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Number 508• Aug 28, 2008 | Past Issues











1) Mini-Tsunami Could Be Sign of Times to Come on African Coast

A series of unusual tides on South Africa’s West Coast could be the result of a “mini-tsunami,” according to news reports this week. The news of the strange tides, which reportedly caused waves that damaged factories in St. Helena Bay, corresponded with an unrelated prediction by environmental experts that Africa’s coast could be underwater by 2099.

South African experts Monday told reporters they suspected a small, but effective Atlantic Ocean tsunami was responsible for wreaking tidal havoc in several West Coast locales over the weekend, according to, a South African online news site. It’s possible the tsunami could be the cause of similar phenomena on the Southern and Eastern Cape, as well, experts stated.

Coincidentally, environmental experts attending a working meeting of U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Ghana on Monday warned climate issues and melt from the Greenland ice cap could swamp large portions of Africa’s coast before the end of the century. Current sea-level rise of about two centimeters per year is putting much of Nigeria, as well as the capitals of Gambia, Guinea Bissau, and Mauritania on track for future flooding, according to a U.N. Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) release.

Read more about the mini-tsunami at The IRIN article can be found at at the organization's Web site.

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2)Earthquake Faults Worm Beneath the Big Apple

While some might think New York is as far as you can get from the earthquake scene, it turns out the city is still set to get its fair shake. In fact, a recent study by seismologists from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory have determined the opportunity for a Big Apple quake is greater than what was once thought, according to an article in Science Daily.

The study, led by Lynn R. Sykes and based on 383 known quakes within a 15,000-mile radius of the city, uncovered at least one previously unknown significant fault and expanded scientist’s understanding of others, according to the article. The evidence, much of which couldn’t have been captured without technology advanced in the last three decades, led researchers to review the frequency of New York quakes and how and where they might occur.

Although risk of an earthquake striking New York is still relatively low—the last major quake was reported in 1884—the damage from a magnitude 5 earthquake could be “attention-getting,” study co-author John Armbruster told the magazine.

"We'd see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling,” he said. “People would probably be killed."

For the full text of the article, visit Science Daily.

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3) No Cons in Fusion of Emergency Operations and Intelligence Center Concept

Emergency operations centers (EOCs) could benefit by taking a page from one of the latest chapters in law enforcement’s book—a concept known as the fusion center. According to a recent article in Government Technology’s Emergency Management, Fusion centers—which aim to aggregate and disseminate intelligence information, mostly regarding terrorism and other crime—have a lot to offer emergency operations centers in terms of lessons learned and practical assistance in a disaster.

Fusion centers are created for the purpose of collecting information from law enforcement, public safety officials, and private entities, analyzing that information in real time, and sending it out to those who need to know. Many of the 58 centers that now exist are outfitted with technology such as GIS mapping or video surveillance of city streets. Although geared for crime, they could be a treasure trove of needed-knowledge during a disaster, Andrew Lluberes of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told the magazine.

“As a conduit to share information and intelligence, they certainly would be used in a future natural disaster,” he was quoted as saying.

Because the fusion center’s work on the same principal as EOCs—with the exception that most are staffed full time—there’s much to be learned about automating data searches, layering information, compiling notification and communication procedures, and coordinating responders. But the centers themselves also have some learning to do. According the article, a Government Accountability Office report released in April found staffing, resources, and sensitive information sharing were a challenge for most of the centers. The lack of a central model for center setup and operation could also cause problems, another federal report stated.

For more on fusion centers, including a list of states that now have centers and a progress report on center activity, visit the DHS Web site.

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4) Old Ways Bring New Energy to Disaster Risk Reduction Efforts

When it comes to keeping the impacts of disaster at bay, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel—in fact, incorporating old wisdom can keep even efforts on track according to a just-released report from the United Nations’ International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.  

The report, called Indigenous Knowledge for Disaster Risk Reduction: Good Practices and Lessons Learned from Experiences in the Asia-Pacific Region, looks at 18 examples of how indigenous strategies, oral traditions, and adaptation have reduced disaster risk. Incorporating indigenous techniques—often characterized by self-sufficiency, natural knowledge, and informal but effective dissemination—in disaster reduction strategies can lead to more robust and well-received efforts and a better understanding of local threats and how to address them, according to the report.  

From earthquake-safe traditional buildings in Kashmir to flood preparedness in Pakistan, the study provides specific cases and lessons learned from cultures independent of modern technology. The full report is available online.

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5) More Could Mean Less in the World of Online Scholarly Research

Although a rich pool of online scholarly resources is now a mere click away, a recent study argues researchers are wallowing in an even smaller puddle of citations than ever before.

The study, which sampled 34 million citations to learn more about citational behavior in the sciences and social sciences, found the more issues a journal had posted online, the fewer individual citations from that journal, according to a July article in Science Magazine. The study’s author, James Evans of the University of Chicago, told the magazine his results could indicate a trend leading to easily garnered academic consensus and less debate.

