September 1, 1998


  1. Natural Hazards Center Offers Moderately Quick $$$ for Quick Response Research

  2. 1998 Natural Hazards Workshop Session Summaries Now Available

  3. Seeking Information on Perqs of Flood Warning Systems

  4. Seeking Help Developing Jamaican National Hazard Mitigation Policy

  5. Is Anyone Interested in the Popular Culture of Disasters?

  6. Seeking Information on Dam Failure Risk Assessment

  7. Seeking Information on Quake Prediction

  8. Seeking Information on Hospital Emergency Planning

  9. USFA re: Y2K

  10. FEMA Seeks Conservation Expertise

Natural Hazards Center Offers Moderately Quick $$$ for Quick Response Research

The Natural Hazards Center is currently soliciting proposals for its 1999 Quick Response (QR) program, which enables social scientists to conduct short-term research immediately after a disaster.

If you have a burning question that can only be answered by being at the scene of a disaster within the first hours or days following the event, we encourage you to submit a brief proposal describing that research. If your proposal is approved, you are then eligible to receive funding to carry out your investigation should an appropriate disaster occur in the coming 12 months. Grants average between $1,000 and $3,000 and essentially cover travel and per diem only. In return, grantees must submit reports of their findings, which are published by the Natural Hazards Center via the Internet and in hard copy.

Details about proposal submission requirements can be obtained by requesting a 1999 QR Program Announcement from Mary Fran Myers, Co-Director, Natural Hazards Center, Campus Box 482, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0482; (303) 492-2150; fax: (303) 492-2151; e-mail: myersmf@colorado.edu. The program announcement, as well as reports from previous Quick Response research, are available from the Hazard Center's World Wide Web site: http://www.colorado.edu/hazards. The deadline for proposal submission is October 15, 1998.

1998 Natural Hazards Workshop Session Summaries Now Available

In July, hazards professionals from around the world gathered in Boulder, Colorado, for the 23rd Annual Hazards Research and Applications Workshop. The four days of debate and discussion covered such diverse topics as network news coverage of natural disasters, the successes and failures of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, preparation for terrorist incidents with weapons of mass destruction, measuring disaster losses, and the use of new technologies in natural hazard management. The participants included federal, state, and local government officials, researchers, representatives of nonprofit organizations and private industry, and many others.

To ensure that the ideas and discussions from the workshop are disseminated as widely as possible, the Natural Hazards Center publishes brief summaries of each session, abstracts of the hazards research presented, and descriptions of the projects and programs discussed at the meeting. A set of all workshop materials, including the agenda and participant list, costs $20.00, plus $5.00 shipping. (For orders beyond North America, contact the Publications Clerk at the address below for shipping charges, or access the publications ordering information on our Web site at http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/puborder.html .) Currently, the list of all session summary and abstract titles is available on the Hazards Center Web site at http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/ss/ss.html. Later this fall, the complete texts of all session summaries will also be available at that site, although abstracts of hazards research, programs, and projects will not.

To order these materials, send payment (checks should be payable to the University of Colorado) to the Publications Clerk, Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center, Campus Box 482, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0482; (303) 492-6818; fax: (303) 492-2151; e-mail: jclark@colorado.edu; WWW: http://www.colorado.edu/hazards. Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Diner's Club cards are also accepted.

Seeking Information on Perqs of Flood Warning Systems


The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is sponsoring a survey of the alternative uses and peripheral benefits of flood early warning systems. Professor Eve Gruntfest from the Geography Department of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Philip Waterincks, one of her graduate students, are conducting the survey. We hope to collect as much information as possible on-line.

Users of ALERT and IFLOWS systems increasingly develop new, often innovative and unexpected, applications of the systems that also help save lives and resources. We have already heard about the use of these systems in water conservation, urban planning, recreational activities, forensic assistance, storm chasing, and emergency management of hazardous materials and wild fires. Determining additional valuable uses of these systems can help users, and potential users, of flood early warning systems justify the cost of purchasing such technology.

We are looking for specific examples of such alternative uses, and we are asking ALERT and IFLOWS users who are aware of such uses to participate in our survey at our Web site: http://www.uccs.edu/~geogenvs/alert.htm.

