October 28, 2005


  1. 2006 Homeland Security Appropriations
  2. NIST Releases Final Report on World Trade Center Investigation
  3. Call for Presentations: Firewise Communities National Conference
  4. NSF Summer Institute for Undergraduates in Disasters Research
  5. AGI Congressional Geoscience Fellowship
  6. November “Observer” Available Online
  7. Some New Web Resources
  8. Conferences and Training
  9. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

1) 2006 Homeland Security Appropriations

On October 18, the president signed the Fiscal Year 2006 Homeland Security Appropriations Act (Public Law 109-90), providing approximately $31.9 billion for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and adopting many of the organizational changes proposed by the department in July. Among the appropriations, the law provides $4 billion for a new Preparedness Directorate, including:

  • $550 million for formula-based grants;
  • $400 million for law enforcement terrorism prevention grants;
  • $1.15 billion for discretionary spending (includes $765 million for high-threat, high-density urban areas);
  • $50 million for the Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program;
  • $346.3 million for training, exercises, technical assistance, and other programs;
  • $655 million for firefighter assistance grants;
  • $44.9 million for the United States Fire Administration; and
  • $625.5 million for infrastructure protection and information security.

For response and recovery programs and activities, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will receive $2.6 billion, including:

  • $204 million for preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery operations;
  • $1.77 billion for disaster relief;
  • $153 million for emergency food and shelter;
  • $200 million for flood map modernization;
  • $50 million for the National Predisaster Mitigation Fund; and
  • $34 million for the National Disaster Medical System.

The appropriations act and the accompanying conference report (109-241), which contains more detailed information, are available in any federal repository library and on the Library of Congress Web site at http://thomas.loc.gov/.

2) NIST Releases Final Report on World Trade Center Investigation

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released its final report from the building and fires safety investigation of the World Trade Center disaster of September 11, 2001. The report includes 30 recommendations for improving building and fire safety based on the findings of the investigation. The report and the written testimony of the director of NIST before the U.S. House Science Committee on October 26 is available online at http://wtc.nist.gov/.

3) Call for Presentations: Firewise Communities National Conference

The Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Program will host its second National Wildland-Urban Interface Education Conference, Backyards and Beyond, November 2-4, 2006, in Denver, Colorado. Residents, community leaders, planners, developers/builders, landscape designers/ practitioners, real estate and insurance professionals, and fire emergency operation managers will come together with Firewise community representatives and state liaisons to share information and techniques for protecting lives, property, and natural resources from fire in the wildland-urban interface.

The program is seeking proposals for presentations to share experience and foster discussion in the following tracks:

  • Firewise Communities/USA
  • Research
  • Planning and Mitigation
  • Fire and Emergency Operations
  • Communicating the Firewise Message
  • Using Technology

The deadline for proposals is December 31, 2005. Visit http://www.firewise.org for information and submission forms.

4) NSF Summer Institute for Undergraduates in Disasters Research

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the Disaster Research Center (DRC) at the University of Delaware funding to establish a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site to provide hands-on research training and mentoring on the social science aspects of disasters. Each year, ten students from a wide variety of social science disciplines will be selected to participate in a nine-week summer institute. All transportation and lodging expenses will be covered for the participants, who will also receive a generous stipend for the summer. If selected, applicants must have completed their sophomore year by the time they enter the DRC-REU program. Minorities, women, and students from poorer regions of the country are especially encouraged to apply. The 2006 summer program will begin on June 5. The application deadline is February 1. Students admitted to the REU program will be notified by March 1. Program details, guidelines, and application materials can be found online at http://www.udel.edu/DRC/.

5) AGI Congressional Geoscience Fellowship

The American Geological Institute (AGI) is accepting applications for next year’s William L. Fisher Congressional Geoscience Fellowship. The successful candidate will spend 12 months (starting September 2006) in Washington, DC working as a staff member in the office of a member of Congress or a congressional committee. The fellowship represents an opportunity to gain first-hand experience with the federal legislative process and to make practical contributions to the effective and timely use of geoscientific knowledge on issues relating to the environment, resources, natural hazards, and federal science policy.

