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Number 506• July 3, 2008 | Past Issues











1) Look for Hazards Workshop Coverage in the Next Observer

The Natural Hazards Center wrapped up its 33rd Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop July 15 with more than 400 national and international researchers, practitioners, and government officials in attendance.

The Workshop, held this year in Broomfield, Colorado, for the first time, featured keynote speeches on climate change by Roger Pielke Jr. and on the nation’s declining levee systems by Gerald Galloway. Plenary sessions included presentations by Nobel Prize-winning IPCC authors, experts who worked with the 2007 Southern California Wildfires, and leaders in catastrophic recovery efforts.

Coverage of the keynote speeches, the rousing plenary discussions, and key themes arising from Workshop sessions will be included in the September edition of the Observer.

Check out the Natural Hazards Center Web site in August for session summaries and photos, or visit now to see abstracts of the works presented and descriptions of the many plenary, concurrent, and research sessions.

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2) Research Points to Resilience in Midwest Flooding

Weeks of widespread flooding last month have left many in the Midwest struggling with clean-up efforts, ruined levees, and overwhelming property losses, but one study could offer hope.

Recent research examining 516 Midwest communities affected by similar flooding in 1993 indicated the area’s economy displayed significant resilience following the disaster. The research is part of dissertation work completed by Yu Xiao, a University of Illinois urban and regional planning doctoral student. A poster based on the work was presented at the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop this month.

According to Xiao’s findings, which were based on gross domestic product, unemployment rate and number of businesses, the 1993 flooding caused only a limited or temporary downturn in communities’ economies that year and even less in following years.

“Two years after the event, there were no discernable aggregate effects on these economic indicators at the regional, state and county level,” Xiao stated in a University of Illinois press release last week.

Although Xiao’s research points to the possible promise of resiliency, it also indicates towns don’t always bounce back to their previous incarnations. A case study of Grafton, Illinois—included in the dissertation—showed that while the community recovered, the nature of the residents, housing, and businesses changed.

Xiao’s research found a variety of strategies businesses, communities, and governments can use in response and recovery from floods and other natural disasters, according to the statement. They included ditching red tape tied to recovery loans, providing more affordable housing options, and staying flexible in the aftermath of a disaster.

"For businesses, the message is that they should think in terms of newly emerged situations instead of just going back to the way things were,” Xiao stated. “That will never happen."

Xiao’s Workshop abstract, Community Economic Adjustment, Post-Disaster Mitigation, and Long-Term Economic Recovery, can be found at the Natural Hazards Web site.

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3) Still Waiting Rolls to Rave Reviews

A documentary chronicling the lives of a 155-member African American family in the 18 months following Hurricane Katrina met with favorable reviews after a screening and discussion with filmmaker Kate Browne at the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop this month.

Still Waiting: Life After Katrina tells the story of Connie, Katie, and Ginny, three African American women who grew up in the New Orleans area. Viewers watch as the women and many others in the extended family—a close-knit group rich in tradition, faith, and love—evacuate to Dallas with an unwavering conviction to someday return. In spite of their interconnectedness and emotional support, though, the triumph of the family’s repatriation to their Bayou home is tempered by unexpected difficulties. Over time, hopes of reclaiming their past quality of life seem increasingly remote.

Still Waiting draws viewers into the remarkable story of resilience, family, and attachment to place,” said Browne, an Afro-Creole specialist and anthropology professor at Colorado State University.

Browne, who along with Emmy-winning filmmaker Ginny Martin, has followed the family since October 2005, believes disaster researchers and practitioners could find Still Waiting useful as a teaching tool that raises issues of understanding the human impact of disaster in a cultural context where attachment to place is central.

To view a low-resolution version of the film in entirety, order a DVD, or learn more about the making of the film, visit the Still Waiting Web site.

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4) Report Frames DHS To-Do List during Presidential Change

The constantly changing nature of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has led to a report providing recommendations to assist the agency in transitioning to a new presidential administration. Addressing the 2009 Presidential Transition at the Department of Homeland Security by the National Academy of Public Administration offers a number of suggestions meant to help keep DHS afloat—and national security on course—amidst a sea of political change.

Suggestions for DHS action are timelined in blocks ranging from party conventions to elections to the inauguration and beyond. Among actions suggested are implementing a transition plan, working with Congress to appoint transition team members, helping the new administration swear in a DHS secretary on Inauguration Day and reexamining the ratio of political appointees to career executives in the department.

