Pre-Disaster Planning Recovery Guide for Local Governments
The best time to figure out how your community will recover from a disaster is before you have one—that’s why the Federal Emergency Management Agency has a created a guide to help local governments get a plan in place sooner rather than later. The guide lists steps to creating a plan, engaging community members and the private sector in planning, and incorporating existing response plans in the process.
Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative
Wherever disaster strikes, there is sure to be pieces of cultural heritage at stake—from the irreplaceable photographs in your attic to museum-quality works of art. The Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative is here to save them. The initiative responds to crises worldwide and also teaches conservators how to safeguard cultural artifacts. The Web site has more or those efforts, plus helpful resources such as guides on emergency evacuation of collections, response and recovery information, and more on the Heritage Emergency National Task Force co-sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
GAO Report on Civil Defense Support of Pandemic Preparedness
Now is the time to shore up communication on pandemic preparedness between the U.S. Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services, according to this new report from the Government Accountability Office. The report, which assesses the DOD plan to support civil authorities during a pandemic, found that the departments could make better use of existing mechanisms—including interagency working groups and training exercises—to improve pandemic response. Since DHS and HHS are in the process of updating response plans, the timing is especially good to include additional coordination support into the process.
National Profile of Local Health Departments
This survey, conducted by the National Association of County and City Health Officials, will provide insight about local health departments in the United States—who they serve, how they’re financed, and what they’re working on. Nearly 2,000 of the 2,500 U.S. local health departments responded to the survey to report on wide range of topics including leadership structure, preparedness activities, and public health policy. The result is a glimpse into the day-to-day worlds of the organizations that protect public health.
First Observer Plus
Since transportation hubs make appealing targets for terrorist attacks, it makes sense to give transportation officials extra training in spotting suspicious activity. The First Observer Plus program by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration does just that, offering online and in-person training classes in categories for highway workers, school bus drivers, and other employees that could encounter potential crimes. Classes focus on how to assess and report threats.
Accomplishments of the U.S. Global Change Research Program
This new National Academies report looks at the many accomplishments of the nearly 30-year-old program Global Change Research Program, which was created to provide strategic planning and coordination to federal agencies as they advanced the science of global environmental change. The report finds the program has helped produce science that is more useful to decision makers and the public, and suggests the program expand on it’s current Earth system observations, while making better use of social science resources.
Just because your organization doesn’t have a role in emergency management doesn’t mean it won’t be called on to act in a dire situation. Increasing episodes in public areas such as nightclubs, malls, and other gathering places have shown it’s a good idea for private sector groups to know a bit about staying safe. The Department of Homeland Security has the tools to do just that—learn how to connect with public safety officials, plan for a variety of scenarios, and train employees to respond if the unthinkable does happen.
Protecting the Health of Your Friends and Family
Youth are often considered among the most vulnerable groups in disasters, but this Web site from U.S. Health and Human Services capitalizes on how they can help instead. The site offers a number of tools—including an activity guide and brochure—that will help youth think about ways they can take care of others in disasters.
Implementation Guidelines: Establishing a Federal Earthquake Risk Management Standard
These guidelines, recently released by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, provide recommendations for implementing an executive order to establish an earthquake risk management standard for federal buildings. The order, which was issued in February 2016, requires that newly constructed or remodeled federal buildings incorporate earthquake-resistant design.
Inoculating the Public Against Misinformation About Climate Change
In a world of “alternative facts,” this timely report looks at whether action can be taken to help protect the public from targeted campaigns that undermine the veracity of scientific findings on human-caused climate change. The authors find that, although the increasing politicization of the topic can be damaging, it is possible to counteract misinformation by providing information on expert consensus, as well as political motivation behind misleading communications.
IMPACT All-Hazards Tool for First Responders
For first responders to make an impact in emergencies, they need be able to use all the tools available. This software developed by Oakridge National Laboratories does just that by allowing data to be used with map-based tools to create visuals and simulations. The free tool is available to federal, state, and local governments (and their partners) to aid in efforts such as evacuation planning, search and rescue operations, severe weather monitoring, and numerous other needs.
National Inventory of Dams
While the exact number of dams in the United States is unknown, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers keeps this database of an estimated 79,000 dams, including information on their hazard classifications. Recently updated with information from 2016, the site allows lookups by state, hazard potential, height, purpose, and a variety of other identifiers.
Communities and organizations might realize the need to move ahead with resilience planning, but sometimes starting the process is easier said than done. That’s where Resilience Dialogues comes in. This Web site can put community leaders in contact with a range of scientists and resilience professionals to answer questions, provide custom information and solutions, and share their experiences. Powered by more than 10 federal agencies and state and professional organizations devoted to climate and disaster resilience, struggling communities are bound to find the information they need.
