In order to assess national capability to deter terrorism and to coordinate response to terrorist attacks, including those involving biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons, in May, President Bush announced that he was establishing the Office of National Preparedness within FEMA. In addition, a federal working group will assess these threats and report its findings to Congress by October 1, following review by the National Security Council. FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh testified before Congress that the new office will serve only as an organizer to make sure local and state agencies are prepared for terrorism. Vice President Cheney will lead the working group and oversee the creation of a national terrorism response plan.
President Bush's announcement of the new office can be found on the FEMA web site at www.fema.gov/nwz01/nwz01_33.htm. FEMA Director Allbaugh's prepared testimony before the Joint Hearing of the Committees on Appropriations, Armed Services and Intelligence, which describes the new office, can be found at www.fema.gov/nwz01/nwz01_34.htm.
Under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), overseen by FEMA's Federal Insurance Administration, flood maps designate special flood hazard areas (SFHAs). Under the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973, regulated lending institutions, federal agency lenders, and government sponsored enterprises for housing must determine whether a property for which such an agency is contemplating making, extending, or renewing a loan is located within an SFHA. If so, they must require flood insurance coverage on the property before completing the loan transaction.
Letters of Map Revision (LOMRs) are issued when a property owner either undertakes work that removes the property from the flood risk or provides information that indicates the property in question is not located in an area at risk due to flooding. Recently, FEMA issued a final rule that changes its procedures for issuing LOMRs and Letters of Map Revision Based on Fill (also known as LOMR-Fs).
Specifically, the rule states that FEMA will not review any request for a LOMR or LOMR-F without community assurances that minimum floodplain management criteria under the NFIP are met. If the community cannot assure FEMA that it has complied with the appropriate requirements, the map revision request will be deferred until all violations are remedied to the maximum extent possible. Once the community assures FEMA the land and structures are "reasonably safe from flooding," FEMA will process a revision to the SFHA. A revision of floodplain delineations based on fill must demonstrate that any such fill does not result in floodplain encroachment. Likewise, a community may also request a map revision when no physical changes have occurred in an SFHA if more accurate topographic information becomes available.
The new guidelines for requesting Letters of Map Revision can be found in the May 4 Federal Register (Vol. 66, No. 87, pp. 22438-22443). Copies can be obtained from any federal repository library or on-line at www.access.gpo.gov.
In the U.S., floods cause the greatest economic losses of any natural disaster. According to FEMA, from fiscal year 1992 to 1999, 20 major floods caused over $97 billion in damage. The nation's principle nonstructural program to address this problem is FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The General Accounting Office recently presented the preliminary results to Congress of its ongoing review of the NFIP, which seeks to minimize human suffering and flood-related property losses by providing flood insurance and encouraging its purchase--particularly by those living in Special Flood Hazard Areas (see the previous article). The NFIP also promotes building and land-use standards aimed at minimizing flood losses.
In testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, JayEtta Hecker, GAO Director of Physical Infrastructure Issues, described problems associated with measuring the performance of the NFIP. Hecker noted that, although FEMA has increased the number of insurance policies in force and reduced flood-related losses, it has not yet implemented methods for gauging participation rates for all residents living in SFHAs. These rates could help determine whether the financial risk to the federal government from floods is increasing and guide marketing and compliance activities to maximize program participation.
Hecker asserted that key data, provided by private insurance companies that have agreements to sell NFIP policies, as well as local governments participating in the NFIP, are incomplete and inaccurate. Although new technologies can improve the accuracy of the data, updating flood maps over the next six fiscal years would cost approximately $773 million above expected program funding. To decrease costs, FEMA has also entered into partnerships with other agencies to fund cooperative mapping efforts.
Hecker's testimony, contained in the report Flood Insurance: Emerging Opportunities to Better Measure Certain Results of the National Flood Insurance Program (GAO-01-736T, 2000, 17 pp., free) is available from the General Accounting Office, P.O. Box 37050, Washington, DC 20013; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; WWW: www.gao.gov.
Following the Northridge earthquake in the Los Angeles area in 1994, building damage inspectors discovered cracks in the welded connections between horizontal beams and vertical columns in newer steel-frame buildings that designers and building code officials believed would bend under the stress of earthquakes. A few of the structures sustained significant damage, leading experts to conclude that modern steel-frame buildings were not as safe in earthquakes as previously thought. Recently, FEMA announced the findings and recommendations of a six-year, $12 million project examining the problem.
