September 1999

Table of Contents

A Disaster-Resistant University: The First of Many
--an invited comment

Disaster Declaration Posters Available for Public Education

1999 Session Summaries Now Available

The Natural Hazards Center's Quick Response Program

The Internet Page(s)

An E-Mail List for Disaster Grad Students

Washington Update

White House Creates Y2K Information Coordination Center

FEMA Seeks Input for NFIP Evaluation

Also Seeking Information on Flood Mitigation

Getting to Know El Niño: UNEP/NCAR Launch Emergency Response Study

World Disasters Report Predicts Decade of Super Disasters

Disaster Time Line: Selected Events and Outcomes (1965-2000)

Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction
Whither the Decade?

October 13, 1999: World Disaster Reduction Day--Prevention Pays

Multihazard Mitigation Council Seeks Comments on National Mitigation Plan

The Earthquakes and Megacities Initiative

New England Reviews Coastal Programs

Proposals Sought: U.S.-Japan Urban Earthquake Research

Introducing the Earthquake Disaster Mitigation Center, Japan . . .

. . . And the Centre for Disastre Development, India

Conferences and Training

PERI Internet Symposium Set for October

A New Independent Study Course from FEMA/EMI

EMI Catalog Available

Contracts and Grants

Recent Publications

FEMA Addresses Dam Safety

Floodplain Managers Highlight Mitigation Successes

The USGS Closes Out Loma Prieta

Electronic Goodies

Who We Are

A Disaster-Resistant University: The First of Many

--an invited comment

A Campus at Risk

The University of California (UC) was chartered in 1868, the very year the Hayward fault produced its last big earthquake. The campus was sited in Berkeley, just where the East Bay hills slope up and over the Hayward fault, at the mouth of the beautifully wooded Strawberry Canyon. That location inextricably tied the fate of UC Berkeley to the rhythms of the fault and the cycles of water and fire, but we have been fortunate with respect to disasters in the 131 years since our founding. The great urban-wildland fires of 1923 and 1991 missed the campus itself, but destroyed the homes of many faculty, staff, and students. Only the flood of 1962 did significant damage to the campus. The epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake was too far away to shake the campanile--the Berkeley campus landmark--very much, and thus far the Hayward fault has remained quiet.

We do know how lucky we have been. A magnitude 7.0 quake on the Hayward fault (for which seismologists offer a one-in-three chance over the next 20 years) could kill and injure many students, faculty, and staff. Damage to campus facilities may be extensive, enough to close classrooms and research facilities for a daunting period of time. Such closures could compromise our mission as a leading teaching and research institution. Beyond our campus perimeter, communities in the Bay Area rely on us as a source of both employment and employees, and for other resources such as information, cultural events, and public service programs. Our closing, even for a short time, would have extensive economic and social impacts. The growing recognition of our vulnerabilities has prompted UC Berkeley to undertake a number of loss-reduction efforts, including working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on the Disaster-Resistant University (DRU) initiative.

Disaster Resistant Universities

The DRU project is intended to motivate and enable the nation's large research universities to reduce and manage their vulnerability to the hazards in their region. Disaster resistance implies that a university will be able to withstand the impacts of hazard events without excessive losses or undue interruptions to critical activities. Not only are universities unique organizations that serve their communities, states, and nation, they also represent an important federal investment. Annually, federal agencies fund about $15 billion in university research. In recognition of this investment, FEMA has begun a two-part program to support universities' attempts to reduce their potential losses in foreseeable disasters.

At UC Berkeley we are developing and implementing prototype loss estimation methods and strategic risk management plans that other universities can use in their own efforts. FEMA is working with congressional staff and a coalition of other universities to establish new federal funding that will be matched by universities committed to hazard mitigation. Next year, FEMA hopes to award DRU planning grants to a small number of universities that will test the materials UC Berkeley produces and subsequently implement a DRU process.

With about 30,000 students, 5,000 faculty, 7,000 staff, and hundreds of visitors, the population at risk at UC Berkeley on any given day is between 40,000 and 50,000. In 1997-98, the federal government awarded $362 million to researchers here, a disturbing number of them working in labs vulnerable to structural, nonstructural, and utilities infrastructure damage.

