December 15, 1998


  1. Seeking Information on NGO Activities in Natural Disaster Mitigation and Preparedness

  2. FEMA Promoting Disaster-Resistant Universities

  3. FEMA Proposing NFIP Reform

  4. Research Publications Now Available from the NAP Electronic Reading Room

  5. IBHS Launches Program to Improve Safety of Nation's Child Care Centers

  6. IBHS Offers Improved Data on the Insured Costs of Disasters

  7. Charleston House Demonstrates Sustainability and Disaster Mitigation

  8. Introducing the Asian Pacific Disaster Management Centre

  9. Introducing the Scarman Centre Program in Risk, Crisis and Disaster

  10. Internet Stuff

  11. NIBS Seeking Feedback from HAZUS Users

  12. Some Recent Grants of Note

  13. Help Wanted: Environmental Planning and Geography - Cal State Chico

  14. Help Wanted: Oklahoma State Fire and Emergency Management Program

  15. Conferences and Training

Seeking Information on NGO Activities in Natural Disaster Mitigation and Preparedness

We are research consultants working on a British Red Cross project funded by the UK Government's Department for International Development. The two-year project is called NGO Natural Disaster Mitigation and Preparedness Activities: An Assessment and Way Forward. It aims to address four issues:

  1. The extent and nature of current NGO disaster mitigation and preparedness (DMP) activities.
  2. Ideas for low-cost and easily-implemented DMP practices that could be shared with others and tested and adapted for use elsewhere.
  3. Institutional factors and circumstantial events precipitating the implementation of DMP activities and key opportunities for promoting them.
  4. Good practices in the modification of development and rehabilitation projects to incorporate DMP features.
The core of the work will consist of detailed studies of 30 NGOs based in the UK and Ireland that are working in the Third World, and studies of local NGO activity in four countries (Bangladesh, the Philippines, Peru, and Zimbabwe). This will be supplemented by an extensive literature search covering NGO activity in other developing countries and countries in transition.

The information gathered during the study will be drawn together into sets of case study evidence and practical operational guidelines on the identification and implementation of DMP activities and how they can be incorporated into the broader project design process. This material will help equip NGOs with innovative ideas and tools to undertake increased DMP activities. It will also contain an analysis of the factors inhibiting and supporting adoption of DMP measures.

We would welcome any information on NGO work in this field relating to the four issues above, in the form of copies of documents or references - news of unpublished literature is particularly welcome. If you are aware of NGOs that are doing interesting work on DMP, we would also like to know about them and who we can contact at the NGOs concerned to find out more.

You can contact us by writing to Charlotte Benson and John Twigg (Research Consultants), c/o John Mitchell, British Red Cross, 9 Grosvenor Crescent, London SW1X 7EJ, U.K.; e-mail: dmp@redcross.org.uk.

FEMA Promoting Disaster-Resistant Universities

On November 10, FEMA Director James Lee Witt announced that the agency would enter into a new partnership with the nation's schools of higher eduction to create "disaster-resistant universities." Citing the considerable federal government and private-sector investment in and reliance on America's universities, Witt declared that these resources must be better protected from both natural and human-caused calamities. Initially, FEMA will work with the University of California at Berkeley to develop a model for other schools to use to identify risks and undertake preventative actions. Also, FEMA will propose the establishment of a National Research Investment Protection Fund to help universities leverage additional resources for disaster prevention programs. For more information on this new effort, contact the Office of Emergency Information and Public Affairs, FEMA, Room 824, 500 C Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20472; (202) 646-4600; e-mail: eipa@fema.gov.

FEMA Proposing NFIP Reform

In his speech in early November before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., James Lee Witt, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), recommended important changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Witt stated that he feels it is time for Americans who insist on building their homes in disaster-prone areas to begin accepting the consequences of that choice, and that subsidized flood insurance should be limited and even eliminated in some cases. Specifically, the director stated that flood insurance should no longer be provided to homeowners who have filed two or more claims that total more than the value of their home and who refuse to either elevate the structure or accept a buyout. In addition, he stated that the agency should charge people who live in high-risk areas the fair market rates for flood insurance, rather than the subsidized rates currently available.

