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Number 521 • March 12, 2009 | Past Issues













1) Fugate for FEMA: The Time is Finally Right

Although it seems unlikely Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush share much in the way of political perspectives, they do agree on one thing—Craig Fugate is the right guy to head up the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

Obama last week named Fugate, currently director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, as his pick to lead FEMA. Bush did the same in 2005 after the resignation of the Katrina-disgraced Michael Brown. Fugate turned down Bush’s nomination because "the timing wasn't right," according to a recent profile in Time.

Since then, the clock has been ticking at FEMA, which has inched toward redemption under another Florida emergency official, former Miami-Dade County Rescue Chief R. David Paulison. Paulison told the Associated Press that Fugate would have a lot of bureaucratic hurdles to jump, but when it came down to the business of FEMA, he’d be ready.

"There are few people around the world that have the type of disaster experience that Craig Fugate has," Paulison is quoted as saying.  

Natural disasters aren’t the only ones Fugate is bound to face as head of the long-vilified agency—and it’s Fugate’s singular combination of far-ranging experience, bipartisan politics, and all-around-nice-guyness that has everyone from local emergency managers to former FEMA head James Lee Witt hopeful about the future.

"Craig's experience will be an asset in rebuilding the trust and relationships between the federal and state governments," Witt told the Associated Press.

Many others in the emergency management field are breathing a sigh of relief to see a seasoned practitioner fill the position.

"This is a guy who has actually worked in emergency management his whole life and at all levels of government—local, state and federal,” Russ Decker, president of the International Association of Emergency Managers, told Government Technology’s Emergency Management. “…We think he's in a unique position to understand the needs of all those different levels."

Fugate, who saw Florida through the difficult 2004 hurricane season, began his career as a volunteer firefighter and paramedic, according to a Department of Homeland Security press release. He served as a lieutenant with Alachua County Fire Rescue and spent 10 years as the Emergency Manager for Alachua County, Florida. He was appointed director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management in 2001.

Aside from crack emergency management skills and an understanding of the emergency process on multiple levels of government, Fugate will bring another useful trait to the job—an affinity for social media. Fugate maintains a blog and a Twitter stream (see our Web Resources section below), and records regular Webcasts for, the division’s Web site.

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2) Napolitano, Donovan Promise Fewer Difficulties for the Big Easy

Local officials and state lawmakers are expressing new hope that federal agencies might be useful in rebuilding a still-struggling New Orleans. Among reasons for optimism was a “listening tour” of the area by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan last week.

From the beginning, the pair did more than listen, promising the Louisiana more than $500 million of HUD funds to create affordable housing, rebuild businesses, and house the elderly and disabled, according to a DHS press release. For its part, the Federal Emergency Management Agency—long recalcitrant under the Bush Administration—promised funding to rebuild police and fire stations, extended a relocation assistance program, and formed a review board to resolve disputes between FEMA and the state under the Public Assistance program.

"The commitment of the new administration to our region is evident in these Secretaries immediately getting their eyes on the ground and hearing from hurricane-impacted communities,” stated Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu in a press release. "The Secretaries today announced new and creative programs to permanently house vulnerable populations and efforts to unclog FEMA recovery dollars.”

Landrieu is fresh from heading a nine-month Senate subcommittee investigation that called FEMA to the carpet for its inadequate disaster housing response after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The resulting 238-page report slammed the agency for ineffectual planning, rejecting HUD involvement, and needlessly denying disaster housing assistance as many as 125,000 people.

"This is really a tragic indictment of the previous administration's failure to recognize that government does need to work,” Landreiu stated February 26, when the report was released. “In times of catastrophe and great challenges, government must do its part.”

The recent New Orleans tour seems to be an indication that government might finally be ready to do its part cheerfully, not only in Louisiana, but wherever U.S. catastrophes overwhelm local response. That includes Napolitano taking “a fresh look” at changes needed in the Stafford Act, according to an article in the Times-Picayune. Napolitano has acknowledged that, in the past, the act has been used as an excuse for inaction. Those days are over, she said.

"We are getting a view of what has not yet happened and what needs to happen,” Napolitano was quoted as saying in the Washington Times. “We took these jobs to get something done and to move issues forward, and the Gulf Coast and this area is top on that agenda." 

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3) Students, Get More Than Satisfaction From Your Research Paper

You’ve written the paper, now receive the reward! Your research paper could net $100 and free entry into this summer’s Natural Hazards Workshop if chosen as one of the two winners of our Fifth Annual Hazards and Disasters Student Paper Competition. And just to sweeten the deal, we’ve extended the deadline to April 30, 2009.

Papers may present current research, literature reviews, theoretical arguments, or case studies on social or behavioral aspects of hazards or disasters.

The competition is open to students enrolled in graduate or undergraduate classes for at least one term of the 2008-2009 academic year. For more information and application instructions, visit the competition page on the Natural Hazards Center Web site.