We want to avoid losses similar to those suffered by Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons in early July when a power blackout in New York City destroyed research material--human tissue, blood, enzymes, and cells. Insufficient and malfunctioning back-up generators failed to keep freezers and incubators running during the extended blackout. We hope never to see articles about our campus like the one that appeared in the New York Post on July 10, 1999: A spokesperson for Columbia University said that damages to the $200 million research program had yet to be calculated, but are expected to be considerable. National Institutes of Health [NIH] spokesman Don Ralbovsky said NIH did not require that Columbia have adequate alternative power in order to qualify for its grants.

Though we have had a seismic corrections program in place since 1978 and have spent around $250 million on structural retrofit, there are still many dangerous buildings among the approximately 100 located in the core campus. In mid-1997, Chancellor Berdahl created the Seismic Action Plan for Facilities Enhancement and Renewal (SAFER) Program to re-energize our loss reduction efforts. SAFER's first undertaking was to fund a state-of-the-art structural survey that indicated 27% of usable campus space is seismically Poor or Very Poor and in need of corrective work. Under SAFER, UC Berkeley is committed to retrofitting these buildings; it will take 20-30 years and cost at least $1.2 billion (adjusting for inflation).

Faculty and administrators already seasoned by their involvement in the SAFER Program are directing the two related DRU projects now underway. Since September 1998, architecture, structural engineering, and economics faculty have been working on a loss-estimation model for three possible earthquakes on the Hayward fault (magnitudes 6.5, 7.0, and 7.25). They have relied on calculations and relations developed by the Applied Technology Council and FEMA's HAZUS Working Group in order to create a model appropriate to a university campus. They prepared a microzonation soils map of the campus and estimates of ground shaking and refined maps of campus infrastructure location and condition. They evaluated the structural and nonstructural characteristics of campus buildings, and assessed each building in terms of both its use (classrooms, labs, offices, libraries, special use, residences, and parking) and the estimated average number of annual and peak-hour occupants. The campus data were then used to calculate the cost of repairs and the downtime in the three earthquake scenarios. An earthquake's impact on various campus functions can be seen in the table below.

Campus Vulnerabilities in Three Earthquake Scenarios

Percentage of Space Expected to Require >20 Months for Repairs
Type of Use % of Campus Occasional EQ1 Rare EQ2 Very Rare EQ3
Classroom 6% 6% 40% 78%
Laboratory 30% 19% 49% 64%
Office 30% 9% 53% 78%
Library 16% 4% 28% 45%
Telecom Hubs <1% 3% 63% 73%
Special Other 18% 5% 30% 50%

1. Magnitude 6.5.
2. Magnitude 7.0.
3. Magnitude 7.25.

The projected capital losses and downtime will be combined with data on capital flows (e.g., operating expenditures, salaries) in an economic impact evaluation. In addition to the traditional review of impacts on the local area, we will also evaluate the effects on significant research units and on our precious human capital--faculty, staff, and students.

UC Berkeley and DRU

At the end of March 1999, work began on the second DRU project, a strategic loss reduction and risk management plan for the Berkeley campus. At the direction of the vice provost, and with the loss estimators and their findings, a project manager is working with a campus/community steering committee to create the plan, implement it, and secure the involvement of local businesses, government, and corporations. The strategic risk management plan will provide for ongoing and expanded facilities improvements (structural and nonstructural); utilities infrastructure upgrades; creation of a strategic facilities master plan; and funding and staff time to enhance emergency management.

Improving the conditions of buildings and infrastructure is only one component of the long-range plan for sustained operations. For the campus to function after an earthquake, we must consider what is necessary for teaching, research, and business management in those straitened circumstances. Thus, the plan includes business resumption planning, improved communications systems and plans, and information and education programs for faculty, staff, and students. The planning process involves all campus and community stakeholders, including representatives of the faculty senate,

high-level administrators on both the campus and in the Office of the President, liaisons from the city government, and participants from local businesses--large and small.