The AGI fellow will join more than two dozen other scientists and engineers for an intensive orientation program on the legislative and executive branches organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which also guides the placement process and provides educational and collegial programs for the fellows throughout the year.

Prospective applicants should have a broad geoscience background and excellent written and oral communications skills. Minimum requirements are a master's degree with at least three years of post-degree work experience or a PhD at the time of appointment. Although prior experience in public policy is not necessary, a demonstrable interest in applying science to the solution of public problems is desirable. Due to the nature of the position, preference will be given to applicants who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Applicants must be a member of one of AGI’s 43 member societies.

The fellowship carries an annual stipend of up to $49,000 plus allowances for health insurance, relocation, and travel. Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and a curriculum vitae with three letters of reference. All application materials must be postmarked by February 1, 2006, and sent to William L. Fisher Congressional Geoscience Fellowship, American Geological Institute, 4220 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22302. E-mail inquiries to govt@agiweb.org; http://www.agiweb.org/gap/csf/.

6) November Observer Available Online

The November 2005 edition of the Natural Hazards Observer is now available online at http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/o/.

7) Some New Web Resources

[Below are some new or updated Internet resources we've discovered. For an extensive list of useful Internet sites dealing with hazards, see http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/resources/.]

Writing a Disaster Plan: A Guide for Health Departments
This guidebook is a tool to help state and local public health departments write all-hazards disaster plans. The guidebook was developed by the University of California at Los Angeles Center for Public Health and Disasters and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All users must register online to download the document.

USGS Hurricane Wilma Impact Studies
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has compiled Hurricane Wilma Impact Studies on their Web site.

Canadian Disaster Database
This database contains historical information on disasters that have directly affected Canadians, at home and abroad, over the past century. References to all types of Canadian disasters, including those triggered by natural hazards, technological hazards, or conflict (not including war) can be found here.

NSF Disasters Special Report
The Web site of the National Science Foundation (NSF) features a special report series Disasters, which highlights some of the disaster research funded by NSF. The first two parts of the series, “Understanding Disasters” and “Preparing for the Worst,” are currently available.

U.S. Fire Administration Chiefs’ Corner
"Chiefs Corner" on the U.S. Fire Administration Web site will showcase items of interest shared by the nation’s fire prevention and fire safety individuals from throughout the United States and will be used to spotlight new innovations and efforts.

HUD Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Katrina Toolkit
This kit provides information about what the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is doing to assist faith-based and community organizations involved in coordinating relief activities related to Hurricane Katrina. It also provides useful contact information for HUD and others directly assisting the public.

Wildland Fire Early Warning Portal
The Global Fire Monitoring Center serves as facilitator for the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Global Wildland Fire Network and maintains this Web site with information on global fire weather and climate forecasts, as well as other materials on early warnings of wildland fire.

U.S. EPA Information Flyers
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing informational flyers on potential environmental and health issues for residents returning home to communities affected by recent hurricanes.

Federal Meteorological Services Plan
The Federal Plan for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research Fiscal Year 2006 can be found here.

Lessons for Post-Katrina Reconstruction
The Economic Policy Institute published this briefing paper titled Lessons for Post-Katrina Reconstruction: A High-Road vs. Low-Road Recovery.

The Five Pillars of Emergency Communications Planning
This white paper produced by EnvoyWorldwide, Inc. discusses best practices for communications planning to key audiences in times of crisis.

CRS Report on Federal Response to the Flood of 1927
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) produced this report on October 25, 2005, titled Disaster Response and Appointment of a Recovery Czar: The Executive Branch’s Response to the Flood of 1927.

Two Flood Insurance Publications
Two short publications on flood insurance, Federal Flood Insurance After Katrina and National Flood Insurance Program Summary, developed by the Center on Federal Financial Institutions are available here.

National Academies of Science Water Information Center
This Web site provides a resource for scientists, researchers, and managers on more than 100 peer-reviewed reports from the National Academies on water-related issues in the United States and abroad.

