey, we appreciated all the help on 9/11 and of course humans can still live there. No worries! A big cloud floated over to my house and rained on the vegetable garden today. Carcinogenic carrot, anyone?

But why were people evacuated by staff? Didn't the city just purchase a slick new warning system with three tones: Cover Ears, Panic, and Ignore???

Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers said the new outdoor-warning siren system, which features a chemical spill alert, was not activated for two reasons: The system, first tested June 2, was too new for people to know the difference between the tornado warning and the chemical spill warning, and the area evacuated was too concentrated.

Meyers said officials briefly debated turning on one or two sirens in the area using the chemical spill warning but dismissed the idea after realizing that residents would hear the siren from 3 miles away and maybe more if a second siren had to be sounded. Because officials only wanted to evacuate homes within a half-mile of the explosion, they decided to use the county’s reverse 911 calling system instead and send fire personnel door to door.

Excuse me? Only half a mile? Everyone else, just breathe shallow.

The county installed 73 outdoor emergency-warning sirens this spring for $2.67 million in an effort to warn people who are outside (away from television, radio or computer news or weather alerts) of an imminent emergency, such as a tornado, chemical spill or terrorist attack.

The county is in the process of testing the system and educating county residents on what to do when they hear the different alarms.

Cover Ears, Panic, or Ignore. Got it. I know! Make the alarm sound like the threat. Tornado - Wind Tunnel Sound. Chemical Spill - Old Man Hacking Up Lung. Terrorist Attack - Sound of ripping paper as the Constitution and Geneva Convention are Shredded.

*that's just the human toll. Click here for the suspected fish fatalities. That we're hearing about.

Bottom Line: the "Investigation" will take up to a year. You mean the cover up? Really, they moved faster than that in the New Mexico desert.

Just for laughs, click here and read the blurb. The comments are priceless! It's nice to know there are people like me out there.

Next up is the DC Transit crash tonight.

Officials had no explanation for the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board took charge of the investigation and sent a team to the site. DC police and the FBI also had investigators at the scene to help search the wreckage for any overlooked injured or dead passengers and evidence.

The only reason they don't have an explanation is because the Bush Administration is no longer in power. We'd know who to think was to blame and where we needed to send troops by now.

Monday's crash was the third major subway or commuter rail crash in a big city in the past nine months. In the earlier accidents:

• In September 2008, a commuter rail train and a freight train crashed in Los Angeles, killing 25 people. The crash was blamed on an engineer on the commuter rail sending text messages on a cell phone.

• Last month about 50 people were injured in Boston when one trolley rear-ended another. The conductor admitted to sending a text message when the crash occurred.

Sounds to me as if the Metro engineer was Twittering his support to Iranians. Or their dissatisfaction with the last American Idol outcome. One of those.

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