Number 509• September 11, 2008 | Past Issues










1) Shakeout Scenario Supplemental Reports Now on the Natural Hazards Web Site

Twelve never-released Shakeout Scenario supplemental reports are now available on the Natural Hazards Center Web site. The reports were produced by consultants working on the U.S. Geological Survey-California Geological Survey planning study that hypothesized a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on the southern San Andreas Fault .

A Southern California earthquake of that magnitude could kill 1,800 people, injure 50,000 and wreak more than $200 billion in damage, according to the scenario. The study is the framework for "Golden Guardian '08"— California’s largest earthquake preparedness drill, set for November 13—and the most comprehensive look at the havoc a major earthquake would wreak in California.

The full Shakeout Scenario was presented to Congress May 22, 2008. The newly released supplementary reports examine specific potential vulnerabilities such as fire following an earthquake, the performance of concrete buildings and unreinforced masonry, compromised hazardous materials and pipelines, and other concerns. Visit our Resource section to access all 12 reports.

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2)Stronger Hurricane Study Inspires Strong Opinions

A new study finding hurricanes and cyclones have increased in intensity in the last 25 years has sparked more back-and-forth between those who believe climate change has had measurable effects on storm systems and those skeptical of its impact.

The news that the study—The Increasing Intensity of the Strongest Tropical Cyclones by James Elsner, James Kossin, and Thomas Jagger—was to be published in the September 4 issue of Nature immediately set off a flurry of news reports citing expert opinions on the results, including those of Elsner, MIT’s Kerry Emanuel, and Christopher Landsea of the National Hurricane Center.

The study shows results consistent with the “heat-engine” theory of cyclone intensity, but doesn’t prove it, Elsner stated in a press release from Florida State University, where he teaches geography. The theory credits warming seas for providing the additional wind energy needed for more intense cyclones.

In a September 3 New York Times article, Emanuel, who is known for making a similar connection shortly before Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said the study provided “definitive evidence” stronger hurricanes are becoming more prevalent. The recent study addressed data inconsistencies that troubled Emanuel’s earlier work. Landsea, however, was not convinced.

“The paper has some elegantly calculated statistics, but these are generated on data that are not, in my opinion, reliable for examining how the strongest tropical cyclones have changed around the world,” Landsea told the Times.

See the New York Times article or read the report that started it all.

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3) Amnesty Plan Tries to Undo Deportation Threat While Evacuating

Federal authorities are declaring “hurricane amnesty” in hopes that undocumented immigrants in Texas won’t try to weather Hurricane Ike in place, according to a report in the Christian Science Monitor Thursday. Law enforcement officials will not check identification at shelters, monitor roadways, or man checkpoints in an effort to induce illegal immigrants to evacuate safely, according to the report.

Although police and other agencies were distributing flyers informing the estimated 1.6 million undocumented residents that evacuation was safe, many believed previous immigration enforcement efforts—including a May Border Patrol proclamation saying those who couldn’t prove citizenship would be held specially designed areas ‘made to withstand hurricanes’ rather than evacuated—would hamper any efforts to get those without documentation to leave.

The Washington Post gave a similar example: Although Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the Border Patrol would not impede a hurricane evacuation, checkpoints were kept open—and a van load of illegal immigrants apprehended—during Hurricane Dolly’s strike in July, according to a report Wednesday. Evacuation in that case was not mandatory, according to the Post.

Read more about the evacuation quagmire in the Monitor at and in the Washington Post.

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4) NYDIS Issues Patriot Day Plea to Save 9/11 Victim's Program

As the nation marked the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS) issued a call for donations to save the last of the programs established to assist its victims. Without donations to support the New York City 9/11 Unmet Needs Roundtable, the program will be forced to close October 31, according to a NYDIS statement.

News that the roundtable would be dismantled because of the of a loss of major program funding was announced in July.  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 believes many people with disabling WTC-related physical and mental illnesses will be at risk of eviction, foreclosure, and loss of utilities.

Donations can be made at the NYDIS secure donation page or by mail by sending a check payable to the NYDIS 9/11 Recovery Fund, 22 Cortland Street, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10007.

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5) Better Late Than Never for Early Warning System Revival

It didn’t take a miracle to revive a 13-year-old effort to arm the Grand Canyon’s Havasupai Indian Reservation with a warning system to announce flash floods—just a disaster.

An August flood that caused more than 450 people to be airlifted from the village of Supai and a nearby campground at the bottom of the canyon spurred the renewed interest in installing a system of stream-flow gauges and transmission devices, according to an Associated Press article published last week in the Tucson Citizen. No one was hurt by the flood, which washed through an area popular with tourists, according to the report.

The stalled system was designed in the 1990s to allow the National Weather Service to provide better estimates of when the remote village—accessible only by mule, foot, and helicopter—would be affected by flooding. Arizona plans to help link tribes such as the Havasupai to statewide flood warning network, but the timeframe for doing so is unknown, Arizona Flood Warning Coordinator Cassandra Anderson told the AP.

That could be soon, according to a New York Times article that stated Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano backed a state plan to install the $100,000 system proposed by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1995. The system wasn’t installed because of lack of funding, according to the article.

