Child Impact Study: A Research Project of the Women and Their Children’s Health (WATCH) Consortium
The Child Impact Study is part of a Gulf Coast Research Consortium being led by Louisiana State University’s Health Sciences Center. This consortium is funded by a five-year grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to study the long-term health effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on women and children.
The overall goals of the Child Impact Study are: (1) to understand the short- and long-term impacts of the oil spill on children’s development and well-being and (2) to examine how parental and social forces, and alternative treatment models, can mediate or modify the spill’s effects on children. The study will employ longitudinal data from the 4,000 women and 1,000 adolescents enrolled in the larger Women and Their Children’s Health survey cohort to achieve these goals. This data will be supplemented by a qualitative study of 20 families whose children are “outliers,” surprisingly resilient (or vulnerable) given their circumstances or exposure to the oil spill.
This research will deepen scientific understanding of how childhood stress mediates behavioral and psychological dysfunction within the context of extreme economic disruption and collective uncertainty. Further, our research will develop an ecological bio-behavioral explanatory framework that more adequately describes the role of multi-level contextual and social factors on children’s well being. By determining the pathways of harm to children, this study can assist the affected communities in understanding the potential oil spill-related impairment, and identify those factors which modify or buffer its effects.
Strengthening Public Health and Disaster Resilience in American Samoa: The use of the Precede-Proceed Model
American Samoa is a U.S. island territory located in the South Pacific Ocean. The group of islands is rich with breathtaking coastlines and culture filled with great tradition. Currently, local officials are actively working to combat one of the world’s worst obesity-related syndemics. High prevalence of diabetes, sedentary behavior, movement away from traditional food practices and heavy reliance on imported goods, are just a few factors that exacerbate health outcomes in this resource poor island.
In addition to the health related problems, American Samoa is geographically located in a very seismically active region—the Tonga trench, which has the potential to produce large earthquakes. In 2009, the islands of America Samoa, along with Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa experienced devastating effects from a magnitude 8.1 earthquake that spawned a tsunami. Thirty-four people were killed in American Samoa and the local infrastructure was significantly damaged.
Building a healthier and disaster resilient community is cornerstone of the mission of the new Nutrition Exercise and Health and Wellness Research Center, housed at the American Samoa Community College. Major strides are being made by local and federal efforts in improving public health and disaster resilience. This study builds on previous and current work by applying an ecological planning model to identify prevention links between obesity-related syndemics that can improve disaster resilience. Specifically, findings related to the application of the Precede-Proceed Model using secondary data to visualize how public health and natural disaster resilience can be further improved in American Samoa are presented.
Assessing Resiliency Among Rural, Suburban, and Urban Communities Following the 2011 Thailand Floods
On July 25, 2011 Tropical Storm Nock-ten made landfall on the coast of Thailand, causing severe inland flooding in many parts of the country. The floods of 2011-2012 were different from previous floods. Floodwater inundated communities for more than eight months (beginning July 25, 2011 and continuing through mid-March 2012) affecting more than 12.8 million people in 65 of the country’s 75 provinces. The Thai government and multi-sector organizations are actively engaged in helping build community resiliency in preparation for the next heavy monsoons (July-October).
Faculty researchers from the University of North Texas received an NSF grant to study why some communities were more resilient than others following the 2011 Thailand floods. The dimensions of community resiliency in three types of Thai provinces—rural (Pathum Thani), suburban (Ayutthaya), and urban (Bangkok)—will be examined to understand the differences caused by various geographic and socio-economic indicators. The team traveled to Bangkok in late May 2012 to conduct field research using semi-structured interviews. Key respondents from public, private, non-governmental, and faith-based organizations were interviewed to document the earliest processes, programs, and policies used to address the immediate and short-term needs of the flood-affected communities.
Ephemeral data collected to document how decisions were initially made—and changed by organizations located in rural, suburban, and urban settings will be presented. These will help identify what types of ad hoc policies and fluid governance mechanisms are useful in explaining variations in community resiliency across jurisdictions and geographic units. These findings from a developing country add value to discussions on plans and practices to promote rural resiliency around the world.
Negotiating Material Well-Being in Disaster Recovery
This work blends perspectives on community and consumer psychology. Community psychology devotes attention to person-environment relationships, with a goal of improving well being. While well-being is a multifaceted concept with a number of distinct meanings, it simply suggests living well and doing well. Two cornerstone concepts in community psychology and the study of well-being are a sense of community and diversity. Sense of community represents perceived strength of bonds among people, and diversity encompasses tolerance for differences in perspectives.
Consumer psychology has a rich history of the study of relations between people and material objects. Objects provide individuals with self-definitional and self-continuity value. The self-definitional properties of objects derive from their ability to help people tell life stories; whereas self-continuity properties of objects facilitate individual adaptation and self-preservation. Our work shows that objects provide similar value to collectives.
This paper explains how a community uses objects to negotiate tradeoffs between a sense of community (collective ethos) and community diversity (individual ethos). Our ethnographic work during natural disaster recovery illuminates collective negotiation of consumption needs and ownership responsibilities, related to damaged and donated goods that move from private to public ownership, and vice versa. We further show how goods, and performances related to their usage, are building blocks for reconstructing collective identity. As such, we contribute to the disaster literature by enhancing our understanding of object meanings, and by providing a substantive contribution for improving the human condition during times of deprivation.
Hazard Mitigation Strategies in a Post-Disaster Environment
Following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Louisiana was eligible for $1.47 billion through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) to reduce future loss of life and property from natural disasters. The state and local governments have directed millions in HMGP funds towards the elevation of houses to a height above the one percent annual chance flood level.
Using New Orleans as a case study, this research argues that local governments should use hazard mitigation funds to address repetitive flooding at the neighborhood level, rather than through costly elevations of individual properties. While home elevations are a standard way to mitigate damage to flood-prone structures, the scattershot approach to these mitigation projects raises questions about whether this is the most effective way to reduce risk at the community level.
This research examines how government agencies prioritize mitigation projects and the impact of HMGP funding on reducing exposure to flood risk. Analysis of repetitive loss and severe repetitive loss data from the National Flood Insurance Program suggests that recurring flood losses may be best handled at the local level through property buyouts, drainage infrastructure upgrades, improved stormwater management, and stricter building codes.
When coupled with state and federal efforts to reduce risk from the one percent annual chance floods, such an approach provides a more strategic path for local governments attempting to best use hazard mitigation grant funds to reduce future flood losses.
Collective Models of Disaster: Making a Case for Using Collective Mobile Phone Location Data in Disaster Science*
Location and behavior data offer exciting new possibilities to the field of disaster science. Smartphones continuously collect data about location, text, and e-mail content, call history, and Internet browsing history. Even though there is a growing legal precedent that detailed location and behavior data may be used for analyses, the academic community is lagging on using these data to improve disaster science research.
I propose an aggregate approach to mobile phone and Internet data collection and analysis for disaster science research that bypasses many of the privacy concerns about using location and behavioral data. Tracking communities instead of individuals removes these types of studies from the privacy debate and allows institutions to make decisions to maximize benefits based on data instead of anecdotal individual cases.