The approaches and materials used successfully in the UC Berkeley project will be incorporated into generic guidelines and support materials for other universities to employ in their own planning efforts. It is up to faculty and decision makers at all universities to begin taking steps to reduce their potential losses, but one of the main lessons we have learned so far on our own campus is that we cannot do these large loss assessment and risk reduction projects on our own. We require the technical assistance of professionals in hazard mitigation and other members of our communities, funding from state and federal governments and private donors, and the enlightened backing of legislators and policy makers. FEMA has recognized its responsibility to help protect universities and their missions. Now we must work with our other patrons to gain their understanding and support.

Mary Comerio, Professor of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley

Sarah K. Nathe, DRU Project Manager, University of California, Berkeley

More information about this project can be obtained from Sarah Nathe, UC Berkeley, Office of the Chancellor, 200 California Hall, #1500, Berkeley, CA 720-1500; (510) 642-4627; fax: (510) 642-3359; e-mail: sknathe@uclink4.berkeley.edu.

Disaster Declaration Posters Available for Public Education

Michael Baker Jr., Inc., an engineering and geographic information system consulting firm, recently announced that it is distributing its Presidential Disaster Declaration map (see the Observer, Vol. XXII, No. 6, p. 6) as part of its support for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) Project Impact. FEMA provided the data on historic disaster declarations needed to create this poster, which uses color to show the frequency of major disasters for each U.S. county. Since 1965, presidents have declared over 1,200 disasters, including floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes. Copies of the 17" by 24" poster and accompanying letter-size flyer will be sent to state emergency management agencies and floodplain coordinators. High resolution digital files, including close-ups for each FEMA region, can be downloaded from http://www.bakerprojects.com/fema. The media and educational, nongovernmental organizations may request printed copies by e-mailing rtrott@mbakercorp.com or contacting Michael Baker Jr., Inc., 180 Admiral Cochran Drive, Suite 210, Annapolis, MD 21401; (410) 571-8706; fax: (410) 571-6400.

Get 'em while they're hot!

1999 Session Summaries Now Available

In July, hazards professionals from around the world gathered in Boulder, Colorado, for the 24th Annual Hazards Research and Applications Workshop. There was healthy debate and lively discussion during the four days of the workshop on topics as diverse as the Second Assessment of Research and Applications on Natural Hazards, Y2K, business vulnerability, public risk information, Hurricane Mitch, the popular culture of disasters, and how and why people die in disasters. Participants even got to spend an hour in dialog with some of the leading professionals in the field. Attendees were as diverse as the program topics--federal, state, and local government officials; researchers; representatives of nonprofit organizations and private industry; and others.

To ensure that the ideas and discussions are not limited to those who attended the workshop, the Natural Hazards Center publishes brief summaries of each session, abstracts of the hazards research presented, and descriptions of the projects and programs discussed at the meeting. A set of all workshop materials, including the agenda and participant list, costs $20.00, plus $5.00 shipping. (For orders beyond North America, contact the Publications Clerk at the address below for shipping charges or access the publications ordering information on our Web site at http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/puborder.html).

Currently, the list of all session summary and abstract titles is available on our Web site at http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/ss/ss.html. In November, the complete text of all session summaries will also be available at that site, although abstracts of hazards research, programs, and projects will not.

To order these materials, send your payment (checks should be payable to the University of Colorado) to the Publications Clerk, Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center, Campus Box 482, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0482; (303) 492-6819; fax: (303) 492-2151; e-mail: janet.kroeckel@colorado.edu; WWW: http://www.colorado.edu/hazards. Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Diner's Club cards are also accepted.

Looking for some quick cash?

The Natural Hazards Center's Quick Response Program

The Natural Hazards Center is soliciting proposals for its fiscal year 2000 Quick Response (QR) program, which enables social scientists to conduct short-term research immediately after a disaster. Researchers interested in conducting analyses at the scene of a disaster within a few hours or days of an event should submit a brief proposal describing that research. If a proposal is approved, the researcher is then eligible to receive funding should an appropriate disaster occur in the coming 12 months. Grants average between $1,000 and $3,000 and essentially cover travel expenses only. In return, grantees must submit reports of their findings, which are published by the Natural Hazards Center both electronically and in hard copy (see page 5 of this Observer).

