《经济学人》:美国南部龙卷风-旋风过后
日期:2011-05-09 09:51

(单词翻译:单击)

Tornadoes in the South
南部龙卷风

Out of the whirlwind
旋风过后

The South cleans up after the deadliest storms in 86 years
86年来最致命风暴过后,美国南部开始清理工作

May 5th 2011 | JEFFERSON COUNTY, ALABAMA | from the print edition

PLEASANT RIDGE BAPTIST CHURCH, set on a busy commercial street in Hueytown, a dozen miles south-west of Birmingham, was open for business. So was the Dairy Queen across the street, and the nearby Publix grocery store. Traffic was thick on Hueytown Road. But the church’s business was not strictly ecclesiastical. It was also serving as a Red Cross shelter for those left homeless just a few miles away. Church members were collecting donations of clothes, water and toiletries. And at the Publix, signs at the checkout counters told shoppers they could help their neighbours with donations added to the cost of their groceries.

休伊镇位于伯明翰西南部十几公里处,普莱曾特里奇浸信会教堂便坐落于这个小镇一条繁忙的商业街上。教堂刚刚开门迎客,对面的DQ冰激凌店和附近的帕布克斯杂货店也都开始营业了。休伊镇的马路交通十分拥挤。这座教堂并不严格限定仅向基督徒开放,它也作为红十字会收容所帮助方圆几公里的无家可归者。教会成员会收集人们捐赠的衣服、饮水和梳洗用具。而帕布克斯杂货店收银台前摆放的标牌也提示顾客,小店将把他们在此花费的一部分钱款捐献给一旁的教会。

Such is the nature of tornadoes: even large ones rain intense destruction on relatively small areas. The one that ran from Tuscaloosa north-east to Birmingham was immense, 1.5 miles across and 80 miles long, with winds exceeding 165 miles per hour. Parts of Alabama were utterly ruined, but most of the state was untouched. More than 300 tornadoes tore through the region between April 25th and 28th, an unprecedented number. They killed around 340 people in seven states, with the bulk of the deaths in Alabama. Not since 1925 have more people been killed by tornadoes in a single day, and not since Hurricane Katrina has there been a deadlier natural disaster in America.

龙卷风实质上是一种拥有强大破坏力的、小范围的空气涡旋。在塔斯卡卢萨县形成,一路向东北方向奔袭,席卷至伯明翰的龙卷风威力巨大,时速超过165英里,留下了一条宽1.5英里、长80英里的废墟带。亚拉巴马州部分地区完全被毁,但该州大部分地区未受到袭击。4月25日至28日期间,超过300场龙卷风席卷此地,数目空前频繁。龙卷风造成美国7个州大约340人遇难,其中绝大多数位于亚拉巴马州。这是自1925年以来单日造成遇难者人数最多的龙卷风,也是自卡特里娜飓风之后美国发生的最为致命的自然灾害。

Craig Fugate, who heads the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), says that comparing the tornadoes to Katrina is “comparing apples to oranges…each disaster is different, and you respond to the disaster you’re dealing with.” As a matter of meteorology, Mr Fugate has a point. Katrina affected an area roughly the size of Great Britain and made landfall six days after it formed. Tornadoes are smaller; they form and die more quickly. Gregory Carbin, the warning-co-ordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Centre, says that last week’s storms were of a once-in-a-century severity, and afforded some of those hit as little as 20 minutes’ warning.

联邦应急管理署(FEMA)署长克雷格•富盖特表示,拿龙卷风与卡特里娜飓风作比较就好比“将苹果和橙子相比较……每种灾害都有各自的特点,你需要面对具体情况作出相应的反应。”从气象学角度看,富盖特先生有自己的观点。卡特里娜飓风影响到的区域大致相当于整个英国的面积,并且是在形成后6天登陆的。相对来说,龙卷风影响的区域更小,形成和衰减的速度更快。国家气象观测组风暴预测中心协调预警气象学家格雷戈里•卡宾称,上周发生的是百年一遇的特大风暴,其中的部分龙卷风给予人们的预警时间仅有20分钟。

As a political matter, however, the comparison is hard to avoid. FEMA came under withering criticism for its slow and poorly co-ordinated response to Katrina, particularly to the flooding of New Orleans. Its performance this time was swifter and surer. The agency had emergency response teams in place in Hoover and Tuscaloosa by April 29th, working in co-ordination with Alabama’s emergency operations centre around 55 miles south of Birmingham. Barack Obama declared major disasters in Alabama on April 28th, in Mississippi on the 29th, Georgia on the 30th and Tennessee and Arkansas after that, making federal funds available to individuals, state and local governments.

然而,作为一个政治问题,两者的比较无可避免。面对卡特里娜飓风,特别是在新奥尔良引发的洪灾,FEMA协调能力差,反应速度慢,曾为此遭受了令其难堪的批评。而此次,FEMA行动更为快速稳健。通过与伯明翰向南约55英里处的亚拉巴马应急行动中心协同工作,FEMA在4月29日就已将应急反应小组派遣至胡佛和塔斯卡卢萨县。4月28日,贝拉克•奥巴马宣布亚拉巴马州遭受重大自然灾害进入紧急状态,29日、30日及之后又先后宣布密西西比州、佐治亚州、田纳西州和阿肯色州进入紧急状态,使得联邦政府能够向受灾群众、州县和当地政府提供救援资金。

By Monday several cabinet members as well as the president had visited Alabama. FEMA expects to move into a joint field office, housing all federal responders, by week’s end; it too will remain open as long as necessary.

至本周一,奥巴马总统和部分内阁成员都已前往亚拉巴马州慰问灾情。FEMA计划本周末前与各部门联合,建立起一个现场办公室,供所有联邦灾害应急处理人员办公。只要有必要,办公室将一直持续运作。

Just what that means is unclear: rebuilding may take years. It will also be expensive in a region that can ill afford it: Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi were all projecting budget shortfalls for next year already. Clean-up costs alone in Jefferson County, home to Alabama’s largest city, may exceed $400m. The only consoling news, says Mr Carbin, is that “we know what happened is pretty rare.” Unfortunately, while an unusually large number of tornadoes struck this April, on average May is the more active month.

只是我们不清楚,这具体意味着什么,重建是需要数年时间的。此外,重建所需的高昂费用对于这一区域来说也是难以承担的:亚拉巴马州、佐治亚州、田纳西州和密西西比州下一财年的预算都已经出现赤字。杰斐逊是亚拉巴马州最大城市伯明翰所在县,仅此一县的灾后清理花费将超过4亿美元。卡宾先生称,唯一令人稍感宽慰的消息是,“我们知道这次的灾难非常罕见”。不幸的是,虽然四月袭击美国的龙卷风数量之多并不寻常,然而普遍来说,五月是龙卷风更为活跃的时期。

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