I present four proposed conceptual models, prototyped with volunteer location and behavioral data from mobile phones and networked devices, to improve disaster science research. The disaster community could improve response times, identify geographic areas of concern, improve survey methods, and conduct more efficient evacuations through institutional adoption of these models.
These models complement current best practices in disaster resilience, response, and recovery research. Adoption would allow disaster scientists to better test prevailing theories in disasters in real-time, allow responders to improve efficiency and ability to manage disasters, and confirm situational awareness. These prototype models are intended to stimulate the disaster science community to consider the vast possibilities of incorporating connected device data into current research projects using surveys or social network analysis.
2012 Annual Hazards and Disasters Student Paper Competition Winner. Full text of this paper will be available on the Student Paper Competition page soon.
Hurricane Preparedness and Sheltering Preferences of Muslims Living in Florida
Given the increasing diversity of the United States population and the continued threat of hurricane devastation in the heavily populated Gulf Coast region, the lack of research on preparedness and sheltering activities across religious or cultural groups represents a significant gap in the field of hazards and disaster research. To address this void, a survey questionnaire examining hurricane preparedness attitudes and sheltering preferences was administered to Muslims living in Tampa, Florida.
The final sample of 139 Muslim adults had a mean age of 36.37 (+/-11.8) with males and females equally represented. Significant differences were found in disaster planning activities and confidence in hurricane preparedness. Of those who had a disaster plan, 85.4 percent felt confident in their preparedness, compared to 27.4 percent of those with no plan and 27.3 percent of those who were unsure as to whether they had a plan.
This exploratory study also revealed that safety, cleanliness, access to a prayer room, and privacy were concerns related to using a public shelter during hurricanes. Nearly half of the respondents (47.4 percent) noted that the events of 9/11 influenced their comfort level about staying in a public shelter during a hurricane disaster. Disaster planners should be aware of the religious practices of the Islamic community, encourage disaster planning among diverse groups, and address safety and privacy concerns associated with using public shelters.
The Role of Anthropology in Disaster Preparedness
Disaster anthropology tries to understand the means used by a population to cope with and adapt to their perceptions of vulnerability and risk in these times of global climate change. In doing so, researchers in this field study local knowledge and the perception of risk in a population’s everyday life.
Disaster anthropology can offer some answers to disaster preparedness practitioners and decision makers who struggle with cultural issues. It also studies the social transformations and the cultural changes in the post-disaster period. It is useful while planning for long-term reconstruction.
Disaster Severity and Mental Health: The Case of Hurricane Katrina
This study examined the mental health impact of Hurricane Katrina-related stressors among 402 low-income parents. We used a longitudinal data set with three waves of data, collected before, one year after, and four years after Hurricane Katrina.
Short and long-term impact of the disaster-related stressors (DRS) on post-traumatic stress and general psychological distress was examined. Using the zip code of the survivors with GIS data, we also estimated the objective level of water in their house. The associations of subjective and objective DRS with mental health outcomes were compared bivariately and multivariately.
The results of multivariate analyses indicated there was variability in the impact among different DRS. The association of most of the disaster-related stressors with short- and long-term mental health outcomes diminished when pre-disaster mental health and other baseline covariates were accounted for, whereas others, including losing a loved one, a pet, or a vehicle, lacking medical care or medicine, and delayed evacuation remained relatively robust.
Receiver operating characteristic analysis suggests that a subset of DRS can help predict cases of short and long-term post-traumatic stress. Furthermore, the results from the latent class analysis indicated that there are potential subgroups among survivors, differentiable by their experience of DRS and that these subgroups differ in terms of their short- and long-term mental health outcomes.
Finally, our results suggest that objective but not subjective measure of flood depth is predictive of post-traumatic stress. Implications on research and relief effort are discussed.
Youth-Centered Disaster Recovery: A Participatory Action Research Project
This abstract describes a recently funded Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council participatory action research project focused on the experiences and insights of disaster-affected youth. The research will engage young people from Slave Lake, Alberta and Joplin, Missouri as active partners to explore the following research questions: (1) How do disasters affect the daily lives of youth; (2) What assets and vulnerabilities do they identify as contributing to/or hindering their recovery; (3) What forms of support do youth need and how are those needs being met; (4) How do they actively contribute to their own and their communities’ recovery; and (5) How might youth-centered recovery activities incorporate and contribute to the longer-term resilience of youth, their families, and their communities.
The study’s participatory action research model will engage youth through cross-border research and contribute to the development of youth-inclusive theories of community-based disaster recovery and resilience. A workshop using participatory, creative exploration strategies (e.g., photography, participatory video, conversation circles, and focus groups) will engage participants collaboratively and creatively in an examination of the ways in which social, economic, and personal factors influence disaster vulnerability among youth and their capacity to recover and contribute to long-term resilience. These processes will encourage individual and shared meaning making and empower participants as change agents in their communities. The innovative multi-media knowledge mobilization activities and products will increase awareness and inform recovery practice locally and internationally, contributing to a broad policy uptake.
A Look at Encouraging Public and Business Engagement
For communities subject to flood, a knowledgeable public is an essential component of resilience. FloodSmart combines national outreach with development of shareable tools for local officials, floodplain managers, insurance professionals, and others. These tools help people understand their flood risk and the personal consequences of flooding. Sharing them widely multiplies the channels for effective communication.
In building the tools we've learned a number of valuable lessons regarding what will engage the public and keep them engaged over time. Questions include: How to sustain involvement? How to reach generations that communicate through different channels? How to "refresh" information to promote engagement?
The Impact of the Failure of Gully Walls on Two Communities in Kingston, Jamaica
Storm water runoff in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, is managed by a system of waterways called gullies. Despite potential loss of life and property, illegal occupation of the banks of these gullies has become widespread.
In September 2010, Tropical Storm Nicole caused severe damage to infrastructure. There were several reports of failures of gully walls, including one incident in which a family of six died when a section of the gully wall failed, sending their house into the flooded waterway.
This study examines the reasons for the failure of the gully walls. It explores the impact of failures on two communities—one formal and one informal.
The study found that the failure of the walls is caused by several factors including breaching by residents and poor maintenance. The impact on the communities differs. Many houses in the informal settlement do not conform to setback requirements and are therefore susceptible to damage due to failure. Houses in the formal settlement adhere to setback requirements and are less exposed to damage from failure of the walls. It is suggested that adherence to setback requirements can reduce the vulnerability to flooding of residents along Kingston’s waterways.
Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation: Will Women Lead?
Two decades of research, organizing, and advocacy have advanced gender analysis with respect to disaster risk. One outcome has been the recognition of gender as a cross-cutting principle of disaster risk reduction. This policy position is not yet well established in climate work, although the convergences are significant and substantive. The facts on the ground, advocacy communities, research questions, and many of the policy issues inherent in successful risk reduction are closely interwoven. A more integrated approach is warranted.
This presentation will describe critical areas of overlap in the domains of gender, disaster, climate research, policy, and practice. The pitfalls of the current “two solitudes” approach and the merits of a more holistic approach (“many bridges, one tent”) will be outlined.