Details about proposal submission can be obtained by requesting a 2000 QR Program Announcement from Mary Fran Myers, Co-Director, Natural Hazards Center, Campus Box 482, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0482; (303) 492-2150; fax: (303) 492-2151; e-mail: myersmf@colorado.edu. The program announcement is also available from the center's World Wide Web site at the URL listed below. The deadline for proposal submission is October 15, 1999.

To obtain a list of past Quick Response reports and all our other publications, along with their prices, send $3.00 to the Publications Clerk, Natural Hazards Center, Campus Box 482, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0482; (303) 492-6819. This list and full text copies of recent QR reports are available at no charge from the center's home page on the World Wide Web: http://www.colorado.edu/hazards.

The Internet Page(s)

Below are a few of the more useful disaster Internet resources we've encountered recently. For a comprehensive list of selected Internet/Web sites dealing with hazards and disasters, see:


All Hazards

Written by practitioners and researchers, each issue of the new Natural Hazards Informer from the Hazards Center is intended to provide comprehensive, state-of-the-art information about a specific aspect of natural hazards research, policy, or management practice. For example, the inaugural issue, by floodplain management experts French Wetmore and Gil Jamieson, is entitled "Flood Mitigation Planning: The CRS Approach."

The Informer, which will be published irregularly as sponsorship becomes available, is intended to be used by all persons interested in the mitigation of natural hazards and thus is being sent to all subscribers of the Hazard Center's regular printed newsletter, the Natural Hazards Observer. There is no need to subscribe separately to the Informer. The Observer and Informer are free to persons in the U.S. and cost $15 per year elsewhere. Subscriptions should be directed to the Hazards Center Publications Clerk, Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center, Campus Box 482, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0482, (303) 492-6819; fax: (303) 492-2151; e-mail: janet.kroeckel@spot.colorado.edu.

Printed copies of the first Informer are no longer available, however it is available on-line. To see "Flood Mitigation Planning: The CRS Approach" go to the Hazards Center Web site on the World Wide Web, http://www.colorado.edu/hazards, and click on the Informer, or simply go directly to the URL above.

The Natural Hazards Center's "Quick Response" reports are brief summaries of research conducted immediately following hazard events concerning the effects of and immediate responses to disasters. These studies are conducted as part of the Natural Hazard Center's Quick Response Program (see page 3 of this Observer). The center has four new full-text reports available on the World Wide Web:

The entire list of quick response reports is available at http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/qr/qr.html. In addition, printed copies can be purchased for $5.00 each, plus shipping charges ($3.20 for the U.S.; $4.00, Canada, Mexico, and international surface mail; and $5.00 for international air printed matter). Orders should be directed to the Publications Clerk at the address above. Additionally, an on-line publication order form is available from http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/puborder.html.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) extensively monitors and evaluates threats posed by many natural hazards. Its resources include a global seismic network, a national streamflow monitoring program, regional volcano observatories, and long-standing interagency partnerships in disaster mitigation and response. To help synthesize the vast amount of information available on hazards, the USGS has created the Center for Integration of Natural Disaster Information (CINDI), a research facility for: 1) developing and evaluating technology for information integration and dissemination; 2) performing research in data integration, analysis, modeling, and decision support; and 3) supporting the ongoing evolution of the USGS processing and delivery of hazards data. The CINDI Web site provides background information about the center and serves as "a gateway to information about natural hazards and disasters." The center itself selects individual disasters as case studies. The current focus is Hurricane Mitch, and this site incorporates much information about that disaster, including a "Central America Disaster Atlas" with multiple maps and map overlays displaying the effects of the storm.

Through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Project Impact initiative, FEMA and the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) have formed a national partnership aimed in part at providing multihazard maps and information to U.S. residents, business owners, schools, community groups, and local governments via the Internet. The information provided via the ESRI Web site is intended to assist the building of disaster-resistant communities across the country by sharing geographic knowledge about local hazards. This Web site allows users to create on-line hazard maps for which they can specify both location (by ZIP code, city, or congressional district) and the hazards to be shown. It also directs users to other sources of information, both on the Web and in the real world.

