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

Number 625 • March 20, 2014 | Past Issues













DR Slims Down While NHC Offerings Fatten Up

Those familiar with the Natural Hazards Center know we’re a small shop with a big appetite for bringing useful information to hazards practitioners and researchers. From time to time, that mission means we need to tighten our belt in one area so we can beef up in another. With that in mind, this week we offer you a svelte DR with news of a couple of sizeable new offerings.

The 2013 Colorado Flood Notebook. We’re excited to roll out this new portion of the Web site, which is based on a plan devised long ago by Natural Hazards Center founder Gilbert White.

In 1994 White laid out a plan to study the next big flood on Boulder Creek. The original plan, called the Boulder Creek Flood Notebook, was an outline for field study and data collection that would culminate in a pamphlet to help practitioners, policymakers, and community members better understand how their decisions can reduce or increase the impacts of flooding.

Fast forward nearly 20 years and we find not only Boulder Creek, but a large swathe of Colorado, inundated by flooding of a magnitude not even White had imagined. So rather than a pamphlet on Boulder Creek, we’ve re-envisioned White’s directive in a Web site that exploits  the wealth of resources and the rich multimedia available to us today and which tells the story of the floods from many different angles, disciplines, and viewpoints.

Take a look at the site to find pictures, webcasts, maps, social media accounts, and other electronic resources available on the floods. You’ll also find traditional research reports and firsthand accounts by emergency managers, flood experts, and others in the trenches during the event. You’ll even learn a little about Gilbert White and the passion that earned him the moniker of Father of Floodplain Management.

Be aware, though, that what you see will not be the only thing you get. The Web site as it currently stands is only the tip of an iceberg of information our librarians and researchers have collected on the floods, and we anticipate much more to come. Recovery is just beginning and this story is far from over. We’ll be updating the site continuously with new details, including analysis by floodplain professionals, personal experiences of business owners and residents, and a bevy of Quick Response Reports.

Eventually, we hope this online notebook will grow into a one-stop shop for all the lessons learned from this event. We hope you’ll help. If you have anything to add to the site, be it professional insight or personal experience, please let us know. Although we didn't get the flood Gilbert expected, we’re we're doing our best to stay in the spirit of what he wanted—a way for practitioners and everybody else to get their head around what worked and what didn't. 

The 39th Annual Natural Hazards Workshop. At the same time we’ve been striving to bring you the new 2013 Colorado Flood Notebook, we’ve also been working to put together the agenda for our time-honored Natural Hazards Workshop.

The Workshop, which will be held from June 22 to June 25 in Broomfield, Colorado, is designed to bring researchers and practitioners from many disciplines together for face-to-face discussions on how society deals with hazards and disasters.

Our 2014 program is structured to do just that—we’ll have sessions on a range of topics, including educational options in the hazards field, changes in the emergency management profession, new guidelines for post-disaster recovery planning, public participation in hazard-related programs, and children in disasters. Plenaries will touch on the Colorado Floods, multisectoral collaborations, and really big disasters. We expect that these sessions will generate the kind of lively discussions for which the Workshop is known.

The Workshop is an invitation-only event, so please take a look at the Web site and let us know if you need an invite.

Back to Top

Disaster News Redux: More Flux Legislation Affecting the NFIP

A Deluge of Complaints: In October, the effects of a law that eliminated the National Flood Insurance Program’s rate subsidies for second homes and repetitively flooded residences began to hit home with policyholders, causing uproar among lawmakers and residents.

Although the plan to eliminate the subsidies had been in place for more than a year, many home and business owners were caught off guard by the increases, the New York Times wrote at the time.

The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 was the result of a lengthy effort to reform the NFIP, which is financially unsustainable; it also encourages risky development in floodplains, according to many experts. The act, which was signed into law in July 2012, extended the often-renewed program for five more years while mandating changes meant to bring the flailing insurance scheme in line with actual risk-based premiums.

Many of the changes were rolled out gradually, but those that affected policyholders the most began earlier this year. Rate increases for second homeowners were implemented on January 1 and subsidies for business and severe repetitive loss properties ended on October 1. 

The pending termination of the subsidies amount to an increase in premiums by 25 percent per year until rates reflect the full risk, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administrates the program.

It’s difficult to understand how people thought the NFIP, which subsidizes below-market insurance rates for roughly 1 million property owners, would become solvent without a significant increase in the long discounted policies, however, the end result was a call to arms against the hikes. Even the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Maxine Waters, was incensed.

“[I am] outraged by the increased costs of flood insurance premiums that have resulted from the Biggert-Waters Act,” Waters said in a statement in Time. “I certainly did not intend for these types of outrageous premiums to occur for any homeowner.”

Wavering on Policy: Congress last week passed legislation that will remedy the financial burden for policyholders.

The Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act, passed on March 13, rolls back policy increases from 25 percent to 15-18 percent. It also reinstates a grandfather clause that allows homes in compliance with previous flood maps to maintain their risk rating even when updated maps show they are more susceptible to flooding, according to the Associated Press.