Other experts offered opposing views of study results or reasons, such as search engine efficiency, that might account for a smaller selection of articles cited. An accompanying finding indicating older articles are eschewed for those with more recent publishing dates could be explained by the nature of electronic publishing itself, said one scientist whose research results were contrary to Evans.

The article and Evans report are available in Science Magazine online.

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6) U.S. Organizations Need to Make Preparedness Their Business

From terrorist to tornados to a lack of telephone service, many of the nations businesses and non-profit organizations are ill prepared to deal with crises, according to a new report released by the New York University’s Center for Catastrophe Preparedness and Response (CCPR) and The Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI). Government agencies were also found to be grossly unprepared, leaving them potentially unable to respond to recovery needs.

The report, Predicting Organizational Crisis Readiness: Perspectives and Practices toward a Pathway to Preparedness , reviewed literature, analyzed preparedness recommendations, and evaluated leader opinion surveys before determining organizations are caught off guard by disaster because they fail to make preparedness an important part of their business. Crisis plans often don’t exist and when they do, employees are often unaware of their roles. To remedy the situation, the report recommends organizations give crisis readiness the same budget and priority as other operations and that, “crisis management must be a lasting organizational commitment.”

For the full report online visit PERI at or CCPR Web sites.

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

Call for Registration
Community-Based Disaster Management Online Course
The International Institute for Sustainable Development at Colorado State University is accepting registrations for an online course in Community-Based Disaster Management. The five-week course begins September 12 and will cover basic concepts and models of disaster risk management, approaches to community-based disaster management, the role of non-governmental organizations, and tools and methods for disaster management planning.

The $345-course qualifies students for two continuing education credits. Registration ends September 9. More information is available on the class Web site. 


Call for Papers
Population Dynamics and Hurricane Katrina
Population and Environment
Population and Environment is seeking papers that examine the demographic dimensions of hurricane events—with a focus on the implications of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita—for a special edition to be called Population Dynamics and Hurricane Katrina. Although event-specific, papers should improve broader understanding and theory about associations between population and environment. Contributions based on quantitative and qualitative data, as well as policy dimensions are encouraged.
To have a paper considered, submit a note of interest, including a short overview of topic of inquiry by Friday, September 26, to guest editors Bill Frey and Audrey Singer. Completed manuscripts will be due Friday, November 14, and should be formatted in accordance with Population and Environment guidelines

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8) 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]

Disaster Preparedness in Urban Immigrant Communities
This report, subtitled Lessons Learned from Recent Catastrophic Events and Their Relevance to Latino and Asian Communities in Southern California , found language barriers hinder emergency and disaster response, education, awareness and training efforts and not enough is being done to translate to what the authors have termed “Limited English Proficient” immigrants. The report, published by The Tomás Rivera Policy Institute and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, used qualitative research conducted in areas with large immigrant Latino, Chinese, and Vietnamese populations, a literature review, and case studies to formulate recommendations.

Climate Resilient Cities
This World Bank Web site is one-stop shopping for anyone on the city level interested in planning for and mitigating the effects of climate change. Targeted toward East Asian cities, the site has tools, resources, and reports applicable to all cities. Among its offerings are an assessment tool to help determine vulnerability and impact potential; resilience profiles of cities ranging from Albuquerque to London to Rome; a climate-proofing blog; and the full text of Climate Resilient Cities: A Primer on Reducing Vulnerabilities to Climate Change Impacts and Strengthening Disaster Risk Management in East Asian Cities.

Association of American Geographers EDGE
This site was created as part of a nearly $1 million effort to give geography students and faculty and EDGE—Enhancing Departments in Graduate Education in Geography. The National Science Foundation-backed project charges the Association of American Geographers with studying graduate geographers’ professional development. The site has material for both professors teaching college course and students, including books, trainings and links to resources.

Green Groove: A Phased Withdrawal on Catastrophic Climate Change
Climate resilient cities are all fine and good but change begins at home – this nifty Web site will help individuals and families get their green groove on. Just sign in, choose a timeframe and pick a level of commitment from Easy Does It to Green Machine. Green Groove will create a custom plan to reduce your impact on the climate one week at a time and even throw in a widget to track your progress.

Faith-based communities and those interested in how faith-based organizations operate in times of crisis will be interested in a burgeoning project by New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS). HOWCALM—it stands for House of Worship Communitywide Asset and Logistics Management—is a free Web site that allows the faith community to track assets in a disaster, provides a means of communicating during emergencies, and lists local disaster training opportunities. Now available in New York City, NYDIS plans to take the tool outside the city in the future, according to its Web site.

A Framework for Improving Cross-Sector Coordination for Emergency Preparedness and Response
While the need for coordination between public health and law enforcement officials during an emergency might be a given, this report goes a bit further by adding judicial and corrections officials to the mix and providing suggestions for how the four groups might whip up coordination in times of trouble. Aimed at local, state, and tribal governments, A Framework for Improving Cross-Sector Coordination for Emergency Preparedness and Response: Action Steps for Public Health, Law Enforcement, the Judiciary, and Corrections, this framework is meant to do more to increase response to all-hazards public health emergencies according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which partnered with the Department of Justice to create the guide.