Damage sustained by steel-frame buildings was caused by several factors, including construction defects such as welds that were not bonded well with steel columns, changes in the material properties of weld metal and structural steel, and building code requirements that were problematic when applied to large beams and columns. Thousands of welded steel-frame buildings have been built throughout the U.S. in the last 30 years, and most high-rise buildings erected since 1970 use this type of construction. The results of FEMA's study, conducted jointly by the Structural Engineers Association of California, the Applied Technology Council, and the California Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering, are outlined in A Policy Guide to Steel Moment Frame Construction (FEMA 354, 2000, free), which explains in lay terms how the study was conducted and what is being recommended as a result. The guide is available on-line at www.fema.gov/library/fema354.htm.
FEMA also issued four technical documents to assist the building code, design, and construction industries:
Printed versions of all five publications are free and can be requested from the FEMA Publications Center, (800) 480-2520.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), through a cooperative agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has completed a project to update and convert the NEHRP [National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program] Guidelines for the Seismic Rehabilitation of Buildings (FEMA 273) and the related NEHRP Commentary (FEMA 274) into a mandatory language Pre-standard and Commentary for the Seismic Rehabilitation of Buildings (FEMA 356). This pre-standard is now available for use. In addition, Global Topics Report on the Pre-standard and Commentary for the Seismic Rehabilitation of Buildings (FEMA 357), which documents the nature of and rationale for the technical changes made in the conversion of the guidelines into the pre-standard, is also now available.
The completion of the pre-standard is the first step in turning FEMA 356 into an ASCE/American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved national consensus standard. In this process, recent research results and technical advancements are incorporated into the pre-standard if deemed appropriate by the project team and approved by the ASCE Standards Committee on Seismic Rehabilitation.
The ASCE Standards Committee on Seismic Rehabilitation of Buildings has unanimously voted to accept FEMA 356 as the basis of a voluntary consensus standard, which, upon its completion, will be suitable for reference by building codes and inclusion in contracts. In 2001, the Standards Committee is balloting members and pursuing the formal standard development process. For more information, contact ASCE's Standards Coordinator, Kim Brubaker, ASCE, 1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Reston, VA 20191; e-mail: email@example.com. Free copies of both FEMA 356 and FEMA 357 are available from the FEMA Document Distribution Center at the phone number above.
This article is the second in a series on ways in which hazards management and sustainability could be linked for the betterment of both fields. The series grew out of a Natural Hazards Center project, funded by the Public Entity Risk Institute, to develop information on sustainable local recovery and conduct training to develop expertise on this topic throughout the U.S.
Quality of Life remains an ill-defined, subjective concept, often equated with social well-being. Some factors determining quality of life include housing, education, transportation alternatives, health care services, employment, environment, recreation, and public safety. The level of importance and relevance placed on these different elements remains highly variable at different geographic scales, among different socioeconomic groups, and at different stages in an individual's life. Disaster recovery provides an opportunity to take a closer look at the broader community and to enhance at least some of these elements.
Communities can be described in many ways, but communities seeking to identify their assets and frame a vision of their future typically express their qualities in concrete terms that reflect notions of community: "lovely old homes," "good place to send your children to school," "lots of cultural opportunities," "good housing available," "friendly people."
All of these attributes notwithstanding, communities with a good quality of life must also be sustainable, disaster-resistant communities (Geis, 2000). Disasters create sudden changes in the social networks, lifelines, environment, housing, and economy of communities and have dramatic effects on the social well-being and quality of life of their citizens. Indeed, changes in one aspect of a locality often lead to negative effects in others.
To take just one example, schools and institutions of higher learning clearly demonstrate how the effect of a disaster on one element of a community can spread to many others. Schools serve multiple functions--as centers of learning and recreation, centers of community and child care, and centers of employment. Some schools also serve as shelters immediately following a disaster. Clearly, damage to or loss of schools can affect many aspects of community life beyond just education. Similarly, colleges and universities within communities provide employment, business opportunities, and rental income for property owners. Damage to these institutions can also mean hardship throughout a community.
Disasters can also have far-reaching effects beyond the area of immediate impact. Depending on the type and severity of the disaster, other communities in the county and state, or even further afield, can experience disruptions in their quality of life. For example, when Hurricane Floyd flooded the basement of one Bell Atlantic building in New Jersey, telephone service was cut to about a million local customers and to 8,000 automated teller machines throughout the country.
Again, the long-term recovery and reconstruction period can be used to (re)build a more sustainable community and enhance its quality of life. Communities have used this window of opportunity to build disaster-resistant, affordable housing or to revive failing downtown areas. Others have used the period to replace aging, damaged buildings and infrastructure.
