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Demo Memo: Wanna die fast? Go South, young man!

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Death Rate by State

My friend Peres is working in Mississippi, so this Demo Memo worries me. But he's Brazilian and that gives him super powers. Then again, it's kind of a relief to see the highest death rates in the Red States; now I'm curious about how fast they pop pups.

The overall age-adjusted death rate was 741.3 deaths per 100,000 population in 2011. By state, the death rate ranged from a low of 584.9 in Hawaii to a high of 956.1 in Mississippi. These are the five states with the highest and lowest age-adjusted death rates... Pops Staples knew a little bit about Mississippi:

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1. Mississippi
2. West Virginia
3. Alabama
4. Oklahoma
5. Kentucky

1. Hawaii
2. California
3. Minnesota
4. Connecticut
5. New York

Source: CDC, QuickStats: Age-Adjusted Death Rates, by State—United States, 2011

From Demo Memo by Cheryl Russell  http://demomemo.blogspot.com/

Russell is a demographer and the editorial director of New Strategist Publications. She is the former editor-in-chief of American Demographics magazine (then located in Ithaca) and The Boomer Report. She is the author of Bet You Didn't Know and other books on demographic trends. She holds a master's degree in sociology/demography from Cornell University.

Last Updated on Friday, 19 September 2014 02:55

Citizen First-Responders confront panic, mass hysteria and risk their lives to help others

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This post is based on a conversation with two citizen first-responders who, in face of terror, did what they could to help. It is not a complete report, and no one is claiming any props for heroism. In fact, the tragedy is compounded for them by the fact that despite the finest efforts, a life could not be saved. These people did something extraordinary and, while they are not asking for any special attention, deserve our thanks. If anyone referred to in this piece wishes me to remove it, just give me the word and I will take it down.

Tiny Town, USA – Allen Forest was halfway through his haircut at the Big Time Barber Shop when a loud concussion rocked the building. Someone wondered aloud if a crane had collapsed on the construction site  outside on The Ithaca Commons. Forest's brother Kyle Henderson "got a funny kind of look on his face," says Crystal Forest, who also was there with her husband and 10-year old son. With uncanny precision Mr. Henderson guessed exactly what had just occurred: A runaway truck had slammed into a building down the street. Mr. Henderson, shop owner Joe Knight and Mr. Forest's wife, Crystal, among others, left the building and confronted an appalling scene: Dozens of people, pedestrians as well as construction workers, were fleeing the site of an incomprehensible disaster: A semi hauling a two-tiered trailer of vehicles was embedded in Simeon's Restaurant, the rig itself completely buried inside the building.  Mr. Forest's son, Anthony, was terrified as he watched his father and uncle move deliberately toward the horror. The boy cried out "why is daddy going that way? Why?" says Crystal Forest who told her son to remain in the shelter of the barber shop , and then returned to follow her husband. A woman, badly injured and bleeding from head wounds came toward them. "One of her shoes was missing and she wanted to find it; she was speaking a hundred words a second," says Mrs. Forest. "We tried to get her to sit and wait for help, but she was in such bad shock she only said, 'I've got to get a phone, I'm going to the library, I need a phone.' " Several people, including Mrs. Crystal attempted to convince the injured woman to stay with them. "But she wouldn't. We couldn't get her to stay, she just kept going."  Mass hysteria erupted on the east end of the Ithaca Commons Friday afternoon at a little past 4 p.m., the couple told me today during an informal interview at my home. "Lots of people were on the cells calling 911, but it was a few minutes before we heard sirens and police and fire fighters arrived. A reporter from the Ithaca Journal was there taking pictures and asking questions right as we got outside." There was no time for answering questions. The situation was intensified by construction barriers that line the center of the mall hemming people into a narrow area. Workers also fled the scene, the couple said, running down the center of the site. To get to the building, Mr Forest says the men jumped the barriers and criss-crossed the Commons; somehow they navigated past the wreckage.Mr. Henderson entered the building and Mr. Forest and Joe Knight followed suit. Mr. Forest says a man exited the bar carrying an injured woman. Bricks fell from the upper stories of the building, the air was filled with smoke and dust and powdered glass.  There was scant visibility inside the bar which was filled with "smoke and fumes and we could barely see," says Mr. Forest. He called out for his brother and for survivors. Gradually the shape of the semi came into focus: the truck had passed through the entire restaurant at an angle "kitty-cornered to the street" he says. "We all assumed the driver was dead  He heard his brother also calling for survivors but could not see him; Mr. Henderson had somehow gotten onto the other side of the vehicle and was furiously smothering a fire with pieces of cloth. Debris continued to fall. The smell of gasoline was overpowering, says Mr. Forest. "It was so strong it made me dizzy; I pulled my shirt up over my face." The men's voices pierced the gloom desperately calling for anyone who might still be conscious or alive. "We assumed the driver was dead," says Mr. Forest. "But there wasn't anybody in the cab, he wasn't on the scene."

