February 23, 2006


  1. House Committee Issues Katrina Investigation Report
  2. White House Issues Katrina Lessons Learned Report
  3. Updated Holistic Disaster Recovery Available from PERI
  4. Two New Quick Response Reports from the Natural Hazards Center
  5. Federal Agenciesí Performance Ratings Online
  6. U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters
  7. Call for Contributions: Guide for Teaching Sociology of Disasters
  8. Call for Abstracts: North American Landslide Conference
  9. Some New Web Resources
  10. Conferences and Training
  11. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

1) House Committee Issues Katrina Investigation Report

The U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee created to investigate Hurricane Katrina has released their report, A Failure of Initiative: The Final Report of the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina.

Following Hurricane Katrina, the House approved legislation creating the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina. The committee was charged with conducting “a full and complete investigation and study and to report its findings to the House not later than February 15, 2006, regarding (1) the development, coordination, and execution by local, State, and Federal authorities of emergency response plans and other activities in preparation for Hurricane Katrina; and (2) the local, State, and Federal government response to Hurricane Katrina.”

The full report and transcripts of the committee’s hearings are available at http://www.katrina.house.gov/.

2) White House Issues Katrina Lessons Learned Report

The White House has released The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina Lessons Learned. The report is the result of the president’s order for a comprehensive review of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. The report identifies lessons learned after assessing the response to Katrina; makes 125 specific recommendations for policy makers and emergency managers, which have been reviewed by relevant federal departments and agencies; and includes 11 critical actions to be completed before June 1, 2006, the first day of the next hurricane season.

The full report is available online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/reports/katrina-lessons-learned.pdf.

3) Updated Holistic Disaster Recovery Available from PERI

The Natural Hazards Center has revised the 2001 handbook Holistic Disaster Recovery: Ideas for Building Local Sustainability after a Natural Disaster. The new version contains updated resources, including a more specific focus on the Hurricane Katrina recovery, and new examples of recovery success stories. The document’s text was streamlined to make it easier to use and more practical for those managing recovery decisions and activities on the ground.

With funding from the Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI), the Center originally created the handbook to communicate the idea that for effective, long-term disaster recovery, communities must incorporate as many principles of sustainability-environmental quality, economic vitality, quality of life, social equity, citizen participation, and disaster resiliency-into their recovery process as possible. The handbook is intended for local government officials and staff, state planners, activists, emergency management professionals, disaster recovery experts, mitigation specialists, and others who help communities recover from disaster.

The 2006 version of Holistic Disaster Recovery (140 pp., $35.00) is currently only available from PERI, 11350 Random Hills Road, Fairfax, VA 22030; (703) 352-1846; fax: (703) 352-6339; e-mail: ahoffman@riskinstitute.org; http://www.riskinstitute.org/.

4) Two New Quick Response Reports from the Natural Hazards Center

Two new Quick Response reports are now available from the Natural Hazards Center. The pdf versions of the reports showcase the Center’s new design format for Quick Response reports. They can be accessed online at http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/qr/qrrepts.html.

QR179 Examination of the American Red Cross and FEMA Following Hurricanes Charley and Ivan, by Robert M. Schwartz. 2005. This research examined the performance of the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) following Hurricanes Charley and Ivan in 2004 in two Florida counties. Local officials cited communications issues as a major challenge and emphasized the importance of mitigation planning and an all-hazards approach. Citizens preferred face-to-face contact with FEMA personnel, were frustrated when dealing with policies and procedures with which they were unfamiliar, and found disaster resource centers useful. Research observations also indicated misunderstandings of policies between national representatives and local workers of the American Red Cross.

QR180 Hurricane Katrina: GIS Response for a Major Metropolitan Area, by Andrew Curtis, Jacqueline W. Mills, Jason K. Blackburn, and John C. Pine. 2005. This report is based on the observations of a research team who helped craft an organizational response to Louisiana's request for geographic information systems (GIS) in support of the emergency response efforts for Hurricane Katrina. The research found that preplanning to accumulate base data, develop standards for organizing and sharing data, designate computers and printers with the appropriate software and network access, and direct the early use of volunteers saves money, personnel, and time, contributing to a more effective GIS response in disaster.

5) Federal Agencies’ Performance Ratings Online

ExpectMore.gov is a new Web site developed by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and federal agencies that reports on federal program performance.

Launched in February, the site features information about every federal program assessed to date: its purpose, how it performs, and what it is doing to perform better. Answers to the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) determine a program's overall performance rating and are the basis for a program improvement plan. The PART was developed to assess and improve program performance so that the federal government can achieve better results. A PART review helps identify a program's strengths and weaknesses to inform funding and management decisions aimed at making the program more effective. The PART therefore looks at all factors that affect and reflect program performance, including program purpose and design; performance measurement, evaluations, and strategic planning; program management; and program results. Access the assessments at http://www.expectmore.gov/.