To develop these ideas, specific research studies and promising practices will be shared, highlighting the contribution of gender-responsive approaches to increasing adaptive capacity and reducing the risk of climate-related disasters. Across the globe, in diverse nations very differently situated in environmental, economic, social, and political context, a more integrated approach to climate and disaster risk potentially positions women as critical leaders in furthering mitigation and adaptation at different levels. What barriers to women’s leadership exist and how can these be reduced? How can women and men, respectively, be more effectively engaged in meeting the challenges of climate disasters?
Gender and Wildfire at the Wildland-Urban Interface
In pursuit of lifestyle change, affordable property, and proximity to nature, people from all walks of life are moving to the wildland-urban interface. Tragic wildfires, a predicted increase in high fire-danger weather, and climate change have triggered concern for the safety of such amenity-led migrants in wildfire-prone landscapes.
This book—Gender and Wildfire at the Wildland-Urban Interface (available late 2012)—examines wildfire awareness and preparedness among women, men, households, communities, and agencies at the interface of the city and beyond. It is based on extensive qualitative (in situ interviews) and quantitative (postal and online surveys) research over the past five years in two regions where wildfires are common and disastrous: southeast Australia and the U.S. West Coast. It follows stories of surviving, fighting, evacuating, living, and working with wildfire to reveal the intimate inner workings of wildfire response—and especially the culturally and historically distinct gender relations that underpin wildfire resilience.
Wildfire is revealed as much more than a “natural” hazard—it is far from gender neutral. Rather, wildfire is an important means through which traditional gender roles and power relations are maintained despite changing social circumstances. The subjectivities of women and men are shaped by varying senses of inclusion, exclusion, engagement, and disengagement with wildfire management. This leads to the reproduction of gender identities with clear ramifications for if, how, and to what extent women and men prepare for wildfire at the wildland-urban interface.
Oil Spill Events: Prominent Frames and Policy Implications
The purposes of this thesis are twofold. First, to gain insight as to how the framing of an oil spill influences policy change and to discern how competing frames affect policy. The second purpose is to offer new recommendations to help bridge the safety gap the industry currently experiences, exposed by three spills.
For this study, three oil spills were chosen because of the policy changes they inspired, the media attention they garnered, and their size. They are the 1969 Union Oil Platform A blowout in Santa Barbara, California; the wreck of the Exxon Valdez in 1989; and the Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010.
A content analysis was performed on scholarly articles, media articles, after action reports, court records, policy, and policy recommendations. This study also drew on in-depth interviews with key informants who were involved in at least one of the three spills. The study findings suggest that framing significantly affects the policy that results.
In Union Oil’s Platform A, the framing was of an environmental and ecological tragedy that could not happen again. The Exxon Valdez is essentially the story of three competing frameworks, eventually giving way to a regulatory framing. The Deepwater Horizon also experienced three competing frames—a slow-onset environmental catastrophe, which coincided with framing that focused on the economic losses, and eventually the framing of the spill as failure in the regulatory structure. The implications of competing frameworks on policy in these spills are also discussed.
Sarah Henly-Shepard, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Cheryl L. Anderson, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Linda Cox, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Steven Gray, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Maka'ala Ka'aumoana, Hanalei Watershed Hui
Antya Miller, North Shore Chamber of Commerce
Climate Change, Disasters and Human Rights—Community-Based Socio-Ecological Resilience Research and Planning in Hawaii
In an era of ecological degradation, global climate change, geographic isolation, demographic shifts, and increasing intensity and frequency of natural hazards, the Pacific Islands and the state of Hawaii face heightened risk. Because of the inextricable link between human and environmental security, it is critical to employ rights-based, socio-ecological resilience frameworks and strategies to guide disaster risk reduction.
Social cohesion is also required for island communities to develop responsive and adaptive community resilience plans by incorporating stakeholder knowledge into the research and planning processes. Tools that facilitate resilience planning and support social cohesion, however, are lacking.
This research engages a community-based participatory learning approach to resilience planning in two at-risk coastal communities in Hawaii. Employing mixed methods—including a novel decision-support software tool that facilitates disaster risk reduction planning and incorporates diverse types of stakeholder knowledge, beliefs and perceptions—this research will facilitate collaborative decision-making processes for diverse communities dealing with natural hazard threats. In addition, this research will review relevant human rights frameworks, policies and institutions, analyze key gaps, and explore opportunities for an integrative rights-based, socio-ecological resilience framework for community-based research and planning in at-risk coastal and island communities.
Education and Learning for Sustainable Development
Universal access to quality education—a precondition for sustainable development—must be complemented by a comprehensive reorientation of existing learning to include the understanding of and specific responses to the challenges of sustainable development, such as climate change. From the earliest age, investments in quality education should not simply be a means to fulfilling the right to education and progressing towards development goals, but as medium- and longer-term strategies for sustainable development, resilience, and equity. But education is often overlooked in debates and national action plans, despite its value in advancing sustainable development and in creating communities aware of their environment and resilient in the face of climate-related events.
This session will explore the role of quality education, knowledge management and learning systems in promoting sustainable human development through the pillars of economic growth, social development and environmental protection. It will bring together the various education agendas on ecologically sustainable development, education for all, technical and vocation education and training, disaster risk reduction, life skills, gender, health, environmental and climate change education, quality learning, and the promotion of green economies and societies to develop a common understanding of a coherent approach to leveraging education to combat climate change and build the resilience of children and communities.
It will also present findings of a UNICEF/UNESCO Mapping of Global DRR Integration into Education Curricula—capturing key national experiences from 30 case studies in the integration of DRR in school curriculum, identifying good practices, reviewing learning outcomes, and addressing gaps.
Disaster Prevention: A Developmental Perspective
It is believed that developing knowledge and ability in children can carry forward into their adult life. This study intends to examine how the age of a child influences their perception and knowledge of disaster and mitigation strategies.
Methodology: Participants were sampled to represent the major developmental stages from school age onward (ages 7-9, 10-12, and 13-15). A total of eight focus groups were held: four in Tung Shih Elementary, two in Tung Shih Junior High, and two in Shih Chiao Elementary. Participants included 31 males and 34 females. All interviews were video recorded, allowing for the analysis of both verbal and non-verbal data. Questions about hazard characteristics, personal consequences from associated hazard activities, strategies used to mitigate disaster consequences, and children's perceived capacity to adopt these strategies were asked.
Findings: The study results indicate that participants from Tung Shih Elementary have better accessibility to disaster information and resources compared to their counterparts. Parents, natural science courses, and drills are the main sources of information about disaster characteristics and mitigation strategies. The results suggest that not only age, but also an urban-rural gap and resource availability have great impacts on participant knowledge of hazard characteristics, personal consequences from associated hazard activities, strategies to mitigate the consequences, and the perception of personal capacity to adopt these strategies.
The Study of Interactive User-Oriented Forecasting System
The risks of climate change are some of the major issues facing the world. In coping with climate risk, forecasts help users make risk-related decisions. But because of the inherent uncertainty in forecasting a chaotic weather and climate system, all forecasts are uncertain regardless of how much the physical forecast system has improved. Even a perfect forecast isn’t useful without considering user decision making.
Hence, the greatest potential of improvement of forecasts should arise from the end user, which implies that the forecasting system would incorporate end user information. On the other hand, in economic terms, risk presents not only serious challenges, but also opportunities. Without integration of forecasting and end-user information, it is difficult to figure out the opportunities behind the risks.