Our Web site also contains information about some alternative uses already documented. If you do not have Internet access but would like more information or would like to participate in our survey, contact: Philip Waterincks; e-mail: pwaterin@carbon.cudenver.edu; tel: (719) 262-4432 -or- Eve Gruntfest; e-mail: ecg@brain.uccs.edu; tel: (719) 262-4058.

Our survey ends September 17, 1998. Time is short!!! We thank you in advance for your participation.

Seeking Help Developing Jamaican National Hazard Mitigation Policy

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management in Jamaica is currently preparing a National Hazard Mitigation Policy. This policy will cover both natural and human-caused hazards. We are seeking information on existing policies and advice on how to develop such a policy. Information should be relevant to Jamaica and the Caribbean. We will be having our next national workshop on October 8, and would appreciate information before then.

Please send information to: Dr. Barbara Carby, Director General, ODPEM; e-mail: odpem@cwjamaica.com; please copy your response to: Paul Saunders, Senior Director, Mitigation Planning and Research; e-mail: psaund@cwjamaica.com. For further clarification, please contact either person.

Is Anyone Interested in the Popular Culture of Disasters?

Recently some researchers decided to see if there was any current interest in a topic they first discussed two decades ago: the jokes/humor that circulate during disasters. This focus is now broadened out, for want of a better term, to the "Popular Culture of Disasters." Tentatively, this includes disaster jokes and humor, board games and puzzles with disaster themes, folk legends and beliefs about disasters (including Great Flood myths), disaster calendars, songs and poems created at times of disaster, nontraditional predictions (a la Browning), disaster novels and films as well as spoofs of them (e.g. the Airplane series), anniversary newspaper issues, on-site graffiti and survivor buttons, certain common photos and video tapes, memorial services, cartoons and comic strips with disaster themes, WWW chat rooms developed around disaster occasions, etc. This is a hodgepodge but conveys what might be considered under a general rubric of popular culture of disaster. For those needing intellectual rationale it can be argued, for example, that humor is a powerful coping mechanism, and that popular culture may be the major way most people "learn" about disasters.

The current group focusing on the topic has concluded that disaster popular culture is a worthwhile topic for more systematic exploration (given the few publications on only some of the mentioned phenomena). This message is to see who else might be interested in the topic, whether anyone knows of relevant papers on the topic, and what might be the next step (so far suggested is setting up a WWW discussion group, developing a special issue for a disaster journal, having relevant sessions at professional meetings, etc).

If you have any interest, contributions by way of ideas, suggestions and/or writings on the topic, and want to be kept informed of what will happen next, let me know.

E.L. (Henry) Quarantelli
Research Professor
Disaster Research Center
University of Delaware
Newark, Delaware 19716
Phone: (302) 831 6618
Fax: (302) 831 2091
E-mail: elqdrc@udel.edu

Seeking Information on Dam Failure Risk Assessment

I would like to know any references for considering how to tackle economic, environmental, and social impacts for a risk assessment of the failure of a dam.

Best regards,
A. Bonaldi
E-mail: alb@hrwallingford.co.uk

Seeking Information on Quake Prediction

My name is Tom Henton and I am a student in Bangkok, Thailand. At present [as part of a final project] I am researching earthquake prediction. I am looking at the money spent on research in an area that is thought to be virtually impossible, and asking the question "is it worth it?" I am looking at the damage caused by quakes, the methods employed today and being researched regarding forecasting earthquakes, and the probability of the success of these schemes.

I would appreciate any help you could give me with the following, including referral to other sources that could aid my research:
1 - How much money is spent a year by countries towards forecasting earthquakes?
2 - What is the estimated value of the damage cause by major earthquakes in the last 20 years?

I am also looking for opinions on whether or not the amount of money spent on research is justified and whether it would be better spent on limiting potential damage.

Any assistance would be much appreciated.
Yours Sincerely
Tom Henton
E-mail: henton@ksc.net.th

Seeking Information on Hospital Emergency Planning

This is Gurkan Ersoy, M.D., working as an attending physician in the emergency department of Dokuz Eylul University Hospital. Emergency Medicine program and Disaster Management are very new subjects here in my country (for example here in my hospital there are no available disaster preparedness plans, organisations, etc), and I would like to receive as much information as possible on these subjects. I would appreciate any help (referrals, written papers, cassettes, CD-ROMs, written plans, guidelines, etc.).

