May 4, 2006


  1. Senate Katrina Report Blames Officials/Systems, Calls for New Agency
  2. May 2006 Observer Available Online
  3. New Quick Response Report from the Natural Hazards Center
  4. Public Comment Open for NEPA Alternatives in New Orleans
  5. PERI Seeks Partners in Creative Risk Management Products
  6. National City Network’s May Theme: Disaster Preparedness/Recovery
  7. Some New Web Resources
  8. Conferences and Training
  9. Jobs

1) Senate Katrina Report Blames Officials/Systems, Calls for New Agency

Following on the heels of reports from the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs released Hurricane Katrina: A Nation Still Unprepared based on its investigation into the disaster. The purpose of the investigation was to better understand how and why failures occurred and to make recommendations to strengthen the nation’s emergency preparedness and response efforts to avoid such catastrophic failures in the future.

According to the committee, four overarching factors contributed to the response failures: long-term warnings went unheeded and government officials neglected their duties to prepare for a forewarned catastrophe; government officials took insufficient actions or made poor decisions in the days immediately before and after landfall; systems on which officials relied on to support their response efforts failed; and government officials at all levels failed to provide effective leadership. The committee also noted a failure, over time, to develop the capacity for a coordinated, national response to a truly catastrophic event.

In light of this persistent failure, the committee offers seven foundational recommendations together with a series of supporting tactical recommendations to improve the nation’s emergency preparedness and response system. First and foremost is the recommendation that the Federal Emergency Management Agency be replaced by a National Preparedness and Response Authority (NPRA) residing within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Heading up the NPRA would be a deputy secretary with a direct line to the president during a catastrophe: an individual with experience in crisis management and substantial management and leadership experience.

The remaining recommendations focus on reuniting the four phases of emergency management (mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery) under the NPRA, enhancing regional operations, building a government-wide operations center, renewing and sustaining commitments at all levels of government to the nation’s emergency management system, strengthening the underpinning of the nation’s response to disasters and catastrophes, and improving the nation’s capacity to respond to catastrophic events.

Download a copy of the 749-page report from http://hsgac.senate.gov/_files/Katrina/FullReport.pdf. Individual sections, along with related files and links, are available at http://hsgac.senate.gov/index.cfm?Fuseaction=Links.Katrina.

2) May 2006 Observer Available Online

The May 2006 issue of the Natural Hazards Observer is available online at www.colorado.edu/hazards/o/. This issue’s featured articles are:

  • The 1906 Earthquake and Public Policy, by Jeanne B. Perkins, Arrietta Chakos, Robert A. Olson, and L. Thomas Tobin.
  • Dealing with Foreign Dead: An Evolution of Mass-Casualty Identification, by Joseph Scanlon.

Regular features include Washington Update, Conferences and Training, Internet Pages, Contracts and Grants, and Recent Publications.

3) New Quick Response Report from the Natural Hazards Center

A new Quick Response report is available online from the Natural Hazards Center at www.colorado.edu/hazards/qr/qrrepts.html.

QR186 Reconstructing Childhood: An Exploratory Study of Children in Hurricane Katrina, by Lori Peek and Alice Fothergill. 2006. In this study, the researchers examined children’s experiences in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Data was gathered through participant observation, focus groups, informal interviews, and in-depth formal interviews with parents, grandparents, day care service providers, school administrators, elementary school teachers, mental health service providers, religious leaders, and evacuee shelter coordinators in Louisiana. This report describes the experiences of children and their families in the days and weeks following the storm, discusses what was done on behalf of children to reduce their vulnerability, and illustrates various things that children did for themselves and for others to lessen the impacts of disaster.

4) Public Comment Open for NEPA Alternatives in New Orleans

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) have established Alternative Arrangements to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the CEQ Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Requirements of NEPA for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants to reconstruct critical infrastructure in the New Orleans metropolitan area. These Alternative Arrangements are a set of procedures for complying with the requirements of NEPA and the CEQ when circumstances require taking actions with significant environmental impacts and there is not sufficient time to follow the regular environmental impact statement process. In this case, they are designed to enable timely action on the expected large number of grant applications to restore safe and healthful living conditions in New Orleans.