It also directs FEMA to attempt to keep premiums at no more than one percent of the value of coverage (but does not mandate it). A requirement of the Biggert-Waters Act that reset homes to their actual actuarial rate upon a change in ownership was also repealed.

Waiting on Shore: While the sting of higher rates will be eased for policyholders, the effects on the NFIP, which is currently estimated to be $30 billion in debt, remains to be seen. Although the Biggert-Waters intention of eventually making the NFIP self sufficient and actuarially sound has been retained, it’s likely to take much longer.

“We've solved a very short-term problem and made it a long-term problem," Sen. Tom Coburn told the Mississippi Press. "We didn't really do our work because we were in such a hurry to take the political pressure off of the increases in the flood insurance rates.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists has also decried removing the teeth from Biggert-Waters. The organization pointed out that more extreme storms and sea level rise will almost certainly put more stress on the beleaguered flood insurance program. Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, took a similar stance.

"Reducing rates does not reduce risk. In fact, it reduces incentives to mitigate that risk. And they extended the subsidies on the backs of policyholders paying full freight," he told the Mississippi Press. “While politically expedient today, this abdication of responsibility by Congress is going to come back and bite them and taxpayers when the next disaster strikes. Everyone knows this program is not fiscally sound or even viable in the near term.”

Back to Top

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

Call for Nominations
Natural Hazards Focus Group Officers
American Geophysical Union
Deadline: April 4, 2014

The Natural Hazards Focus Group of the American Geophysical Union is accepting nominations for the positions of secretary and president-elect. The group works to promote research on the geophysical aspects of natural hazards. Visit the Web site above to learn more about the group’s activities. Nominations should be submitted by email to current secretary Ning Lin.


Call for Applications

NEXUS Regional Scholar Program
Fulbright Scholar Program
Deadline: April 1, 2014
The Fulbright Scholar Program is accepting applications for admission into the NEXUS Regional Scholar Program. The program promotes research in areas that include social and behavioral adaptation to climate change, climate change and food or water security, biodiversity, and measuring the impacts of climate change. For eligibility details and to apply, visit the NEXUS program Web site.


Call for Feedback

Quadrennial Fire Review
U.S. Forest Service
Deadline: Early April
The U.S. Fire Service is requesting input to guide the discussion around it’s upcoming Quadrennial Review. Topic areas include climate change effects on landscapes, public risk and firefighter safety, water, and technology infrastructure. To submit your ideas and join the conversation, visit the Quadrennial Fire Review discussion site.

Back to Top

Some New Web Resources

Disaster Declaration History
This simple, interactive map tracks presidential disaster declarations across the United States by county, stretching back to 1964. Color-coded by the number of declarations made, the map overview makes it easy to get a birds-eye view the most disaster prone areas. Click on a county and get the full hazards scoop, including how many declarations made at a county level and into which category they fall.


Field Guide: Working with U.S. Faith Communities During Crises, Disasters, and Public Health Emergencies

When disaster strikes, faith communities can be valuable partners in response and recovery, but confusion about faith, how organizations operate, and even what words to use can stand in the way of effective partnerships with public agencies. This field guide discusses why building those partnerships before a disaster are essential to neighborhood resilience and provides guidance and best practices for creating lasting collaborations.


Drought in the United States: Causes and Current Understanding

The slowly encroaching impacts of drought make it one of the most easily ignored hazards, but recently widespread drought has left the United States no choice but to sit up and take notice. This Congressional Research Service report looks at how droughts are classified, what causes them, and how they’re connected to climate change. Recent droughts and forecasts are also examined.


Defining Critical Issues Survey Results

In November, the Critical Issues Program of the American Geosciences Institute asked hundreds of geoscientists and decision makers to identify what they felt were critical issues—a term they let the survey takers define. This report is the result of that survey. Among the top three issues identified in the survey were climate change, water and energy, and population growth. Other issues mentioned with economics, natural hazards, and agriculture.


FireScience Online

Those considering a career in fire fighting, emergency medicine, or related fields will want to take a gander at this Web site devoted to disaster professions. The site has compiled a large amount of what you need to know, including details on education programs, industry resources, and career overviews and outlooks. The information is organized in a variety of ways, so you can look for programs by state, profession,       degree level and a number of other ways.

Back to Top

Conferences 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 7, 2014
Community Centered Approach to Disaster Resilience Workshop
National Institute for Standards and Technology
Gaithersburg, Maryland
Cost and Registration: $55, closes March 31

This workshop is the first of a series of events that will focus on role that buildings and infrastructure lifelines play in ensuring community resilience. Topics will include the NIST Resilience Program, building a disaster resilience framework, measuring community resilience, and creating disaster resilient communities.  


