Recent Publications

Below are summaries of some of the recent, most useful publications on hazards and disasters received by the Natural Hazards Center. Due to space limitations, not all publications include a description. However, all items contain information on how to obtain a copy. A complete bibliography of publications received from 1995 to the present can be found on our web site:

All Hazards

"Canadian Natural Hazards Assessment," Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Vol. 28, Issue No. 2-3 (March 2003). Annual subscriptions: $847.00, institutional; $164.00, individual. To obtain a subscription, contact Kluwer Academic Publishers, Customer Service Department, P.O. Box 358, Accord Station, Hingham, MA 02018-0358; (781) 871-6600 or (866) 269-9527; fax : (781) 681-9045; e-mail:;
This special issue is devoted to an assessment of natural hazards and disasters in Canada. Articles address disaster management, community planning, and public participation; achieving sustainable hazard mitigation; the contribution of philosophy to hazards assessment and decision making; a general framework for mitigation-oriented planning assessments of mobile telecommunications lifelines; seismic hazard mitigation for buildings, and other topics.

American Disasters. Steven Biel, editor. 2001. 416 pp. $18.00. To order, contact New York University Press, 838 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10003-4812; (800) 996-6987;;
Disasters reveal something about the society in which they occur, and this book explores the lingering social and cultural impacts of American disasters. Chapters examine the immediate and long-term responses to disasters throughout history, from hurricanes and British colonial society, through the 1909 San Francisco earthquake, the great Chicago fire, the Challenger disaster, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill, among others. Contributing authors highlight how Americans have understood and explained disasters and how our culture interprets and gives meaning to disaster response and recovery.

Floods, Droughts, and Climate Change. Michael Collier and Robert H. Webb. 2002. 160 pp. $17.95. To purchase a copy, contact the University of Arizona Press, 355 South Euclid, Suite 103, Tucson, AZ 85719; (520) 621-1441; fax: (520) 621-8899;
Floods, Droughts and Climate Change
provides an introduction to climate patterns that links isolated and dramatic events to the forces, human and otherwise, behind the weather. The authors describe climate variability and its impacts, emphasizing the natural, long-term mechanisms of climate change. Topics also include the atmosphere, the geology of climate, winds, oceans and air, climate history, El Niño, hurricanes, and global warming.

Disaster Reduction for Sustainable Mountain Development. 2002. 16 pp. Free. Copies can be obtained from the UN Inter-Agency Secretariat for the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), Palais des Nations CH-1211, Geneva 10, Switzerland; fax (41-22) 917-0563. The complete report can also be downloaded from
Mountain communities are especially vulnerable to natural disasters. In conjunction with the International Year of the Mountain 2002, this booklet presents key concepts about integrated mountain development, natural hazards, and risk reduction. The publication highlights successful disaster reduction programs in mountain communities, and provides a global overview of disaster statistics.

Best Practices in Natural Hazards Planning and Mitigation. 2003. 57 pp. Free. The report is available on-line from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs:
This state-level report features an array of land use planning practices, strategies, and resources for addressing development in areas subject to natural hazards, including wildfire, flooding, swelling or expansive soils, avalanches, and landslides. Contact information for each jurisdiction is also included. Planning practices range from overlay zoning districts and defensible space requirements for development in the wildland/urban interface to regulatory and permitting processes that limit development in floodplain areas. The report also includes a section detailing local government drought policies and programs.

Comprehensive Emergency Management for Local Governments: Demystifying Emergency Planning. James A. Gordon. 2002. 212 pp. $89.00. Copies can be purchased from Rothstein Associates, (202) 740-7444 or (888) 768-4783; e-mail:;
This guide was written for staff in small to mid-sized local governments who are preparing for natural and human-caused emergencies. It includes an introductory chapter on the nature of local government emergency planning and a final chapter of tips on "putting it all together." Also included are detailed chapters on each of the four phases of comprehensive emergency management−mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

Why Can’t We Talk? Working Together to Bridge the Com-munications Gap to Save Lives−A Guide for Public Officials. 2003. 104 pp. Free. Available electronically from the Department of Justice AGILE program at
This publication, written by the National Task Force on Interoperability, was developed as a result of the ongoing dialogue among state and local decision makers and public safety officials to address why many public officials working in the same jurisdiction cannot easily communicate. This inability is a threat to public safety and often results in the loss of lives and property. A task force comprised of 18 national associations representing a wide array of interests collaborated on this guide.