This remarkable Web site seems to include all the hazard science news that's fit to print. It covers the latest meteorological, geological, hydrological, and space science news--much of it focusing on natural hazards. With sections on volcanoes, earthquakes, tornadoes, El Niño, global warming, hurricanes, and other natural phenomena, Explorezone provides both the latest news and latest scientific findings. The site includes links to information sources, numerous graphics and videos, book reviews, background information, an easily searchable index of science terms, and a special section entitled "theedge" that presents new ideas in science and technology.

We recently received a nice 18-page booklet summarizing the considerable hazards support activities of the National Oceanic and Atmostpheric Administration's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS). The booklet describes NESDIS tools and assets for observing and analyzing hazards; the service's programs for detection and monitoring of hazard events; its efforts to respond to and mitigate natural hazards; and the resources it offers (primarily via the Web) to educate the general public about hazards. NESDIS also manages extensive databases concerning historical and current disasters. The URL above provides an entree to this great resource of information. For details about acquiring the NESDIS booklet, Hazards Support Activities, contact the NESDIS Public Affairs Office, Federal Building 4, Washington, DC 20233; (301) 763-8282; e-mail: neverson@nesdis.noaa.gov.

The Gender and Disaster Network is an educational project initiated by women and men interested in gender relations in disaster contexts. While understanding that communication technology is not fully accessible and that people interested in this issue work in many languages and contexts, this group hopes to use the Internet to support a global network of researchers and practitioners. Broadly stated, the network's goals are to study women's and men's behavior and experience before, during, and after disasters, while considering gender relations in broad political, economic, historical, and cultural contexts, and to share this information among network members. This Web site currently includes a list of members with short statements of each one's interests, papers, bibliographies, and other material outlining gender issues related to disasters. The Gender and Disaster Network is open to anyone concerned about such issues.

The Institute for Business and Home Safety has remodeled its Web site. A consortium of insurance institutions, IBHS is dedicated to making natural disaster safety a core value among home and business owners. Visitors to the new site will find:


As many emergency planners and managers already know, the Environmental Protection Agency's Web sites provide a wealth of information that can be useful to researchers studying community and state emergency planning and response. Starting with http://www.epa.gov (or, if you want to go directly to the Chemical Emergency Planning Program, http://www.epa.gov/swercepp/) researchers have a gateway to:

Because of its increasing awareness of the effects of disasters on development (and development on disasters), in July 1998 the World Bank established a new Disaster Management Facility (DMF) to ensure that disaster prevention and mitigation are integral parts of development programs (see the Observer, Vol. XXIII, No. 4, p. 5). Key activities of the DMF include:

For more information see the new DMF Web site above, or contact the Disaster Management Facility, World Bank, 1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433; (202) 473-1378; fax: (202) 522-3224 or (202) 522-2125; e-mail: DMF@worldbank.org.

This is the new URL for the Natural Hazards Project (NHP) of the Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment (USDE), Organization of American States (OAS) (see the Observer, Vol. XXIII, No. 4, p. 16). The page contains information, in Spanish and English, about the project's various natural hazard mitigation activities, including projects in the areas of transportation vulnerability reduction, education vulnerability reduction, and floodplain management, as well as announcements about up-coming activities and the project's internship program.


In September 1998, as a contribution to the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR), the GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam and the German Committee for the IDNDR hosted the "International IDNDR Conference on Early Warning Systems for the Reduction of Natural Disasters." Both of the Web sites above offer the findings and conclusions from that meeting, including two full-text publications: Development at Risk?, a booklet produced for the U.K. National Coordination Committee for the IDNDR, and Reports on Early Warning, a report covering many aspects of effective early warning for hydrometeorological, fire, and technological hazards.

For those of you who (like ourselves) are sometimes bewildered by the labyrinthine network of USGS Web resources, we suggest this URL--an index of the more than 150 USGS Web servers.

High Winds (Tornadoes, Hurricanes, you name it . . .)

FEMA has made plans and specifications for building a "safe room" inside a home available on-line via the Web address above. Developed in collaboration with the Wind Engineering Research Center of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, Taking Shelter from the Storm, Building a Safe Room Inside Your House and the associated construction plans draw on 25 years of field research by the Texas Tech researchers. Their work has included studies of the performance of buildings following dozens of tornadoes throughout the United States and laboratory testing of building materials and systems when impacted by airborne debris.

