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Number 504 • June 19, 2008 | Past Issues











1) Mary Fran Myers Scholarship Winners Announced

The Mary Fran Myers Scholarship selection committee chose five recipients to receive the 2008 Scholarship, which recognizes outstanding individuals who share the vision of former Natural Hazards Center Co-Director Mary Fran Myers. Myers, who passed away in 2004, was committed to reducing disaster losses nationally and internationally.

The Mary Fran Myers Scholarship provides financial support to recipients who otherwise would be unable to attend and participate in the Annual Hazards Research and Applications Workshop to further their research or community work and careers. This scholarship covers all or part of the costs of transportation, hotel accommodations, meals, and workshop registration fees.

This year’s applicant pool was very competitive, including nearly 60 applicants from 25 different nations. While all the applicants were outstanding, the committee unanimously chose the following individuals to receive scholarships:

Edy M. Barillas

Barillas holds a master’s degree in engineering geology from the Colorado School of Mines in Golden. He currently lives and works in Guatemala, but interacts with professionals and practitioners across Central America regarding disaster preparedness. His work focuses on landslides in urban areas, natural hazards zoning using Geographic Information Systems, and early warning systems for rain-triggered landslides.

Monalisa Chatterjee

Chatterjee is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geography at Rutgers University who has worked on environmental degradation and the impact of cyclones on cities in India. Her dissertation, which is entitled, “Urban Flood Loss Sharing and Redistribution Mechanisms among the Impoverished Industrial Population of Mumbai,” examines informal coping methods of poor urban flood victims and the impact of globalization on coping strategies.

Charna R. Epstein

Epstein directs the Crisis Prevention and Disaster Recovery Department at Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights in Chicago, where she helped lead the Chicagoland Katrina Relief Initiative. She received her bachelor’s degree with high honors from Brandeis University and her master’s in social service administration, with a focus on public policy and management, from the University of Chicago. Epstein is now at the University of Chicago studying for a master’s in threat and response management (2009 candidate).

Molly Mowery

Mowery received her master’s in city planning in 2008 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research interests focus on natural hazards, sustainable development policy, and climate change adaptation. Before pursuing graduate study, Mowery worked in land use planning at a law firm in Denver, Colorado. More recently, she has worked for the Scottish Government Planning.

Uchenna Okoli

Okoli is a native of Nigeria. She holds a postgraduate diploma in contemporary diplomacy from the University of Malta and is completing a master’s in disaster management and sustainable development at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom. Her master’s thesis is a policy study of the strategies being implemented by the Nigerian to address the socio-economic vulnerability of Nigerian women. Since 2003, her work has focused on raising awareness about importance of disaster risk reduction and integrating a culture of safety in Nigeria through advocacy and capacity building.

For more information on the scholarship and full bios of the winners, visit the the Mary Fran Myers Scholarship page.

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2) Food Summit Addresses High Prices, Climate Change

More than 180 countries last week agreed to address the social impacts of high food prices and provide assistance for developing countries. Increasing food system resilience in the face of climate change and factoring biofuel impacts on food security also were addressed at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Conference on Food Security, held June 3-5 in Rome.

Those at the summit “decided to act,” calling for participation in initiatives on soaring food prices; help to allow farmers—particularly small-scale producers—to increase production; and local, regional, and international market integration, according to a FAO press release. Conference attendees also recommended moderating unusual fluctuations in the price of grain; addressing how climate change will affect current food systems and vice versa; and conducting in-depth studies of biofuel impacts on food security.

Download a full copy of the declaration resulting from the conference at the FAO Web site.

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3) Kids to Collaborate on Climate Change

A new program plans to tap the world’s youth for help in preventing and adapting to the impacts of a changing climate. Children in a Changing Climate launched last week with the aim of giving kids a voice in the future of the world they’ll inherit.