Communicating in a Crisis: Risk Communication Guidelines for Public Officials. SMA 02-3641. 2002. 96 pp. Free. Copies may be obtained from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Mental Health Services Clearinghouse, (800) 789-2647;
Sound and thoughtful communication can help public officials to prevent ineffective, fear-driven, and potentially damaging public responses to serious crises. This primer was written with the goal of providing a resource for public officials about the basic tenets of effective communication, with a special focus on the media. There are steps that public officials can take in advance of any incident to better prepare communities, risk managers, elected officials, public health officials, and others to respond to the management challenges of crises and disasters.

The Public Transportation System Security and Emergency Preparedness Planning Guide. DOT-VNTSC-FTA-03-1. 2003. 181 pp. Free. Individual copies can be requested from the U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 7th Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590; (202) 366-4000. The document can also be downloaded from
Recent events have focused renewed attention on the vulnerability of the nation’s critical infrastructure to catastrophic events, including terrorism. This guide was prepared to assist public transportation systems in planning for and responding to major security threats and emergencies. It emphasizes the importance of developing critical relationships, preparing strategies and policies, and setting training and funding priorities.

Transportation Disaster Response Handbook. Jay Levinson and Hayim Granot. 2002. 290 pp. $70.00. Copies are available from the Disaster Recovery Journal Bookstore, P.O. Box 510110, St. Louis, MO 63151; (314) 894-0276; e-mail:;
This handbook presents information and strategies for dealing with all types of disasters and looks at the unique aspects of transportation-related incidents. It outlines how to prepare for emergencies, what to expect during a disaster, how individuals within emergency agencies should respond, and how these agencies can quickly mobilize to minimize damage and provide assistance to victims. There are chapters that discuss disaster preparedness plans, assessing incidents as they occur, assisting victims and support emergency personnel, coordinating with emergency units and aid groups, searching for physical evidence, dealing with the media, and other topics.

Health Care at the Crossroads: Strategies for Creating and Sustaining Community-Wide Emergency Preparedness Systems. 2003. 52 pp. Free. The report can be downloaded from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) web site: Further information about this report can be obtained from JCAHO, 601 13th Street, N.W., Suite 1150N, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 783-6655; fax: (202) 783-6888.
The purpose of this report is to frame healthcare issues that must be addressed in developing community-wide disaster preparedness, delineate federal and state roles, and facilitate sustained community-based emergency preparedness across the United States. Sections address enlisting the community in preparing local response, preserving the ability to provide medical care to the community, establishing oversight, and ensuring accountability.

Orientation Manual for First Responders on the Evacuation of People with Disabilities. FA-235. 2002. 31 pp. Free. Copies can be requested from the Publications Center, United States Fire Administration, 16825 South Seton Avenue, Emmitsburg, MD 21717; (800) 561-3356 or (301) 447-1000; fax: (301) 447-1052;
The first section of this manual provides guidance on dealing with the disabled in emergency situations, such as identifying those with special needs and disabilities in the community and including them in emergency preparedness planning. The remainder of the manual contains information on types of impairment and rescue techniques in volig wheel chairs, evacuation devices, and carrying techniques.

Crisis Management in a Crowded Humanitarian Space: The Politics of Hosting Refugee Influxes. 2003. 300 pp. For ordering information, contact Crisis Management Research and Training (CRISMART), P.O. Box 27805, SE-11593, Stockholm, Sweden, Office: Valhallavägen 117; tel:+46-8-788 75 00; fax: +46-8-788 94 57; e-mail:


New York City Department of Buildings World Trade Center Building Code Task Force Findings and Recommendations. 2003. 48 pp. Free. The report can be downloaded from the City of New York web site:
In an effort to apply the lessons from the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center collapse, the New York City Department of Buildings recently outlined the recommendations of a task force working to ensure the safety of occupants of tall buildings. The group concluded that, given the extent of damage, the ability of the structures to stand as long as they did and allow so many people to escape was remarkable. However, the task force members deter-mined that it is possible to achieve higher levels of safety for high rise buildings. Recommendations include larger, sturdier, and more numerous stairwells; full sprinkler systems; and better protected ductwork.