Currently, FEMA's Federal Insurance Administration is developing a repetitive loss strategy that will work to reduce the $200 million annual repetitive flood losses in the U.S. More information is available at http://www.fema.gov/library/wittspch11.htm. Interested persons could also contact the FEMA Office of Emergency Information and Public Affairs, Room 824, 500 C Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20472; (202) 646-4600; e-mail: eipa@fema.gov.

Research Publications Now Available from the NAP Electronic Reading Room

The Information Age has just advanced to a new level for hazards researchers (and researchers in other fields, for that matter) with the creation of the National Academy Press (NAP) Reading Room on the World Wide Web. At that site - http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/ - anyone interested in obtaining the latest research from top researchers in a given field can view and print the complete text of NAP documents, reports, and books, as well as order them on-line with a 20% discount off the cover price.

A few of the most recent titles include:

Readers who prefer to read and purchase their books the old-fashioned way can contact the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 6242 or (202) 334-3313; fax: (202) 334-2451. They can also e-mail the Customer Service staff at amerchan@nas.edu. Be sure to call for shipping charges or look them up on the Web site.

IBHS Launches Program to Improve Safety of Nation's Child Care Centers

The United States is exposed to more types of natural disasters than any other nation, and America's children are among the most vulnerable to harm from these catastrophes. Recognizing this problem, this month the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) launched Protecting Our Kids from Disasters - a national program to reduce the risk of natural disaster-related injury to children in approximately 93,000 child care centers in the United States.

Supported by the insurance industry, IBHS is a nonprofit initiative, the mission of which is to reduce deaths, injuries, property damage, economic losses, and human suffering caused by natural disasters.

Over the next five to 10 years, volunteers from the insurance industry, as well as others interested in performing this important public service, will work with child care centers nationwide to implement nonstructural safety measures. These modifications will not only prevent minor mishaps but will also help the centers better withstand the effects of windstorms, earthquakes, wildfires, and floods, thus speeding recovery after a disaster.

More information about Protecting Our Kids from Disasters, is available from Craig Horton, IBHS, 175 Federal Street, Suite 500, Boston, MA 02110-2222; (617) 292-2003, ext. 244; fax: (617) 292-2022; WWW: http://www.ibhs.org.

IBHS Offers Improved Data on the Insured Costs of Disasters

Financial losses due to natural catastrophes have increased dramatically in recent years because of rapid population growth in high-risk coastal areas, increased property values, and more frequent occurrence of severe storms, particularly hurricanes. At the same time, complete data regarding these losses have not been available or in a format easily accessible to researchers.

To assist the study of insured losses from catastrophic events, the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) has developed a catastrophe paid loss database, which provides more detailed loss data than that provided by the Property Claim Services (PCS) - information used by many insurers and researchers. PCS has provided information to insurers since 1949 about insured catastrophe losses. The organization estimates insured losses associated with catastrophic events as those that result in losses above $25 million. These estimates, issued shortly after an event occurs, are based on loss projections provided by insurers and post-event damage inspections by PCS representatives. However, because of the nature of the data, the detailed analysis that can be performed is somewhat limited.

By comparison, the IBHS database, which includes data for disaster losses from January 1994 to the present, uses actual claim payments as they occur over time to establish the ultimate insured cost of a catastrophe. The database provides a total loss estimate for each catastrophe and allows the data to be broken down by type of business; personal and commercial losses; building, contents, and time (e.g., business interruption) losses; and state, county, and zip code. The goal of this project is to create a better understanding of catastrophic losses and to provide a basis for research, mitigation, and public education.

A report on this data base was recently published by IBHS and can be obtained from Patty Hatch, IBHS, 175 Federal Street, Suite 500, Boston, MA 02110-222; (617) 292-2003, ext. 223; e-mail: phatch@ibhs.org. For further information about the project, contact Greta Ljung at the address above or by calling (617) 292-2003, ext. 217, or e-mailing gljung@ibhs.org.

Charleston House Demonstrates Sustainability and Disaster Mitigation

In an effort to educate homeowners about ways to reduce their risks from hurricanes and earthquakes, the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium; the city of Charleston, South Carolina; and the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service have joined forces to transform a 125-year-old abandoned house into a model of sustainable building practices. The project, 113 Calhoun Street: A Center for Sustainable Living, will become an example of how improved building materials and methods can help structures survive high winds, floods, and earthquakes. The center will educate architects, engineers, designers, contractors, and the general public through exhibits, workshops, and news releases. Using old and new construction practices, renovators will incorporate environmentally sound materials and building methods, leaving exposed areas for visitors to see how improvements were made.