Such programs have proven to work best when combined with other programs not meant for disaster recovery but having similar objectives. Indeed, quality of life serves as a guiding principle in planning and decision making for many ongoing local, state, and federal initiatives related to land use and environmental protection, smart growth, economic development, housing, and transportation. By integrating holistic disaster management and hazard mitigation with these other concerns, quality of life can be enhanced even further.
Perhaps on a more fundamental level, in a recent analysis of failed large-scale reconstruction projects, Eve Passerini (2001) suggests that we must look beyond the social and built environment to structural and cultural explanations for and barriers to sustainable disaster recovery. This includes recognizing such basic factors as energy and automobile subsidies, market forces, and institutional pressures. Her work further implies that plans for sustainability need to be developed collaboratively, with broad participation and partnerships, while avoiding funding that might jeopardize the viability of long-term, holistic recovery from disasters.
When recovering from disaster, some communities have literally had to start from scratch--both in rebuilding and in creating community consensus and support. For example, Rhineland, Missouri, a community of 157 people, was relocated to a 49-acre plot adjacent to its previous location after being flooded four times in 1993. In a recent conversation, Steve Etcher, executive director of the Boonslick Regional Planning Commission, confirmed that quality of life factors such as the preservation of the history and heritage of this community were among the main driving forces behind this effort, which boasts a 96% participation rate. Etcher credits this success to the residents who worked hard to convince their neighbors that relocation was a viable option. Rhineland has since grown and survived major floods in 1995 and 1998.
In planning and conducting sustainable recovery projects, one must keep an open mind regarding the meaning of "community." Many of the successful Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Project Impact communities are built on partnerships that involve residents, local officials, the public sector, the private sector, nonprofit organizations, and state and federal agencies (see, for example, the Observer, Vol XXV, No. 5, p. 1). Some go beyond town boundaries to encompass entire watersheds, while others even cross state lines (such as the Waverly Project Impact bi-state initiative among several towns, villages, and boroughs in New York and Pennsylvania). Sociologist Dennis Mileti (1999) reminds us that "for the purposes of sustainability, the full range of stakeholders in local communities (e.g., government, business, and individuals) should begin to consciously define and plan for the quality of life they want and believe they can achieve for themselves and for future generations." Clearly, these stakeholders can compose a group much larger than just the local citizenry.
There are at least five major perspectives that any community should keep in mind when addressing recovery from disaster:
If a community struck by disaster keeps these questions in mind, it can go a long way toward reconstituting itself as a sustainable community.
Ann-Margaret Esnard, Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University
ReferencesGeis. D.E. 2000. "By Design: The Disaster Resistant and Quality of Life Community." Natural Hazards Review 1 (3): 151-160.
Mileti, D. 1999. Disasters by Design: A Reassessment of Natural Hazards in the United States. Washington, D.C.: Joseph Henry Press.
Passerini, E. 2001. "Who is to Blame for the Failure of Sustainable Reconstruction Projects." Natural Hazards Review 2 (2): 45-53.
Below are descriptions of recently awarded contracts and grants for the study of hazards and disasters. An inventory of contracts and grants awarded from 1995 to the present (primarily those funded by the National Science Foundation) is available on the Natural Hazards Center's web site: www.colorado.edu/hazards/grants.html.
Collaborative Research and Volcanic Hazard Mitigation in Guatemala and El Salvador. Funding: National Science
Foundation, $60,000, 36 months. Principal Investigators: William I. Rose and James W. Vallance, Michigan Technological
University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This award will support collaboration with institutions in Guatemala and El Salvador to study volcanic hazard mitigation efforts. The two countries are part of one of the most consistently active volcano zones in the world, and many of their volcanoes are close to population centers. The researchers plan to use satellite remote sensing, global positioning survey techniques, digital topography, field mapping, and laboratory simulation of volcanic processes to develop a model of current and prospective hazards.