All comments are due by May 22, 2006, and must include the agency name and docket number, FEMA-2006-0005. Submit comments online at www.regulations.gov/ or to Rules Docket Clerk, Office of the General Counsel, FEMA, Room 406, 500 C Street SW, Washington, DC 20472; fax: (202) 646-4536; e-mail: fema-rules@dhs.gov.

For access to the docket and to read background documents or comments received, visit the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov/. For further information, contact Brent Paul, FEMA, Office of General Counsel, 500 C Street SW, Room 406, Washington, DC 20472; (202) 646-3032.

5) PERI Seeks Partners in Creative Risk Management Products

The Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI) established the Enterprise Investment Program to help bring innovative products and services to the market and to help public entities, small businesses, and small nonprofit organizations expand and improve their practice of risk management. PERI is interested in making equity investments of $100,000-$250,000 in ventures that advance the practice of risk management by these groups.

Organizations and individuals interested in partnering with PERI will participate in a two-step proposal process. Initial concept papers outlining the product or service should be submitted to PERI no later than June 1, 2006. This concept paper or “mini business plan” should present an overview of the innovator’s product or service idea and explain how PERI and its constituency would benefit from its development. PERI will review each concept paper and if the PERI Board of Directors feels the concept has potential, a full business plan will be requested.

Among the investment partnership opportunities of interest to PERI constituents are products and services related to risk identification and assessment, risk control strategies or best practices, and electronically-delivered training. A detailed handout on the proposal requirements is available on the PERI Web site at www.riskinstitute.org/uploads/PERI_Enterprise_Investment_Program.pdf. Direct inquiries to Gerard Hoetmer, Public Entity Risk Institute, 11350 Random Hills Road, Suite 210, Fairfax, VA 22030; (703) 352-1846; e-mail: ghoetmer@riskinstitute.org.

6) National City Network’s May Theme: Disaster Preparedness and Recovery

During the month of May, the National City Network, a service of the National League of Cities, will spotlight the issues of disaster preparedness and recovery. The National City Network has partnered with such organizations as the Public Entity Risk Institute, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware, and the Natural Hazards Center to provide local officials with resources to address disaster problems that may face their cities this summer. The policy papers, web chats, discussion boards, video presentations, news items, and calendar events featured during May will help locally elected officials develop efficient disaster preparedness plans and effective disaster recovery contingencies. To find out more, visit www.nationalcitynetwork.org/.

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 www.colorado.edu/hazards/resources/.]

CRS Report: Federal Emergency Management Organization
This report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) titled Federal Emergency Management and Homeland Security Organization: Historical Developments and Legislative Options provides background information on the establishment and evolution of federal emergency management organizational arrangements since the end of World War II and briefly summarizes current legislative proposals.

CRS Report: Social-Demographic Characteristics of Katrina-Impacted Areas
In this report, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) estimates that 700,000 or more people may have been acutely impacted by Hurricane Katrina as a result of residing in areas that flooded or sustained significant structural damage. The report also provides estimates on the social and economic composition of this population, including that 44 percent of the victims are African Americans and 30 percent of victims had incomes below one and a half times the poverty line.

These two documents were prepared in advance of the 100th Anniversary Earthquake Conference Commemorating the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake held from April 18-22 in San Francisco, California:

USGS 1906 Earthquake Response
This document, Facing the Great Disaster: How the Men and Women of the U.S. Geological Survey Responded to the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, published in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake, describes how the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) staff stationed in Sacramento and Berkeley, California, swung into action after the earthquake struck, bringing help to the residents of devastated San Francisco, documenting the effects of the quake, and investigating the causes of the major geologic event.

People, Land, and Water Special Edition on the 1906 Earthquake
This special edition of People, Land, and Water, a magazine of the U.S. Department of the Interior, commemorates the 1906 earthquake, documents the birth and growth of earthquake science in the United States, and demonstrates how this science is used to help safeguard communities.

The Importance of Evidence-Based Disaster Planning
This article by Erik Auf der Heide was published in the January issue of the Annals of Emergency Medicine and is available for free download from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. The article examines several common assumptions about disasters, compares them with research findings, and discusses the implications for planning.