May 5-6, 2014
Global Supply Chain Risk Assessment Workshop
Military Operations Research Society and the Security Analysis and Risk Management Association
McLean, Virginia
Cost and Registration: $475, open until filled
This workshop is will determine best practices for assessing supply chain risk and vulnerability, analyzing threats, and building logistic processes. Topics include threats to the U.S. logistics and acquisitions supply chain, problems with transportation, weaknesses in the supply chain, and conducting risk assessments for acquisitions and logistics.


May 6-8, 2014
TRAIN Affiliate Consortium Annual Meeting
Public Health Foundation
Atlanta, Georgia
Cost and Registration: Invitation only, request invite by March 28
This meeting will focus on analyzing public health learning and healthcare preparedness in the context of the Public Health Foundation’s TRAIN program, which works with state and local agencies to provide public health training online. Topics include connecting the healthcare field, measuring learning analytics, improving communication, and creating quality e-learning environments.


May 19-23, 2014
Large Wildland Fires: Social, Political and Ecological Effects
International Association of Wildland Fire
Missoula, Montana
Cost and Registration: $415, open until filled
This conference will the causes, effects, and opportunities to be found in large wildland fires, with an emphasis on fuel management, resiliency, and climate change. Topics include consequences of changing wildland fire regimes, fuel management, frontiers in fire economics, restoring fire-adapted forests, historical fire climatology, using satellites to observe fire behavior, and journalism skills for fire scientists.


June 7-9, 2014
2014 IRDR Conference
Integrated Research on Disaster Risk
Beijing, China
Cost and Registration: $400, open until filled

This conference will emphasize the importance of science as a tool to address hazard risks and issues of sustainable development in a global contexts. Topics include community disaster risk reduction, forensic investigations of disaster, empowering local officials, indigenous and vulnerable populations, water and disasters, science and the media, and the gap between disaster knowledge, policy and practice.

Back to Top

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

National Continuity Program Deputy Assistant Administrator
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Washington, D.C.
Salary: $120,749 to $181,500
Deadline: March 27, 2014

This position directs the National Continuity Program and develops and implements policy guidance and operations for civil government emergency preparedness. Duties include advising the assistant administrator in matters related to national security emergency preparedness, serving as a point of contact with the Whitehouse and National Security Council, and analyzing existing national security programs for applicability in view of evolving technologies and threats to national security. Senior level executive leadership experience and one year of experience at the GS-15 level is required.


Disaster and Emergency Management Major Research Project Supervisor
Royal Roads University
Victoria, British Columbia
Salary: Not listed
Deadline: March 28, 2014
This associate faculty contract position is responsible for supervising a group of 10 graduate students as they complete their final research projects in the Disaster and Emergency Management distance learning program. Duties include guiding students in developing their research prospectus, reviewing ethics applications, and providing supervision and support in the study and writing of the final report. A PhD in emergency management or a related field, graduate supervisory experience, and experience with web-based education is required.


Emergency Preparedness Specialist
Denver Public Schools
Denver, Colorado
Salary: $45,833 to $55,000
Deadline: Open until filled

This position assists with the development, implementation, and compliance of the district Emergency Response and Crisis Management plan. Duties include supervising the production and distribution of plan publications, maintaining the plan budget, and conducting drills at each school annually. A bachelor’s degree in a related field, National Incident Management certification, and three to five years of emergency management experience is required.


Response and Recovery Coordinator
Samar, Philippines
Salary: Not Posted
Deadline: Open until filled
This position will assist in the recovery of the Eastern Philippines Island of Samar with a focus on public health threats. Duties include coordinating the delivery of  critical medicines and supplies, evaluating potential program partners and recovery projects, review proposals, preparing reports for external constituents, and assisting with media coverage. A bachelor’s degree and five years of experience in public health and disaster response are required.

Back to Top

Webinars, Training, and Education

March 24, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. EDT
California Drought and Related Climate Science Needs
NOAA Climate Program Office
Cost and Registration: Free, register onlin
This webinar will feature Jeanine Jones of Interstate Resources Manager for the California Department of Water Resources discussing the challenges of managing California drought. Topics to be discussed include a framework for water management, current hydrologic and supply conditions, state response, and the need for subseasonal climate forecasts to support decision making.


March 26, 2014, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. PDT
Active Shooter in the Workplace: Lessons Learned and Best Practices
Cost and Registration: Free, register online

This webinar will focus on how companies can prepare employees for an active shooter situation in the workplace. Topics will include command, control, and communication; coordinating with emergency services in advance; using emergency notification systems; and training exercises for personnel.

Online Course
April 2 to May 23, 2014
Mainstreaming Gender into Community-Based Disaster Risk Management
Human Rights and Justice Group International
Cost and Registration: $300, closes March 31
This certificate course will examine issues of mainstreaming gender into disaster risk reduction efforts. Attendees will learn about community-based disaster risk management from a gender perspective, gender-sensitive risk assessments, gender and early warning systems, and how to develop gender-sensitive risk indicators.

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