University of Colorado at Boulder CU-Boulder Home CU-Boulder Search CU-Boulder A to Z Campus Map

Number 517• January 15, 2009 | Past Issues













1) Bush Declares D.C. Emergency During Obama’s Inauguration

Fears that the fanfare surrounding the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama could reach disastrous proportions have led Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty to request—and President George Bush to declare—a preemptive state of emergency for the January 20 event.

The advance declaration frees up federal funds for protecting public health and safety beyond the $15 million in emergency planning and security funds Congress allocated for the event. It also authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to participate.

The District of Columbia estimates between 1.5 million and 2 million visitors will attend the festivities from January 17 to 21, at a cost to the District of around $47 million, according to a Washington Post article. Virginia and Maryland have requested $16 million and $12 million in federal funding respectively, but hadn’t received a response as of Wednesday.

The declaration marks the first time the swearing in of a president has been declared an emergency, as well as the first advance emergency declaration of a planned event, according to Whitehouse Spokesman Scott Stanzel, quoted in the Post and the New York Times.

Back to Top

2) California Firefighters Could Put Evacuation Holdouts to Work

Californians could someday choose to face the flames of wildfires rather than evacuate to safety—and possible home loss—if supporters can sell the controversial “stay and defend” policy to other state fire officials. Fire experts from seven Southern California counties were slated to meet to discuss the possibility Wednesday, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times Tuesday.

Although refusing to evacuate flies in the face of what many consider safe practice, there are could be substantial benefits in teaching those holdouts how to defend their property and that of nearby neighbors, according to one school of thought.

"We don't have enough resources to put an engine at every house in harm's way," Ventura County Fire Chief Bob Roper told the Times. "We figure, if people are going to stay, maybe they can become part of the solution."

There’s precedent for believing that might work. California fire officials credit stay-and-defenders for saving dozens of homes during the Yorba Linda fires in November, according to the article. The practice is also commonly accepted in Australia, where it’s more descriptively attributed as “prepare, stay, and defend or leave early” (see “Stay or Go: An Australian Perspective on Community Response to the Threat of Wildfire” in the March 2008 Natural Hazards Observer).

Even in the face of those successes, there is still reason to be concerned about implementing the practice. A main concern of detractors is that residents who have a choice in evacuating might believe they’re capable of withstanding fire conditions until they experience the reality of the blazes.

"People will make the decision to stay and then when the 40-foot wall of flame comes toward them, they will want to get out and we will have a disaster," President of the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City Pat McOsker told the Times. "People will be putting their lives at risk needlessly."

Both U.S. and Australian fire officials say most wildfire deaths happen as a result of “late, panicky evacuations,” according to a related article in the Times.

Officials stressed that, if the policy is adopted, the public will need to be thoroughly educated on proper defense techniques and have both the character and physical wherewithal needed to stare down flames.

"It's not a simple thing," U.S. Forest Service fire expert Sarah McCaffrey is quoted as saying in the Times. "It takes a certain personality."

Back to Top

3) Correction: Dates for 34th Annual Natural Hazards Workshop

Please note that there was an error in some early announcements of the dates for the 2009 Natural Hazards Center Annual Research and Applications Workshop.

Workshop activities will take place on Wednesday, July 15th, through Saturday, July 18th. The Hazards and Disasters Researchers Meeting will immediately follow the Workshop, Saturday, July 18, through Sunday, July 19.

Hotel rooms at our contracted conference rate will be available the nights of July 14 through July 18. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Back to Top

4) Rita Colwell to Deliver Third Annual Gilbert White Lecture

Former National Science Foundation Director Rita Colwell has been slated to deliver the 2009 Gilbert F. White Lecture in the Geographical Sciences. The third annual lecture will be held at The Keck Center of the National Academies in Washington, D.C., on February 18. Colwell’s address is titled Climate, Oceans, and Human Health: The Saga of a Cholera-Chaser.

The Geographical Sciences Committee of the National Academy of Sciences created the lecture series to honor Natural Hazard Center founder Gilbert White by focusing on connections between the geographical sciences and society. Former speakers have included Dr. Robert Kates and retired Brigadier General Gerald Galloway.

The lecture will be held at 5:30 p.m. in Room 100 of the Keck Center, located at 500 5th Street Northwest. RSVPs are requested by February 11. Visit the Geographical Sciences Committee site for more information.

Back to Top

5) Apply Now for the Mary Fran Myers Scholarship

The Mary Fran Myers Scholarship Committee is now accepting applications for 2009 scholarship awards. Scholarship recipients will receive financial support allowing them to attend the 2009 Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop in Broomfield, Colorado, July 15-18. Scholarships can cover part or all of transportation, meals, and Workshop registration costs.

The Mary Fran Myers Scholarship is awarded annually to at least one potential Workshop participant. Recipients are recognized at the Workshop and may be asked to serve as panelists, where they can highlight their research or practical experiences with hazards and disasters.

