--an invited comment
Congress Passes Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000
FEMA Funded for Another Year
Congress Funds Other Agencies, Too
Departments Get Wildfire and Other Funding
Governors' Recommendations for Dealing with Wildfires Signed into Law
Federal Agencies Also Recommend New Approach to Wildfires
FEMA Issues Final Rule on NFIP Coverage
--an invited comment
For the past 25 years, the Community Service Center (CSC) at the University of Oregon has provided planning and technical assistance to help address local and regional issues, improve the quality of life in rural Oregon, and help make the state's communities more self-sufficient while providing the highest quality of graduate-level education and professional training. The Oregon Natural Hazard Workshop (ONHW) is a new program within the CSC that will continue this tradition by conducting two key activities in natural hazards risk and loss reduction: regional and community natural hazard planning; and community outreach through workshops, public education, and information dissemination.
These activities involve public and private stakeholders working to alleviate the risks associated with natural hazards. The planning and community outreach activities, as well as information distribution to local jurisdictions and the public, are coordinated with and complement Oregon's Statewide Land-Use Planning program and the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Project Impact. These efforts share the same goals:
In 1998, the Community Planning Workshop (CPW), a program at the CSC, evaluated the status of natural hazard planning in Oregon. This analysis determined that many communities experience difficulties in planning for natural hazards and undertaking effective development review. In response, CPW, in partnership with other agencies, began to develop tools to strengthen the state's risk reduction efforts. CPW's recommendations included better technical assistance to local governments; increased coordination among agencies, local governments, and other community-based organizations involved in inventorying natural hazards; and the development of effective hazard mitigation policies.
In response to these needs, the CSC established the Oregon Natural Hazards Workshop (ONHW) as a sister program to the CPW. In early 2000, CPW and ONHW partnered with the Department of Land Conservation and Development, other state agencies, and local and county governments to develop Planning for Natural Hazards: Oregon Technical Resource Guide. This guide provides resources that Oregon communities can use to plan for and limit the effects of natural hazards. Development of this guide was an important first step in educating Oregon communities, reducing risk, and preventing loss. However, considerable work remains to make Oregon communities more hazard resistant, and ONHW is poised to take a lead role in assisting communities to reduce their risks and losses from natural hazards.
A key to ONHW's success is the development of a collaborative and cooperative environment in which diverse partners can work toward solutions to the hazard-related problems facing Oregon communities. ONHW has established integral partnerships with various private sector businesses, state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and local governments.
Currently, we are working with the Oregon State Police's Office of Emergency Management and local governments to develop natural hazard mitigation plans for communities. Additionally, ONHW is collaborating with the Governor's Interagency Hazard Mitigation Team, the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), and SAFECO Insurance to coordinate the IBHS Oregon Showcase State Initiative (see the Observer, Vol. XXIII, No. 5, p. 11). ONHW will work with an interagency team and other partners to develop a strategic plan for making the state of Oregon more disaster resistant. This statewide strategic planning will provide Oregon with a more holistic approach to reducing community risk from natural hazards, rather than the typical, incremental approach.
To complement our ongoing programs, ONHW intends to pursue two major outreach initiatives in the next three years:
For ONHW to achieve its mission of providing tools and resources to assist Oregon communities in reducing their risk from natural hazards, the program must ensure that its projects are replicable throughout the state and that they can be sustained with available resources. Thus, through its service areas and projects, ONHW will:
These ONHW activities should result in a model program that other organizations within Oregon, throughout the U.S., and around the world can use to develop and improve risk reduction activities within their own communities.
Andre LeDuc, Oregon Natural Hazards Workshop, University of Oregon
For further information about the Oregon Natural Hazards Workshop, contact Andre LeDuc, Program Director, Oregon Natural Hazards Workshop, 1209 University of Oregon, Eugene OR, 97403-1209; (541) 346-5833; fax: (541) 346-2040; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; WWW: http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~onhw.
To learn more about the Community Service Center and its current projects, contact the Community Service Center, 1209 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1209; (541) 346-3889; fax: (541) 346-2040; e-mail: email@example.com; WWW: http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~csco.
Promoting Safe Living and Disaster Survival
In October the Institute of Building and Home Safety (IBHS) unveiled the pilot effort in a new home construction program featuring innovative and affordable construction options to safeguard families against natural disasters. Called "Fortified Florida," the program features new home construction options that offer added protection against that state's three most destructive natural perils: high winds, flooding, and wildfires. Fortified Florida will premier in the Tampa Bay area before being introduced elsewhere in the state as well as across the country as part of a national initiative called "Fortified . . . for Safer Living."