6) U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Climatic Data Center has updated its list tracking U.S. billion-dollar weather and climate disasters from 1980 to the present. Five events made the list in 2005: Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma, Rita, and Dennis and the Midwest drought.

Hurricane Katrina was responsible for about 1,300 deaths and a preliminary estimate of more than $100 billion in damage. Combined, preliminary figures show that the other three hurricanes claimed 166 lives with more than $20 billion in damage. The drought in the Midwest destroyed more than $1 billion in corn and soybean crops throughout Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The list is available at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/reports/billionz.html along with graphics and links to more extensive reports about each event.

7) Call for Contributions: Guide for Teaching Sociology of Disasters

Course materials are currently sought for the American Sociological Association’s (ASA) publication Resource Guide for Teaching the Sociology (Social Science) of Disasters. This resource is intended to assist faculty in preparing courses in this area of study. The editors invite submissions on topics related to the social science aspects of disasters, risk communication, emergency management, and other areas with themes relevant to the social science study of disasters (e.g., environmental justice, public policy, race/ethnicity, gender, inequality, human rights, etc.). Their goal is to develop a volume that is multidisciplinary in nature, covers national and international aspects of disasters, and attempts to bridge the gap between theory and practice. The publication will be peer-reviewed and will be published in time for the ASA’s 101st annual meeting in Montreal.

The editors request course syllabi accompanied by a short summary statement (one to three, double-spaced pages) describing the author’s approach to teaching the social science of disasters, including a description of their teaching philosophy and methodology; the relevance of readings to core concepts and problems of disasters; and their approach to the challenging task of communicating course materials to students from a variety of academic disciplines. Syllabi must be from courses that have been previously or are currently taught.

The summary statement and the course syllabi must be single-spaced, Times New Roman font, font size 12, one-inch margins on all sides, left justified, maximum of eight pages, and include the faculty’s contact information. At a minimum, the syllabi should include a course description, learning objectives, expected outcomes, assigned readings and topics, and student evaluation criteria.

The deadline for submissions is March 15, 2006; late submissions will not be considered. Please send submissions electronically to Havidan Rodriguez at havidan@udel.edu. Questions should be directed to the editors: Havidan Rodriguez, William Donner (wdonner@udel.edu), or Manuel Torres (mtorres@udel.edu).

8) Call for Abstracts: North American Landslide Conference

Abstracts for the 1st North American Landslide Conference - Landslides and Society: Integrated Science, Engineering, Management, and Mitigation to be held in Vail, Colorado, June 3-8, 2007, must be submitted electronically by March 15, 2006. The conference has two major themes, “Monitoring and Management of Slopes and Landslides” and “Evaluation and Control of Landslides.” These themes will include a variety of topics emphasizing the latest developments and practical experiences across the spectrum of landslide management and mitigation issues, including scientific, technological, engineering design, and socioeconomic aspects.

For further information on abstract submissions, visit http://www.mines.edu/academic/geology/landslidevail2007/.

9) 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/.]

Nationwide Plan Review, Phase I Report
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has released Report to Congress: The Nationwide Plan Review (Phase 1), which provides the status of catastrophic planning in all states and 75 of the nation’s largest urban areas. The report is available on the Web site of the International Emergency Management Association.

Enhanced Fujita Scale
The National Weather Service (NWS) announced plans to implement the Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale to rate tornadoes, replacing the original Fujita Scale. The EF Scale will continue to rate tornadoes on a scale from zero to five, but ranges in wind speed will be more accurate with the improved scale. The NWS expects implementation of the EF Scale to be complete by February 2007.

Severe Weather Events Calendar for 2006
A calendar of severe weather awareness events for each state can be found on the Web site of the National Weather Service Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services.

GAO Briefing on Hurricane Evacuation of Hospitals and Nursing Homes
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) developed this briefing, Disaster Preparedness: Preliminary Observations on the Evacuation of Hospitals and Nursing Homes Due to Hurricanes, for congressional committees, which assesses the evacuation of hospital and nursing home patients due to disasters.

ABA Hurricane Katrina Task Force Subcommittee Report
The American Bar Association (ABA) has released this report evaluating current legal authorities available to meet national disasters and emergencies.

Lessons Learned Report for Hurricane Rita Evacuation
The report Task Force on Evacuation, Transportation and Logistics: Final Report to the Governor describes the work of a task force appointed by the Texas governor to document lessons learned from the Hurricane Rita evacuation and to make recommendations on how to improve evacuation plans and execution in future emergencies.

Landfire Web Site
LANDFIRE is a five-year, multipartner wildland fire, ecosystem, and fuel mapping project designed to generate consistent, comprehensive maps and data describing vegetation, fire, and fuel characteristics across the United States. The primary partners in the project are the Nature Conservancy, U.S. Geological Survey, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Fire Lab.

