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Number 645 • May 22, 2015 | Past Issues













Nepal Races Against Time to Provide Aid as the Monsoon Season Looms

As Nepal tries to cope with the immediate effects of two devastating earthquakes, the looming monsoon rains threatens to deal a fresh blow to the already battered nation.

Monsoon rains in Central Nepal—which typically begin mid-June and last through mid-September—often trigger floods and landslides. Such challenges mean that isolated villages in the disaster stricken region will be even harder, if not impossible, for trucks loaded with heavy relief supplies and construction materials to reach.

“We realize that many families won’t be able to rebuild their damaged or completely destroyed homes before the monsoon rains start in a few weeks,” Jennifer Poidatz, director of Catholic Relief Services’ humanitarian response team, told the Huffington Post. “We need to reach those families with training and materials to make monsoon-resilient shelters.”

The task at hand is significant. The Nepalese government has just announced that it needs a whopping one million tents to provide shelter to the victims of the earthquakes, which killed more than 8,500 people and displaced 2.8 million.

After the first earthquake on April 25, bureaucratic bottlenecks severely delayed the arrival and distribution of international relief supplies. Though aid organizations and the Nepalese government have tried to catch up since, there is still an enormous gap between the number of tents getting to devastated communities and actual need.

And now, with the monsoon encroaching, they are running out of time—especially in rural areas. Without adequate shelter for themselves and their crops, displaced farmers can’t return to their land and harvest potatoes and rice or plant wheat ahead of the monsoon.

“Beyond the needs of urban centers, people displaced from rural villages need to be able to return to their homes before the start of the planting season,” Kaha Imnadze, acting vice president of the United Nations General Assembly, said in a statement on May 15. “Failing to enable people to return to their respective villages to plant crops could have severe consequences for the country’s food security.”

Food supplies are running out and a food crisis is already around the corner. The disaster has destroyed livestock, crops, food stocks, and markets. The Nepalese Ministry of Agriculture Development has projected that the country will need more than 215,000 tons of food in the next three months. With pre-monsoon rains hampering delivery, getting food to those in need grows more difficult every day.

Food isn’t the only worry—fresh water could be hard to come by, too. Aside from cutting off remote areas receiving help, heavy rains might also contaminate drinking water supplies by washing human waste into the water sources.

To prevent the rise of diarrhea and other diseases, WaterAid has worked around the clock to deliver water purification tablets, emergency community water filters, and hygiene kits containing buckets, soap, cloths and sanitary napkins to the affected region. In addition, the non-profit organization has launched a series of radio broadcasts that urge residents to take extra precautions with water, personal hygiene, and toilet use.

“We know that we must act now to try and avoid a second disaster in the form of an outbreak such as cholera, “ Tom Palakudiyil, regional head of South Asia WaterAid, said in a statement.

Stanching an outbreak would be ideal, but at least some experts think it’s implausible. With monsoon rains looming, lack of adequate shelter and clean water will almost certainly lead to a public health crisis, they say.

“There will be outbreaks of cholera and other diseases,” Antti Rautavaara chief of water, sanitation and hygiene for UNICEF in Nepal, told the The New York Times. “It is a battle we cannot win. We can only try to minimize the pain and death.”

—Elke Weesjes

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Journalism, Disasters, and So Much More: Remembering Joe Scanlon, 1933-2015

The Natural Hazards Center joined others in hazards community this month as we mourn the loss of T. Joseph (Joe) Scanlon, Professor Emeritus at Carleton University’s School of Journalism and director of its Emergency Communications Research Unit. Scanlon died of complications of a heart attack on May 2 in Kingston Ontario, where he was attending the Carleton Spring Conference. He was 82.

A frequent contributor to the Natural Hazards Observer and fixture in the hazards community, Scanlon combined two different worlds—journalism and disaster studies.

Scanlon graduated from Carleton’s journalism school in the 1950s and began his career as a staff member with the Toronto Daily Star. He became the paper’s Washington correspondent in the early 1960s, covering the first years of the Kennedy administration and the civil rights movement. He also worked in television as a field producer and editor with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

In 1965, Joe joined his alma mater as an assistant professor and was appointed director of the School of Journalism the following year. It was around this time that he became involved in disaster research and was able to apply his experience as a reporter and journalist to this field. His research and writing—an exciting mix of investigative practices, sociological theories, data analysis, and interviews—breathed new life into the field.