In this study, we develop an interactive user-oriented forecasting system based on the combination of feedback from users’ information and weather and climate forecasting information. It will not only help users make better risk decisions, but also improve weather and climate forecasts.
Pathways to Community Recovery and Resilience
Understanding the causal conditions that lead to recovery is fundamental to improving a community’s ability to recover after a disaster. Unfortunately, because of the depth of knowledge required for qualitative disaster recovery studies, there have been few broad cross-case comparative studies in which researchers link causal conditions to post-disaster recovery.
This research transforms our understanding of recovery by analyzing comparative cases using a multi-method approach, including Ragin’s Qualitative Comparative Analysis, to determine what pre-disaster factors and recovery strategies (combined or in isolation) lead to successful post-disaster recovery.
Specifically, this research will: (1) identify recovery indicators and important causal conditions for community recovery across multiple disciplinary perspectives; (2) measure causal conditions and recovery indicators for villages in India impacted by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami; and (3) analyze the pathways of causal conditions that led to recovery in the case study communities.
Causal conditions and indicators of recovery have been identified through content analysis and a set of Delphi surveys. These then inform the data collection efforts and cross-case comparison for villages in Tamil Nadu, India. This research will result in a comprehensive theory of pathways to recovery following a disaster that links pre-disaster measures of causal conditions to recovery outcomes. The results of this study will allow community planners to prioritize and focus their efforts on the causal factors that best strengthen the community’s ability to recover from a disaster.
Using Social Communications and Gamification to Promote an Ethos of Preparedness and Resilience
Promoting preparedness and resilience has challenged emergency managers because we often conduct outreach before understanding the dynamic of engagement that already exists. As a result, preparedness and resilience campaigns may not resonate.
Social communications is the methodology of engagement that begins with understanding the unique nuances of the community and how to integrate the existing, trusted social networks of the community into outreach strategies. Social communications leverages a variety of approaches including online social networking, in-person social networking, and gamification—the use of gaming techniques and mechanics—to cultivate preparedness and resilience behavior.
Recovery of Industry and Geographic Sectors after the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury Earthquakes
Canterbury, New Zealand, experienced four earthquakes of greater than magnitude 6.0 between September 2010 and December 2011. This study employs system dynamics to bring together data collected via surveys, case studies, and interviews with organizations affected by the earthquakes. It shows how systemic interactions and interdependencies within and between industry and geographic sectors affect their post-disaster recovery.
The industry sectors in the study are: construction for its role in the rebuild: information and communication technology, which is a regional high-growth industry; trucking for logistics; critical infrastructure and fast moving consumer goods (e.g., supermarkets); and hospitality. Recovery is tracked through non-discretionary and discretionary spending, respectively. Also included the study are three urban centers, one of which is the region’s largest central business district, an area which has been inaccessible since the earthquake of February 22, 2011.
Organizations report that some of the most disruptive effects of the earthquakes were staff well-being and customer issues, which are not direct physical impacts. However, key to recovery was the pivotal role staff played in the response and recovery phases. Findings also show that organizational pre-disaster preparedness is not the major factor in recovery after a regional disaster.
This work highlights how earthquake effects propagated among sectors and how sectors collaborated to mitigate difficulties such as product demand instability. Other interacting factors that influence the recovery trajectories of the different industry sectors are also identified. These are resource availability, insurance payments, aid from central government, and timely, reliable recovery information.
Retrofitting Historic Structures Against Natural Hazards in India
The Indian subcontinent is one of the most disaster-prone regions of the world. The hazard profile of India suggests that because of its unique geoclimatic conditions, the country is vulnerable to recurrent natural hazards such as earthquakes, cyclones, and floods. With its rich and ancient cultural heritage, India is also home to numerous historic structures that merit protection from these hazards. Unique scientific techniques of retrofitting are now available and are practiced by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which has been empowered to protect the historic monuments of national importance.
India has numerous forts and temples, which assume importance by virtue of their history, architecture, and construction techniques. Most of the forts located in the western coastal region of India stand as a testimony to the European invasion in the pre-independence era (1500-1900s) of Indian history. This paper includes an overview of the natural hazard threats faced by these valuable heritages and the strategies adopted by ASI to mitigate against adverse impacts. Specifically, through a case study analysis, the process of investigating and scientifically retrofitting the ancient sea-facing wall of Fort St. Angelo, Kannur, against coastal erosion is illustrated.
The paper summarizes the efforts spearheaded by ASI to protect and conserve India’s vast natural, built, and cultural heritage against natural hazards. The challenges faced by ASI in advocating that preservation, reuse, and conservation as disaster mitigation strategies in India—instead of demolition of ancient historic structures—will be of value to the Natural Hazards Workshop audience.
Developing Appropriate Disaster Preparedness Materials for Foreigners in Korea
When it comes to public policies for foreigners in Korea, most focus on labor and health with a view of multiculturalism. Currently the disaster and safety field is not considered in public policies for foreigners in Korea.
This study examines suitable disaster preparedness materials for foreigners who live in Korea and the most effective method to disseminate the information to them.
In-depth interviews were conducted to assess the disaster preparedness needs of foreigners. Interviewees were from 14 countries and had lived in Korea more than 10 years. This study also included interviewees who escaped from North Korea and are now are living in South Korea.
Based on the interviews, the most appropriate materials were defined. These are: (1) action procedures for frequently occurring disasters; (2) disaster preparedness exercise information; and (3) disaster recovery assistance information.
The requested information was compiled and a multi-language Web site was developed to disseminate the preparedness material. The site is called the Multilingual Disaster Information Web. Material was translated into 14 languages using Google translation script. The Web site address is www.safefirst.kr.
Banners linking the 14 embassies and multi-cultural support centers in Korea were also added. Video clips were posted on the Web site as well.
Future research needs to develop the material in detail by using culture and behavior study theories. We are planning to use concepts from MINDSPACE, which was developed by a UK cabinet office. The Web site will also be updated to have a more user-friendly design and navigation.
A New Age of Crowdsourcing and Crisis Mapping
New opportunities and challenges are arising as the public uses pervasive information and communication technology, including social media, to help in the immediate aftermath of major disasters. At the 2010 International Conference on Crisis Mapping, Patrick Meier, director of crisis mapping at Ushahidi, said, “The Crisis Mappers Google Group played a pivotal role in the hours, days, and weeks following the earthquake in Haiti.” Members of this virtual network shared time-sensitive geographic information, such as post-impact satellite imagery and locations of health care facilities, using open-source mapping and collaborative networking technologies.
Approximately 2,000 volunteers—including people from the Haitian diaspora—worked with the Crisis Mappers Network to geocode crisis reports coming out of Haiti. But in what ways did these new social networking technologies and emerging volunteer technical communities (VTCs) play a pivotal role in mapping Haiti to better manage the disaster?
As we have increasingly easy access to the ever-flowing streams of content online, how can crisis data from government agencies, satellite imagery companies, volunteer technical communities, disaster-affected populations, and the general public be integrated to better facilitate emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts? At the same time, how can we strengthen cross-agency collaborations between official emergency management stakeholders and the VTCs to address geospatial data sharing challenges at the social, technological, organizational, and political interfaces?