Waiting for your very kind help. Please send any information to my address below.

Best regards,
Dr. Gurkan Ersoy
Mithatpasa Cd. 35. Sok. 6/2
35290 Guzelyali IZMIR/TURKIYE
Fax: +90. 232.2599723 or 0.232.2590541
Tel: +90. 232.2595959 ext. 2703
E-mail: ersoyg@cs.med.deu.edu.tr

USFA re: Y2K

[A recent Federal Emergency Management Agency press release provided the following information about the United States Fire Administration (USFA) approach to the Y2K problem.]

There are currently many automated and intelligent computer systems not designed to account for the millennial date change of January 1, 2000. If not addressed, there is a legitimate concern that the Year 2000 (Y2K) problem could affect our nation's telecommunications systems.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), are particularly concerned about the public safety communications networks and operational systems that fire departments and emergency service organizations rely upon to ensure prompt and continuous emergency services to the public. It is possible that the Y2K problem could affect electronic devices as diverse as security systems, communications and dispatch systems, 911 reporting systems, and the microcomputers that help run apparatus and climate control systems.

Many fire departments nationwide have already acted to fix Y2K problems. Yet, there is concern that some departments are just now realizing the seriousness of the problem, and have not yet taken the necessary steps to prevent system disruptions. There will be no last minute miracle fix and the deadline cannot be negotiated. No one can afford to put off the inevitable any longer; America's public safety communications networks and operational systems must be made ready for the year 2000.

By acting now, departments can ensure that Y2K incidents are minor annoyances rather than major catastrophes. Fire chiefs are strongly encouraged to establish an open dialogue with equipment suppliers and manufacturers. Take advantage of the special services created to deal with this issue. Many manufacturers have done mass mailings to inform customers of their Y2K efforts. Special Internet sites with catalogs of compliant and noncompliant products have been established. There are also a number of manufacturers with 24-hour telephone support hotlines.

Fire departments should also undertake readiness programs to troubleshoot potential problems and examine all mission-critical systems. Good planning must also recognize that in spite of these best efforts, some systems and network elements could fail on or after January 1, 2000. Therefore fire departments and other emergency service organizations must develop contingency plans.

The USFA has developed a brochure addressing frequently asked questions about Y2K. As part of its outreach to the fire and emergency services, this brochure has been mailed to all fire departments, state fire marshals, major fire service organizations, and state fire training directors. This information, along with a procedure for determining if a computer system is Y2K compliant, has been posted on the USFA World Wide Web site: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/y2kcom.htm.

In addition, the FCC has established a Y2K page on the Internet - http://www.fcc.gov/year2000/ - which serves as a resource center concerning the Y2K problem and telecommunications, including public safety communications. The President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion has also established a special Internet web site: http://www.y2k.gov.

FEMA Seeks Conservation Expertise

[Adapted from "Heritage Preservation Update" - the newsletter of Heritage Preservation, 1730 K Street, N.W., Suite 466, Washington, DC 20006; (202) 634-1422; fax: (202) 634-1435.]

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Task Force on Emergency Response are recruiting conservation and preservation professionals for postdisaster assistance teams and mitigation research.

In the event of a major disaster, FEMA can "mission assign" employees from other federal agencies or contract with private organizations and individuals to assist in damage assessment, technical assistance, mitigation planning, and other disaster evaluation projects. The agency is seeking persons from both government and the private sector with expertise in a wide range of conservation and historic preservation specialties. Candidates must be available for temporary field assignments on short notice.

The Federal Cultural Heritage Roster will be managed for FEMA by Greenhorne & O'Mara, Inc., a firm based in Greenbelt, Maryland. Persons interested in becoming a member of the Federal Cultural Heritage Roster should request an application packet from Eric Letvin, Greenhorne & O'Mara, Inc., 9001 Edminston Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770; (301) 982-2800, ext. 611; fax: (301) 220-2606; e-mail: eletvin@G-and-O.com.

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