The John H. Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment has made several publications available on-line, including Did Public Regulations Matter? Rebuilding the North Carolina Coast After Hurricane Fran, by Rutherford H. Platt of the University of Massachusetts. As Platt indicates, for a quarter century, North Carolina has sought to manage new oceanfront development under its 1974 Coastal Area Management Act. The results of these planning efforts were put to the test in 1996 when the state was struck by hurricanes Bertha and Fran within a two-month period. With beaches and dunes impaired by Bertha, Fran inflicted widespread devastation along the southern half of the state's open ocean coast. The rebuilding process was fueled by federal disaster assistance of many kinds, including emergency dune replacement, flood insurance payments, and Small Business Administration loans to homeowners. Platt's study, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, looks at the rebuilding of the North Carolina coast after Hurricane Fran and reviews the efficacy of both traditional approaches to coastal hazards management and public regulation of redevelopment in high-hazard coastal areas.

The people at the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Environmental and Societal Impacts Group (ESIG) just keep grafting more and more interesting stuff onto their Web site. Their latest addition is an entire section entitled, "Thirty Years After Hurricane Camille: Lessons Learned, Lessons Lost."

In August 1969, Camille battered the U.S. with unprecedented fury. It was the strongest storm to directly strike the United States in the 20th century, and, after wreaking havoc along the Gulf Coast, its remnants caused flooding as far north as West Virginia. Camille caused more than 200 deaths and billions of dollars in damage. Indeed, the storm was called the greatest catastrophe ever to strike the U.S. and perhaps the most significant economic weather event in world history. Recognizing that Camille is not just an historical footnote, but also a harbinger of disasters to come, ESIG has prepared a study and this Web site to inform interested persons (and those who should be interested) about the consequences of Camille, the increased risks that the U.S. coast now faces, and actions that can be taken now to mitigate the next great hurricane. Besides the report, the Web site includes extensive bibliographies on both Camille and hurricanes in general, well-organized Web links, data on historical hurricane damage, and much other information. (If you doubt the power of these tropical storms, see the "Hurricane Camille Image Gallery.")


FEMA's popular Y2K course for local and state emergency managers, "Getting Ready for Y2K," can now be completed on-line. The course's goal is to provide the emergency management community with information and tools that will allow it to prepare for the Year 2000 conversion. The course consists of five lessons: "Understanding the Y2K Challenge," "Assessing Y2K Readiness," "Developing Y2K Contingency Plans," "Promoting Y2K Public Awareness," and "Exercising Y2K Plans." Also included are a toolkit containing actual documents to be used in Y2K preparedness activities, links to other Y2K resources, and a glossary of terms. The course is also available from FEMA's Publications Distribution Facility by calling (800) 480-2520.

From this Web site, the CompuMentor Project, which provides volunteer-based computer assistance to schools and other nonprofit organizations, is offering a free manual--the Year 2000 Workbook for Nonprofits--outlining a step-by-step process for creating a plan of action to identify and mitigate potential Y2K disruptions. The site also offers a thorough description of the Y2K problem, definitions of terms, references and links, and frequently asked questions (FAQs). Printed copies of the Y2K workbook are also available for $17.50 ($35 for nonprofit organizations with budgets over $500,000). To obtain a copy, contact CompuMentor, 89 Stillman Street, San Francisco, CA 94107; fax: (415) 512-9629.


On July 16, 1998, President Clinton signed the National Drought Policy Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-199), creating the National Drought Policy Commission to advise Congress "on the creation of an integrated, coordinated Federal policy designed to prepare for and respond to serious drought emergencies." The Western Governors' Association had already created the Western Drought Coordination Council (WDCC) to deal with this recurrent Western problem (see the Observer, Vol. XXII, No. 2, p. 7), and the council recently prepared a report on their experiences--The Western Drought Experience: The Western Drought Coordination Council's Report to the National Drought Policy Commission--to assist the national effort. The WDCC concluded that all aspects of drought response needed to be evaluated and updated in order to better integrate preparedness, response, and mitigation programs at all levels of government. Their report notes that the WDCC has developed a work plan that addresses four principal activities: monitoring/assessment/prediction, preparedness and mitigation, response, and communications. Further, it describes the council's past experience in these areas and provides 12 recommendations for national drought policy. To access the report via the Internet, go to the URL above, select "WGA Publications," scroll down to the "Lands and Water" section, and click on the link for the drought report.



