Disaster Research 233

September 4, 1997

Table of contents

  1. Hazards Center Library Database Now On-line
  2. The Newest Hazards Center Monograph: How They Dealt With Floods in Georgia
  3. The Newest Hazards Center Working Paper: The Taking Issue and the Regulation of Hazardous Areas
  4. Help Wanted - OFDA
  5. A Reminder: The Upcoming IDNDR Internet Conference
  6. On the Web
  7. Conferences and Training

Hazards Center Library Database Now On-line

Since the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center was established over 20 years ago, the backbone of its information service has been its library, which has become one of the more extensive collections of documents on human adaptation to natural hazards in the world. In the past, persons wanting to consult that repository of disaster knowledge had to contact the center's librarian and request a search of the library catalog.

Now, anyone can conduct such searches via the Internet.

Christened "HazLit," the library Internet database, including many fully annotated entries, is available through the World Wide Web at: http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/litbase/litindex.htm

At that Web location, users will find an overall description of library services, a brief summary of how to search HazLit (suggested reading for first-time visitors), a list of suggested keywords to use when searching the database, and, most importantly, the search mechanism that allows the user to query HazLit based on concepts or keywords.

The Natural Hazards Center has instituted this new service to aid both the hazards research and practitioner communities in their work. We welcome comments regarding HazLit and the Internet access provided. Comments should be directed to Mary Fran Myers, Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center, IBS #6, Campus Box 482, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0482, (303) 492-2150; fax: (303) 492-2151; e-mail: myersmf@colorado.edu.

The Newest Hazards Center Monograph: How They Dealt With Floods in Georgia

On July 3, 1994, Tropical Storm Alberto struck the Florida panhandle and proceeded northeast before stalling just south of Atlanta, Georgia. As the storm lingered and then slowly retraced its steps to the southwest over the next six days, it dumped more than 20 inches of rain over large parts of the Flint River Basin in southwest Georgia, flooding the cities of Montezuma, Albany, Newton, and Bainbridge, and inflicting over $1 billion in damage. This devastation notwithstand- ing, the flood provided an opportunity to identify and document the successes and failures of state and local floodplain management programs and activities.

"An Assessment of Floodplain Management in Georgia's Flint River Basin", by Elliott Mittler (Monograph #59, 1997, 190 pp.) documents such a study. Mittler assessed the impact of federal, state, and local floodplain management activities on losses in the Flint River Basin, paying special attention to the impact of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and local floodplain management efforts. In this monograph, he looks at previous studies; evaluates the political situation in each community affecting flood recovery; examines federal, state, and local responses to the disaster, concentrating on recovery plans and the use of hazard mitigation programs to reduce future flood losses; analyzes the effectiveness of the NFIP; and offers a series of findings and recommendations based on the relatively successful recovery programs he found.

In his foreword to this book, flood researcher Gilbert White says, "This is the first thorough effort to assess in one area the effects of current local, state, and federal policies on the use of floodplains in the United States. Although focused on one river basin, it illustrates the problems that should be addressed for the nation as a whole . . . It thoughtfully raises a series of questions to which sound answers must be found if wise use is to be achieved in the long run. . . . If the nation is to be well served in managing floodplains, this should be seen as a basic step toward genuine assessment."

"An Assessment of Floodplain Management in Georgia's Flint River Basin" costs $20.00, plus shipping charges. To determine those costs and to order a copy, contact the Publications Clerk, Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center, IBS #6, Campus Box 482, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0482, (303) 492-6819; fax: (303) 492-2151; e-mail: jclark@colorado.edu.

The Newest Hazards Center Working Paper: The Taking Issue and the Regulation of Hazardous Areas

Geographically specific natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes inflict tens of billions of dollars in public and private costs upon the United States annually, with the level of damage in particular disasters often related to the location and design of structures in areas of known risk. Governmental regulations such as floodplain zoning and coastal setbacks may be imposed to restrain unsafe building practices, and state decisions have generally upheld such measures against challenges based on the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits government taking private property without compensation. However, one of the more perplexing recent legal developments - at least for hazards managers - has been the apparent tendency of the courts to restrict the ability of government to regulate property development in hazardous areas.