IBHS is a national nonprofit organization supported by the property-casualty insurance industry. The Florida pilot program was developed in partnership with the Contractors and Builders Association (CBA) of Pinellas County, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (TBRPC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the State of Florida.
With materials contributed by local suppliers, three new homes have been designed and built to meet the new "Fortified" standards. They incorporate such features as noncombustible, wind-resistant roof materials; shutters and impact-resistant glass; anchored exterior structures, such as carports and porches; reinforced entryways and garage doors; and building site and landscaping techniques that reduce wildfire and flooding vulnerability.
The Fortified Florida designation can only be 25" anted by a qualified service. IBHS provide this service for the first 100 homes built to the new standards in Florida, and IBHS plans to qualify an outside organization to provide the service afterwards.
IBHS plans to expand the program within Florida and also into a new state early next year. In addition, the institute expects to announce a set of criteria for retrofitting existing Florida homes to the Fortified Florida standards next year and plans to promote public awareness to help create a market demand for these construction techniques.
More information about the Fortified Florida program is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.fortifiedhome.net, or by calling (877) 534-4672. Interested persons can also contact IBHS, 1408 North Westshore Boulevard, Suite 208, Tampa, FL 33607; (813) 286-3400; fax: (813) 286-9960: WWW: http://www.ibhs.org.
On December 1, President Bill Clinton presented the nation's most prestigious scientific award--the National Medal of Science--to Natural Hazards Center founder and former director Gilbert F. White. White, one of 12 scientists nationwide to receive the award this year, was lauded for his outstanding scientific contributions to geography and environmental science, particularly his pioneering work in shaping national policies regarding floodplain management, water use, natural disasters, and environmental management.
Besides being known as the "father of floodplain management," White has made major contributions to the study of water systems in developing countries, global environmental change, international cooperation, nuclear winter, geography education, and the mitigation of natural hazards, including earthquakes, hurricanes, and drought.
White has been a key player addressing many of the world's largest environmental issues over the last 50 years. He contributed to the study of water issues in East Africa, the Aral Sea basin, the Lower Mekong basin, and the Middle East. His work changed the way geographers, water resource managers, environmentalists, and society in general think about and manage water resources.
Earlier, when informed of the award, White, the Gustavson Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Geography at the University of Colorado, said, "It's very heartening to see national recognition for this kind of work. But almost all of the work was done by teams of researchers. I'd like to see all of their names listed."
From the Hazards Center Web Site . . . http://www.colorado.edu/hazards
As regular readers of the Observer know, the Natural Hazards Center hosts a Quick Response Research Program enabling scholars to travel quickly to the site of a disaster to gather information on immediate impacts, response, and recovery (see the Observer, Vol. XXV, No. 1, p.4). These researchers then publish brief summaries of their work via the Hazards Center Web site. Our latest Quick Response reports include:
1998 Landslides in the Sarno Area in Southern Italy: Rethinking Disaster Theory, by Rocco Caporale of the Department of Sociology and Institute for Italian-American Studies, St. John's University.
Caporale examines the sociocultural context of the Italian landslides of 1998 and argues that response and recovery, indeed the entire disaster itself, were determined by the existing "negative culture of disaster"--a concept that he goes on to explore and elucidate. He argues that this cultural outlook "make(s) it inevitable that, like several other previous major disasters in the area . . . there will be no real recovery and reconstruction after the Sarno mudslide, but only an ongoing patch-up leading to further disastrous happenings in the future."
QR132: Effects of Wildfire on Adolescents in Volusia County Florida, by Audra Langley and Russell T. Jones of the Department of Psychology, Virginia Tech University.
Langley and Jones use statistical analyses to determine the degree and antecedent correlates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among adolescents who experienced the Florida wildfires. They particularly examine coping efficacy and strategy as predictors for identifying those children and adolescents who are most likely to experience PTSD.
Through surveys, Hapke and Mitchelson investigate the impacts of Hurricane Floyd on the staff of East Carolina University (ECU). ECU is in Greenville, North Carolina on the Tar River, which, like many of the region's waterways, flooded extensively following the hurricane and inundated hundreds of homes. Specifically, Hapke and Mitchelson look at the differential effect of the flood, as well as patterns of predisaster preparedness and postdisaster assistance, with regard to race and socioeconomic status. They also survey the perceived effectiveness of the various agencies providing assistance.
QR134: Citrus Growers Attitudes in North-Central Florida, by Cesar N. Caviedes of the University of Florida.
Caviedes examines changes in attitudes and practice among Florida citrus growers since the devastating freezes of the 1980s. He demonstrates how, with advice from state and federal agencies, practices have been improved to deal with this hazard, but notes that these changes have not yet been put to the test, since a major freeze has not struck the area since 1989.
