Dam Straight

Recent Events Highlight the Need to Get the Nation’s Dams In Line

By Jolie Breeden

Extreme weather and recent threats to Western dams—including the high-profile failure of the Oroville Dam spillway—are focusing much needed attention on the need to shore up the vast network of dams across the nation.


Pay It Forward

FEMA Calls for a Deductible to Reduce Disaster Spending

By Jolie Breeden

In between rising costs and more instances of more extreme weather, can federal agencies find a better way to help states after disaster?


A Tale of Two Floods

Katrina, Baton Rouge, and the Lessons in Between

By Elke Weesjes Sabella

WHEN BATON ROUGE and other areas of Louisiana flooded last summer, many of those active during Hurricane Katrina made their way to hard-hit Livingston Parish to offer help. Among them was Kenny Bellau, an eighth generation New Orleanian whose heroic efforts after Katrina helped save 400 lives. Curious about how the two efforts compared, I recently interviewed Bellau by phone. His accounts—some harrowing, some mundane—highlight the substantially different effects of flooding in urban and rural communities.


Awareness isn’t Knowledge

A Look at How the U.S. Public Perceives Zika

By David Abramson and Rachael Piltch Loeb

A new and eye-opening report on the public perceptions of Zika reveals that while a large majority of the U.S. public is aware of the virus, fewer than half understand how the virus is transmitted, that most people who contract the virus are asymptomatic, and that the virus can cause birth defects.


Inmates: Our Defenders in Disaster

By J. Carlee Smith

When we think of prisoner labor we generally might imagine inmates picking up highway trash or manufacturing license plates. A less well-known fact is that inmates also assist the public in times of disaster by serving as emergency responders. The experiences of inmates remain isolated from the general public, so it’s no wonder that few people know about the role of inmate labor in disasters, or the possible impacts such services may have on incarcerated populations or the general public.