The Hazards Center's latest working paper, "The Taking Issue and the Regulation of Hazardous Areas," by Rutherford H. Platt, Professor of Geography and Planning at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Alexandra D. Dawson, Director of the Environmental Policy Graduate Program, Antioch University, examines these issues in depth. The authors note that since 1992 an invigorated property rights movement has achieved two favorable decisions in the U.S. Supreme Court: Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council and Dolan v. City of Tigard, each involving hazard area regulations. However, they maintain that, while these decisions imposed a higher burden of justification upon public regulators, they did not undermine the longstanding presumption that government may enact reasonable limits on private use of land to mitigate natural disaster risks without compensation to the owner.

"The Taking Issue and the Regulation of Hazardous Areas," Natural Hazards Working Paper #95, is available free on the World Wide Web: http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/wp/wp95.html Individuals without access to the Web should contact the Hazards Center Publications Clerk at the address above.

Help Wanted - OFDA

The Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) of the U.S. Agency for International Development is recruiting for the position of Disaster Response Division/Operational Support Division Liaison Officer. This is a one-year personal services contract with possible one year renewal. This position is considered to be equivalent to the GS 12/13 level. Starting date is September 1997. As the Divisional Liaison Officer the Contractor will coordinate the respective activities of DRD and OS within OFDA's responsibilities for Military Liaison, DART deployment requirements, and Nuclear Biological and Chemical(NBC) disaster planning.

Duties include but are not limited to:

Selection Criteria:

  1. University degree (BS or BA)
  2. Overseas field experience with an NGO/PVO/IO/UN agency in the field of humanitarian assistance
  3. Overseas field experience with USG combined military/civilian humanitarian relief activities
  4. Knowledge of and/or experience with USAID/OFDA Disaster Assessment and Disaster Assistance Response Team operations and procedures
  5. Knowledge of and/or experience with USG policy regarding Nuclear, Biological and Chemical disaster planning and response
  6. Knowledge of and/or experience with US Military planning and operations in support of humanitarian relief activities
  7. The ability to plan and coordinate a wide variety of actions and work under extreme time pressure
  8. An ability to write clear and concise situation reports during deployment periods. Analytical and technical skills sufficient to lead further OFDA efforts for qualitative disaster response and to produce quantitative reports.

Closing date: Sept. 16, 1997. Send resume/SF 171 to: Naseema Saleem BHR/OFDA/PS, Room 1262 A NS, 2201 C ST, NW, Washington, D.C. 20521-0008; or fax: 202-647-5269. E-Mail: nsaleem@usaid.gov

A Reminder: The Upcoming IDNDR Internet Conference "Water: Too Much...Too Little...Leading Cause of Natural Disasters"

[We recently received the following update regarding the 1997 International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR) Internet Conference on the socioeconomic impacts of water-related disasters.]

Nearly 560 people from around the world are signed up for the conference, with about 60 countries represented from all world regions. Universities, associations, national and local governments, private firms, and international organizations are all participating. Representatives include geologists, meteorologists, reinsurance company officials, national, state, and local emergency managers, communications experts, architects, seismologists, doctors, engineers, urban planners, diplomats, police officers, geographers, flood management experts, and drought management experts.

For those wish to join the 1997 conference, send the following e-mail:

     To: listserv@thecity.sfsu.edu
     Subject: [blank]
     subscribe risk   [YourFirstName   YourLastName]

Conference information and a registration form will follow automatically.

The conference will begin on Monday, September 22 and continue for five weeks until Friday, October 24. Four weeks will be dedicated to floods and drought (the impact, key issues and possible solutions); and one week to conclusions. There will be several keynote presentations each week that will appear in English with translation to Spanish. (Please contact the organizers if you can assist in translation.)

The presentations will be accompanied by an ongoing moderated discussion in which anyone may participate. (The organizers also seek volunteers to prepare a one-page weekly summary of discussions.) Comments are actively encouraged following the keynote presentations. The organizers especially encourage comments and presentations from non-native speakers. Grammar and spelling need not be perfect... but do be clear and concise!