Crystal Forest said the cries pedestrians outside made it almost impossible to hear anyone in the building.

She also smelled the gasoline and feared for her husband's life. "I've been through a few bad things in my life," she says. "Like hurricanes in Florida, but this was the saddest thing I've ever seen – it really seemed like something from 9/11."

She recalls a young woman in a state of terror who said she was supposed to meet her mother on the corner and could not find her.

"People were in a complete panic," she says.

Not Mr. Forest, nor Mr. Henderson or Mr. Knight. Forest a retired oil field worker is trained in CPR and first aid and understands hazardous duty. "The first thing you don't do is panic," he says. Mr. Henderson, a motor equipment operator for the county highway department, focused on dousing fire and crying out in vain for injured people. But after several minutes, says Mr.Forest, the danger of an explosion was too great and, not hearing anyone other than his brother and Mr. Knight, implored everyone to get out.  "My brother thought he heard someone, but I didn't hear any voices calling back. The way that truck was positioned, I figured God had already taken anyone who was in its path." It was a terrible feeling, he says. "We really wish we could have pulled someone out of there. I'm from Ithaca, this is my home, and I really wanted to know if there was anyone in there who was alive." That job would require entire rescue crews and intensive, painstaking labor on the part of uniformed responders. What they discovered was everyone's greatest fear.

For more about that, see http://ithacavoice.com/2014/06/mother-killed-simeons-crash-sweet-earth/

The Forests remained at the scene for an hour. They had a dinner date for a family birthday but their son refused to go. He didn't want to eat in a restaurant because of what had happened, they say. Mr. Forest, realizing "I only had half a haircut," visited with a friend who finished the job. Mr. Henderson, shook-up by the experience, didn't want to talk about it with me today. The Forests returned to the Big Time Barber Shop late Saturday afternoon to meet friends; the shop was open for business.

"Now I know what it was like on 9/11; now I know what it was like at the Boston Marathon," says Mr. Forest, referring to the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001, and the bombs detonated at the Boston race in 2013. "It seems that you can't be sure of anything – not sending your kids to school, not going out on a date at the movies or even going out to eat."

We thank these people for telling their story. We hope we have conveyed accurately what was expressed to us and we extend our thanks to them for their exemplary actions.

– Franklin Crawford, administrator, tinytowntimes.com


Citizen First-Responders speak about their experience of the Simeons tragedy

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Tiny Town, USA – I just had a conversation with citizen first-responders Allen and Crystal Forest, Ithacans who now live in Lansing.

They were kind enough to drop by my home office to discuss what they experienced in the frantic moments directly following yesterday's horror at State and Aurora, when an out-of-control tractor trailer torpedoed into Simeons Restaurant, turning a lovely pre-happy hour Friday into a scene reminiscent of 9/11 and robbing the life of a young woman, who is believed to have been pregnant.

Their perspectives on the scene and that of other citizen first-responders is stunning -- and curiously absent from anything currently posted in the media. This is not a full account of our conversation – that will have to come later.

Know this: While almost everyone was fleeing from the scene, several brave people went toward it to help save lives. Two of these men, brothers in fact, were uniquely qualified to respond to such an emergency. One of them, Allen Forest, a former oil field worker, is certified in CPR and carries an emergency first aid kit in his car. Mr. Forest was in the Big Time Barber Shop when the truck hit and rocked the shop from half a block away. Mr. Forest's brother, Kyle Henderson, a motor equipment operator with the Tompkins County Highway Department, was present, as well as Joe Knight, the shop's owner. According to Mr. Forest, his brother Kyle immediately identified the cause of the enormous crash and tremor and rushed to the scene. Mr. Forest and his wife, Crystal, also rushed to the scene, as well as Mr. Knight, whose son works in the kitchen at Simeons and was due to go on shift within an hour of the crash.

We will continue to provide basic information about this tragedy as reported to me by non-professional pedestrians, people who reacted swiftly and bravely. Mr. Forest, his wife Crystal, Kyle Henderson and Mr. Knight, are to be commended for their courageous actions in the face of life-threatening dangers. These people are fellow Ithacans, and while I am as saddened by the horror, I am also immensely proud of these folks. This is not a knock on uniformed first-responders who worked through the night and into day in a yeoman's effort to prevent further loss of life and property. But theirs is not the whole story.