Principle funding for the renovation and hazard retrofit phase of the project was provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Additional funds are being provided by State Farm Insurance and the South Carolina Association for Hazard Mitigation. Several companies have offered in-kind donations of products and services.

For more information about the Calhoun Street Project, contact Bob Bacon, South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, 387 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29401; (843) 727-2075; fax: (843) 727-2080; WWW: http://www.csc.noaa.gov/SCSeaGrant/text/113Calhoun.html.

Introducing the Asian Pacific Disaster Management Centre

The Asian Pacific Disaster Management Centre (APDMC) was recently established in the Philippines as an independent, nonprofit, regional technical resource center in disaster and risk management, serving both the public and private sectors in countries of the Asia-Pacific region. Recent natural events in that region, such as El Nino-related crises and their direct impacts on economies, food security, agricultural production, water, sanitation, the environment, and health have demonstrated the urgent need for strengthening national and regional capabilities for prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. APDMC will serve the communities of the region by providing technical assistance, emergency planning and analysis, risk management consultation, training, research, education, information, and support to regional cooperative efforts regarding both natural and human-caused disasters. For more information, contact APDMC, P.O. Box 1005, Makati Central Post Office, 1250 Makati City, Philippines; fax: 632-826-0389; e-mail: apdmc@nsclub.net; WWW:

Introducing the Scarman Centre Program in Risk, Crisis and Disaster

[Adapted from The Australian Journal of Emergency Management (Vol. 13, No. 3, p. 39)]

Academic Programs

The Scarman Centre for the Study of Public Order, University of Leicester, U.K., offers a two-year distance learning Master of Science or Diploma degree in Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management. (The Diploma course is the same as the Master's, but without a final dissertation.) The programs, which mix theory with real-life case studies, have two objectives: first, to encourage students to critique their present beliefs about risk, crisis, and disaster management; and second, to encourage students to learn from successfully managed crises and disasters. Both programs consist of six modules: theories of risk and crises; current issues in risk management; research methods; case studies; social construction of disasters; and best practices in disaster management. For more information, contact: Dr. Simon Bennett, Lecturer in Risk Studies, Scarman Center for the Study of Public Order, University of Leicester, The Friars, 154 Upper New Walk, Leicester LE1 7QA, U.K.; tel: 44 116 252 5700; fax: 44 116 252 3944; e-mail: sab22@le.ac.uk.

Risk Management Journal

The Scarman Center also now publishes Risk Management - a journal designed to bridge the gap between practice and research and to develop new thinking and good practice for those involved in different aspects of the risk business. The journal facilitates the exchange of expertise across countries, disciplines, and professions. For additional information, contact Martina McGuinness, Lecturer in Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management, at the address above.

Internet Stuff

Through this interactive Web site individuals and organizations can transmit "mitigation success stories" to FEMA. After approximately 200 stories have been obtained, they will be posted on the site and users will be able to retrieve them using a search system. Additionally, as the site evolves, FEMA will add maps, photos, testimonials, and Web links to accompany stories and provide additional information.

The American Red Cross Disaster Services Program provides safety guidelines regarding most natural and some human-caused disasters. The safety URL includes general preparedness tips, California preparedness materials, information for educators, as well as specific information on chemical emergencies, earthquakes, fires, floods and flash floods, repairing a flooded home, financial disaster recovery, heat waves, hurricanes, thunderstorms, tornadoes, winter storms, and a new section on Y2K preparedness and mitigation.

NIBS Seeking Feedback from HAZUS Users

The National Institute of Buildings Sciences (NIBS) recently mailed out a questionnaire seeking comments and suggestions regarding HAZUS software (see DR #259). HAZUS is a standardized loss estimation methodology that uses geographic information system software. If you own and/or have used HAZUS and would like to comment on this loss mitigation tool, contact Laura Middleton, Outreach Manager, National Institute of Buildings Sciences, 1090 Vermont Avenue, N.W., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005; (202) 289-7800, ext. 166; fax: (202) 289-1092; e-mail: lmiddleton@nibs.org.