The program, a joint venture of Plan International, National Children's Bureau, Institute for Development Studies, Save the Children, and ActionAid, will work in four areas to better understand and support climate change engagement among children. Those areas include providing opportunities for children to act; learning initiatives teaching kids about climate change science; research helping practitioners incorporate youth in planning; and advocacy for including child voices in policy making.

For more information on the ambitious new program, visit Children in a Changing Climate.

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4) Katrina, Rita Recovery Efforts Finally Gain Momentum

Recovery efforts in areas ravaged by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina are beginning to gain steam, according to the latest in a series of reports examining the damage. Local officials, though, believe it will be years before communities make a full comeback.

The results of the latest examination of area recovery planning—along with recommendations for the future—can be found in GulfGov Reports: The Role of Community Rebuilding Plans in the Hurricane Recovery . The report, recently released by Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana and the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, is the sixth and final report in a three-year project that assessed how well federal, state, and local institutions responded to the 2005 hurricanes. Researchers also plan to release a comprehensive book of their findings.

For more information on the GulfGov project and to access the report series online, visit the GulfGov Website.

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5)Hope on the Bird Flu Horizon

 Even as China, Hong Kong, and England confirm recent cases of avian influenza, researchers think they might have found a better way to fight the disease in humans.

A new vaccine made with monkey cells, rather than the hard-to-come-by embryonated chicken eggs, looks like a promising answer to H5N1 avian flu infections, according to a June 11 report by Reuters. The vaccine’s developer, Baxter International, recently published the results of a 250-person phase I and II safety trial in the New England Journal of Medicine, the report stated.

The use of cell-based vaccines would allow on-demand production in a pandemic. Currently, egg-based vaccines must be created from fertilized chicken eggs, which are seasonal.

For full text of the trial report, visit the New England Journal of Medicine. And for perspective, check out “Vaccine Preparedness—Are We Ready for the Next Influenza Pandemic?” by Dr. Peter F. Wright.

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6) Ten Days Left to Apply for Emergency Equipment Grants

The deadline is looming for law enforcement, fire departments, and other emergency response agencies hoping to garner a piece of the nearly $16 million in equipment and training money to be awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Agencies applying for FEMA’s 2008 Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program (CEDAP) have until June 30 to submit their requests. 

CEDAP is a competitive program that provides local agencies with equipment and equipment training in an effort to strengthen regional response and mutual aid capabilities and increase overall preparedness. 

Eligibility for CEDAP is limited to law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and emergency responders with specific financial and capability needs. Equipment and training awards are offered in five categories: extrication devices; thermal imaging, night vision, and video surveillance tools; chemical, biological, and radiological detection tools; information technology and risk management tools; and covert vehicle tracking tools.

Awards are integrated with state planning processes for regional response and asset distribution. State agencies will review applications in their state to ensure equipment requests are consistent with their homeland security strategy. 

Applicants can review the program at the Responder Knowledge Base.  Completed applications must be submitted to DHS-FEMA no later than 5 p.m. EDT.

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7) PERI Book Highlights Lessons of FEMA Conference  

The Public Risk Entity Institute (PERI) has gathered presentations made by experts at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 2007 Annual Emergency Management in Higher Education Conference into an easily referenced book.   The book, released this month at the 2008 conference, includes 20 papers by industry experts on topics such as Hurricane Katrina, homeland security, special-needs populations, development of emergency management programs in higher education, and the role of technology in disaster response.   For more about the book, including a list of included papers and how to order, visit the PERI bookstore.

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8)Call Outs: Calls for Abstracts, Papers, Proposals, and More

Call for Abstracts/Papers
International Research Committee on Disasters

The International Research Committee on Disasters has issued a call for papers and abstracts for a paper session it will sponsor August 3 at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Boston, Massachusetts.

Preference will be given to papers displaying novel approaches to theory, methodology, or the practical application of disaster research, but all submissions will be considered.

Abstracts or completed papers can be submitted via e-mail to Joe Trainor at Submissions should be sent no later than July 1.