Schools of Ground Zero: Early Lessons Learned in Children’s Environmental Health. Sarah Bartlett and John Petrarca. 2002. 402 pp. $21.50, American Public Health Association (APHA) members; $29.95, nonmembers.
Terrorism and Public Health. Barry S. Levy and Victor W. Sidel, editors. 2002. 368 pp. $41.95, APHA members; $49.95, nonmembers.
To purchase a copy of either book, contact APHA Publications Sales, P.O. Box 753, Waldorf, MD 20604-0753; (301) 893-1894; fax: (301) 843-0159; e-mail:;
The first volume describes how public school districts in Lower Manhattan dealt with the events of September 11, 2001. At the time of the attacks, more than 6,000 children were in classrooms in the vicinity of the World Trade Center. The book focuses on the environmental health impacts on the schoolchildren and efforts to clean up the schools in order to allow the children to return to their classrooms. Drawing on interviews with parents, teachers, New York Board of Education officials, and environmental consultants, the authors make recommendations about safeguarding the health and safety of children in times of crisis.

The second volume discusses how public health is a critical element in responding to terrorist incidents and in reducing or preventing threats from future attacks. It is designed to assist public health professionals and their organizations by providing up-to-date, science-based information on, and a practical approach to, a wide range of public health issues as they relate to terrorism. The book is based in part on scientific sessions presented at the 2001 Annual Meeting of APHA.

Federal Manager’s/Decision Maker’s Emergency Guide. 2003. 12 pp. Free. Copies can be downloaded from
A Federal Employee’s Emergency Guide. 2003. 12 pp. Free. Copies are on-line at
These brochures were developed by the United States Office of Personnel Management to provide guidance to federal managers and employees regarding terrorism preparedness.

Preparing Makes Sense: Get Ready Now. 2003. 11 pp. Free. Copies can be requested by calling the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS): (800) 237-3239. The brochure can also be downloaded from the DHS web site:

Taking Care of Ourselves, Our Families, and Our Communities. Responding to the Stress of Terrorism and Armed Conflicts. 2003. 5 pp. Free.
Helping Your Child Cope. 2003. 7 pp. Free.
Helping Your Teens Cope. 2003. 7 pp. Free.
Self-Care for Caregivers. 2003. 5 pp. Free.
Each of these brochures can be downloaded from the web site of the Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Health Canada:

Will Duct Tape and Plastic Really Work? Issues Related to Expedient Shelter-In-Place. John H. Sorensen and Barbara A. Vogt. 2001. 9 pp. Copies of the report can be downloaded from the web site of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Emergency Management Center:

Small Business Administration: Response to September 11 Victims and Performance Measures for Disaster Lending. GAO-03-385. 37 pp. Free. Copies can be obtained from the U.S.General Accounting Office, P.O. Box 37050, Washington, DC 20013; (202) 512-6000; fax: (202) 512-6061; TDD (202) 512-2537; e-mail: The complete text of the report is also available on-line at
The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and subsequent federal action had a substantial impact on businesses in both the declared disaster areas and around the nation. In the aftermath of the attacks, Congress, among other actions, appropriated emergency supplemental funds to the Small Business Administration (SBA) to aid victims. Given the unique aspects of this disaster and changes in the program, the General Accounting Office (GAO) analyzed SBA’s lending performance goals and measures; that analysis is contained in this report.

Potential Terrorist Attacks: Additional Actions Needed to Better Prepare Critical Financial Market Participants. GAO-03-414. 91 pp. Free. Copies can be obtained from the U.S.General Accounting Office, P.O. Box 37050, Washington, DC 20013; (202) 512-6000; fax: (202) 512-6061; TDD (202) 512-2537; e-mail: The complete text of the report is also available on-line at
September 11, 2001, exposed the vulnerability of U.S. financial markets to wide-scale disasters. Because the markets are vital to the nation’s economy, GAO assessed the effects of the attacks on market participants’ facilities and telecommunications systems as well as how well they were prepared for attacks at that time. In addition, GAO examined physical and information security as well as the plans participants had in place for business continuity after the attacks. Finally, the agency looked at regulatory efforts to improve preparedness and oversight of market participants’ risk reduction efforts.