Field Survey of Easter Island. Funding: National Science Foundation, $25,693, 12 months. Principal Investigator: Costas
E. Synolakis, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1147; e-mail: email@example.com.
This grant will fund a field survey of Easter Island and the Juan Fernandez Islands off the coast of Chile to examine the effects of the 1946 Aleutian tsunami. Generated by a relatively moderate earthquake, the Unimak Island tsunami, as it is now called, produced the highest waves throughout the Pacific recorded in historical times and killed 159 people in Hawaii. To understand this event, scientists are collecting inundation data from around the Pacific. During a field survey of a tsunami in the islands off South America, researchers discovered large rocks that were moved inland as far as 300 meters about the time of the 1946 event, dispelling the commonly held belief that the Aleutian tsunami had little impact south of Hawaii. Findings also indicated the waves may have been caused by a previously unidentified landslide. Inundation maps for Hawaii are being re-evaluated, and inundation maps for the Pacific states on the U.S. mainland are currently being developed for the first time. The potential landslide trigger of tsunamis from the Aleutians needs to be carefully reassessed so that new inundation and evacuation maps can be developed with the best information available.
Coastal Effects of Tsunamis. Funding: National Science Foundation, $195,579, 36 months. Principal Investigator: Costas
E. Synolakis, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1147; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This group research project will focus on specific aspects of tsunami hazards mitigation. Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estab-lished a program to improve identification of tsunami inundation zones along the western coastal areas of the U.S. (see www.pmel.noaa.gov/tsunami/time). The next step is to evaluate tsunami run-up in more detail, and this project will research flow patterns, induced forces, the impact of debris and floating objects, and their implications for improved design of waterfront structures and decisions concerning land use. The project involves researchers from Cornell University, Southern Methodist University, the University of Southern California, the University of Washington, Japan's Public Works Research Institute, GeoEngineers, Inc., and others.
Emergency Planning for Small Business and Nonprofit Organizations. Funding: Public Entity Risk Institute, 12
months. For information, contact: Diane M. Dunleavy, Health and Safety Services, American Red Cross, Greater Cleveland
Chapter, 3747 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115-2597; (216) 431-3010; fax: (216) 431-3025.
The Business and Industry Council for Emergency Planning and Preparedness (BICEPP) is a local project in southern California that provides training to small companies in business interruption recovery and emergency preparedness. This project will make BICEPP's three-day course available in a distance learning format and develop a "train-the-trainer" program as well as self-directed materials. The project is being conducted by the American Red Cross and the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.
The Impact of Occupational Stress and Burnout on Attrition in Deployed and Non-Deployed Army Medical Personnel. Funding: Center for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CDMHA), $90,570, 12 months. Principal
Investigator: Candace Burns, College of Nursing, University of South Florida, 12901 Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, MDC 22,
Tampa, FL 33612-4766; (813) 974-9160; e-mail: email@example.com.
This study explores the relationship among occupational stress, compassion fatigue, burnout, and coping in U.S. military medical personnel who leave the service after a "mission other than war" deployment (i.e., disaster/humanitarian/peacekeeping operations) versus those who stay.
Retention of highly qualified, skilled health care providers in the military is a major challenge today. This research hypothesizes that: 1) deployment status and military grade of medical personnel will directly affect the degree of burnout, compassion fatigue, and occupational stress; 2) burnout, compassion fatigue, and occupational stress will directly affect the decision to stay or leave the service; and 3) coping strategies, both positive and negative, will moderate the relationships hypothesized above. To test these theories, the investigator will survey deployed and nondeployed personnel who have stayed or left the service.
In the Shadow of the Volcano: Human Health and Community Resilience Following Forced Evacuation. Funding:
CDMHA, $139,050, 12 months. Principal Investigators: Graham Tobin, Department of Geography, and Linda Whiteford,
Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, 4202 East Fowler Avenue, SOC 107, Tampa, FL 33620-8100;
(813) 974-4932; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
This research looks at both the impacts of disasters on people's lives--particularly on their health--and the longer-term effects on community stability following a disaster. The focus is community recovery following disaster. Based on continuing research near Tungurahua Volcano in Ecuador, the investigators will test the effects of evacuation on infectious disease patterns, exposure to volcanic ash, and community resilience.
Choosing a Paradigm for Disaster Recovery. Funding: CDMHA, $128,054, 12 months. Principal Investigator: William J.
Siembieda, Department of City and Regional Planning, California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, San Luis
Obispo, CA 93407; (805) 756-1315; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This project examines how community groups choose between a "return to normalcy path" or a "transformative path" wherein they transform their relations with society (donors, government, employers, social groups) in ways that are sustainable. A multinational team of researchers will study nine communities in four countries (Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua) in order to develop a comparative view of community-based decision making under conditions of stress and to help inform the emerging international strategy to include mitigation plans in development programs.
Disaster Learning, "Poder Convocatorio," and Coordination in Six Latin American Countries. Funding: CDMHA,
$122,586, 12 months. Principal Investigator: Richard S. Olson, Department of Political Science, Florida International
University, University Park, DM 480, Miami, FL 33199; (305) 348-6398; e-mail: email@example.com.