Research Assistance
Natural Hazards Planning, GNS Science, New Zealand

The Hazards Planning research team at GNS Science in Wellington, New Zealand is seeking assistance with a research project on effective public notification systems for natural hazard events, including tsunami. The research is being conducted on behalf of the New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defense and Emergency Management.

The team is assessing warning systems technologies available in New Zealand, along with several not available, against a variety of criteria. They are interested in hearing from colleagues who have conducted similar research—as well as feedback on any possible omission of warning—and observations on specific technology effectiveness.

The team also would appreciate information on the proportion of the population that must be reached by an official warning message before it is assumed to be sufficient to filter to 100 percent of the at-risk population by word of mouth, etc. Research papers or anecdotal accounts relating to these topics would be acceptable.

The following is a list of alert systems being evaluated: aircraft hailers/banners, amateur radio, billboards, call-in phone lines, cell broadcast, e-mails, pagers, police/fire mobile public address systems, power line messaging (e.g., ripple control), radio announcements, Data Systems Route alert (door-to-door), SMS text messaging, telephone, auto-dialer, telephone trees, television, tourist radio, Web sites, GPS receiver messaging, fixed PA loud-speakers, flares, explosives, mobile PA loud-speakers, sirens, and tone-activated alert radio (e.g., NOAA weather radio).

Those who would like to share information can contact:

Kim Wright
Hazards Planning Scientist
GNS Science - Te Pu Ao
1 Fairway Drive, P.O. Box 30368
Lower Hutt, New Zealand

For more information, visit GNS Science Natural Hazards Planning.


Call for Papers
The Fifth Magrann Conference, Rutgers University

Conference organizers invite papers addressing climate change issues within any country or region of South Asia for the Fifth Magrann Conference April 16-17, 2009, at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. The topic of the conference will be Climate Change in South Asia: Governance, Equity, and Social Justice.

Preference will be given to those who connect their topic to one or more broad conference themes of governance, equity, and social justice. Potential topic areas for papers include, but are not limited to:

  • Legal, political, and economic frameworks for responding to climate change;
  • Cultural, social and gender implications of climate change;
  • Natural resources management and land use practices under climate change;
  • Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in cities and urbanizing regions;
  • Implications for agriculture under changing climatic and hydrologic regimes; and
  • Technological responses and innovations.

Papers are solicited from established scholars, as well as recent PhDs and advanced graduate students. Partial support will be available to presenters for travel costs. Abstracts of 250 words or less should be sent to the conference organizers on or before September 15, 2008. Final papers (approximately 4,000-6,000 words) will be due March 1, 2009.

For more information contact or visit the conference Web site.

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9) Some New Web Resources

[Below are some new or updated Internet resources we have discovered. For an extensive list of useful Internet sites dealing with hazards, see]

FAO Conference on World Food Security

The Web site for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ High Level Conference on World Food Security has links to conference documents, webcasts of the conference, photos, and links to relevant information such as the world food situation, climate change, and bioenergy. Links to preparatory meetings, held earlier this year, also are included.

National Integrated Drought Information System

The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) Web site has a wealth of information on monitoring and forecasting drought conditions, including drought indicators, hydrological monitors, data sets, and planning processes. Maps aggregating information from federal, state, and local sources help researchers visualize trends.

Disaster Preparedness for People with Disabilities

Disaster Preparedness for People with Disabilities was created to help ensure those with disabilities are ready for disaster. The site includes links to webcasts, books and newsletters, training materials, and other resources aimed at helping centers for independent living, public officials, emergency preparedness officials, and people with disabilities stay prepared.


Edu4drr is a just-launched social networking site for “teachers who want to make a difference in disaster prevention.” Forums, shared resources and videos, event listings, and fun gadgets are now on the site and Edu4drr developers aim to make the site more robust through content contributions from educators and other interested members.