Silenced Rivers: The Ecology and Politics of Large Dams. 2001. 430 pp. $69.95, hardbound; $25.00, paperback. To purchase a copy, contact Zed Books, 7 Cynthia Street, London, N1 9JF, U.K.; (020) 7837 4014; fax: (020) 7833 3960; e-mail:;
The book explains the history and politics of worldwide dam building and why large dams have become so controversial. It details the ecological and human impacts of large dams, and shows how the arguments for dam projects in national interests are used to legitimize uneconomic and unjust projects. The author describes the technical, safety, and economic problems of dam technology; the structure of the international dam-building industry; the role played by international banks and aid agencies; and the rapid growth of the international anti-dam movement. In addition, he outlines alternatives to dams, and argues that their replacement by less destructive measures requires that the industry’s practices be open to public scrutiny.


The Tornado: Nature’s Ultimate Windstorm. Thomas P. Grazulis. 2003. 324 pp. $19.95. To order a copy, contact the University of Oklahoma Press, 4100 28th Avenue Northwest, Norman, OK 73069; (800) 627-7377;
With chapters on storm formation, life cycle, speed, intensity, risk, and safety, this comprehensive book presents a wealth of information about tornadoes. This book includes an overview of tornadic storms, including their formation and life cycle, tornado forecasting and warnings, wind speeds, the Fujita scale of storm intensity, tornado myths, safety, numbers and records, tornadoes outside the U.S., and tornado risk. Appendices list the deadliest tornadoes in the U.S. and suggest further reading.


Seventh U.S. National Conference on Earthquake Engineering (7NCEE): Urban Earthquake Risk. 2003. 656 pp. paperback book and CD-ROM. $200.00. (A hardbound, five-volume set is also available for $350.00.) To purchase the proceedings, contact the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), 499 14th Street, Suite 320, Oakland, CA 94612-1934; (510) 451-0905; fax: (510) 451-5411;
This book/CD-ROM set contains the proceedings of a meeting held in Boston, Massachusetts, in July 2002 to examine the risk of earthquakes in urban areas. Urban infrastructure in North America has evolved into a closely integrated and highly sophisticated network of living spaces and lifelines. As demonstrated by recent quakes, as well as the World Trade Center attack, damage or disruption can result in losses far beyond what was once believed possible. This conference provided an opportunity to assess understanding of urban earthquake risk and how to effectively prepare for and abate it. Further, with the current national focus on homeland security, it also provided an opportunity to examine whether the measures to protect against natural hazards should be a part of a multihazard protection strategy that would comprehensively include natural and technological hazards. The proceedings contains papers on seismic awareness and education, seismic design and retrofit, loss estimation, insurance issues, lifelines and mitigation, nonstructural components, multihazard approaches, earthquake response and recovery, seismic building codes, land use and urban planning, business impacts, housing, and finance. The CD-ROM contains the full text of the final program, the full proceedings, and a comprehensive authors’ index.

The USGS Earthquake Hazards Program in NEHRP–Investing in a Safer Future. John R. Filson, Jill McCarthy, William L. Ellsworth, and Mary Lou Zoback. U.S. Geological Survey Sheet 017-03. 2003. 6 pp. Free. Copies may be obtained from the U.S. Geological Survey, Mail Stop 905, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA 20192, (703) 648-6714;
In 1977, Congress authorized the creation of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) to improve understanding of earthquake hazards and to mitigate their effects. After 25 years of NEHRP, the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program is implementing research results to mitigate the effects of earthquakes through active collaboration with state geological surveys, emergency response officials, earthquake engineers, governments, and the public. NEHRP’s work has resulted in dramatic improvements in earthquake preparedness and public safety in the U.S., and this fact sheet provides an overview.

Rupture in South-Central Alaska−The Denali Fault Earthquake of 2002. Gary S. Fuis and Lisa A. Wald, compilers. U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 014-03. 2003. 4 pp. Free. Copies may be obtained from the U.S. Geological Survey, Mail Stop 905, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA 20192, (703) 648-6714;
A powerful magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck Alaska on November 3, 2002, rupturing the earth’s surface for 209 miles along the Susitna Glacier, Denali, and Totschunda Faults. Although it was the strongest quake ever recorded in the interior of Alaska, stringent design specifications helped prevent any damage to the Trans-Alaska pipeline. The effects of this earthquake, along with lessons for earthquake preparedness, are profiled in this fact sheet.