Who's at the Table? Examining Factors Driving Incorporation of Land Use Approaches in Hazard Mitigation Plans
Climate change is expected to exacerbate long-term hazard risks. Creating resilient communities requires reductions in hazard risks. National consensus studies identify land use as a highly effective approach for risk reduction. Passage of the Disaster Mitigation Act (DMA) of 2000 created an inter-governmental policy framework requiring state and local governments to adopt hazard mitigation plans to be eligible for certain federal disaster funds.
Networks of stakeholders develop mitigation plans through planning processes typically led by emergency managers and sometimes involving local planners.
This framework offers an outstanding opportunity to examine factors leading to greater incorporation of land use approaches into mitigation plans. Recent work finds DMA mitigation plan quality is mediocre in general, but variable.
Three main types of factors drive mitigation plan quality: state planning policy context, local community characteristics, and planning process features. This paper’s central research question is: Does inclusion of local planners in mitigation planning networks lead to incorporation of more land use approaches in mitigation plans, controlling for these three types of factors? Ordinary least squares and Poisson regression models predict incorporation of land use approaches using data from content analysis of 175 local mitigation plans, the Institute of Business and Home Safety, the Public Entity Research Institute Presidential Declaration database, and the U.S. Census.
Preliminary findings indicate local planners are positively associated with incorporation of more land use approaches into mitigation plans, but the association varies across three principles of plan quality (i.e., fact base, policies, and implementation). Planners appear to be most important for the future-oriented policies and implementation principles. The findings suggest federal and state mitigation officials should foster greater linkages between local emergency managers and planners to promote long-term risk reduction. These results could be relevant to emerging climate adaptation planning efforts.
Encouraging and Recognizing Community Wildfire Preparedness
The demand for Fire Weather Services across the United States continues to quickly grow, as each year wildfires consume a great extent of nature’s landscape. These support services include educating and preparing communities for favorable or extreme fire weather conditions, especially during the fire weather season.
A core mission of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Weather Service (NOAA/NWS) outreach and education program is to identify community preparedness objectives and develop area-wide projects through engagement with partner agencies and citizens. NOAA/NWS offices are frequently engaged with preparedness and mitigation efforts (e.g. StormReady) associated with thunderstorms, hurricanes, and flooding. One area that has demonstrated a need for increasing awareness has been wildfire preparedness. In 2007 alone, over 9 million acres of land were scorched and according to the National Interagency Fire Center, the federal government spent over $1.8 billion fighting wildfires. InciWeb statistics indicated three large wildfires in southern California that year completely destroyed 2,314 homes and/or buildings.
To address the growing need to improve preparedness and communications in wildfire-threatened communities, especially those in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), the NOAA/NWS Riverton, Wyoming forecast office implemented in 2008 a grassroots pilot project. The preparedness initiative, called Community Wildfire Awareness (CWA), is designed to promote wildfire awareness and the protection of lives and properties. Partnering with federal agency officials from the Bureau of Land Management, United States Forest Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs, CWA has taken root in western Wyoming.
The Past, Present, and Future of Women as Emergency Managers
Recent disasters have continued to illustrate the special vulnerabilities faced by women in the different phases of the disaster cycle, as well as the lack of an integrated emergency preparedness system that fully engages women’s services as emergency managers. The earliest study of emergency managers was limited because of the low number of women emergency managers in the sampled population. This trend is changing. There is a significant increase in the number of women joining the profession.
Traditionally emergency management education was available through the military, which, being gender segregated, denied women access to this training. Since 9/11, numerous emergency management, homeland security, public health, medical, and related programs have become available to women. These programs and the passage of national equal opportunity laws have helped professionalize the field. However, there has been limited research on these changing trends and the possible constraints and challenges faced by women in their roles as emergency managers in the public and private sectors.
A snowball sampling technique was adopted and 50 female emergency managers from the North Texas region were interviewed by phone, face-to-face, and by email. This study elaborates upon the challenges faced, leadership styles preferred, strength in networks and family ties, work environment, and education that have helped or challenged them daily. This research has practical implications about ways to better empower and integrate women in emergency management decision making in multiple sectors.
Vulnerable Victims: Media Constructions of Children After the BP Oil Spill
On April 20, 2011, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, resulting in the largest industrial disaster in U.S. history. Extensive media coverage has focused on the damage the BP oil spill has caused to coastal economies and wildlife. Children, however, also suffered the consequences of the oil spill. This thesis examines local media coverage of child vulnerabilities and capacities in relation to the oil spill disaster. Drawing on a random sample of 120 newspaper articles, I analyze coverage of children and the oil spill using the most widely circulated newspapers in Alabama, Louisiana, and Florida.
My content analysis of this coverage reveals that children were primarily framed as victims, aiming to promote adult action or to demonstrate monetary damages. There was also variance across states, with the Alabama newspaper most frequently portraying children as victims in an apparent effort to promote action among adults. The Louisiana paper, on the other hand, mainly focused on community safety, often lumping the mental and physical health of children and adults into a single category. The Florida newspaper varied from the other two in its more diverse coverage of children, most frequently discussing financial stress, adult guilt, and changes in children's routines.
Despite variance in the primary themes represented in each newspaper, all primarily portrayed children as victims to the BP oil spill. Child resilience or capacities were seldom mentioned.
2012 Annual Hazards and Disasters Student Paper Competition Winner. Full text of this paper will be available on the Student Paper Competition page soon.
Coping with Natural Hazards in a Conservation Context: Resource Use Decisions of Maasai Households During Recent and Historical Droughts
During droughts, herders typically move their livestock to areas that maintain water and grazing such as rivers, swamps, and forests. But pastoralist access to these drought resource areas (DRAs) can be inhibited by cultivation and conservation. Loss of access to DRAs may be influencing the resource use decisions of pastoralists living adjacent to protected areas that are experiencing considerable anthropogenic environmental changes.
The objective of this study is to better understand how these challenges are interrelated. I evaluated the spatial distribution of DRAs in the Kenya/Tanzania border region using satellite imagery. I then analyzed interviews and retrospective survey data from households that vary in proximity to Tarangire National Park to elucidate factors that influenced Maasai resource use decisions during recent and historical droughts.
Geospatial analysis indicates that cultivated and protected areas contain disproportionately high percentages of DRAs. Tarangire encompasses two prominent DRAs. Interviews suggest that before Tarangire was established, Maasai used these DRAs less than previously thought because of resource availability in other areas and concerns about livestock disease. Preliminary decision modeling indicates that the selection of livestock watering sites consists of two choices that are influenced by different factors: (1) labor and grazing availability that affect the choice between local and distant sites; and (2) herd size, social capital, location, and cost that influence the choice of a particular water source. Small rivers and ephemeral streams are critical DRAs, but broader land use changes appear to be impacting these waterways through alterations in sediment and water supply.
Language Services to Ensure “Whole of Community” Evacuation: Legal Issues and Interpreting and Translation Assistance for Limited English Proficient (LEP) Populations
This work takes a practical, hands-on approach to language services for limited English proficient communities in need of evacuation. It offers a “toolbox” perspective to find qualified, competent providers within the community, ensuring that a network of individuals is available and in place before a disaster strikes. The services that interpreters provide are vital. They deliver timely information on evacuation means and routes so all members of every community participate fully when the decision is made to relocate.