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6) Disaster Training Is Fun and Games with DHS Virtual Reality Platform

Just when you thought the Department of Homeland Security couldn’t get much more hip, DHS breaks out a cutting edge video game that not only gives responders experience in hard-to-simulate disasters, but will also eventually improve training strategies by collecting information about reactions to the game’s scenarios.

Zero Hour: America’s Medic was created in partnership with the National Emergency Medical Services Preparedness Initiative (NEMSPI) at George Washington University to help responders construct strategies in a real-time environment full of the same chaos and resource-tapping constraints they’re likely to deal with in real life.

Governing Magazine reported last week that the game, which uses the technology similar to that of the Halo 3 video game and would eventually allow for multiple-player online gaming, was available for $14.95. A note on the NEMSPI Web site today, though, said overwhelming interest in the game had sent designers back to the drawing board to retest the system. They expect to relaunch in the next few months.

  For more information on the project, visit the NEMSPI Web site at or get a glimpse of the game action on YouTube.

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7)Disaster in a Box: New NIMS Training DVD Helps Simulate Emergencies

Emergency responders and others who want to brush up on their National Incident Management System Incident Command System (NIMS/ICS) training will find everything they need to create their own disasters in a DVD kit offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The NIMS/ICS Simulation Exercise Program for Multi-Discipline Emergency Responders allows those NIMS/ICS-trained personnel to practice skills in a safe setting and train others. Although the training was designed with fire, police, and emergency health and management personnel in mind, public officials and businesses might also find it useful, according to a recent FEMA press release

The training kit including manuals, maps, PowerPoint presentations, and classroom handouts related to six disaster scenarios—including a marine disaster, an explosion and building collapse, a terrorist attack using Sarin gas, and a chemical explosion. Victim cards and incident command charts are included for simulation purposes.

The DVD training does not qualify participants for NIMS certification. For more information on NIMS certification, visit the FEMA NIMS training site. To request a copy of the DVD, e-mail FEMA.

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

Call for Contacts
Aston CRISIS Centre
Aston University in Birmingham, UK is seeking senior level government contacts in European Union countries to sit on the research advisory board of the newly formed Centre for Research into Safety and Security (The Aston CRISIS Centre). Ideally, contacts would be able to assist the center in its Emergency Responsiveness by Government Organisations (ERGO) project by enabling researchers to access emergency services, planners and other emergency responders. The three-year, European Commission-funded project will examine European government preparedness for large-scale evacuations.

For details on CRISIS projects—including ERGO—visit the Web site. Those interested in serving as an ERGO contact can e-mail project lead Duncan Shaw.


Call for Abstracts
International Association of Emergency Managers
Student Research Poster Competition
The Student Council of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM-SC) is requesting abstracts for the 2008 IAEM Student Research Poster Competition. The competition, held as part of the Association's 56th Annual Conference, highlights student research in emergency management and related fields. This year’s competition includes separate categories for undergraduate and graduate research. Monetary awards will be given.

Abstracts are due by October 1, 2008. For full details on how to participate, visit the IAEM Web Site.


Call for Reviewers
Social Forces
Reviewers are needed on the fly for a special section of Social Forces that will address new directions for disaster research.  Hurricane Gustav has kept several reviewers for the journal from keeping their commitments and looming dead lines mean reviews will have to be submitted in about a week. Those up to the job can contact section co-editor Stephen Picou at or Reviewers will be acknowledged.

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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 Web sites dealing with hazards, see]

Oikos Risk Management Game
This interactive, online game aims to raise public awareness of disaster risk and preparedness issues. As mayor of Oikos city, players learn about disaster impacts and how simple preventative measures and sustainable development can save lives. The fun—and challenges—begin when players develop a new city district in the face of six hazards, while addressing development, financial, and social issues. Be sure to read the game guide before getting started or you might miss out on the game’s more sophisticated elements.

Animal Disaster Preparedness
When it comes to disaster preparedness, pets don’t plan—and neither do many of their owners. That’s why the Humane Society of the United States has put together a series of disaster plans, evacuation tips, and information for preparing household pets, horses, and livestock for a disaster. These useful guides let people know what steps to take before, during, and after an emergency so animals stay safe.

Building a Safe Port in a Storm
Recent hurricanes—including 2004-2005 season which boasted seven of the nine costliest hurricanes ever, which occurring in 2004-2005—have brought the impacts of hurricane damage to the public eye. As a series of storms lined up to take aim at the United States, the Mercatus Center released Building a Safe Port in a Storm: Private vs. Public Choices in Hurricane Mitigation. Part of the center’s policy comment series, the report examines the relationship between insurance and hurricane mitigation and how government subsidies could be undermining mitigation efforts. Suggestions for a more effective hurricane mitigation policy are also discussed.  