Some Recent Grants of Note

Social Networks, Social Resources, and Hurricane Georges. Funding Agency: National Science Foundation, $67,915, 12 months. Principal Investigators: Jeanne S. Hurlbert and John J. Beggs, Louisiana State University and A&M College, 117 David Boyd Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803: (504) 388-6877; e-mail: jhurlbert@lapop.lsu.edu.

Panel Study of the Effects of El Nino on Los Angeles County Residents. Funding Agency: National Science Foundation, $298,400, 30 months. Principal Investigator: Linda Bourque, Center for Public Health and Disaster Relief, UCLA School of Public Health, Box 951772, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772; (310) 794-6646; fax: (310) 794-1805; WWW: http://www.ph.ucla.edu/cphdr/.

Help Wanted
Environmental Planning and Geography - Cal State Chico

The Department of Geography and Planning, California State University- Chico seeks a full-time, tenure-track environmental planner/geographer at the assistant professor level, to begin in August 1999. Candidates must have a strong geography background with a Ph.D. in geography, planning, or environmental studies. Knowledge of federal and California environmental law and planning practice is required, along with a demonstrated excellence in teaching or the potential for such. American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) certification and rural planning experience is preferred. The ideal applicant will teach undergraduate general education and upper-division geography courses and graduate seminars in both geography and in the Rural and Town Planning Program. A record of external project funding is desirable. Expertise in any of the following areas is also desirable: environmental modeling, project management experience, or resource management in the American West. Please send a letter of application, curriculum vitae, and three letters of recommendation by January 30, 1999. Apply to: Guy King, Chair, Department of Geography and Planning, California State University, Chico, CA 95929-0425; (530) 898-5285; fax: (530) 898-6781; TDD: (530) 898-4666; e-mail: gking@oavax.csuchico.edu; Department homepage: http://www.csuchico.edu/geop/.

Help Wanted
Oklahoma State Fire and Emergency Management Program

The Department of Political Science, Oklahoma State University, invites applications for the position of Associate Professor of Political Science. The position is a tenure-track, nine-month appointment with summer funding possible. The candidate should possess either a Ph.D. or DPA with the ability to teach general courses in the areas of public administration. Specifically, we are looking for someone to teach primarily graduate courses in our new masters program in Fire and Emergency Management. The specific areas of teaching are open. The successful candidate must also be willing to seek outside funding for special projects related to the program. Excellence in teaching and a commitment to scholarly research are required. Preference will be given to candidates possessing significant practical experience in the areas of fire safety and technology and/or emergency services management. Application materials are due before January 1, 1999. To apply, send a letter of application, resume, three letters of recommendation, and transcripts to Bob England, Department of Political Science, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74708.

Conferences and Training

[Below are some recent announcements received by the Natural Hazards Center. 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]

Disaster Asia '99: Asia-Pacific Conference and Exhibition on Disaster Management. Hosted by: Philippine Futuristics Society. Manila, Philippines: Being rescheduled - dates to be determined. Contact: Disaster Asia '99, c/o Infinity Plus, Inc., Penthouse B, Windsor Tower, 163 Legaspi Street, Legaspi Village, Makati Central Post Office, 1200 Makati City, Philippines; tel: (632) 8106751; fax: (632) 8127739; e-mail: infinity@snap.portalinc.com.

Government Risk Management Seminar. Offered by: Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA).
St. Augustine, Florida: January 25-29, 1999
San Diego, California: February 22-26, 1999
Contact: PRIMA, 1815 North Fort Myer Drive, Suite 1020, Arlington, VA 22209; (703) 528-7701; fax: (703) 528-7966; e-mail: primahq@aol.com.

Wetlands and Climate Change: Scientific Knowledge and Management Options Conference. Sponsored by: Association of State Wetland Managers, Institute for Wetland Science and Public Policy. Laurel, Maryland: February 3-4, 1999. Contact: Association of State Wetland Managers; (518) 872-1804; fax: (518) 872-2171; e-mail: aswmi@aol.com; WWW: http://www.aswm.org.