Road to Ready Radio

This Internet radio show by Rick Tobin of TAO Emergency Management Consulting covers hazards topics that range from pandemics to earthquake safety to pet evacuation during disasters. Listen to shows live at 3 p.m. EST on Fridays, or download MP3s to listen to at your leisure. A list of links related to programs also is included.

The Zombie Squad

Those that find typical disaster preparedness sites a little too strait-laced will enjoy a foray in the Zombie Squad forum. The Zombie Squad mixes public emergency education and disaster response support with a sense of humor and, of course, zombies. Because, as they put it, “if you are prepared for a scenario where the walking corpses of your family and neighbors are trying to eat you alive, you will be prepared for almost anything.”

The National Resource Center on Advancing Emergency Preparedness for Culturally Diverse Communities

The National Resource Center aggregates information and provides a means of communication for culturally diverse communities in public health emergencies. A joint project of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health and Drexel University, the site includes publications, courses and training curriculum, research and evaluation tools, and translated materials.

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10) Conferences, Training, and Events

[Below are some recent announcements received by the Natural Hazards Center. For a comprehensive list of upcoming hazards-related meetings, visit our Web site at]

2008 Annual HAZUS Users Conference— San Diego, California: August 5-7, 2008. This conference brings together a diverse group of emergency management and GIS professionals from government, academia, and the private sector to share knowledge and experience in the use of HAZUS-MH.

National Association of Flood & Stormwater Management Agencies Annual Conference— Napa, California: August 25-28, 2008 . The National Association of Flood & Stormwater Management Agencies’ (NAFSMA) 2008 Annual Meeting includes a special National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System stormwater workshop and information on critical pending legislation—including the Water Resources Development Act of 2008, wetlands regulatory legislation, water infrastructure funding bills, National Flood Insurance Program reform bills, and others. Issues relating to levee certification, levee safety, and flood risk management issues, as well as special sessions on climate change issues related to flood and stormwater management and map modernization will be covered.

National Emergency Management Association 2008 Annual Conference— Portland, Oregon: September 8-11, 2008. This conference provides a forum to discuss national and regional emergency management strategies with emergency management professionals and other experts in the field. The conference focuses on policy development, emergency management concerns, legislative issues, and federal relations. Attendees can hear the latest on issues that affect their agency’s programs. Representatives of federal agencies, members of congress, and others attend the meetings to discuss policy and program matters and receive input from state directors.

Reducing Firefighter Deaths and Injuries: Changes in Concept, Policy, and Practice— Fairfax, Virginia: September 22-October 3, 2008. This two-week online symposium focuses on the high rate of firefighter deaths and injuries. The free symposium features papers from a broad range of experts including physicians, safety trainers in non-fire occupations, city managers, foreign fire officials from regions with lower death and injury rates, university researchers, and leading American fire chiefs and labor officials.

The 34th Annual North American Victim Assistance Conference— Louisville, Kentucky: September 28-October 2, 2008. This conference, hosted by National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) , provides victim assistance training and practical insights on developing skills to help victims thrive. National leading victim advocates will share stories and experiences. The exhibition program offers a diverse mix of instructive material.

American Water Resources Association Annual Meeting—New Orleans, Louisiana: November 15-20, 2008. This annual conference offers a forum for the water resources community to discuss the multidisciplinary aspects of water resources and improve the communitywide understanding of the importance of water issues facing the region, the nation, and the world. The conference includes poster sessions, plenary panels, field trips, and networking events. Student participation activities are also planned.

Coastal Cities Summit 2008: Values and Vulnerabilities— St. Petersburg, Florida: November 17-20, 2008. The International Ocean Institute’s Coastal Cities Summit aims to bring together public officials, nongovernmental organizations, citizens, and natural and social scientists to consider the values and vulnerabilities of coastal regions around the globe. This summit will discuss environmental, social, economic, and public policy challenges faced by coastal communities and produce viable solutions. Topics to be discussed are climate change, sea level rise, maritime security needs associated with increase sea transportation, and extreme events such as tropical storms and tsunamis.