A complete list of Quick Response Reports is available on-line from http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/qr/qr.html. Printed copies can be purchased for $5.00 each, plus shipping charges ($4.00 for surface mail to any destination; $9.00 for international air printed matter). Orders should be directed to the Publications Administrator, Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center, University of Colorado, 482 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0482; (303) 492-6819; fax: (303) 492-2151; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Prepayment is required, and checks should be payable to the University of Colorado.
In addition, they are now invited to present their findings through the Emergency Information Infrastructure Partnership (EIIP) Virtual Forum on the World Wide Web. Interested persons should see http://www.emforum.org for a schedule of upcoming EIIP events.
At the Silver Anniversary Hazards Research and Applications Workshop, held in Boulder, Colorado, in July 2000, a significant portion of the program was dedicated to examining the last 25 years of hazards research and discussing the discipline's future. Some participant remarks are already available from the Hazard Center's Web site; see, for example, Working Paper #104: Emergency Management in the 21st Century: Coping with Bill Gates, Osama bin-Laden, and Hurricane Mitch, by Claire Rubin--http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/wp/wp104/wp104.html, as well as the many session summaries available from http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/ss/ss00.html.
To further this discussion, the Hazards Center has added another paper to its Web site: The Natural Hazards Research Community: Comments on the 25th Anniversary of the Annual Hazards Research and Applications Workshop, by William A. Anderson, Senior Advisor, Disaster Management Facility, The World Bank. Anderson's remarks, focusing on the history of and prospects for social science disaster research, are available from http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/ss/ss00/anderson.html.
Emergency planning and management increasingly depend on computer- based tools that gather and analyze various kinds of data and provide decision support for prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery. Often, various technologies are combined to create more powerful decision-support tools, but such amalgamation can lead to problems.
Natural Hazards Working Paper #105, Challenges in Designing Spatial Decision Support Systems for Evacuation Planning, by F. Nisha de Silva of the Department of Management Studies, University of Aberdeen, U.K., identifies and analyzes the specific problems faced when two technologies--simulation modeling and geographical information systems (GISs)--were used to create a prototype decision support tool for evacuation planning called the Configurable Evacuation Management and Planning Simulator (CEMPS). CEMPS was designed to aid planning for and management of evacuation during nuclear facility emergencies. The paper focuses on issues related to the behavioral and decision-making processes of the various players in the evacuation system, logistics, the generation of realistic scenarios for testing contingency plans, the validation of decision support tools, and future trends in technology and emergency planning that decision support system developers should take into account.
Challenges in Designing Spatial Decision Support Systems for Evacuation Planning is available from the Natural Hazards Center Web site at http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/wp/wp105/wp105.html. A complete list of on-line Working Papers is available from http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/wp/wp.html.
On another front, the center has also created a new section on its Web site listing other Internet sources that offer job listings in various areas of hazards management. The new page is http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/sites/jobs.html.
Over 15,000 people receive this newsletter, and another 2,400+ receive Disaster Research, the Natural Hazards Center's e-mail periodical. The center's Web site now offers 58 Quick Response reports and 11 Working Papers. If you would like more information about what the Natural Hazards Center has been up to lately, including the titles of all recent publications, see the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center 2000 Annual Report, now on-line at http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/annrpt/00annrpt.html.
In recent years Canada has experienced a dramatic increase in the costs resulting from natural disasters; examples include the 1998 ice storm, the 1996 Saguenay flood, and the 1997 Red River flood. These trends in Canada reflect global trends of the last two decades that have been a driving force behind many national and international activities, including the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR), which ended in 1999, and its successor, the United Nations' International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR).
Examinations of Canadian disasters suggest that they by no means represent a worst-case scenario and that significant vulnerabilities to natural events exist in Canada that will one day lead to disasters of proportions that will make the ones experienced thus far seem minor. Costs from natural disasters to the public purse, private sector, and individuals are very large and likely to grow larger.
An important part of the process of developing resilient communities and effective policies to reduce the impacts of natural disasters is to take stock of what a city, province, or nation knows and does not know, how information is or is not applied (and why), what the breadth and focus is of existing disaster-related research, and what gaps in knowledge need to be filled in order to achieve these goals.
Recognizing this need, a community of Canadian scientists, scholars, and practitioners in the natural hazards and disasters field have come together to conduct a major new survey of current understanding of the causes and consequences of natural hazards and disasters and to identify critical needs regarding both knowledge and action in the discipline (see the Observer, Vol. XXIV, No. 4, p. 19). The project is designed to help determine national policy. It will rely heavily on the freely contributed time of scientists and experts from many disciplines, as well as others involved in disaster policy and management among government, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and affected populations.