As the longtime co-director of the Natural Hazards Center, Myers recognized that many of the people and organizations that could benefit from and contribute to the workshop—including local practitioners, students, and international professionals—were among those least likely to afford it. The scholarship was established in 2003 to fulfill Myers’ request that qualified and talented individuals receive support to attend.

All hazards practitioners, students, and researchers are eligible. Preference will be given to those who have never attended the Workshop and who can demonstrate financial need. For more information on past scholarship winners and how to apply, visit the Mary Fran Myers Scholarship page at the Natural Hazards Center Web site. Applications must be received by March 30.

Back to Top

6) Natural Hazards Observer and Research Digest Available Online

The latest editions of two of the Natural Hazards Center’s popular publications— Natural Hazards Observer and Research Digest—are available online.

Featured articles from the January 2009 Observer include:

—Toward a National Disaster Recovery Act of 2009
—Misuse of Cash Donations after Disaster is Overstated
—A Letter from Davos: Searching for 100 New Ideas
—The Un-Merry Winds of Windsor: A Q&A with Emergency Manager Steve Blois

Visit the Natural Hazards Center Web site to read the January and past Observers. Research Digest, our quarterly compilation of research abstracts, can be accessed at online.

Back to Top

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

Call for Applications
National PERISHIP Award
The Public Entity Risk Institute and the Natural Hazards Center
Deadline: February 1, 2009

Applications are now being accepted for PERISHIP dissertation fellowships supporting work in natural and human-made hazards, risk, and disasters in all disciplines.

Up to four grants of as much as $10,000 each will be awarded in 2009 to support doctoral student dissertation work. Grants can be used for data collection, travel, software purchase, data entry assistance, statistical analysis services, or similar purposes. Eligible candidates must be “all but dissertation” at a U.S. educational institution by the application deadline and have an approved dissertation proposal. Non-U.S. citizens may apply if a U.S. institution will grant their doctoral degree.

For complete information and application instructions, visit the award Web site.


Call for Submissions
To The Rescue: Stories from Healthcare Workers at the Scene of Disaster
Kaplan Publishing
Deadline: February 21, 2009

Kaplan Publishing is soliciting the firsthand accounts of nurses, doctors, paramedics and other healthcare workers for the anthology To The Rescue: Stories from Healthcare Workers at the Scene of Disaster.

First-person stories of 1,000 to 2,500 words detailing personal experiences in disaster zones and how relief work has shaped your life will be considered for final publication. Payment for selected stories will be $100 and two copies of the finished book. Multiple submissions are acceptable.

For full guidelines, formatting and how to submit, e-mail Kerry-Ann Morris.


Call for Applications
Florida Sea Grant
Climate Change Resiliency Research and Outreach Program
Deadline: February 23, 2009

Pre-proposals for one- or two-year projects dealing with natural hazards and climate change resilience are now being accepted for possible funding.

The goal of the multi-agency initiative is to develop information, technology, products, or policies to increase resilience to coastal natural hazards and sea level rise. Federal funds for each selected project will not exceed $200,000 per year for two years. Non-federal matching funds are required at 50 percent of the federal amount.

Program stipulations apply. For more information, including the six resilience priorities, visit the grant Web site.

Back to Top

8) 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]

The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation
The final version of this Transportation Research Board special report is now available online. The report committee’s findings, first released in July 2008, indicate not enough is being done to involve transit providers in emergency evacuation plans. Recommendations for partnering with transit organizations in emergency planning and an addendum detailing transit’s role in 33 urban-area plans are included.


Hurricane Ike Impact Report
This report is the “first-ever attempt to comprehensively compile the damage assessment and impact information…for use in the long-term recovery process,” according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A “snapshot” of social, built, economic, and natural environments is included.


The NOAA Weather Ranger
When heroic efforts to promote child safety in extreme weather are called for, the National Weather Service Southeast River Forecast Center flies in with the NOAA Weather Ranger. The site features bookmarks, coloring books, videos, and posters devoted to the super weatherman and his safety exploits.


Disaster Risk Management in an Age of Climate Change: A Summary of the April 3, 2008 Workshop of the Disasters Roundtable
This National Academies publication details the results of the most recent Disasters Roundtable discussion of disaster risk management challenges in the context of climate change. Global and U.S. vulnerabilities, as well as urban planning, insurance, and floodplain adaptation are included.

-------------------- is the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s new, one-stop site that consolidates all types of assistance information in one place. Individuals can register and track assistance applications on line, link up with other assistance sites, and access other federal accounts, such as social security and student loans.

Back to Top

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]

February 1, 2009
International Workshop on Adaptation to Climate Change in West African Agriculture
World Meteorological Organization, UNDP, and UNEP
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Cost and Registration: Not posted
This workshop will improve climate change understanding and the assessment of its impacts on agriculture and West African vulnerability. Making informed decisions about adaptation strategies and developing a mechanism for continuous information exchange among West African countries are key objectives.