Scanlon published extensively on emergency incidents throughout his lengthy career. He focused mainly on events in his home country of Canada, but also examined disasters in Australia and France. He was particularly interested in media coverage of disasters, gender and evacuations, emergency management, and community involvement in disaster preparedness and response. A sought-after speaker, he continued to lecture on these topics at conferences around the world until his death.

Scanlon received the Charles Fritz Award from the International Research Committee for his lifetime contribution to Sociology of Disaster in 2002.

Winning the prestigious award far from marked the culmination of Joe’s career as a writer and researcher. Recently, he was working on a large-scale research project that focused on the problems surrounding mass death. The project included a study of the overseas response in handling of the dead after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, a study of Canadian disaster mass death incidents, and a study of how pandemic death was handled in three Ontario communities. In addition he served as a consultant on a National Science Foundation project that looked at supply chains resulting from the response to Hurricane Katrina.

Joe is survived by his longtime partner Kathleen Quinn, and his children, David, Lucy, Leslie, Meaghan, and Amy.

—Elke Weesjes

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Mary Fran Myers: One Woman Inspires Lots of Winners

As Co-Director of the Natural Hazards Center, Mary Fran Myers inspired and supported many researchers to do excellent work on gender issues and reducing disaster losses. Although Myers passed away in 2004, two prizes established in her name continue to support those who shared Myers vision: The Mary Fran Myers Scholarship and the Mary Fran Myers Award. This year, three winners have been named in honor of Myers.

The Mary Fran Myers Scholarship

The Mary Fran Myers Scholarship selection committee chose two recipients to receive the 2015 Scholarship, which recognizes outstanding individuals who share Myers passion for disaster loss reduction nationally and internationally. The Scholarship provides financial support to recipients who otherwise would be unable to attend and participate in the Annual Hazards Research and Applications Workshop to further their research or community work and careers.

Kylah Forbes-Genade is a senior lecturer in disaster relief management at Stenden University in South Africa. She is currently finalizing her PhD, which focuses on vulnerable adolescent girls in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Malawi at North West University in South Africa.

Forbes-Genade came to South Africa as the recipient of the Provention Consortium Research and Action Grants to implement the Girls in Risk Reduction Leadership (GIRRL) Project. Growing support for the GIRRL Project, led to her being invited to serve as a researcher and the head of Community Development and Outreach program at the African Centre for Disaster Studies. The opportunity to research and work in Southern Africa was a catalyst for her work with women and children in the context of developing countries and her focus on understanding the conditions that contribute to vulnerability, as well as to empowerment.

Kate Brady
is the National Recovery Coordinator for Australian Red Cross Emergency Services, where she is responsible for coordinating the development of all recovery services and activities undertaken around the country. In this role, Brady also works with the New Zealand Red Cross to support the Canterbury Earthquake recovery efforts. Before she took her position with the national team, Brady headed the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Recovery team, which was developed to support community recovery following the 2009 Victorian bushfires.

Brady is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Melbourne, which examines what things help most during recovery from emergency from the perspectives of those affected. In 2010, Kate was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to look at long-term psychosocial recovery programs in the United States, United Kingdom, and China.

The Mary Fran Myers Award

The Mary Fran Myers Award was established in 2002 to recognize disaster professionals who continue Myers’ goal of promoting research on gender issues, disasters, emergency management, and higher education. The Gender and Disaster Network have named Akiko Domoto as the 2015 Mary Fran Myers Award winner.

Akiko Domoto is the president and coordinator of the Japan Women’s Network for Disaster Risk Reduction. She is particularly committed to issues of environment, disasters, and women prisoners with attention to human rights, gender equality, and diversity.

Domoto began her career as journalist, traveling extensively while making documentaries about human rights and equality, with a special emphasis on Tibet. Following that, Domoto was elected as a member of the Parliament Upper House of Japan in the 1990's. As a Parliamentarian, she was instrumental in getting the prime minister’s support to establish the Gender Equality Law in Japan in 1999. She was elected the first female governor of Chiba Prefecture in Japan in 2001, and served until 2009.

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

Call for Entries
IAEM Awards Competitions
International Association of Emergency Managers
Deadline: May 29, 2015

The International Association of Emergency Managers is accepting entries for its Awards Competition that recognizes and honors those who have made special contributions to the field of emergency management. Submissions should clearly explain why the candidate’s effort is award-worthy, including a detailed description of measurable impact. For more information on the different award categories, as well as submission requirements, visit the IAEM Web site.