FEMA recently issued a guide to flood preparation, available in both printed copy and on-line at the URLs above. Surviving the Storm: A Guide to Flood Preparedness outlines measures individuals and business owners can take to protect their families, property, and communities in the event of flooding. Topics addressed include steps to take before, during, and after a flood; low-cost measures to protect homes; tips for developing a family action plan; cleaning and repairing personal property; and flood insurance. Printed copies are available by calling (800) 420-2520. Copies of each publication in the "Surviving the Storm" series--covering floods, hurricanes, winters storms, wildfire, and El Niño--are available at http://www.fema.gov/library/srvstrm.htm.

As one of the world's most hazard-prone countries, Japan has undertaken measures to protect against disasters for centuries. Currently, the nation spends a considerable portion of its annual budget on such activities; for example, annual expenditures against flood disasters are around $20 billion. In the course of these activities, disaster managers in Japan have accumulated much experience and knowledge concerning countermeasures against flood disasters and droughts. In order to share this information, the Infrastructure Development Institute-Japan (IDI), in collaboration with the Japanese Ministry of Construction, has prepared this Web site on "Water Policy in Japan."

Speaking of floods, the California Department of Water Resources, Floodplain Management Branch recently unveiled a nice Web site. It includes sections covering state and national (FEMA) contacts, conferences, vendors of flood fighting supplies, the agency newsletter, training schedules, an on-line training program on the National Flood Insurance Program, an extensive list of related Web links, the state model floodplain management ordinance, and state floodplain management guidelines.

Disaster Medicine and Mental Health

The mission of the journal Prehospital and Disaster Medicine (PDM) is to distribute information relevant to the practice of out-of-hospital and in-hospital emergency medical care, disaster medicine, and public health and safety. Its major objectives are: 1) the improvement of care, including the public health and safety aspects of disasters; and 2) the prevention and/or mitigation of such events and their effects. The journal provides an international forum for the reporting and discussion of relevant scientific studies, both quantitative and qualitative. It is available in printed form and portions are available on the Internet at the URL above with translations into multiple languages. The PDM site includes recent news, a complete document entitled Health Disaster Management: Guidelines for Evaluation and Research in the Utstein Style, information about the journal and article submission, and complete access to the on-line "Fred C. Cuny Memorial Continuing Education Series" on disaster management.

The Disaster Mental Health Institute (DMHI) is a State of South Dakota Board of Regents Center of Excellence offering an undergraduate minor in disaster response and a doctoral specialty track in clinical/disaster psychology at the University of South Dakota. The institute also hosts an annual "Conference on Innovations in Disaster Mental Health" (see the conference announcements in this Observer). The DMHI Web site provides in-depth information about the institute and conference, a list of available publications, as well as several on-line booklets on coping with the aftermath of disasters. For more information about this institute, contact the Disaster Mental Health Institute, University of South Dakota--SDU 116, 414 East Clark Street, Vermillion, SD 57069-2390; (605) 677-6575 or (800) 522-9684; fax: (605) 677-6604; or see the Web site above.

An E-Mail List for Disaster Grad Students

The "Disaster Grads" e-mail discussion list supports informal discussion and information sharing among students (both graduate and undergraduate) who conduct research in hazards and disasters. Currently, the list does not carry a large volume of messages so it can be easily monitored, but it has proven an excellent place for students to find support or locate resources. The list currently includes students from all over the U.S. in a wide variety of graduate programs, such as geography, engineering, public health, sociology, and economics. To subscribe to the "Disaster Grads" list, send an e-mail message to listproc@lists.colorado.edu, and in the body of the message write "subscribe disaster_grads [your first name] [your last name]" (for example: subscribe disaster_grads Mia Hamm). For more information about this service, contact Alice Fothergill, Natural Hazards Information Center, Campus Box 482, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0482; e-mail: alice.fothergill@colorado.edu.

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