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4) New Book Teaches Disaster Vulnerability, Supports Mary Fran Myers Scholarship

Students, professionals, and anyone with an interest in how historic, geographic, and social factors put some populations at risk during disaster will welcome Social Vulnerability to Disasters, a new text that takes a multidisciplinary approach to examining how at-risk groups respond to and recover from disasters.  

The book, based on the FEMA Higher Education Project social vulnerability course materials, features chapters from leaders in disaster research and provides techniques for community-based mitigation, instruction in building capacity and resiliency, and an understanding of how social, political, and economic influences add to disaster impacts. Topics such as violence and disaster vulnerability, theoretical framing of world views, and language and literacy are showcased, as well as age, gender, class, race, disability, and health.

Looking for an added bonus? Throw in the feel-good factor of knowing all royalties from the book benefit the Mary Fran Myers Scholarship Fund. The book is dedicated to Myers, a former Natural Hazards Center co-director committed to reducing disaster vulnerability.

For more information or to order online, visit the publisher’s Web site.

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5) 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 March 2009 Observer include:

—Exploring Links between Natural Hazards and Global Warming
—The Need for Long-Term Flood Insurance and Mitigation Loans
—Climate in Conflict

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

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

Call for Applications
Mary Fran Myers Scholarship
Deadline: March 30
The deadline to submit applications for the 2009 Mary Fran Myers Scholarship is drawing near. 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.

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 on the Natural Hazards Center Web site.


Call for Comments
Ethics Education Requirements
National Science Foundation
Deadline: March 31
The National Science Foundation requests public comment on plans to incorporate education on responsible and ethical research into the NSF grant process. The plans come as a result of the 2007 America COMPETES Act that requires research institutions to provide such training. Beginning in October, NSF will require certification of an institution’s training and oversight plan. Questions to be addressed include: What challenges will institutions face meeting new requirements? What role should principal investigators play? How might online resources be most effective in the training? For more information and to submit comments, see the Federal Register notice.


Call for Applications
Graduate Fellowship in Earthquake Hazard Reduction
Earthquake Engineering Research Institute
Deadline: June 19
The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute is accepting applications for its graduate fellowship. The fellowship supports one full-time student in a discipline that contributes to the science and practice of earthquake hazard mitigation. The one-year fellowship includes a $12,000 stipend and $8,000 for tuition, fees, and research expenses.

Eligible applicants must be enrolled in a graduate degree program at an accredited U.S. college or university and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. For information on how to apply visit the EERI Web site.

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7) 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] Disaster Grants
With rock stars in tow, has been drawing teens into volunteerism—including opportunities in disaster response, relief, and preparedness—for years. Now they’ll hand out $500 each week to kids with worthy ideas for disaster-related projects. Check out how to apply online and don’t get any ideas, old folks—grants will only be awarded to those 25 or younger.


Disastersrus: Craig Fugate’s Twitter Feed
Where in the world is the next head of FEMA? Find out via his Twitter feed (or just check his local Starbucks, judging from his tweets). Although Fugate’s feed is now a stream of travel updates sprinkled with occasional disaster-related resources, things are bound to get interesting when Fugate, social media supporter and to-be-confirmed FEMA administrator, takes on his first disaster at the helm of everyone’s favorite emergency management agency. Twitter too short-winded for your tastes? Get more in depth with his blog—

State agencies looking for a piece of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—better known as Obama’s stimulus plan—will find a heaping helping of assistance at, a site created by the Council of State Governments. Links to grants, resources, and state-by-state updates give visitors the inside scoop on smart techniques to garner funds for emergency management, transportation, infrastructure rebuilding, and various other needs.


Airport Disaster Preparedness in a Community Context
Airports are going above and beyond when it comes to disaster preparedness and that may translate into good news for nearby emergency management agencies. This study by American Public University Professor James F. Smith found airport managers had a “deep understanding and appreciation” of maintaining good relationships with emergency management agencies and that needs could be met “through wise mutual aid agreements made effective through joint training, drilling, and exercising.” Information on the 59 participating airports and emergency agencies, TSA findings, and the full report are available.


TVF&R Hospital Emergency Preparedness Resources
When it comes to resource collections on hospital emergency preparedness, Oregon’s Tulatin Valley Fire and Rescue is a hot spot with hundreds of links to information on surge preparedness, National Incident Management System updates, conferences and training, pandemic influenza and SARS, hazardous materials, terrorist threats, and general preparedness. The site been totally revamped, so if you’ve been there before, checkout the new look (and address).

CDC Winter Weather Health-e-Cards
Because you care enough to send the very best, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have created an app that let’s you send winter weather reminders via electronic greeting cards. These beautifully designed e-greetings feature winter scenes and handy tips, so you can make sure Grandma never gets frostbite again.

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8) 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]

April 19-22, 2009
26th Annual National Flood Conference
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Boston, Massachusetts
Cost and Registration: $300 online/$375 by mail, open until filled
This conference provides education and training on the benefits of flood insurance, which gives the public protection against flood loss and minimizes the need for federal assistance. Rules, regulations, and issues will be discussed.