Rapid Visual Screening of Buildings for Potential Seismic Hazards: A Handbook. FEMA 154. 2003. Free.
Rapid Visual Screening of Buildings for Potential Seismic Hazards: Supporting Documentation. FEMA 155. 2003. Free.
Copies of each document can be ordered from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Distribution Center, P.O. Box 2012, Jessup, MD 20794; (800) 480-2520; fax: (301) 362-5335.
These updated versions of two classic FEMA documents present a method to quickly identify, inventory, and rank buildings that may pose a risk of death or injury due to damage from an earthquake.


Communication During Volcanic Emergencies. 2003. 21 pp. Free. The complete report can be downloaded from the Benfield Greig Hazard Research Centre web site:
This handbook aims to improve communication between volcano monitoring scientists, emergency managers, and the media prior to and during volcanic crises. The research underpinning the handbook was undertaken on the Caribbean islands of Montserrat, Guadeloupe, and St. Vincent over the last three years. It contains examples of good practices as well as practices to avoid, essential checklists, lists of resources, an explanation of volcano warning levels, and a sample press release.

Electronic Fare

Training Slide Set for Postearthquake Safety Evaluation of Buildings. CD-ROM. 230 slides. $35.00. Copies can be purchased from the Applied Technology Council (ATC), 555 Twin Dolphin Drive, Suite 550, Redwood City, CA 94065; (650) 595-1542; fax, (650) 593-2320; e-mail:
This CD contains 230 slides of photographs, schematic drawings, text, and lecture notes. Developed jointly by ATC and FEMA, the slide set may be used for education of the public and building professionals regarding earthquake characteristics of buildings and post-earthquake building safety evaluation. Topics include: posting notices on buildings; rapid evaluation procedures; basics of structural dynamics and earthquakes; damage inspection of wood-frame, masonry, concrete, and steel-frame structures; nonstructural elements; geotechnical hazards; hazardous materials; and field safety. Example applications are also included.

Munich Re’s Annual Disaster Data Fest

The Munich Reinsurance Group (MunichRe) has devoted decades to the geoscientific analysis of natural catastrophe risks, especially earthquake, windstorm, and flood, and has developed underwriting methods for dealing with them. Every year, MunichRe publishes Topics−Annual Review: Natural Catastrophes. Their 2003 report describes worldwide losses caused by natural disasters in 2002 (52 pp., free). Articles include a review of the catastrophes of 2002 (complete with photos), major engineering and fire catastrophes, long-term data for natural disasters from 1950 to 2002, the summer floods in Europe, a natural hazards index for megacities, geographical under-writing, and protection of the environment and climate. In addition, the report contains three inserts: the "World Map of Natural Catastrophes 2002," a list of the "50 Significant Natural Catastrophes in 2002," and a poster listing information regarding natural catastrophes in 2002. (Each insert can also be downloaded from MunichRe’s web site.)

Other recent Munich Re reports of interest to Observer readers include:

  • High Rise Buildings (2000, 161 pp., free);

  • 11th September 2001 (2001, 19 pp., free);

  • Perspectives 2001 – Munich Re Environmental Magazine (2001, 69 pp., free) (contains articles on sustainable development as it pertains to insurance and investment); and

  • Winter Storms in Europe (2002, 76 pp., free).

All publications are available from the Munich Re web site: For further information about any of these documents, contact Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft (Munich Re), Central Division, Corporate Communications, Königstrasse 107, 80802 München, Germany; tel: +49 (0) 89/3891-5291; fax: +49 (0) 89/3891-5696.

ASPEP Calls for Papers

The American Society of Professional Emergency Planners (ASPEP) has issued a call for papers for the 2003 edition of the organization's journal. Articles and papers that contribute to the advancement of knowledge and improvement in the practice of emergency management are welcome. Papers will be accepted until June 15, 2003. Submissions are due by 5:00 p.m. (PST) on April 15, 2003. All papers should be submitted via e-mail to Bruce Binder: For more information, e-mail or write Bruce Binder, c/o ASPEP Journal, 8770 S.W. Goldstone Place, Beaverton, OR 97007.

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