Even with a “seamless transition” plan, however, the report warns against DHS appearing to lack leadership during presidential change and states the lack of collaboration between DHS umbrella agencies will be the department’s biggest challenge.

The report can be downloaded online.

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5) 9/11 Recovery Programs Reach End of the Line

The last of the programs established to assist victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks will close October 31, according to a statement from New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS).

The New York City 9/11 Unmet Needs Roundtable is being dismantled because of the termination of major program funding, NYDIS announced last week.  The program was the sole remaining source of financial assistance for World Trade Center (WTC) responders and others affected by 9/11, NYDIS stated. The organization has distributed more than $7.5 million in assistance to more than 4,500 people since 2001.

Without new sources of charitable, city, or federal funding to continue the program, NYDIS worries many people with disabling WTC-related physical and mental illnesses will be at risk of eviction, foreclosure, and loss of utilities.

“NYDIS is committed to the long-term administration of the NYC 9/11 Unmet Needs Roundtable as well as…supporting the sustainable long-term recovery needs,” Executive Director Peter Gudaitis stated. “We must now look toward our government to meet this increasing need to ensure the health and well-being of those who put themselves in harm’s way when New York City and this nation needed them most.”

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6) Earthquake Swarms Help Gauge Near-Fault Ground Motion

A series of small and moderate earthquakes near Reno, Nevada, could help scientists estimate near-fault ground motion.

The “earthquake swarm,” which began in the Mogul-Somerset area west of Reno in February, is being mapped with portable recorders to assist with future ground motion estimations, according to a June article in the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) Newsletter. Readings have been consistent with right-lateral strike-slip motion on a northwest-striking fault, the article stated.

Double-difference locations showing greater detail of the fault structure can be viewed online.

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7) Free Landsat Images—Coming Soon to a Computer Near You

The clock is ticking on a timeline for providing free electronic access to the complete U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) archive of Landsat images. Although recent images have been available since early this year, the complete USGS archive dating back to 1972 should be available before February 2009, according to a USGS statement.

The complimentary access is part of a transition toward a National Land Imaging Program sponsored by the Secretary of the Interior, according to the statement. For more information and to access the images, click on Data Access at the USGS Landsat site.

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

Call for Abstracts
Second India Disaster Management Congress

The National Institute of Disaster Management ( NIDM) is seeking abstracts for inclusion in its Second India Disaster Management Congress to be held February 4-6, 2009, in New Delhi. 

The congress will include up to 75 thematic sessions on 14 thematic clusters covering a wide range of subjects and disciplines. Each thematic session will have 10 to 20 paper presentations covering aspects of research and field experience on the subject. Congress details, including themes, venue, and submission guidelines are detailed on the Congress Web site.


Call for Papers
Seventh Rocky Mountain Region Disaster Mental Health Conference

The Rocky Mountain Region Disaster Mental Health Institute is now accepting applications for its “Returning to Equilibrium” conference. The conference will be held November 6-8, 2008, in Laramie, Wyoming.

Among the topics to be addressed are:

--Returning Military: Families, Readjustment, and Community Support
--Pandemic Events, Disasters, and Terrorism: Dealing With Fears
--Strategic Planning, Response, and Follow-up
--Critical Incident Stress Management Team Development
--Social and Economic Effects of Energy Development in Western States
--Global Warming
--Updates on Recent Disasters: National, Regional, International

For more about the event and a list of requested topics, visit the Web site.


Call for Essays
American Quarterly, the Journal of the American Studies Association

The American Quarterly is accepting essays, statements, and other material for a broad-reaching issue that will bring together social, historical, and cultural research. Essays should be 10,000 words or less, including notes. Short statements (less than 1,000 words) on the meaning of the disaster for the United States, new agendas, and visions of social change by community and cultural leaders are also encouraged. Paradigmatic poems, lyrics, art, and photographs are also sought. 

Submissions can be sent to American Quarterly by September 1, 2008. Information about the publication and submission guidelines can be found at the American Quarterly 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]

In Case of Emergency, Read Blog
Those with any kind of interest in emergency preparedness won’t want to wait to break the glass on this useful aggregation that includes education resources, legislative news, advice from experts, a video series on what the public should know and much more. The blog, subtitled A Citizen’s Eye View of Emergency Preparedness, began as a way for creator John Solomon to discuss, disperse, and develop research he gathered for his upcoming book, In Case of Emergency, Read Book: Simple Steps To Prepare You and Your Family For Terrorism, Natural Disasters and Other 21st Century Crises.