Call For Papers
AACS Annual Conference
Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology
Deadline: June 1, 2015

The Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology is accepting paper submissions for publication at their annual conference to be held October 8-10 in Montgomery, Alabama. Submissions may include research, policy work, teaching, activism, or clinical experience. For more information on paper guidelines and submission requirements, visit the Web site.


Call for Chapters
The New Environmental Crisis: Hazard, Disaster, and the Challenges Ahead
University of Delaware Disaster Research Center
Deadline: July 1, 2015

The Disaster Research Center of the University of Delaware is accepting abstract submissions of chapters for publication in an upcoming book to be titled The New Environmental Crisis: Hazard, Disaster, and the Challenges Ahead. Interdisciplinary abstract submissions should be 500-700 words and focus on assessing present knowledge in the hazards field that is useful to policy makers. For more information on suggested topics and submission guidelines, visit the Web site.

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Some New Web Resources

Coastal Flood Exposure Mapper
Nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population lives in counties subject to significant coastal flooding and—with expanding developments in coastal regions—that number is expected to increase in the near future. With this in mind, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has expanded its flood exposure risk-mapping tool to cover coastal areas from Texas to Maine. This handy tool allows visitors to select their location and possible flood scenarios to calculate how floodwaters might impact their community.


Extreme Event: Coastal City
Want to host a hurricane? No problem—the Extreme Event game can help. This exciting 12- to 48-player game was made to help groups (from communities to classrooms) see how they’d fare in a disaster scenario. The quick-paced game is played on tablets or laptops and features an unfolding disaster in four phases—preparation, response, recovery, and adaptation. Players must collaborate to solve disaster challenges and afterwards reflect on their levels of disaster resilience. Visit the Web site to learn more about how to host a game for your group and keep an eye out for the River City version coming in September.


Performance of Buildings and Nonstructural Components in the 2014 South Napa Earthquake
The Federal Emergency Management Agency tasked a team of engineers to assess the performance of buildings impacted by the 2014 South Napa Earthquake and develop recommendations to improve building codes and other mitigation practices. This report documents that work and finds that damage from nonstructural building elements and unreinforced masonry posed significant danger.


Flood Risk and Resilience Viewer
The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority has launched a new interactive, online tool that provides information on flood risk and the impacts of climate change in coastal Louisiana. The tool provides residents with access to comprehensive information about how Louisiana’s coast may change in the future, as well as ways to make communities and property safer right now.


Tackling Prolonged Displacement: Lessons on Durable Solutions from Fukushima
This recently published policy brief by the United Nations University draws on lessons learned from the Fukushima earthquake and elaborates on solutions for displaced populations. It provides recommendations based on insights from interviews with experts from the UN and other international organizations working with disaster-induced displacement, humanitarian assistance, disaster risk reduction and recovery.

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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]

July 2, 2015
Disaster Preparedness Forum
Corporate Social Responsibility Asia and the Prudence Foundation
Hanoi, Vietnam
Cost and Registration: $100, open until filled

This conference will focus on advancing strategic business partnerships that aid in the development of disaster community preparedness in the Asia-Pacific region. Topics include the evolving role of business in community disaster preparedness, understanding humanitarian systems, reducing post-disaster spending and loss, and meeting community needs during a natural disaster.


July 6-8, 2015
International i-Rec Conference
University College London
London, England
Cost and Registration: $195, register before June 29

This conference will focus on recovery and reconstruction after disasters in urban areas. Topics include integrated reconstruction of urban systems, historical context in disaster recovery, building local capacity with humanitarian programs, the effects of relocation on individual resiliency, and the role of urban governments in rebuilding and reconstructing.


July 7-10, 2015
International Scientific Conference: Our Common Future Under Climate Change
Paris, France
Cost and Registration: $641, register before June 8

This conference will focus on broad contexts of climate change and associated mitigation and adaptation issues. Topics include coping with climate disasters, monitoring climate change, quantitative approaches to measuring future impacts, social and human dimensions of vulnerability, integrating adaptation and mitigation at the landscape scale, and aligning climate change actions and sustainable development goals.


July 9, 2015
Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum
Westminster Forum Projects
London, England
Cost and Registration: $232, open until filled

This conference will examine the United Kingdom's National Adaptation Program and discuss how regional, public, and private stakeholders are engaged. Topics include a case study of climate change adaptation in Scotland, protecting water resources, building ecological resilience, and adaptation in the retail sector.