Earthquake Science Articles for Students, Teachers, and Families
“Earthquake Science Explained” is a series of ten short articles for students, teachers, and parents that was originally published as weekly features in the San Francisco Chronicle. The U.S. Geological Survey created the series to present some of the new understanding gained and scientific advances made in the century since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

New Design of USGS Earthquake Web Site
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has unveiled a new design of its earthquake Web site and a new Earthquake Notification Service intended to get earthquake information out to the public in a more timely fashion.

New Design of CDC Public Health Law Program Web Site
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Public Health Law Program has redesigned their Web site to make it better organized and easier to use. Some older materials have been deleted and many new ones, especially ones related to emergency legal preparedness, will continue to be added over the next few months.

The Benfield Hazard Research Centre has developed three new Web pages:

  • Eurotempest
    This new online tool provides an interactive Web-based warning service for European windstorms.
  • Global Drought Monitor
    This site monitors drought intensity worldwide and assists with warnings of potential food, water, and heath problems.
  • Disaster Reduction Gateway
    This Web site is designed to promote information sharing and cooperation between people with an interest in disaster reduction. It includes links to Web sites of UK-based organizations and individuals involved in disaster reduction.

10) Conferences and Trainings

[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.]

Shephard’s Search and Rescue 2006 Conference and Exhibition. Presenter: The Shephard Group. Bournemouth, United Kingdom: March 14-15, 2006. The theme of this conference is “Charting the Course for Rescue Mission Success.” Participants will hear from world leaders in civil and combat search and rescue as they discuss their perspectives, priorities, and insight into what must be done to ensure rescue mission success in the future. The accompanying two-day exhibition will feature a wide range of suppliers from the search and rescue market. For additional information, visit http://www.shephard.co.uk/sar/.

E-Enterprise Conference 2006 and 7th Annual Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS) Information Security Symposium. Organizers: e-Enterprise Center at Discovery Park, CERIAS, Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering at Purdue, and the Purdue Homeland Security Institute. West Lafayette, Indiana: March 20-22, 2006. Leaders from private industry, all levels of government, and academia will gather to discover current research progress on emerging technologies, learn different perspectives about current business challenges, and engage in new collaborative relationships. The conference includes a two-day track titled “Delivering on Homeland Security.” For additional information, contact e-Enterprise Center at Discovery Park, Purdue University, Burton Morgan Building, Room 229, 1201 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907; e-mail: bjd@purdue.edu; http://www.purdue.edu/dp/e-conference/.

Workshop Series: Topics in Public Health Preparedness. Sponsor: University of California, Los Angeles Center for Public Health and Disasters. Salt Lake City, Utah: April 3-4, 2006. This series includes four workshops: Conducting a Hazard Risk Assessment, Keeping Your Workforce Safe, Writing Incident Action Plans, and Working with Your Hospitals. Participants may register for one or more workshops. For additional information, contact Chara Burnstein at (310) 794-0864 or cphdevents@ucla.edu; http://www.cphd.ucla.edu/April06Workshop.htm.

2006 Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference. Presenters: Washington State Emergency Management Division and the American Red Cross serving King and Kitsap counties. Tacoma, Washington: April 18-19, 2006. This emergency preparedness conference annually hosts over 500 representatives of business, schools, government, the nonprofit sector, emergency management, and volunteer organizations in the Pacific Northwest. Guest speakers and lecturers will present on a wide variety of topics, including Pandemic Influenza, Crisis Communications, Special Needs Populations, School Safety Coordination, Psychological Impact of Terrorist Incidents, and many others. For additional information, contact Washington State University Conferences and Professional Programs at (800) 942-4978 or visit http://capps.wsu.edu/emergencyprep/.

Colorado Wildfire and Mitigation Conference. Sponsors: Colorado Division of Emergency Management, Colorado State Forest Service, Colorado Wildfire Academy, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and Eagle County Emergency Services. Vail, Colorado: April 21-23, 2006. This conference will focus on mitigation, planning, and preparedness issues facing agencies in the wildland-urban interface of Colorado. Firefighters, planners, policy makers, public groups, and private industry representatives will discuss and develop ideas to reduce the loss of life, property, and natural resources in these areas. For further information, visit http://www.wildfirecolorado.org/.

Executive Forum on Disaster Preparedness and Business Continuity. Sponsor: Active Communications International. Atlanta, Georgia: April 26-28, 2006. The theme of this forum is “Build Robust Disaster Avoidance Strategies to Serve Employees, Customers, Stakeholders, and Community.” It will bring the business community and key government agencies together to examine how organizations can look for ways to prepare for unpredictable events and to collaborate within the business community and government to ensure business survival and continuance. For more information, contact Active Communications International, 205 North Michigan Avenue, 39th Floor, Chicago, IL 60601; (312) 780-0700; e-mail: seck@acius.net; http://www.acius.net/.