NASA’s Fire and Smoke
National Aeronautics and Space Administration satellites, aircraft, and research are giving firefighters help battling wildfire and scientists a better understanding of the impact fire and smoke have on climate and ecosystems. Now information such as fire and smoke plume images, articles on the latest research, and multimedia resources will be available on NASA’s just-launched fire and smoke site. Carbon monoxide animations of current fires, video from unmanned Ikhana aircraft, and a gallery of fires around the world are just a few of the not-to-be-missed offerings.

Scientists Without Borders
Scientists Without Borders is a networking site that aims to link scientists of all kinds to “mobilize and coordinate science-based activities that improve quality of life in the developing world.” The site, which launched in May, helps connect members based on research needs and resource availability. The database—which includes organizations, projects, and individuals from physical and social sciences—is searchable by field of study, country, or keyword.

2008 USGS National Seismic Hazard Maps
The U.S. Geological Survey’s updated versions of the 2002 seismic hazard maps were created by incorporating earthquake and ground shaking information gathered from science and engineering workshops, review by science organizations and state surveys, and advice from two expert panels, according to a USGS statement. The resulting maps—which include new findings on ground shaking, faults, seismicity, and geodesy—display earthquake ground motions that can be applied to building codes, insurance rate structures, risk assessments, and other public policy.

NGDC’s Historic Hazard Events on Google Earth
The National Geophysical Data Center now offers natural hazard data in a format that will allow Google Earth users to visualize historic disasters such as tsunamis, tsunami run-ups, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions more easily. In addition to the new technology, the Natural Hazard Data site still allows users to view data sets in other forms, including ArcIMS and old-fashioned photographs.

Risk Assessment of North Pacific Shipping Spills
The National Research Council’s Risk of Vessel Accidents and Spills in the Aleutian Islands: Designing a Comprehensive Risk Assessment can be downloaded at this site. The recent report presents a framework for assessing ship accidents and spill risk and aims to help manage safer shipping operations in the North Pacific. Other Transportation Research Board publications related to waterway transportation safety also are listed.

Gentilly Mapping Project Report
Get the latest information on this unique project that employs researchers, students, politicians and residents in mapping the progress of rebuilding New Orleans’ Gentilly district. Through GIS systems, volunteers are tracking the neighborhood’s rebuilding, giving a visual representation of where efforts are succeeding or need help. The report outlines the project’s conception, methodology, and progress. Project data can be accessed at

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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]

StormCon: The North American Surface Water Quality Conference and Exposition—Orlando, Florida: August 3-7, 2008. StormCon provides the latest stormwater program management, best management practices (BMPs) performance case studies, research, technology, and services in an educational training setting for those involved in surface-water quality. The conference is attended by thousands of stormwater management professionals.

Homeland Defense Journal Training Conference: The Future of Continuity of Operations (COOP) and Telework Conference—Washington, D.C.: August 6-7, 2008. This Conference will bring together government officials, business continuity planners, emergency responders, security personnel, and the private sector to address developing a COOP and telework plan. Agency progress and goals, teleworking benefits and issues, and the future of COOP and telework planning also will be discussed.

Next-Generation Business Continuity: Moving from Disaster Recovery to Constant Availability—Washington, D.C.: August 13, 2008. This half-day seminar will highlight strategies and new technologies for the resiliency, protection, and constant availability of information technology services. Discussions will shed light on ways to synchronize data and disaster recovery processes with next-generation technology. Government and industry speakers will provide insight into ways comprehensive business continuity plans have replaced data and disaster recovery.

Seismic Risk 2008—Earthquakes in Northwestern Europe—Liège, Belgium: September 11-12, 2008. This colloquium is an opportunity for seismologists, engineers, and architects to discuss topics such as the potential for significant seismic events to occur in Europe, the direct effect such an event would have on building stock, and the associated socio-economic impacts. Specific problems in low- to moderate-risk seismic regions will be examined.

European Geosciences Union Topical Conference Series: 10th Plinius Conference on Mediterranean Storms —Nicosia, Cyprus: September 22-24, 2008. The objective of the 2008 Conference is to provide an interdisciplinary forum to discuss the present state of Mediterranean storm knowledge and advances needed in related research and application disciplines—including the nature and physical processes of these events; expected changes relating to climate change; advanced observation techniques, monitoring and forecasting; relationships to coupled surface processes and effects (with particular emphasis on floods and landslides); and socio-economical implications.