Now more than ever, as our linguistic and cultural diversity continues to grow, the provision of professional language services should be an important component of all phases of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Specific legal enactments require that language services be furnished to the general public. All community members must be able to understand every relevant aspect of emergency management.
As with any other human resource, interpreters and translators vary greatly in their background, training, and skills. The prudent emergency manager is well advised to address this matter during the planning process to ensure language services providers are competent and aware of jurisdiction-specific requirements.
This work explores how to incorporate language services so that all LEP individuals affected by a “whole community” evacuation order during an emergency or disaster will have the most basic of their needs fulfilled—information that allows them to act to ensure their safety.
Involving Minorities in Issues of Emergency Management—A Public Enlightenment Program
Public participation in hazard mitigation provides avenues for citizens to be informed and educated. It also allows the decision makers to gather input from the public to enhance the decision making process, gaining support for the implementation of the subsequent decisions.
However, past research has found public participation in formulating hazard mitigation policies remains low despite hazard losses. Consistent with past literature on methods and importance of public participation in issues of emergency management, this exploratory study reports findings and experience from a workshop conducted at Texas Southern University in Houston.
With 76 people in attendance, participants were presented with why they should be involved in hazard mitigation. Feedback from the questions asked and from the survey questionnaires show that approximately 90 percent of participants did not know where to find shelter information. Over 90 percent were not aware of Houston’s hazard mitigation plan. About 100 percent of participants indicated their willingness to be involved in emergency management if they were notified.
Although the study was exploratory, these results show the need for more public information and awareness programs at the local level to promote the involvement of minorities in issues of emergency management.
Childcare Centers and Disaster Preparedness in Colorado
Childcare providers are vital members of many children’s adult network. Yet information about how childcare centers prepare for disasters is sparse. This two-year study, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will begin to fill this gap.
We will conduct a pilot study of disaster preparedness among childcare centers in Windsor and Fort Collins, Colorado. Both cities are at risk of flooding, severe winter storms, wild fires, and tornadoes. In 2008, Windsor was devastated by a powerful tornado. In 1997, Fort Collins experienced severe flash flooding that caused widespread damage. The research questions to be explored include: (1) Do childcare centers in these counties have disaster preparedness plans? (2) If they have a plan, what does it include? (3) If they do not have a plan, why is that? and (4) What support do childcare centers need in terms of developing and implementing plans, training their staff, educating the children who attend the centers, and communicating with parents?
We will organize a one-day disaster preparedness workshop for childcare providers in Colorado. Upon completion of the pilot study, FEMA and the research team will host a disaster preparedness workshop for childcare providers where research results and best practices will be shared.
The findings from the pilot study and the input gathered from the childcare provider workshop will be used to initiate a statewide survey of disaster preparedness among all childcare centers in Colorado. This project will culminate in a statewide survey of disaster preparedness plans and actions among childcare providers.
Disaster Hits Home: A Model of Displaced Family Adjustment After Hurricane Katrina
This work explores individual and family adjustment processes among parents (n=30) and children (n=55) who were displaced to Colorado after Hurricane Katrina. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 23 families, this research culminated in an inductive model of displaced family adjustment.
Four stages of family adjustment are presented in the model: (1) family unity stage, (2) prioritizing safety stage (parents) and missing home stage (children), (3) confronting reality stage (parents) and feeling settled stage (children), and (4) reaching resolution.
This research illustrates that parental and child adjustment trajectories are dynamic and may vary over time, underscoring the importance of considering the perspectives of both adults and children in research and disaster policy interventions.
Training for Success in Implementing Green Codes and Standards
If training is important to successful implementation of green codes and standards what does that training look like? Can lessons from current green building training efforts be used to inform training for hazard resilience?
There are several steps necessary to bring hazard resistance into the green building initiative. This begins at the design and planning stage, but it isn’t complete until the work is done and verified in the field. In the middle is effective training of the workforce. While training workforce is often a component of workflow, the effectiveness of training is typically not included in evaluation of the training itself. Has the training provided the skills and understanding that will enable each construction worker to effectively implement the appropriate methods of construction to achieve the specified quality indicated in the design?
What training techniques and practices can help ensure that workforce training attains the level of proficiency required for effective performance of green and hazard resilient building features? Training designers are typically far removed from the job site and may not speak the same language as the labor force. Practitioners should be included in training development. Adult learning techniques combined with hands-on training include learners in the training. Such active learning techniques invite participation of the learners contributing to internalization of understanding principles of green—and resilient—building with the practical application skills that lead to higher quality outcomes on the job site.
Integrated Research on Disaster Risk: Bridging Research, Policy, and Practice
Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) has been developed to address research gaps, siloed approaches, and policy voids in a trans-disciplinary, global approach. Four initiatives—Assessment of Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (AIRDR), Disaster Losses Data (DATA), Forensic Investigations of Disasters (FORIN), and Risk Interpretation and Action (RIA)—were developed to address different aspects of disaster risk research.
AIRDR is the first global, systematic, and critical assessment on integrated research on disaster risk by adopting a SWOT analysis. AIRDR aims to determine the baseline of current integrated hazard research and to identify a list of priorities for scientific research community and funding organizations.
FORIN is a newly developed paradigm for conducting research on disaster risk. The methodology will analyze disaster cases from an integrative, systematic, and penetrating perspective to explore factors causing disasters.
RIA integrates social science and risk analysis, to guide individuals and policy makers to make informed decisions to reduce risks and avoid losses.
DATA is designed to unite disaster loss data stakeholders and use synergies to develop recognized standards and definitions regarding disasters loss assessment and ensure downscaling of loss data to sub-regional levels to improve policy, research, and practice in risk reduction.
The integrative concept, methodology, and approach of IRDR will give valuable inputs for the scientific community to explore the natural hazards and disaster of all sizes.
Rad Resilient City: A Preparedness Checklist to Diminish Lives Lost from Radiation after a Nuclear Detonation
Nuclear terrorism is a real threat, according to assessments by the United States, other governments, and independent experts. If prevention of nuclear terrorism fails, then reducing exposure to radioactive fallout is the intervention that can save the most lives following a nuclear detonation.
But most Americans are not familiar with correct safety measures against fallout. Many believe that nothing can reduce the suffering and death inflicted by a nuclear attack. Cities have no checklist on how to prepare the emergency management infrastructure and the larger population for this hazard, despite hundreds of pages of useful guidance from the federal government and radiation professional organizations.
The Rad Resilient Checklist reverses this situation by converting the latest federal guidance and technical reports into clear, actionable steps for communities to take to protect their residents from exposure to radioactive fallout. The checklist reflects the shared judgment of the Nuclear Resilience Expert Advisory Group, a national panel led by the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and comprised of government decision makers, scientific experts, emergency responders, and leaders from business, volunteer, and community sectors.
The Influence of Previous Disaster Experience on Protective Action Decision-Making: The Case Study of the Goderich, Ontario, Tornado
The influence of previous disaster experience on decision making during subsequent events is still a matter of considerable discussion in hazards literature. Recent research has found that previous experience with disaster does not always translate into improved self-protective behaviors during subsequent events.