July 21-24, 2015
Canadian Conference on Earthquake Engineering
Canadian Association for Earthquake Engineering
Victoria, British Columbia
Cost and Registration: $691, open until filled

This conference will focus on preparing for and responding to earthquake risk in British Columbia. Topics include shallow crustal events, the Queen Charlotte Transform Fault, seismic screenings and vulnerability assessments of structures, risk and disaster management, societal impacts, mitigating tsunamis, and geotechnical hazards.


July 22-23, 2015
NHMA Practitioners Symposium
Natural Hazards Mitigation Association
Broomfield, Colorado
Cost and Registration: $175, open until filled
This symposium will focus on promoting natural hazard risk reduction and climate adaptation through sustainable mitigation programs. Topics include understanding catastrophe insurance, structural vulnerability effects on private and public sectors, seismic resilience through policy and engineering, and severe thunderstorm impacts and mitigation. The Symposium is a partnership between the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association and the Natural Hazards Center Workshop—an invite only event. For information on how to register, visit the Workshop Web site.

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Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Disaster Risk Reduction Advisor
Concern Worldwide
Salary: $36,864 to $45,066
Deadline: May 27, 2015

This position will provide technical support to the Strengthening the Resilience of Afghanistan’s Vulnerable Communities Against Disasters project. Duties include developing detailed implementation plans, ensuring plan compliance, coordinating with Save the Children to integrate disaster risk reduction in schools, and preparing reports. A master’s degree in a relevant field, at least five years of experience in disaster risk reduction, and at least three years field experience with a nongovernmental organization are required. 


Assistant Professor
University of North Texas
Denton, Texas
Salary: Not Listed
Deadline: June 1, 2015
This position will teach courses in the undergraduate emergency administration and planning program, as well as courses in the emergency management specialization of the master’s and PhD programs. A PhD in emergency management, geography, sociology, public administration, public affairs, or any disaster-related discipline and teaching experience are required. Reference Job Number 6001047 when applying.


Business Continuity Analyst
Tulane University
New Orleans, Louisiana
Salary: Not Listed
Deadline: Open until filled
This position will help develop and implement a business continuity and disaster recovery program for the university. Duties include assisting in the maintenance of continuity plans, educating the community on continuity issues, providing guidance to the staff, and implementing Web-based continuity planning tool. A bachelor’s degree in business administration, economics, education administration, political science, or a related field and five years of experience are required.


Search, Rescue, and Warning Coordinator
Arizona Division of Emergency Management
Phoenix, Arizona
Salary: $36,814 to $65,827
Deadline: Open until filled
This position is responsible for identifying the impact of natural, civil, and technological hazards in a timely manner and communicating impacts to stakeholders. Duties include presenting threats to critical public safety stakeholders, serving as the state search and rescue coordinator, maintaining statewide threat and hazard surveillance, and estimating the likelihood of disasters and their consequences. Experience and training in emergency management, search and rescue, legislative requirements, and communications experience are required.


Director of Emergency Management
Tarrant County Community College
Fort Worth, Texas
Salary: Not Listed
Deadline: Open until filled

This position is responsible for organizing, administering, and directing the college emergency management department. Duties include contingency planning for complex disaster situations; maintaining emergency response staff procedures and action guides; advising the vice chancellor on environmental, safety, and emergency management issues; applying state, federal, local, and college regulations to procedures and plans; and conducting training for staff, students, and the community. A master’s degree in emergency management or a related field and five years of experience are required. 

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Webinars, Training, and Education

Water Hazards and Community Resilience
June 4, 2015, 1:00-2:00 p.m. EDT
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and others
Cost and Registration: Free, register online before event

This webinar, featuring Jim Schwab of the American Planning Association, is part of the NOAA series on climate information for managing water resource risks. The series focuses on capacity building activities designed to advance understanding of Earth climate systems and how to apply such knowledge to risk management and adaptation efforts.


Health Emergencies in Large Populations
July 13-31, 2015, Baltimore, Maryland
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and others
Cost and Registration: $2,000, register by June 20

This course will help participants understand the fundamental areas of humanitarian assistance, disaster management, epidemiology, and environmental health. Topics include preparing responses to emergencies, caring for refugees and internally displaced persons, critical health indicators, communicable diseases, and the roles and responsibilities of public health professionals in disasters. 

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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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