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

Ninth Workshop on Three-Dimensional Modeling of Seismic Waves Generation, Propagation, and Their Inversion—Miramare–Treiste, Italy : September 22 to October 4, 2008. The workshop will provide training in advanced research and design methodology in fundamental earth evolution and dynamics. Training also will be available for numerous applied problems, such as prospecting mineral resources, estimating and mitigating possible seismic hazards, developing tsunami warning systems, and others. These methodologies are based on a deep understanding of the physics of seismic wave generation by natural and artificial sources and the propagation of these waves through complicated earth structures.

Third Conference on Earthquake Hazards in the Eastern San Francisco Bay: Science, Hazard, Engineering, and Risk—Hayward, California: October 22-24, 2008. This conference aims to unify information developed since the 1992 conference on earthquake hazards in the Eastern San Francisco Bay Area and make it public. Activities and publications will capitalize on the interest in earthquake hazards and risk that has been generated by the 140th anniversary of the 1868 Hayward Fault earthquake. In addition to technical sessions, the conference will include a public forum, field trips, and tutorials for educators.

Third International Conference on Systems and Networks Communications (ICSNC 2008)—Sliema, Malta: October 26-31, 2008. The Third International Conference on Systems and Networks Communications (ICSNC 2008) continues an event series covering a broad spectrum of systems- and network-related topics. This conference covers fundamentals of wireless, high speed, sensor, mobile, and ad hoc networks; security and policy-based systems; and education systems. Topics target design, implementation, testing, use, tools, and lessons learned for these networks and systems.

Children and the Law: International Approaches to Children and Their Vulnerabilities—Prato, Italy: September 7-10, 2009. This international conference will bring together practitioners, policy contributors, advocates and researchers from welfare, criminology, law, policing, health, and mental health to examine the vulnerabilities of children and young people and the ways systems that respond to those at risk should be reshaped to better protect their rights and interests.

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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.]

Geophysicist, GS-1313-14/15
USGS Geologic Hazards Team
Memphis, Tennessee

Salary: $91,781—$140,355
Closing Date: August 1, 2008

This position has technical authority for regional earthquake hazards, is point person for the Earthquake Hazards Program regional operations and risk reduction, and creates and maintains scientific and operational earthquake mitigation strategies.


Assistant/Associate Professor of Disaster Medicine and Management Philadelphia University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: Open until filled

This position is responsible for teaching an online Master of Science program, working with disaster organizations, and developing curriculum. Minimum qualifications include a PhD and experience in disaster medicine, emergency management, and distance-education methods.


Deputy Operations Chief, GS-0301-12
FEMA Gulf Coast Recovery Office
Biloxi, Mississippi
Salary: $65,315—$84,913
Closing Date: August 9, 2008

This position is responsible for coordinating with State and local governments to implement FEMA programs.


Disaster Associate
American Red Cross, Imperial Branch
El Centro, California
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: Open until filled

This position is responsible for coordinating all Disaster Action Team responses and sheltering. Minimum qualifications are two to three years experience supervising employees and managing all phases of disaster supply.


Risk Management Officer
University of Wisconsin Platteville Physical Plant
Platteville, Wisconsin
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: Open until filled

This position is responsible for coordinating the University’s environmental health, safety, risk management, loss control, and emergency management programs. Knowledge of federal and state environmental, health, and safety regulations and risk management processes is required.


Emergency Preparedness Manager
Operations/Watch Command
Brooklyn, New York
Salary: $67,500
Closing Date: Open until filled

This position is responsible for supervising on-duty watch command staff and monitoring the status of response personnel and assets. A master’s degree in emergency management, public administration, public health, or other related fields is required.


Emergency Management Specialist
Unified Fire Authority
Salt Lake City , Utah
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: August 8, 2008

This position helps develop a full range of emergency management and homeland security operations. Minimum qualifications are a bachelor’s degree in planning, emergency management, or public health.


Emergency Management Director
Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti , Michigan
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: Open until filled

This position directs university emergency management programs and provides administrative direction to departments on emergency management issues. A bachelor’s degree in the fields of emergency management, public health and safety, or criminal justice is required.

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If you or your organization would like to add a job posting in the DR, please feel free to e-mail the information to

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

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