Seventh General Assembly of the Asian Seismological Commission and Seismological Society of Japan, 2008 Fall Meeting— Tskuba, Japan: November 24-27, 2008. The main theme for this year’s conference is “Sharing of Up-to-date Science and Technology to Reduce Earthquakes Disaster in Asia.” The goal is to bridge science and technology, research and application, domestic efforts and international collaboration, and the Asia Pacific region with the world.

Fourth European Geosciences Union Alexander von Humboldt International Conference : The Andes: Challenge for Geosciences— Santiago, Chile: November 24-28, 2008. The aim of this interdisciplinary conference is to bring researchers from diverse specializations together and catalyze more comprehensive research leading to a better understanding of the Andes’ complexity. Geoscientists carrying out research related to the Andes are invited to contribute. General topics include cryosphere and hydrology; climate variability and change; and tectonics and geodynamics.

American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting— San Francisco, California: December 15-19, 2008. The American Geophysical Union Fall meeting provides an opportunity for researchers, teachers, students, and consultants to present and review the latest issues in earth and space sciences. Companies, publishers, government agencies, educational institutions, research facilities, scientific societies, and others will exhibit the latest in geophysical instruments, equipment, software, books and journals, minerals, fossils, and scientific programs at the meeting. The 2008 Fall Meeting is expected to draw 15,000 attendees.

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11) Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

[The following job postings provided an overview of some selected openings in hazards-related fields. For more information on a particular job, please follow the links provided.]

Technical Project manager
Mid-America Earthquake Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Some responsibilities include:

-- Coordinate development of earthquake impact assessments and associated reports with project partners (FEMA, Virginia Tech. University, USGS, state geological surveys, Central United States Earthquake Consortium, Innovative Emergency Management, Army Corp. of Engineers, etc.)
-- Conduct earthquake impact assessments for states and regions within the New Madrid Seismic Zone using HAZUS-MH loss assessment software
-- Develop ArcGIS databases and associated metadata used as part of the HAZUS-MH analysis
-- Use ArcGIS software to develop GIS maps depicting earthquake damage results derived from HAZUS-MH
--Develop project reports summarizing earthquake impacts and describing earthquake scenarios and geologic hazards

Minimum qualifications include:

-- Bachelor’s or master’s degree
-- Knowledge of earthquake impact assessment, earthquake and structural engineering, and methods of seismic loss estimation
-- Skills required include the use of HAZUS-MH, ArcGIS, and MATLAB

Applications should include a resume; names, addresses, and telephone numbers of three references; and cover letter addressed to:

Professor Robert H. Dodds, Jr.
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
1114 Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory
205 North Mathews Avenue
Urbana , IL 61801
Telephone: (217) 333-3814.

For more details, email


Program Specialist
Federal Emergency Management Agency, Winchester, Virginia

Some job duties include:

-- Analyzing current systems, processes, and technology to identify opportunities to improve automation
-- Determining where existing human services processes and systems can be improved using the application of business process reengineering principles and providing recommendations to the NPSC senior leadership, managers and users, ensuring NEMIS reflects the most up-to-date approach to processing applications efficiently and accurately
-- Analyzing research findings in independently prepared technical papers, briefings, and reports to be presented to the working group chair, NEMIS steering committee, and managers.

Some qualifications include:

-- Minimum OPM qualification requirements, online at
-- Experience using operating systems, web application development software, and Oracle database software in a client-server environment
-- Knowledge of information processing management principles and associated computer hardware and software
-- Ability to analyze and evaluate operational effectiveness

For complete job description and to apply, see the full job description on the FEMA job site.