Partners in Emergency Preparedness 1999 Conference. Sponsors: Western Washington Emergency Network, Washington State Emergency Management, Washington State Emergency Management Association, and the State Emergency Response Commission. Bellevue, Washington: March 30-April 1, 1999. Contact: Washington State Emergency Management, Camp Murray, WA 98430-5122; (253) 512-7046; e-mail: j.vollmer@emd.wa.gov. For registration information, contact the Columbia Resource Group; (206) 441-6448; e-mail: preparedness@crgnet.com; WWW: http://www.wa.gov/mil/wsem/.

The UCLA Conference on Public Health and Disasters (The Multidisciplinary Context of Public Health and Disasters). Sponsor: UCLA Center for Public Health and Disaster Relief. Redondo Beach, California: April 11-14, 1999. Contact: Eva Selski, Center for Public Health and Disaster Relief, UCLA School of Public Health, Box 951772, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772; (310) 794-6646; fax: (310) 794-1805; e-mail: eselski@ucla.edu; WWW: http://www.ph.ucla.edu/cphdr/.

Sixth Annual Conference of the International Emergency Management Society - TIEMS '99: "Contingencies, Emergency, Crisis, and Disaster Management: Defining the Agenda for the Third Millennium." Delft, the Netherlands: June 8-11, 1999. The deadline for abstracts and presentation proposals has been extended to December 31. Contact: TIEMS, SEPA, TU Delft, P.O. Box 5015, 2600 GA Delft, the Netherlands; Express Mail: TIEMS, SEPA, Jaffalaan 5, 2628 BX Delft, the Netherlands; tel: +31 15 278 34 08; fax: +31 15 278 34 22; e-mail: tiems@sepa.tudelft.nl; WWW: http://www.sepa.tudelft.nl/tiems.htm.

International Conference on Disaster Management and Medical Relief (DMMR). Sponsors: Netherlands Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and others. Amsterdam, the Netherlands: June 14-16, 1999. Contact: Dick Q.P. Fundter, Organising Committee and Conference Secretariat, Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, DMMR Project Office, H 1445, P.O. Box 20011, 2500 EA The Hague, the Netherlands; tel: +31(0)70 302 7011, +31(0)6 5321 7511 (after 17.00 CET); fax: +31(0)70 302 1444; e-mail: dmmr@minbiza.nl; WWW: http://dmmr.minbzk.nl/.

Symposium and Workshop - "Crossing the Millennium: Integrating Spatial Technologies and Ecological Principles for a New Age of Fire Management." Sponsors: University of Idaho, Missoula Intermountain Fire Sciences Lab, and the National Interagency Fire Center. Boise, Idaho: June 15-17, 1999. Poster or paper presentation abstracts should be transmitted via the World Wide Web, e-mail, or computer disk to the Conference Organizer, Greg Gollberg, Department of Forest Resources, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-1133; (208) 885-2101; fax: (208) 885-6226; e-mail: goll9151@uidaho.edu. Abstracts are due February 26, 1999. Submission guidelines or registration forms are available from the same address; additional information is now available on the World Wide Web at http://firescience.for.uidaho.edu.

SR/DR (Search and Rescue/Disaster Response)'99 Convention and Expo. Nashville, Tennessee: June 23-26, 1999. Contact SR/DR '99, 2413 West Algonquin Road, Suite 411, Algonquin, IL 60102; (715) 547-3340; e- mail: srdr@newnorth.net; WWW: http://srdr.com.

European Sociological Association Conference. Amsterdam, the Netherlands: August 18-21, 1999. This meeting will include several disaster sessions. Interested persons should submit an abstract to respective organizers by December 31, 1998. Proposed sessions include:

International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Annual Meeting. Louisville, Kentucky: November 13-16, 1999. Contact: IAEM, 111 Park Place, Falls Church, VA 22046-4513; (703) 538-1795; fax: (703) 241- 5603; e-mail: iaem@aol.com; WWW: http://www.iaem.com.

International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth Interior (IAVCEI) General Assembly 2000. Bali, Indonesia: July 18-23, 2000. Abstracts due February 29, 2000. Contact: IAVCEI Conference Secretariat, Volcanological Survey of Indonesia, Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia; tel: +62-22-772606; fax: +62-22-702761; e-mail: iavcei@vsi.dpe.go.id; WWW: http://www.vsi.dpe.go.id/iavcei.html.

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