8) Conferences and Training

[Below are some recent announcements received by the Natural Hazards Center. A comprehensive list of upcoming hazards related meetings and training is available from our Web site: http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/conf.html.]

Examining Extreme Events: Hurricane Katrina’s Impact on Critical Infrastructure, Societal Systems, Public Health, and Environment. Organizer: Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER) at the University at Buffalo. Buffalo, New York: November 2, 2005, 7:00 pm. This seminar and Web cast will focus on preliminary findings from MCEER-sponsored studies following Hurricane Katrina. The center’s intent in conducting these investigations and the seminar is to leverage its years of earthquake hazards and engineering expertise to advance “homeland resilience” strategies for multiple hazards and extreme events. There is no charge to view the Web cast of this program, but advance registration is required. Find more information and register at http://mceer.buffalo.edu/education/webcast/Hurricane_Katrina_Seminar/.

Disaster Reduction on Coasts: Scientific, Sustainable, Holistic, Accessible. Organizer: Joint Working Commission for Disaster Reduction on the Coasts of the Indian Ocean. Melbourne, Australia: November 14-16, 2005. This international symposium will address the issues of hazards mapping, vulnerability, and risk with regard to the physical robustness of habitat, dwellings, and infrastructure in a coastal environment. Participants will include those concerned with disaster reduction; the reduction of poverty; education in disaster reduction; the sciences in relation to coastal engineering, geomorphology, seismology, meteorology, and early warning systems; and the engineering of structures and infrastructure for disaster resistance. For more information, visit http://www.conferences.monash.org/disasterreduction2005/.

Wildland Fire 2006. Sponsors: International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, and National Association of State Foresters. Phoenix, Arizona: March 8-10, 2006. This conference will consist of general informational sessions, breakout sessions, and exhibits. The conference will bring together leaders from the local, state, and federal levels to address the growing risk of the wildland-urban interface. Questions about registration should be directed to IAFC Registration Center, c/o J. Spargo and Associates, Inc., 11212 Waples Mill Road, Suite 104, Fairfax, VA 22030; (800) 934-1957; e-mail: iafcregistration@jspargo.com. For conference information, visit http://www.iafc.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=100.

2006 Codes Forum. Organizer: International Codes Council. Sacramento, California: March 20-22, 2006. This conference on building safety and fire prevention includes an education program and virtual trade show. For more information, contact (888) 422-7233 x 4226; http://www.iccsafe.org/codesforum/.

2006 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Sociological Society. Omaha, Nebraska: March 30-April 2, 2006. This annual conference will include a session on “Innovations in Disaster Theory, Research, and Practice.” For more information on the conference, contact Peter Adler or Patti Adler, University of Colorado, 327 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309; e-mail: socyprof@hotmail.com; http://www.themss.org/meetings.html.

2006 National Hurricane Conference. Organizer: Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association. Orlando, Florida: April 10-14, 2006. This conference is sponsored by a number of international, federal, and state government organizations and nonprofit organizations. The primary goal of the conference is to improve hurricane preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation in order to save lives and property in the United States and the tropical islands of the Caribbean and the Pacific. The conference serves as a national forum for federal, state, and local officials to exchange ideas and recommend new policies to improve emergency management. For more information, contact National Hurricane Conference, 2952 Wellington Circle, Tallahassee, FL 32309; (850) 906-9224; e-mail: mail@hurricanemeeting.com; http://www.hurricanemeeting.com/.

Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems 19th Annual Meeting. Sponsor: Environmental and Engineering Geophysical Society. Seattle, Washington: April 2-6, 2005. The theme of this year’s conference is “Geophysical Applications for Environmental and Engineering Hazards – Advances and Constraints.” The program consists of keynote lectures, technical sessions, exhibits, and special events that will provide participants the opportunity to learn about recent developments in near surface geophysics. Special sessions include Geophysics in Land Use and Management, Geophysical Monitoring of Landslide Hazards, and Seismic Landstreamers. Visit http://www.eegs.org/sageep/ for more information.

9) Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Emergency Support Officer and Policy Research and Information Officer
Christian Aid: London, United Kingdom

Christian Aid is expanding its capacity to both prepare for and respond to emergencies and is recruiting additional staff to the new Humanitarian Division. Part of this expansion involves implementing a new five-year, multimillion-pound, global Christian Aid and partner project called Building Disaster Resilient Communities, in which there are vacancies for an emergency support officer and a policy research and information officer.

The goal of the project is to reduce community vulnerability to future shocks and disasters across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean by improving disaster risk reduction and people’s ability to protect themselves from disaster. This will be achieved by assisting communities to develop livelihoods that are more successful and resilient to disaster. The project has a large governance focus aimed at building crucial relationships between communities, civil society, and local governance structures to improve the level of social protection and increase participation in the preparation of local and national development plans.

The closing date for both positions is November 7. Details of these positions and an application form can be found at http://www.christianaid.org.uk/aboutca/jobs/ukjobs.htm.

Research Positions in Disaster Prediction, Response, and Recovery
National ICT Australia Queensland Research Laboratory: Brisbane, Australia

The National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Australia (NICTA) Queensland Research Laboratory focuses on advanced ICT research and development in the area of safeguarding Australia.

The Disaster Prediction, Response, and Recovery Project works to develop new technologies, systems, and services that will provide significant improvements to the devices, systems, information, and human processes that manage the mitigation of and response to natural disasters (e.g., cyclones) and human-made emergencies (e.g., terrorism).

The following four positions are currently available:

  • A researcher with a focus on smart sensors with embedded systems, computer vision, pattern recognition, or image processing
  • A researcher and a research assistant with a focus on trusted systems with cryptography, communication, or access control
  • A researcher with a focus on information and human understanding with human system integration, human factors engineering, or cognitive engineering

The closing date for the positions is November 18. To view the position descriptions and apply online, visit NICTA Careers at http://nicta.com.au/director/careers.cfm. For more information on the project, visit http://nicta.com.au/director/research/programs/sga/dprr.cfm.

South Asia Earthquake Emergency Response Shelter Specialist
Save the Children: Islamabad, Pakistan

The emergency response shelter specialist will meet the immediate physical needs of populations made vulnerable by designing, setting up, and managing shelter programs in accordance with Sphere standards. The position will assess and respond to shelter needs of affected communities utilizing both temporary and medium-term interventions as appropriate and will provide training and technical/project management oversight to engineering staff and partner organizations. The position will also monitor and evaluate shelter and engineering construction interventions including, statistical data, budgets, and expense tracking, and facilitate the establishment of local committees for shelter and engineering intervention in the communities.

The ideal candidate will have a degree in engineering or a related field and a minimum of five years experience developing and managing emergency shelter programs. Experience in management, budget tracking, and monitoring and evaluation of programming is required. Excellent interpersonal skills, demonstrated ability to work effectively in insecure environments, and strong oral and written English language communication skills are required. Preference may be given to speakers of a second language and those with experience using communications equipment (VHF, HF, Sat phones, etc.)

For more information and to submit a resume, visit http://www.savethechildren.org/careers/.

Katrina Emergency Protection Specialist
Save the Children: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

In response to the Katrina emergency in the Gulf Coast region, the protection specialist will develop advocacy and protection programs for children/families affected by the emergency. The specialist will focus on those most vulnerable, such as children and women, to prevent and alleviate their abuse and to support the restoration of a dignified existence. The specialist will participate in multi-sectoral assessments, oversee start-up activities, draft proposals and budgets, and establish and maintain management systems for funded programs and projects. The position will participate in sectoral meetings as required with local government officials, donors, and other community organizations and agencies. The specialist may conduct community vulnerability assessments, facilitate access of services to vulnerable populations, and identify separated children and the development of programs for their support and reunification. The specialist will also work closely with other staff to ensure an integrated approach to programming and awareness of protection issues.

For more information and to submit a resume, visit http://www.savethechildren.org/careers/.

Questions for the readership and contributions to this e-newsletter are encouraged. Questions and messages should be indicated as such and sent to hazctr@colorado.edu.

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