Public Assistance Group Supervisor
Federal Emergency Management Agency, New Orleans, Louisiana

Some job duties include:

-- Implementing and coordinating public assistance programs in support of the Gulf Coast long-term recovery effort
-- Managing, monitoring, evaluating, and implementing DHS/FEMA public assistance programs
-- Researching and identifying complex public assistance issues or problems, taking remedial action, and recommending and implementing resolutions and improvements.

Qualifications include:

-- Minimum OPM qualification requirements, online at
-- Ability to act as a public assistance program advisor, interface with program personnel, and develop program policy and goals
-- Ability to develop and coordinate new program approaches and procedures within the framework of federal, state, and local emergency management programs
-- Supervisory skill
-- Ability to present and defend findings and to negotiate acceptance of recommendations and policies.

For complete job description and to apply, see the full job description on the FEMA job site.


Lead Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Specialist
Federal Emergency Management Agency, New Orleans, Louisiana

Some job duties include:

-- Providing guidance on grant determinations and advising staff on cooperative agreements with federal, state, and local agencies
-- Responding to inquiries from grantees about allowable expenditures and budget items
-- Making site visits to institutions representing DHS and FEMA

Some qualifications include:

-- Minimum OPM qualification requirements, online at
--Extensive knowledge of the full range of grant and agreement determinations; policies governing grants; cooperative agreements with government agencies, memoranda of understanding, and relevant laws and regulations
-- Skill in statistical analysis and financial performance reviews and tracking trends
-- Leadership ability

For complete job description and to apply, see the full job description on the FEMA job site.


Professor Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Savannah State University, Savannah, Georgia

This is a full-time faculty position for the only undergraduate Homeland Security & Emergency Management degree program in Georgia. Successful candidates will have research interests and professional qualifications in emergency management and will teach courses at the undergraduate level. Potential also exists for teaching graduate courses in public administration or urban studies.

Qualifications include:

-- Interest in conducting research and teaching disaster policy, research methods, technology applications, disaster response, hazardous materials policy and management, public health and disasters, and/or homeland security 
-- Doctorate preferred; master’s plus appropriate experience acceptable
-- Understanding of HBCU mission and values 

For more information, see the full job description.


International Services Program Manager
The American Red Cross, King and Kitsap Counties, Washington

The International Services Program (ISP) Manager oversees chapter efforts to promote and further the international efforts and fundamental principles of the Red Cross.

International Program activities include volunteer-based language interpretation and translation services; refugee and Holocaust survivor tracing; international humanitarian law training, and community education and outreach.

Some job duties are:

-- Providing vision and direction for International Services Program
-- Facilitating volunteer-based language assistance to chapter departments, non-profit organizations and individuals in Seattle, King­, and Kitsap Counties
-- Directly supervising International Services specialists and caseworkers
-- Identifying and removing barriers to serving clients from non-/limited English speaking and ethnic communities

Some requirements include:

-- Master's degree in Human Services, International Relations, or related field preferred. Bachelor’s in International Relations, Community Organization, Human Services, Marketing, Public Administration or a related field required
-- Foreign language ability required (Spanish, French, Russian, East African Languages, Mandarin, or Cantonese preferred
-- Minimum of five years experience in progressively more responsible positions, including program management, social services, volunteer coordination, community outreach or other directly related fields  
--Minimum of 2 years experience dealing with issues of multiculturalism or refugee or immigrant communities
-- At least two years of management/supervisory experience preferred

For complete job description or to apply, e-mail


Risk Analyst
RMS, London, UK

RMS is looking for a risk analyst to join their products group risk analyst training team.

Essential job functions include:
-- Researching and reporting on insurance market trends, particularly catastrophe exposure and risk
-- Understanding RMS risk model output and helping answer client queries on model results
-- Supporting model launches, including creating presentations, documentation, and brochures
-- Contributing to the production of technical white papers and reports on significant historical catastrophic events
-- Conducting market and revenue analysis for existing models and preparing model scope documents
-- Supporting production of RMS real-time updates for its global catastrophe response operations

For complete job description and to apply, visit RMS.

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