April 19-23, 2009
RIMS 2009
Risk and Insurance Management Society, Inc.
Orlando, Florida
Cost and Registration: $1,260 before March 20, open until filled
This conference will help strengthen business risk programs with sessions featuring more than 400 industry experts. Navigating today’s tough economy will be a special focus.


April 19-24, 2009
European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2009
European Geosciences Union
Vienna, Austria
Cost and Registration: $554 before March 31, open until filled
Geoscientists worldwide will meet to discuss their work in earth, planetary, and space sciences at this conference focused on geohazards, weather, and climate. Spatial and temporal patterns of wildfire, models of desertification and degradation, and damage control in forest landscapes will be discussed.


April 27-29, 2008
14th Annual Planning Forum
Emergency Preparedness for Industry and Commerce Council
Vancouver, Canada
Cost and Registration: $650, open until filled
This conference is a forum to share business continuity and emergency preparedness solutions and learn about topics such as crisis leadership, crisis response in the office, climate change, natural disasters, and pandemic planning.


April 29-30, 2009
CIWEM Annual Conference 2009
The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management
London, England
Cost and Registration: $310, open until filled
This two-day conference addresses global water and environmental issues using a multidisciplinary approach. Sessions topics include flood vulnerability and resilience, water utility risk management, and holistic response strategies for climate change.


April 30, 2009
International Symposium on New Humanitarian Response to the Global Economic Crisis
Peacebuilding and Development Institute
Washington, D.C.
Cost and Registration: Not posted
This conference will examine potential impacts of the economic crisis on humanitarian programs with the aim of providing options for continued financial support.


May 4-6, 2009
2009 Spring Specialty Conference: Managing Water Resources and Development in a Changing World
American Water Resources Association
Anchorage, Alaska
Cost and Registration: $525, RSVP by April 13
This conference covers a wide range of climate change and water resource issues using engineering, management, policy, and scientific methods. Participants will learn how to manage water challenges such as flood and drought and discuss issues such as increased flooding, coastal erosion, and the impact of melting sea ice.


May 4-7, 2009
2009 West Regional Conference
Association of State Dam Safety Officials
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Cost and Registration: $325 before April 20, open until filled
This conference focuses on issues of dam safety that affect dam owners, governments, and engineers in Western states. Session topics include hazardous discoveries, hazard mitigation, and dam operation and maintenance.

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9) 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.]

Community Resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction Director
World Vision
Location Negotiable
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: March 17, 2009
This position leads development of community resilience and disaster risk reduction strategies and frameworks with the goal of integrating them into World Vision projects. Substantial experience in development, disaster management in vulnerable communities, and senior-level networking are required.


Regional Technical Specialist
United Nations Development Programme
Pretoria, South Africa
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: March 20, 2009
This position provides technical policy, programming, and implementation support and oversight—including knowledge and capacity development services—to UNDP country offices. A master’s degree in environmental sciences, economics, engineering or finance and seven years of professional experience in climate change mitigation and development are required.


Natural Hazards Manager
Select Technical
Dunedin, New Zealand
Salary: Commensurate  with experience
Closing Date: March 31, 2009
This position investigates, manages, and reports on natural hazards and contributes to policy development and strategic direction. Significant experience within environmental science, including an understanding of natural hazards and resource management issues, and experience in project and contract management are required.


Youth Service Coordinator
American Red Cross
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: March 31, 2009
This position leads an emergency preparedness after-school program at Philadelphia public high schools. Job duties included making presentations on fire prevention, water safety, making disaster plans, and basic first aid.. A bachelor’s degree and two or more years of related experience are required.  Work with urban youth, public schools, youth development, or community service is preferred.


Project Director
American Red Cross
Princeton, New Jersey
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: March 13, 2009
This position is responsible for increasing Red Cross communication with New Jersey policymakers about disaster preparedness and response needs, as well as improving state and local understanding of disaster preparedness and response issues. A college degree or equivalent work-related experience and extensive experience in New Jersey government and politics are required.


Deputy Special Advisor for Orphans and Vulnerable Children
Washington, D.C.
Salary: $120,830 to $153,200
Closing Date: March 27, 2009
This position provides technical direction on child and family welfare and child protection. An advanced degree in social work, child development, law, or a related field and 10 years experience related to the provision of assistance to vulnerable children in developing countries are required.


Program Specialist, GS-9/11
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Winchester, Virginia
Salary: $50,408 to $79,280
Closing Date: March 16, 2009
This position is responsible for Individual Assistance program eligibility determinations, record collection, analyzing disaster registration information, and referral of services. Applicants must have one year of specialized experience at or equivalent to GS-8.


Professor of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Savannah State University
Savannah, Georgia
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: Open until filled
This position conducts research and teaches constitutional, administrative, and international law; American judicial process; and civil rights and liberties. A PhD or a master’s plus professional experience, and research interests in emergency management, homeland security, and law are required.

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

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