This paper examines two events that occurred in August 2011 in Goderich, Ontario—an F-3 tornado that struck the community on August 21 and a tornado warning that was posted for the region three days later on August 24. Semi-structured interviews (n=35) and close-ended questionnaires (n=268) were conducted to learn about the ways that people obtained and understood risk information, and to explore whether and how such information guided protective-action decisions during the two events.
We found that a sizable portion of the sample population took protective actions on August 24 in ways that were inconsistent with their actions on August 21. We also found that a significant portion of respondents chose not to take any form of protective action on August 24 despite having previously experienced a damaging tornado. The findings of this research suggest that the significance of previous disaster experience in the decision making process is highly variable and context dependent. Some implications of these findings are discussed in the context of risk communication and emergency management.
Green Island Levee and Drainage District, Jackson County, Iowa: An Interagency Approach to Implementing a Non-Structural Alternative Project
The Green Island Levee experienced two significant breaches during the July 2010 flood of the Maquoketa River. At the time of breaching, the levee was active in the Corps P.L. 84-99 program. The estimated cost to repair the levee exceeded the estimated benefits, resulting in a benefit-to-cost ratio of less than one. As a result of this determination the levee sponsor, the Jackson County Board of
Commissioners, expressed interest in a non-structural alternative project.
After more than two years of County Board indecision on locally funding the repair (mainly in response to the position of one landowner) they finally voted against it. During this time the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) initiated a project to acquire permanent wetland easements on most of the lands within the previously protected area.
The Corps’ participation in the non-structural alternative project (NSAP) was contingent on a decision to not repair the levee. Although possible NSAP components were identified early on, further action was placed on hold pending this decision. The Corps is now moving forward with developing agreements with the NRCS and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to jointly implement additional NSAP components that could include: acquisition of the levee right-of-way, additional degrading of the remaining levee structure, modification of culverts to address potential impacts of future floods on a state highway embankment, and mitigating three to five residential structures that once had minimal flood protection by the levee.
Sociological Perspective of Understanding an Interrelation Between Loss of Life in Flood Events and Cultural Components
Natural disasters have a negative connotation. They are destructive to material elements and to nature itself. They represent a threat to people’s lives and health.
Floods, especially flash floods, cause extensive damage. They are hard to predict and are characterized with violent movement. Many lives are lost. As Ruin argued, “They are being particularly difficult to forecast accurately and leave very little lead time for warnings.” They tend to surprise people, making them more vulnerable than in other cases of flood events.
This paper emphasizes the social aspects of floods. It consists of three parts. The first is human vulnerability, risk perception, and risk-taking behavior when it comes to danger caused by rising waters. How does culture influence response and reaction to floods? The second part focuses on loss of life in floods and analyzing the circumstances of death. This consists of reviewing existing literature. The third part is also related to flood fatalities and circumstances supported by empirical data.
Listos: A Grassroots, Culturally Relevant Community Disaster Preparedness Program for Socioeconomically Marginalized Latinos
This case study explores how a local community member without higher education has established an effective community disaster education program for a marginalized population in her county. Such programs in the United States are often translated into other languages, but they make little or no effort to make culturally tailored or culturally relevant adaptation.
Listos, developed in Santa Barbara County, California, is the first program of its kind. It specifically targets Latinos with limited English proficiency, most of whom are linguistically and socially isolated from mainstream society. They are the dishwashers, agricultural workers, maids, and day laborers that are ignored or hard to reach as a target population for community disaster education.
Listos now has two years of summary data from 554 individuals reached through 26 workshops. Each workshop has four sessions that use a promotora model to teach basic disaster preparedness. They have also just completed their first train-the-trainer class for a group of promotoras in one city in Santa Barbara County where 70 percent of the population speaks Spanish as their first or only language. The local fire department supports this program because they recognize their lack of access in the Latino population (and fewer than 10 percent of firefighters speak Spanish proficiently).
The data available so far does not lend itself well to statistical analysis, but the summary statistics demonstrate a substantial change in knowledge. Even more meaningful is evidence that this program has empowered individuals to make changes in other aspects of their lives.
Advice in Crisis: Leaders, Lawyers, and the Challenge of Disaster Management
Major disasters, like other forms of crisis, place difficult demands on leaders and their organizations. With lives and livelihoods hanging in the balance, leaders must make some of the most critical choices of their careers under imaginably difficult circumstances. Many of these decisions raise profound legal and ethical questions. They impact heavily on disaster and post-disaster outcomes for survivors and government agencies.
Yet the relationship between leaders and lawyers in disasters has received little systematic attention. Since September of 2010, a multi-disciplinary team of researchers has worked closely with senior leaders and lawyers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to explore effective—and less effective—forms of collaboration between leaders and lawyers in crisis situations. In this paper, three central questions are posed:
• What do leaders need from their lawyers in disasters?
• How can lawyers most effectively advise their leaders in disasters?
• How can leaders get the most out of their lawyers in such situations?
Building upon more than 60 Advice in Crises interviews with senior leaders and lawyers, as well as numerous group discussions, a number of key findings and proposed best practices are presented.
Context and Networks in Organizational Resilience: Lessons from the Canterbury, New Zealand, Earthquake Series
Between September 2010 and February 2012 the Canterbury region of New Zealand experienced more than 10,000 earthquakes, including several over magnitude 6.0. In Christchurch, Canterbury’s economic hub, the central business district has been partially cordoned off for more than 14 months. Economic activity within the cordoned CBD, which previously contained 6,000 businesses and more than 51,000 workers, has been significantly diminished. Organizations have been forced to find new ways of operating.
Organizations shape and are shaped by the built, economic, and social contexts in which they operate. This research examines the way organizations relate to their local contexts, how a disaster alters these contexts, and the effect on organizational resilience and recovery outcomes. The results of three surveys conducted over a period of 18 months are summarized, covering the broad impacts of the Canterbury earthquakes on CBD organizations, the challenges they face, and factors that mitigated the effects of the earthquakes.
In addition, the presentation examines three in-depth case studies of CBD organizations that experienced different recovery trajectories. The case studies illustrate the ways organizations are embedded in their local context and how they adapt to changes in that context. The study also includes an assessment of each organization’s post-disaster support network and how social capital exchanges in this network shaped post-disaster outcomes. The results suggest that strong connections to a local context are both an asset and a liability and that networked supporters in different geographic locations are valuable at different stages of the response and recovery process.
When Flood Threat is Imminent—in the Aftermath of the Fourmile Canyon Fire
The 2010 Fourmile Canyon Fire in Boulder County has been labeled Colorado’s most destructive wildfire, not because the burn area was so large, but because of the number of homes that were destroyed. As bad as this fire was for homeowners, the increased flood threat may yet prove be the fire’s most serious consequence.
This work shares some personal and professional insights that started with an initial and somewhat controversial flood threat assessment followed by the development of real-time hydrologic models focused primarily on the burn area’s runoff potential and downstream impacts. In adjusting to the increased flood threat, decision makers increasingly relied on real-time radar, rainfall, and stream level data to develop a common operating picture.