Preventing Disasters and Minimizing Their Consequences. Host: Harvard School of Public Health. Cambridge, Massachusetts: April 26-28, 2006. This conference will be relevant to those involved in long-range planning to reduce the human and financial loss of disasters. Leadership, financial incentives, infrastructure, and policy will be examined in the context of four threats: disease epidemics, natural catastrophes, emerging technologies, and consequences of maritime activity. The conference will generate novel approaches to prevention and mitigation and opportunities for future collaborations. For more information, contact (617) 432-6417; e-mail: disaster@hsph.harvard.edu; http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/disasters/.

National Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Conference. Hosts: California Citizen Corps, California Service Corps Office of the Governor, California Office of Homeland Security, and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Los Angeles, California: May 15-17, 2006. This conference will offer a program management course, CERT train-the-trainer course, CERT lessons learned, and other emergency preparedness workshops, in addition to guest speakers and topics important to the success of CERT programs nationwide. The conference is open to all CERT program managers, coordinators, volunteer managers, volunteers, and other first responders. For additional information, contact National CERT Conference Committee, c/o LASD-CLEPP Room 144, 4700 Ramona Boulevard, Monterey Park, CA 91754; (323) 526-5015; e-mail: info@certconference2006.com; http://www.certconference2006.com/.

PRIMA 2006. Sponsor: Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA). Las Vegas, Nevada: June 11-14, 2006. The purpose of this conference is to educate and train public entity risk management practitioners at the state and local levels to develop effective risk management programs and to increase risk management professionalism in the public sector. For further information, contact Naomi Romanchok, PRIMA, 500 Montgomery Street, Suite 750, Alexandria, VA 22314; e-mail: nromanchok@primacentral.org; http://www.primacentral.org/meetings/meetings.php.

NACCHO Annual 2006 Conference. Host: National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO). San Antonio, Texas: July 26-28, 2006. This conference will provide attendees with practical tools and information on how to effectively communicate the value and contributions of local public health practice to the media, policy makers, decision makers, the public, and the public health workforce. Sessions will be based around four tracks: communicating the value and contributions of local public health practice, the local health department’s role in preparing for and responding to natural disasters and other public health threats, defining and promoting local public health, and highlighting innovative core local health department programs or strategies. For more information, contact NACCHO, 1100 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036; (202) 783-5550; e-mail: info@naccho.org; http://www.naccho.org/conferences/NACCHOannual06/.

Dam Safety ‘06. Organizer: Association of State Dam Safety Officials. Boston, Massachusetts: September 10-14, 2006. This conference is dedicated to dam safety engineering and technology transfer. Engineers; geologists; hydrologists; dam owners; state, local, and federal officials; industry representatives; and others working in the field of dam safety are invited to share their experiences in all aspects of dam safety. Presentations will be designed to heighten awareness, share experiences and case studies, advance technology transfer, improve communication, and demonstrate state-of-the-art practices. For more information, contact Susan Sorrell at (859) 257-5146 or sasorrell@damsafety.org; http://www.damsafety.org/.

11) Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Visiting Assistant Professor in Department of Emergency Administration and Management
Arkansas Tech University: Russellville, Arkansas

The Department of Emergency Administration and Management at Arkansas Tech University invites applications for a full-time visiting assistant professor beginning August 2006. The teaching responsibilities of this position involve both undergraduate and graduate courses in emergency management. Candidates must have experience related to emergency management, such as business continuity, emergency preparedness operations, disaster economics, security management, mitigation, as well as training using technology. The successful candidate will be expected to teach, advise students, and participate in community outreach.

Minimum qualifications include a master’s degree in a discipline related to emergency management. Preferred qualifications include an earned doctorate in an emergency management discipline, or ABD with a confirmed completion date; a potential or history of scholarship; experience working with diverse populations, such as international students; ability to teach geographic information systems (GIS); higher education experience; and a demonstrated ability to secure external funding. A competitive salary commensurate with the position and qualifications of the candidate and a generous benefits package are offered through a nine-month contract with potential for summer assignments.

Review of applications will begin March 28, 2006, and continue until the position is filled. To apply, send letter of application, statement of teaching interests, curriculum vitae, copies of transcripts, and contact information (e-mail, telephone, and address) for three references to Robert Schwartz, Department of Emergency Administration and Management, Arkansas Tech University, 105 West O Street, Bryan Hall 220, Russellville, AR 72801; (479) 356-2092; e-mail: robert.schwartz@atu.edu. Information on the program and the Department of Emergency Administration and Management are available at http://commed.atu.edu/EAM/.