Wireless Foundation VITA Advisories
VITA advisories can turn an everyday cell phone into a tool that saves lives. VITA—Latin for life—is part of the Wireless Foundation responsible for wireless AMBER Alerts and Text 2HELP. VITA advisories provide information about how to effectively use your cell phone in an emergency. Tips range from knowing your cell phone’s many features to preparing for emergencies to knowing how to communicate after disasters.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Disasters are stressful for all involved, but children are especially vulnerable to the psychological trauma of large-scale events. The National Child Traumatic Stress network has aggregated a wealth of information in various languages for helping kids who fall victim to terrorist threats and natural disasters, including earthquakes, fires, tsunamis, floods, and others. A handy compilation of hurricane resources on the home page makes timely advice easy to access.

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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]

September 22-24, 2008
First International Conference on Remote Sensing Techniques: Disaster Management and Emergency Response in the Mediterranean Region
Zadar, Croatia
Cost: $418
Registration: Open until filled
The conference focuses on risk management, including knowledge, prevention, and warning. Management of emergency situations, post-analysis of crisis, and
environmental rehabilitation are also among conference topics.


October 2, 2008
Making the World Safer from Disasters: The U.S. Role
Washington, D.C.
Cost: Free
Registration: Open until filled
The workshop considers the role of the United States in global disaster reduction, focusing on existing efforts and new challenges in the field. Panel topics include disaster risk reduction in developing countries, capacity building, monitoring environmental hazards, and many more.


October 14-15, 2008
Ninth International Disaster and Emergency Resilience Conference
London, England
Cost: $1,115
Registration: Open until filled
The conference focuses on issues and challenges affecting the disaster and emergency management community. Government reliance on nongovernmental organizations, the effect of climate change on preparedness and response, and resilient technology are among the topics set for discussion. 


October 14-15, 2008
International Safety and Security Conference: Resilience Summit 2008
New York, New York
Cost: $695
Registration: Not posted
Risk management across the organization and trends in business continuity are the focus of this conference, which aims to appeal to senior managers. Experts in the field, profiles of business leaders, and tools for assessing risk will be featured.


November 3, 2008
Risk and Crisis Communication in the 21st Century—Are We Ready?
Washington, D.C.
Cost: $499
Registration: Not posted
The forum will present insights into, analysis of, and forecasts of the current state of risk and crisis communications. Leaders in crisis communication will discuss the goals of effective communication, hurdles that need be overcome, and individual and collective solutions to get there.


November 3-4, 2008
Flood Fighters 2008
Gloucestershire, UK
Cost: $550
Registration: Open until filled
The conference will focus on developing business and organizational resilience to extreme weather, as well as providing leading edge tactical workshops for first responders and their managers. Crisis and recovery management, resource identification, and media communication will be discussed.


December 2-4, 2008
Third Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Cost: See Web site
Registration: Closes October 31, 2008
The conference will focus on multi-stakeholder partnerships for reducing risk in the Asian-Pacific region, with an emphasis on public-private partnerships. Community-based disaster risk reduction activities also will be featured.


December 9-10, 2008
Disability and Special Needs Technical Assistance Conference
San Diego, California
Cost: $495, $50 discount for early registration
Registration: Early registration closes October 1, 2008
The conference will discuss the need for emergency management processes to integrate procedures for special needs populations into the four phases of emergency management. Government officials, emergency managers, first responders, special needs service providers, and community-based organization officials are urged to attend.

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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.]

Emergency Management Program Analyst
L-3 Communications
Columbus , Ohio
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: Not posted
This position supports the Ohio Continuity and Crisis Management Division. A bachelor’s degree, or associate degree with four to six years emergency management experience, is required.


Emergency Operations Center Manager
San Antonio Water System
San Antonio, Texas
Salary: $55,600 to $83,400
Closing Date: Not posted
This position manages, plans, and develops the emergency operations center for the San Antonio Water System. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in emergency management or related field and six years of experience in an emergency operations center.


Emergency Manager
Seminole Tribe of Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: Not posted
This position manages specialized emergency programs, including preparing comprehensive emergency plans and coordinating response efforts with state and local authorities. A bachelor’s degree in emergency management or related field and three years emergency management experience is required.


Interagency Training Coordinator
New York City Office of Emergency Management
New York, New York
Salary: Commensurate with experience
Closing Date: Not posted
This two-year, grant-funded position develops and implements a comprehensive emergency management training program for internal and external agencies. A master’s degree or bachelor’s degree with two years work experience is required. Experience with NIMS/ICS is preferred.


Emergency Management Coordinator/Instructor II
Governor’s Office of Emergency Services
San Luis Obispo/Sacramento, California
Salary: $5479 to $6616 month
Closing Date: Open until filled
This position develops and administers a Civil Emergency Management course, including hazardous materials response. See Web site for job qualifications, examination requirements, and application process.


Emergency Systems and Learning Manager
Catholic Relief Services
Baltimore, Maryland
Salary: Not posted
Closing date: November 2, 2008
This position will improve and implement emergency management and learning standards, systems, and capacities. A master’s degree in international development or related field and seven years experience in humanitarian relief is required.


Exercise/Training Officer
Sedgwick County
Wichita, Kansas
Salary: $34,692 to $36,774
Closing Date: Not posted
This position administers training for staff, volunteers, and other response agencies on emergency management-related topics. A bachelor’s degree in emergency management 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