Empowering America: A Proposal for Enhancing Regional Preparedness
This report, written by a task force of scholars organized by The Heritage Foundation and George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute, focuses on the importance of regional preparedness to building a national response system that allows local communities, states, and the federal government to work together during a catastrophic disaster.

ASFPM Paper Improving the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program
The mitigation committee of the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) developed this white paper based on comments from its members and from mitigation professionals across the nation. The paper summarizes the recommendations of these experts for improving the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program.

New IBHS Publications to Help Prepare for Hurricanes
The Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) has developed three new resources that detail practical steps to help strengthen structures, secure manufactured homes, and protect windows and doors. The information in the resources is based on property protection recommendations developed by IBHS engineers from their posthurricane damage investigations over the last two seasons.

Vulnerable Emergency Communications in Hurricane-Prone States
The First Response Coalition developed this report, The Imminent Storm 2006: Vulnerable Emergency Communications in Eight Hurricane Prone States, based on their evaluation of the post-Katrina status of communications interoperability in eight Gulf Coast and Atlantic hurricane zone states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas).

Housing Needs of Many Low-Income Hurricane Victims Remain Unmet
The report Housing Needs of Many Low-Income Hurricane Evacuees Are Not Being Adequately Addressed from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities makes several recommendations for the federal government to help meet the housing needs of poor residents displaced by the 2005 hurricanes.

Recovering States? The Gulf Coast Six Months Later
This report from Oxfam America finds that poor households are being left behind in the disaster recovery efforts and urges federal and state officials to recommit themselves to inclusive rebuilding plans that address deep and persistent poverty in the region.

CDC Health Hazard Evaluation of Katrina Responders
The April 28 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report features the report “Health Hazard Evaluation of Police Officers and Firefighters After Hurricane Katrina - New Orleans, Louisiana, October 17-28 and November 30-December 5, 2005.” Approximately one third of the respondents in the evaluation reported either depressive symptoms, symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, or both.

National Park Service Fire Timeline
The National Park Service Fire and Aviation Division has prepared this presentation on fire management history. It includes a timeline from 1600 to present on large fire and fatalities, operational inventions and developments, policy and law, wildland fire operations, fire quotes and perspectives, and research, education, and public awareness.

8) 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.]

New York Disaster Interfaith Services’ (NYDIS) Third Annual Clergy Summit. New York, New York: June 1, 2006. This event will focus on best practices for clergy and religious leaders to empower and protect their congregations and communities through disaster preparedness. The agenda includes guest speakers and experiential learning through a tabletop exercise developed with Disaster Chaplaincy Services and the New York City Office of Emergency Management. There will also be a resource room with disaster planning and response materials displayed. For further information, contact Adja Sakho, NYDIS; (212) 669-6100; e-mail: asakho@nydis.org; www.nydis.org/resources/headlines/04-24-06.php.

32nd Annual North American Victim Assistance Conference. Orlando, Florida: August 20-25, 2006. Host: National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA). This annual event is for victim assistance and disaster professionals, survivors, and grassroots groups lobbying for change and for others providing crisis intervention and support services. It is also for the victims’ allies in many professions – justice, health and mental health, the spiritual community, education and research – from across North America. For more information, contact NOVA, 510 King Street, Suite 424, Alexandria, VA 22314; (703) 535-6682; www.trynova.org/conference/2006/.

International Conference on Earthquake Engineering. Lahore, Pakistan: September 8-9, 2006. Sponsor: University of Engineering and Technology Department of Civil Engineering, Lahore. The main purpose of this conference is to bring together civil engineers, architects, and geoscientists to discuss the latest developments in the field of earthquake engineering and to incorporate new construction technologies for the mitigation of hazards. Topics will include engineering seismology, low-cost earthquake-resistant houses, challenges in design and construction of multistory buildings, rehabilitation and retrofitting of structures, codes of practice and construction standards, temporary shelters for those made homeless by disasters, and more. For further information, e-mail icee@uet.edu.pk; www.uet.edu.pk/icee/.