Similar evaluations have been undertaken in other countries from time to time (for example, the U.S. has just completed their second hazards assessment--see the Observer, Vol. XXIII, No. 4. p. 3), and after evaluating these previous efforts, the Canadian group recognizes that the project's focus must be broad and interdisciplinary, involving social and physical scientists, academics and practitioners, policy makers and communities. The study is not intended to be simply an academic exercise, but rather an effort that will provide a guide to all users of natural disaster information and a plan for the future that will reduce the physical and human costs of disasters.
The Canadian Natural Hazards Assessment Project is guided by a small steering committee, which in early 2000 conducted an initial workshop in Mississauga, Canada, in which 65 people developed a conceptual model and plan of action for the project. Although the participants came from a wide variety of backgrounds and from most regions of Canada, the organizers feel that the circle of interests must be broadened further.
The plan calls for a two-tiered effort over a period of three years, during which a set of background papers will be developed that will serve as the basis for a publication--Canadians at Risk: The Vulnerability of Canada to Natural Hazards/Disasters--aimed at a general audience. Unifying themes of risk and vulnerability will be used to create an integrated set of papers that will provide a critical evaluation, not just a literature review. These papers will include 1) hazard-by-hazard assessments of physical and socioeconomic vulnerability, 2) assessments of adaptive/coping mechanisms, 3) case studies, 4) sectoral studies, and 5) a review of the potential impacts of global change. The set of background papers will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals to give the assessment added credibility and to meet the publishing needs of the contributors.
For more information on the Canadian Assessment of Natural Hazards Project, contact David Etkin, Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Toronto, 33 Willcocks Street, Suite 1016, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3E8; (416) 978-6310, e-mail: email@example.com.
A Web site has been established dedicated to the ongoing Canadian Natural Hazards Assessment Project discussed above. The site will act as a source of current information on the project and will be updated and modified as the project progresses. The designers ask interested persons to examine these Web pages and send any suggestions or comments to Lianne Bellisario, Adaptation and Impacts Research Group, Meteorological Service of Canada, Environment Canada, c/o Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Toronto, 33 Willcocks Street, Suite 1016V, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3E8; (416) 978-0309; fax: (416) 978-3884; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recognizing that state and local emergency management programs play a crucial role in creating safe communities and that gauging the capabilities of those programs before a disaster strikes is a major challenge for government and community leaders, more than a dozen national organizations have worked together to develop the Emergency Management Accreditation Program--EMAP. The agencies created EMAP to promote ongoing improvement of state and local emergency management programs by providing national standards that those programs can use to demonstrate success and accountability and to determine areas and issues where resources are needed.
In a world in which new risks emerge regularly, by offering consistent standards and a fair accreditation process, the EMAP developers feel their program will strengthen communities' abilities to prepare for and respond to all types of hazards, from tornadoes and earthquakes to school violence and bioterrorism. Beyond that, the developers hope also to promote communication and planning among the many government and community sectors dealing with disasters. Accreditation is voluntary and not tied to any funding.
In 2001, the new program will be pilot tested within two state emergency management programs. Following those tests, EMAP procedures and materials will be refined and the accreditation process will be offered to all U.S. state and territorial emergency management programs. In 2002, the accreditation process will be tested among local emergency management programs.
The EMAP process will include an application, self-assessment, on-site assessment by an outside review team, and committee and commission review of compliance with EMAP standards; it will also require re-accreditation every three years.
EMAP currently operates under the auspices of and with staff support from NEMA. Collaboration with interested organizations and individuals as well as use of existing assessment and standards materials have helped minimize initial costs, and the developers intend that the program will become self-supporting through application and re-accreditation fees. In the near future, the current EMAP steering committee will be superseded by a nine-member commission with broad representation that will be incorporated as an independent entity.
For more information about EMAP, contact Emily DeMers, Accreditation Coordinator, NEMA, c/o Council of State Governments, P.O. Box 11910, Lexington, KY 40578-1910; (859) 244-8210; fax: (859) 244-8239; e-mail: email@example.com; WWW: http://www.nemaweb.org.
The agencies responsible for EMAP include the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA), International Association of Emergency Managers, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Transportation, Association of State Floodplain Managers, Institute for Business and Home Safety, International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Association of Development Organizations, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Governors Association, National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The membership of California Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering (CUREe) has voted to allow universities across the country to apply for membership. The name of the reorganized nonprofit corporation is now the Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering (CUREE). CUREE retains its prime purpose: developing and using the capabilities of faculty and other resources at engineering schools of research universities and applying those resources to the understanding of earthquake engineering and hazard risk reduction. University and individual faculty applications for CUREE membership are now being actively solicited. For more information, see http://www.curee.org/.
[Adapted from the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) INSTANeT news service: firstname.lastname@example.org.]
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