February 10-13, 2009
Hydrological Risks and Climate Change
Newcastle University
Newcastle, United Kingdom
Cost and Registration: $673.48, open until filled
This course covers developments in flood risk estimation, floodplain mapping, drought risk, low flow estimation, climate change, and future hydrological scenarios. Participants will gain an understanding of rainfall and flood frequency analysis, issues of climate change-induced flooding, and the limitations of climate scenarios.


February 12-13, 2009
Disaster Control for Business Continuity
International Association of Emergency Managers
Johannesburg, South Africa
Cost and Registration: Not posted
This two-day course examines business asset protection, risk profile analysis, and crisis management and preparedness plan development.


February 22-26, 2009
Third International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change
Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Cost and Registration: $400, open until full
This conference will share developments in adaptation planning and practices. Field visits to community-based adaptation projects in different ecosystems will be offered.


February 24 to March 1, 2009
10th World Congress on Stress, Trauma, and Coping
International Critical Incident Stress Foundation
Baltimore, Maryland
Cost and Registration:  $482 before February 10, open until filled
The Congress is a multidisciplinary forum for those providing crisis intervention and disaster mental health services. Sessions are designed to provoke critical thinking, challenge current convention, offer insights and innovative ideas, and examine critical incident response in various industries, settings, and situations.


March 5-6, 2009
The Law and Catastrophic Disasters: Legal Issues in the Aftermath
The National Legal Preparedness Program, Institute for Public Safety and Justice, and others
Alexandria, Virginia
Cost and Registration: $175, closes February 20
This program for attorneys and disaster management officials will cover major catastrophe scenarios, legal requirements, restrictions, liabilities, and risks. Sessions are designed to stimulate discussion of legal issues that arise in the first year following a disaster and identify best practices.


March 10-12, 2009
2009 Alaska Weather Symposium
Arctic Region Supercomputing Center
Fairbanks, Alaska
Cost and Registration: Free, closes February 24
This summit promotes international coordination, collaboration, and cooperation in all areas of arctic science. Session topics include sea ice changes and their impact on biodiversity and human communities, arctic climate variability, and the health risks of a changing arctic.

Back to Top

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 Specialist, GS-0303-9/11
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Biloxi, Mississippi
Salary: $45,040 to $70,843
Closing Date: January 20, 2009
The position assists in a range of emergency mitigation education and outreach activities, as well as advises staff on stakeholder matters. Applicants must meet the minimum qualification requirements as contained in the OPM Qualification Operating Manual.


Hazard Mitigation Specialist, GS-0301-12
Federal Emergency Management Agency
New York, New York
Salary: $75,986 to $98,777
Closing Date: January 22, 2009
The position implements the FEMA mitigation grant program, serves as state liaison, provides technical assistance to states and sub-grantees, monitors grants, and maintains FEMA’s hazard mitigation database. Applicants must have one year of specialized experience at or equivalent to GS-11.


Assistant Professor of Social Science
University of Alaska
Fairbanks, Alaska
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: February 27, 2009
This position will increase social science research capacity in socio-ecological systems such as community use of ecosystem services, social networks and rural-urban human mobility, and fostering community and regional resilience. A PhD in relevant field and demonstrated interdisciplinary research abilities are required.


Assistant Professor, multiple positions
University of Idaho
Moscow, Idaho
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: Open until filled
Positions focus on the science and human dimensions of climate change in the Intermountain West and will serve Geography Department degree programs and other interdisciplinary programs at the University of Idaho. A PhD and the ability to teach across disciplines are required.


Operations Support and Preparedness Manager
Save the Children UK
Farringdon, England
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: January 24, 2009
This position develops evidence-based initiatives to improve emergency operational capacity and coordinates support packages to focus countries, U.K. disaster risk reduction and preparedness programs, and other alliances. The position requires a master’s degree and experience as a senior operations manager in unstable or emergency contexts.


Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group II Technical Support Unit
The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
Stanford, California
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: January 23, 2009
This position will provide senior scientific leadership for the IPCC Working Group II assessment programs and help structure, summarize, and distribute findings. A PhD in a social or natural science discipline relevant to assessing global climate change and variability and 10 or more years experience conducting climate impact research are required.


Assistant Professor
Arkansas Tech University
Russellville, Arkansas
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: Open until filled
Assistant professors are sought for the university’s Emergency Administration and Management undergraduate program and the Emergency Management and Homeland Security master’s program. A master's degree with an emphasis in disaster and crisis management, experience developing web-based coursework, and GIS, GPS, and risk assessment technology knowledge are required.

Back to Top

Contributions of jobs, conferences, and other content to this newsletter can be sent to Please include “for Disaster Research” in the subject line.

To subscribe, visit or e-mail
University of Colorado at Boulder

Natural Hazards Center
483 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0483
Contact Us: | (303) 492-6818

A Center in the Institute of Behavioral Science

© Regents of the University of Colorado