Human relationships were vital, including interactions between meteorologists and hydrologists from the National Weather Service, the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, and local government engineers. Enhancement of early notification and emergency response procedures, combined with a well-targeted public education effort, paid dividends when the system was tested by a dangerous flash flood resulting from a relatively small rainstorm on July 13, 2011.
With this increased flood threat expected to continue unabated for years to come, subsequent planning activities remain underway to further improve services and maintain high levels of trust among all parties.
Tracing Human Behavior on Twitter During Naturally Occurring Emergency Events
Social media is quickly becoming an integral part of modern society. People use it as an important channel of communication.
Social media has also become more important in emergency management. It is used by governmental and nongovernmental organizations to disseminate educational materials to the public on various types of emergencies, as well as relevant information during the emergencies.
There is still no clear consensus among emergency management organizations about how social media can provide warnings to the public. The first step is to understand people’s use of social media during emergencies. This will evaluate the best practices for social media integration in emergency management.
We must understand the content of messages and how the messages travel. This poster presentation focuses on past research in a small-scale, naturally occurring experiment. It will describe the current work on the 2011 Japan Earthquake event. It will identify hidden key actors using advanced social network analysis techniques. The poster will also address the formation of the cohesive groups in the network and the role of the key actors in those groups during the emergency events.
Vulnerability Reduction Through Better Preparedness and Adaptation: Lessons Learnt from Cyclone Sidr by Coastal Plain Residents of Bangladesh
The people of the Bangladesh coastal plains are extremely vulnerable to natural hazards because of their social, economic, and environmental attributes. They inhabit extreme dynamic estuarine environments. We investigated people’s perceptions, cyclone vulnerability and preparedness, and mitigation options based on their experience with Cyclone Sidr, which struck the coast of Bangladesh on November 15, 2007.
The research attempted to answer a key question: Can cyclone shelter alone prevent deaths from cyclones? We followed a qualitative case study method research approach. Participatory Rural Appraisal tools, such as focus group discussions, household interviews (N=162), and key informant interviews were applied in two severely affected Bangladesh coastal districts—Patuakhali and Barguna. The field survey was carried out during August-October 2009.
The findings of the study revealed that livelihoods, location, and pattern of settlement are the most important factors in making people vulnerable to a cyclone. Better cyclone preparedness, improved early warning system, and massive awareness before and during cyclone Sidr landfall saved lives and reduced death toll more than in previous cyclones. However, an insufficient number of cyclone shelters and lack of proper maintenance resulted in deaths, hindering the progress of complete cyclonic disaster management in coastal Bangladesh.
Watershed Modeling and Visualization for Climate Planning and Adaptation: An Analysis of Five Cities
Efforts are underway to evaluate societal impacts and adaptation strategies associated with projected flood hazards in five cities under present and projected climate scenarios. Given precipitation modeled by global climate models (GCM) under three assumed emission scenarios, the results of watershed model simulations will be presented to urban planners and decision makers. Their response and possible strategies for adapting urban flood planning and policy in the face of climate change will be evaluated.
Urban watershed flood simulations performed for the five urban basins range in location from the Texas Gulf Coast to the Hill Country (three basins in Texas), and inland to the Southern Great Plains (two basins in Oklahoma). Geospatial data defining soils, topography, land use and cover, and imperviousness have been assembled into a distributed hydrologic model, and sensitivity testing performed under current and future climate scenarios.
Global climate studies usually rely on global climate models, which simulate past climate and project future climate. Through downscaling, GCM outputs are used to complete watershed simulations. The resulting flood depths will be visualized and presented to each of the five city contact/liaison people to determine their response and to guide planning and decision-making that could be used to adapt. Through surveys conducted before and after presentation of the simulated flood hazards under future climate scenarios, adaptation strategies and perceived risk posed by future climate change scenarios will be evaluated. The presentation will provide an update on initial simulation results, modeling of present and future climate scenarios, and planned societal impact assessments.
Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora
Hurricane Katrina forced the largest and most abrupt displacement in U.S. history. About 1.5 million people evacuated from the Gulf Coast preceding Katrina’s landfall. New Orleans, a city of 500,000, was nearly emptied of life after the flooding. Katrina survivors eventually scattered across all 50 states. Tens of thousands remain displaced. Some are desperate to return to the Gulf Coast but cannot find the means. Others have chosen to make their homes elsewhere. Still others found a way to return home but were unable to stay due to the limited availability of social services, educational opportunities, health care options, and affordable housing.
The contributors to this edited volume, Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora, began following Katrina evacuees soon after the storm in 2005. This book offers the first comprehensive analysis of the experiences of the displaced. Drawing on research in 13 communities in seven states across the country, the contributors describe the struggles that evacuees faced in securing life-sustaining resources and rebuilding their lives. They also recount the impact that the displaced have had on communities that initially welcomed them and then later experienced “Katrina fatigue” as the ongoing needs of evacuees strained local resources.
Displaced reveals that Katrina took a particularly heavy toll on households headed by low-income African American women who lost the support provided by local networks of family and friends. It also shows the resilience and resourcefulness of Katrina evacuees who built new networks and partnered with community organizations to create new lives in the diaspora. See: https://www.utexas.edu/utpress/books/webdis.html.
It All Comes Back to Land Use
From a hazards perspective, a series of projects has circled back to the need for good land use planning to protect the public in the long term. Projects on climate impacts and information for water management led to work on agriculture-to-urban water transfers, state processes, and legal institutions. That in turn led to concerns over impacts of water transfers, including problems for communities and the hybrid riparian ecology that has displaced “natural” pre-development conditions. This too is now at risk. All of this leads to concern for conservation and transition to more sustainability on landscape and regional scales.
Current work with David Yates at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and a pending proposal with 15 scientists and agency personnel and the Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance focuses on pursuit of W-FIRM—water-focused integrated resource management—and the C2P2 principle—collaborative community-based participatory planning.
Adaptation to one problem alone may be unfortunate, even if implemented. We need to look at all of the pieces together—including hazards, inextricable now from climate change. My work not formally published is available at http://www.colorado.edu/ibs/eb/wiener/.
Urban Risks and Disaster Planning: A Different Perspective
For the first time in history, half of the world population lives in urban areas. By 2030, at least 61 percent of the global population will live in cities. Over two billion of these people will be living in slums. The expansion of cities to accommodate such rapid population growth requires appropriate land use planning, updated regulation of building standards, and improved disaster risk management.
Urban disaster risks from extreme natural hazards are compounded by both technological hazards and everyday urban risks. These everyday risks include, but are not limited to, populations switching en masse from living off wages to living off capital and an increased number of children being raised by a single parent or grandparent. These activities engender a process of “risk accumulation” that amplifies the disaster risks specific to urban areas.
The growing body of research on urban risks and disaster planning delineates the increased exposure of people and economic assets to natural and technological hazards as attributable to urbanization. Additionally, risk accumulation creates new patterns of risk, making the management of disasters in urban areas particularly complex.
The challenge is to raise the issues of urban disaster risk to a new level of significance for local governments by integrating the substantial public and private urban disaster risk research. The present investigation explores the disconnections between urban disaster risk research and the actual application and implementation of research findings.