2006 International Code Council (ICC) Annual Conference and Code Development Hearings. Lake Buena Vista, Florida: September 17-30, 2006. This conference and expo will bring together building safety and fire prevention professionals. It will include an education program, legislative forum, international forum, and code development hearings. To obtain more information, contact Jackie Claus, ICC; (888) 422-7233 x4226; e-mail: Jclaus@iccsafe.org; www.iccsafe.org/news/annual/2006Conference/.

44th Annual Conference of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA). Vancouver, British Columbia: September 26–29, 2006. This conference will generate discussion and debate about improving urban and regional environments through the use of information technology. The program will go beyond basic technology and applications and contemplate issues related to designing, managing, and applying information technology. Participants will include professionals involved with community and economic development, homeland security and emergency services, environmental management, public works, and public health and safety as well as other areas. For more information, contact URISA at (847) 824-6300; e-mail: info@urisa.org; www.urisa.org/Annual_Conference/2006AnnualConference/2006Vancouver.htm.

6th International Disaster and Emergency Resilience (IDER) Conference and Exhibition. Rome, Italy: October 11-13, 2006. Host: Italian Fire Service College. Sponsors: International Association of Emergency Managers, the Institute of Civil Defence and Disaster Studies, and European Training and Simulation Association. IDER is the conference and exhibition where best practice for readiness, response, and recovery for disasters and major emergencies are identified and implemented. For more information, contact Andrich International, 51 Market Place, Warminster, BA12 9AZ, UK; +44 1985 846181; e-mail: ider@andrich.com; www.iderweb.org/.

8th Plinius Conference on Mediterranean Storms and Extreme Events in an Era of Climate Change. Dead Sea, Israel: October 17–20, 2006. Presenter: European Geosciences Union. The objectives of this conference are to provide an interdisciplinary forum for the discussion of the present state of knowledge on Mediterranean storms and extreme events. Topics will include analysis of observations, modeling and future forecasting of heat and cool waves, wind storms, floods, flash floods, slow and fast moving landslides, coastal erosion, and sedimentation. For additional information, contact Karyn Nahari Plinius, c/o Target Conferences, PO Box 29041, Tel Aviv 61290, Israel; +972 3 517 5150; e-mail: plinius8@targetconf.com; http://meetings.copernicus.org/plinius8/.

National Wildland/Urban Interface Fire Education Conference: Backyards and Beyond. Denver, Colorado: November 2-4, 2006. Sponsors: National Wildland/ Urban Interface Fire Working Team and Firewise Communities. This conference provides a national forum for learning and networking on wildfire safe practices, Firewise concepts, planning, and communication related to fire in the wildland/urban interface. Participants will include residents and landowners, community leaders, Firewise state liaisons, federal policy makers, community planners, fire emergency professionals, builders and developers, researchers, landscape architect/design professionals, urban and state foresters, and more. For further information, visit www.firewise.org/conference06/.

9) Jobs

Emergency Management Assistant Director
North Carolina Emergency Management: Raleigh, North Carolina

This position is responsible for the operations section of the North Carolina Emergency Management Division. The position provides direction to staff involved in delivery of disaster preparation, response, and recovery in the areas of human services, emergency services, infrastructure support, field operations, and disaster recovery operations.

Knowledge of local, state, and federal emergency management regulations and policies and extensive knowledge of concepts, functions, and policies impacting emergency management are preferred. The position requires the ability to work effectively in extremely stressful situations created by emergency/disaster events. The selected applicant should have a thorough working knowledge of the National Incident Management System and Incident Command System (ICS). Certification in ICS and experience in a management role in disaster response and recovery are also preferred. Requirements include graduation from a four-year college or university with a major in business, urban or regional planning, transportation planning, or a related field and seven years of experience in directing emergency planning or response activities, including two years of supervisory experience, or an equivalent combination of training and experience.

For more information, contact Teresa Creech, North Carolina Crime Control and Public Safety; (919) 733-4080; e-mail: tcreech@nccrimecontrol.org; http://osp.its.state.nc.us/positiondetail.asp?vacancykey=4950-0000-0001-045.

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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