Cool Climate Jobs
Job seekers can be cool and try to keep the rest of the world that way, too with this online database of jobs in renewable energy, climate change science and other green industries. Job listings are searchable by category or organization and available by RSS feed.

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9) 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]

September 10, 2008
Sixth Annual International Emergency Preparedness Symposium
Manhattan, New York
Cost: Free
Registration: Open until filled
This symposium invites emergency preparedness specialists to share their expertise with healthcare professionals, emergency response personnel, and community leaders, creating opportunities for better preparedness in future emergencies.


September 22-27, 2008
The 88’ Fires: Yellowstone and Beyond
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Cost: $385
Registration: Closes September 2, 2008, online
The conference is focused on lessons learned from past and present fire management practices and scientific research to improve current management.


October 26-29, 2008
27th Annual Submerged Lands Management Conference
Traverse City, Michigan
Cost: $350
Registration: Closes October 17, 2008
This conference aims to increase awareness of submerged land management issues, stimulate discussion of alternatives to use of submerged lands, and encourage the exchange of ideas between submerged land managers and similar groups.


November 21-23, 2008
Australian Earthquake Engineering Conference (AEES) 2008
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
Cost: Not yet posted
Registration: Early registration closes Oct. 21, 2008
The theme for this year’s conference is open to encourage the participation of all individuals involved in earthquake engineering or engineering seismology. Topics will include engineering- and seismology-related issues and extreme events such as blast, tsunami, critical infrastructure protection, emergency management and insurance.


December 1-4, 2008
Next Generation Warning Services Workshop
Norman, Oklahoma
Cost: Free
Registration: Closes November 26, 2008
The workshop will bring technical and operation experts from private weather enterprise, the broadcast media, emergency managers and academia together to determine needs for accurate, accessible, and timely services from the National Weather Service.


February 10-13, 2009
Map World Forum: Geospatial Technologies for Sustainable Planet Earth
Hyderabad, India
Cost: $500, 10 percent discount for early registration
Registration: Early registration closes October 31, 2008
The conference will bring together stakeholders from diverse fields to share and explore needs and utility of geospatial technologies that promote sustainable development.


April 8-10, 2008
2009 Annual Meeting of the Seismological Society of America

Monterey, California
Cost: Not yet posted
Registration: Not yet posted
The meeting centers around the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake and lessons learned with regard to earthquakes since then.

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10) 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.]

Program Coordinator
National Institute of Science, Space, and Security Centers
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Salary: $35,000 to $45,000
Closing Date: September 3, 2008
This position is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day institute management. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in business administration or a related field and five years of administrative and budget/financial support experience.


Emergency Response System Specialist
Visiting Nurse Service of New York
New York, New York
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: Not posted
This position is responsible for coordinating and implementing the Visiting Nurse Service’s emergency response system. A bachelor’s degree in business, health administration, or a related discipline required and a master’s degree in similar fields is preferred.


Technical Writer
City University of New York School of Professional Studies
New York, New York
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: Not Posted
This position is responsible for preparing training materials for New York City’s Coastal Storm Plan. Requirements include ability to translate emergency response plans into reader-friendly field guides.


Emergency Preparedness Professional
Cocciardi and Associates, Inc.
Scranton, Pennsylvania
Salary: $55,000 to $70,000
Closing Date: Not posted
This position is responsible for managing and carrying out emergency services projects as outlined in national formats. Applicant must be certified in the National Incident Management System and have completed an advanced degree or professional certification.


Emergency Preparedness Specialist
Cocciardi and Associates, Inc.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Salary: $37,500 to $55,000
Closing Date: Not posted
This position is responsible for executing emergency services projects in as outlined in national formats. Applicant must be certified in the National Incident Management System, hold a college degree and have a minimum of three years emergency planning/training experience.


Incident Specific Planner
New York City Bureau of Emergency Management
New York
, New York
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: Not posted
This position is responsible for development and maintenance of Incident-Specific response plans. Applicant must possess an advanced degree in a related field and have emergency management experience.


Emergency Planning Specialist
American Red Cross
Dallas, Texas
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: Not posted
This position is responsible for assisting with the development and implementation of the Dallas Area Red Cross disaster response capabilities. An advanced degree in related field and three years related work experience is preferred.


Management and Program Analyst, GS-0343-13/14
Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence & Analysis
El Paso and Ft Bliss, TX
Salary: $77,670 to $119,314
Closing Date: September 2, 2008
This position assists the Plans and Integration Division Director and the El Paso manager with all aspects of the program. One year of full-time, specialized experience equivalent to the federal GS-12 grade is required.


Emergency Management Specialist, GS-301-14
U.S. Department of Energy Office of Health, Safety and Security
Germantown, Maryland
Salary: $98,033 - $127,442
Closing Date: September 5, 2008 This position is responsible for carrying out assessments and analyses related to Department of Energy’s emergency management system, including the handling, storage, and transportation of hazardous materials. All applicants must have one year of specialized experience.

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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

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