If there is more information on injuries and, possibly, other fatalities, the people of this city deserve to know.

We await more information on what exactly happened with this vehicle and why the driver allegedly abandoned the scene. Because according to Mr. Forest, there was no one in the truck when he entered the building and no sign of a driver who should have remained within the area at least, until authorities arrived. Also, we need to know the exact speed that vehicle was moving, whether it was in low gear as it properly should have been and if the driver was capable of handling a vehicle of that size. Because at some point, it has to be said: there may be a case of not just reckless driving, but vehicular homicide and I'm glad the driver eventually came into police custody. Thank you to all the invisibles who did their best to aid the injured.

When I can spare the proper time and attention, I will relate the conversation I had with the Forest's today. Hopefully that will be prior to midnight tonight.

– Franklin Crawford, tinytowntimes.com administrator


The longest day of the year journeys into a grievous night

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Tiny Town, USA – Talk to anybody who knows about what happened today and you don't need pictures. In fact, some folks would like some images and sounds forever excised from their minds.

We don't know the explanation for a truckload of cars careening down one of our gorge-like main roads: It happened.

The impact was that of an explosion; it took out one of tiny town's landmark buildings, and killed a young woman who was merely at her station, taking care of sundry duties on a beautiful first day of summer. Who could imagine death arriving in such a way?

It was delivered. And violently so. The very bravest of people anywhere could not prevent the taking of a life in so random and insane manner.

Several people tried -- the entire vehicle was moving at such a velocity and turned itself in such a way that it penetrated a building, as if by terrorist intent. This is most likely not the case. Even so, this was tiny town's wake-up call: Speeding vehicles entering into gravity's realm, are not to be trusted. A driver who prefers to slam into a building as opposed to taking it in the face of barriers meant to save lives, is probably not an unusual person. Perhaps he trusted in the seeming solidity of a formidable brick building, knowing little of the hazards of physics.

We don't know. We know that people were hurt, we know that a young person with child, was killed by this reckless act of homicide.

It may well prove the driver was blinded by light, mistook The Commons for a thoroughfare, or simply was not paying attention and didn't understand what it meant to carry as much tonnage as he hauled. It was a terrible mistake.

Downtown has suffered much by way of alleged repair in the last year and a half. No one could foresee such an incident. It is terrible and cruel and the consequences irrevocable. Those who pray, make your prayers tonight on behalf of the suffering. Those who only know this as a horror, be kind, be gentle and remember how fragile is this life.

Ithaca died a little today; and it lost a fine person while others were shocked or maimed.

This was not a terrorist attack. Many heavy vehicles have lost their jake brakes on these hills. I recall at least five serious incidents in my time here, dating back to 1978. But there were more.

We have been lucky. And today, that luck ran out.

Our dearest thoughts to the suffering, our best wishes to those who tried to help and were driven back by the madness of the inferno they faced; it is no small thing to rush in where angels fear to tread.

But better to know for the future, that angels do walk among us.

Thank you to all who are helping and to those who helped, immediately, instinctively. That is the place I know as home, this confirms my highest expectations of Ithaca, my landing place, my home away from home.

-- Franklin Crawford, administrator, tinytowntimes.com



Last Updated on Saturday, 21 June 2014 00:16

No safety net: 39 percent of American workers have less than a grand to fall back on

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Less than $1,000 in Savings

Among the nation's workers aged 25 or older, more than one-third (36 percent) have less than $1,000 in savings—defined as the total value of their household's savings and investments, excluding the value of their primary home and defined-benefit retirement plans. The percentage of workers with almost no savings is growing, according to the 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey. In 2009, only 20 percent of workers had less than $1,000 in savings. By age, here is the percentage of workers with less than $1,000 in savings...

Aged 25 to 34: 43%
Aged 35 to 44: 37%
Aged 45 to 54: 34%
Aged 55-plus: 24%

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey

From Demo Memo by Cheryl Russell  http://demomemo.blogspot.com/

Cheryl Russell is a demographer and the editorial director of New Strategist Publications. She is the former editor-in-chief of American Demographics magazine (then located in Ithaca) and The Boomer Report. She is the author of Bet You Didn't Know and other books on demographic trends. She holds a master's degree in sociology/demography from Cornell University.

Last Updated on Sunday, 23 March 2014 22:22

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