Please contact the organizers if you have suggestions about keynote presentations. The conference program is being prepared now.

Accompanying the conference will be an e-mail list called "Risk Events" for disseminating project and conference announcements, questions, and other information not related to the current discussion topic (more information on this service will be available soon).

A survey of participants following the 1996 IDNDR Internet conference showed that

You can visit the 1996 conference Web site, at http://www.quipu.net:1996/

The success of this conference will depend very much on collective participation. Diverse views from different sectors and regions is important. The organizers ask that information about the conference be passed on to any persons for whom the topic might be relevant.

The conference Web site is still under construction but will be announced and opened before the conference. Indeed, the organizers ask that Internet links to the site be provided whenever possible.

For more information or to provide suggestions, please contact:

Natalie Domeisen
Chief, Promotion and Awareness Unit
IDNDR Secretariat
United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs

On the Web

The mission of the Social Research Group (SRG) at Millersville University, Millersville, Pennsylvania, is to

The SRG home page offers background information about the group as well as its publications list and summaries of current research. A disaster newsletter and an on-line journal are also in the works.

From this site, the "Proceedings of the Second U.S.-Japan Workshop on Cooperative Research for Mitigation of Urban Earthquake Disasters, Tokyo, Japan, February 27-March 1, 1997" can be downloaded in MSWord format.

Conferences and Training

Below are recent conference announcements received by the Natural Hazards Center. Most previous issues of DR contain additional notices. A comprehensive list of upcoming disaster-related meetings and training is available from our World Wide Web site: http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/conf.html

Internet Workshop. Hosted by: Business and Industry Council for Emergency Planning and Preparedness. Los Angeles Central Library, Los Angeles, California: October 1, 1997. Contact: Richard Rudman; (213) 871-4680.

International Symposium on the Role of Information in Humanitarian Coordination. Geneva, Switzerland: October 8-9, 1997. Sponsor: United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs. Contact: Department of Humanitarian Affairs; tel: (41.22) 917 1360 / 917 1472 / 917 2232; fax: (41.22) 917 0440; e-mail: reliefweb@dha.unicc.org.

Flood Hazard Management: Who's Job Is It? - Sixth Annual Conference of the New England Floodplain and Stormwater Managers Association. Milford, Massachusetts: October 24, 1997. Contact: Nick Winter: (617) 727-0488.

Sixth National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) Leadership Conference. New Orleans, Louisiana: October 26-28, 1997. Contact: Mary J. Sutton, ACSW/BCSW, c/o Catholic Charities, 1000 Howard Avenue, Suite 1200, New Orleans, LA 70113-1916; (504) 523-3755, ext. 3209; fax: (504) 523-2789.

The Disaster Recovery Journal and Disaster Recovery Institute are hosting the following seminars, symposia, and exhibitions:

For details about any of these meetings, contact: Mercedes Knese, Conference Registrar, Disaster Recovery Journal; (314) 894-0276; fax: (314) 894-7474: e-mail: drj@drj.com: WWW: http://www.drj.com.

Identification of Emergency Management Innovation Seminar. Offered by: Australian Emergency Management Institute (AEMI). Mt. Macedon, Australia: March 16-20, 1998. Contact AEMI, Mt. Macedon, Victoria 3441, Australia; tel: 61-3-54-215 100; fax: 61-3-54-215 273; e-mail: aemi@ema.gov.au; WWW: http://www.ema.gov.au.

Community Emergency Risk Management Workshop. Offered by: Australian Emergency Management Institute (AEMI). Mt. Macedon, Australia: March 30-April 3, 1998. Contact AEMI, Mt. Macedon, Victoria 3441, Australia; tel: 61-3-54-215 100; fax: 61-3-54-215 273; e-mail: aemi@ema.gov.au; WWW: http://www.ema.gov.au.

Disaster Forum '98. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: June 26-July 1, 1998. Contact: Dave Hodgins, Managing Director, 10351 - 96 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5H 2H5; (403) 496-3766; fax: (403) 496-1518; e-mail: disaster@freenet.edmonton.ab.ca; WWW: http://www.freenet.edmonton.ab.ca/disaster.

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