One key to effective national-level disaster response in Latin America and the Caribbean is the ability to coordinate efforts among an increasingly wide variety of organizations: government ministries, external donors, militaries, nongovernmental organizations, and civil society. Few, if any, national governments in the region can maintain an emergency management organization capable of responding to a major disaster. Therefore, "poder convocatorio" (convoking authority) is critical if multiorganization and multisector responses to major disasters are to be improved. This project examines changes (or lack thereof) in the "poder convocatorio" of national emergency organizations in six countries struck by disasters in recent years: Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador (the El Niño of 1997-98), the Dominican Republic (Hurricane Georges in 1998), and Honduras and Nicaragua (Hurricane Mitch in 1998).
Assessing Disaster Vulnerability at the Community Level: A Pilot Research Project with Low-Income Women's
Groups in the Dominican Republic and St. Lucia. Funding: CDMHA, $119,918, 12 months. Principal Investigators:
Betty Morrow, International Hurricane Center, Florida International University, University Park, Miami, FL 33199; (305)
348-1607; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; and Elaine Enarson, Institute for Women's Studies and Services, Metropolitan State
College, Denver, CO [contact: 33174 Bergen Mountain Road, Evergreen, CO 80439; (303) 670-1834; fax: (303) 679-0938; e-mail: email@example.com].
This project investigates how development patterns affect disaster vulnerability of women and men in the Caribbean, with a special focus on low-income women and women maintaining households. Responding to the call for more participatory, community-based, and gender-focused disaster social science, the investigators will build on local community knowledge. The project forges a partnership between outside researchers knowledgeable about gender, development, and disasters and local women knowledgeable about specific political, economic, and social conditions affecting women's vulnerability and the utilization of this knowledge to effect social change. The investigators will work with consultants in the Dominican Republic and St. Lucia and involve four grassroots women's organizations in the actual conduct of research and the development of guidelines for engaging low-income women in the assessment of local disaster vulnerability and response capacity.
The Center for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CDMHA) anticipates issuing its next "Request for Proposals [RFP] Related to Research on Disasters in the Americas" in the fall of 2001. The aim of the CDMHA research program is to facilitate the discovery and application of scientific knowledge related to disaster preparedness and mitigation in the Americas. The scope of the program includes medical, environmental, sociocultural, and engineering issues. The CDMHA competitive grant program is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense through the Office of Naval Research.
Proposals will be considered in three areas: 1) public health issues in disasters; 2) social science, disasters, and development; and 3) information technology and decision science applied to disaster management. Priority areas for funding will be identified in the RFP, and letters of intent will be due November 1, 2001.
The CDMHA was founded in 1998 as a partnership between the University of South Florida and Tulane University. Offices of the CDMHA are located in Tampa, Florida, within the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida, as well as at the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Washington, D.C. The mission of the CDMHA is to facilitate collaborative education, training, research, and information and communication services among disaster response and humanitarian assistance agencies (for example, the military, nongovernmental organizations, private voluntary organiz ations, and others) primarily throughout the Western Hemisphere.
For more information, please contact Jeannine Coreil, CDMHA, College of Public Health, University of South Florida, 13201 Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, MCD 56, Tampa, FL 33612; (813) 974-6698; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; or Nick Colmenares, address as above, (813) 835-8289; e-mail: email@example.com. For general information on the CDMHA see the center's web site: www.cdmha.org; or contact the center at the address above; (813) 974-2907; fax: (813) 974-9980; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through its Grant and Research Program, the Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI) seeks to fund projects, programs, research, and innovations that advance the practice of risk management in public, nonprofit, and private organizations.
The PERI grant program is aimed at broad areas of need identified on an annual basis by the institute's board of directors. Targeted areas for this year include employee occupational safety and health, workers compensation, general liability, employment practices liability, and land-use planning. However, PERI is willing to consider proposals in other areas that address one or more of the organization's three fundamental goals:
Any organization or individual is eligible to receive PERI grant funding. Eligibility is not restricted to public or nonprofit entities.
PERI is actively seeking letters of interest for projects that address the areas listed above. For more information, see the PERI web site: www.riskinstitute.org; or call Claire Reiss, Grant and Research Programs, Public Entity Risk Institute, 11350 Random Hills Road, Suite 210, Fairfax, VA 22030; (703) 352-1846; fax: (703) 352-6339.
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