Critical Infrastructure Protection for Healthcare and Public Health Sectors
No one wants to be without power, communication, or any of the other critical services provided through public infrastructure systems, but during an disaster, loss of infrastructure to healthcare facilities can mean loss of life. This program, coordinated by the U.S. Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, works to help facilities protect critical infrastructure, prepare for infrastructure failures, communicate healthcare needs to government infrastructure programs, and implement national infrastructure protection plans.
When it comes to crowdsourcing information related to environmental topics, Data Basin has everything but the kitchen sink. The Web site allows users to contribute data sets, maps and pictures, as well as providing ways for others to put all that info together. Visitors can create custom visualizations, drawings, and analyses; use collaborative tools; and even develop their own decision-support tools. Webinars are provided to get beginners off to a roaring start.
Communicating Science Effectively
Communicating science—especially contentious issues—to the public is rarely easy and current practices aren’t working, according to this recently released report from the National Academies. The report finds that the “deficit model” of providing the public with an abundance of information isn’t effective and scientists need to recognize factors such as social influence, belief systems, and ways information is processed in order to customize their messages. Scientists also need to consider the medium for those messages, as well.
Critical Health and Safety Issues in the Volunteer Fire Service
With nearly 70 percent of the U.S. firefighting force made up of volunteers, it only makes sense to examine factors unique to volunteers that affect health and safety. The U.S. Fire Administration does that in this report and finds that changes in six categories—culture, recruitment and retention, funding, firefighter roles, personal health, and safety protocols—can improve outcomes. The report also includes handy tools, resources, best practices, and objectives to help departments better manage volunteers.
Climate Change: The Fiscal Risks Facing the Federal Government
The future of U.S. action related to climate change is uncertain—and so is what we know about how much climate change-related impacts will cost the government. This initial assessment by the Office of Management and Budget looked at risks related to agriculture, fire, flood, air quality, and coastal storms and came to the conclusion that, while we might not be able to quantify future costs with extreme accuracy, they are likely to be significant.
Colorado Resiliency Resource Center
For many communities, the concept of resilience can be difficult to translate to reality. In Colorado, a new resource is aimed at making that easier. This Web site features knowledge and resources to help a variety of audiences understand, plan for, and act on resilience—including planning guidance, case studies, templates, training modules and more. While some of the info is Colorado-specific, there’s plenty of national appeal, too.
Law Enforcement Cybercenter
From protecting power grids to keeping credit information safe, cybersecurity is becoming paramount in today’s wired world. This site helps law enforcement officials investigate and prevent technology crime. Resources are categorized by role—police chiefs, officers, investigators, and prosecutors—and includes information on training, technical assistance, and general topics. Professionals can also gain access to Federal Bureau of Investigation cyber resources through a portal on the site.
Gender and Emergency Management Guidelines
People of diverse genders experience disasters and their aftermaths differently, but often, these experiences aren’t considered in emergency management planning. These guidelines, developed under an Australian Government initiative, attempt to create a framework for employing gender sensitivity in relief and recovery operations.
HazNet Indigenous Disaster Resilience
Resilience has been a buzzword in the disaster circles for quite some time—but not nearly as long as the concept has been in practice in indigenous cultures. The latest issue of the Canadian Risk and Hazards Network publication, HazNet, is devoted to indigenous disaster resilience and how these communities meet the challenges of preparing for and responding to hazards, while continuing to move forward.
U.S. Public Perception of Zika Risk
The World Health Organization recently downgraded the spread of Zika from an international public health emergency to a significant public health challenge—a determination that is still concerning to public health practitioners. Average Americans, however, weren’t adequately grasping their personal risk even before that development, according to this report based on more than nearly 2,500 surveys. The report finds that U.S. residents have a general awareness of the disease but that their “specific knowledge regarding the virus’s symptoms and transmission routes is incomplete, their personal sense of threat of Zika infection is relatively muted.” The report looks at public perception based on a variety of factors, as well as their implications.
Although flood mitigation makes good sense, for some communities mitigation measures can feel like a loss of place and community. This new site by the Intelligence Unit at The Economist takes a look at mitigation at the positive returns mitigation can have on the economy, on infrastructure, and on the social fabric of communities facing flood risks. With sections devoted to mitigation takeaways, community case studies, and resources available across the United States, it’s a great read for anyone concerned about the impacts of flooding in their town.
Sociocultural and Psychosocial Impacts of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
For nearly a quarter of a century, researchers Duane Gill, Steven Picou, and the Natural Hazards Center’s own Liesel Ritchie have studied the impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on the residents of Cordova, Alaska. This new publication is a comprehensive view of the many insidious results such a far-reaching disaster can have on a community—from the economic impacts to the chronic stress to exhaustion caused by years of litigation and lost resources. (Subscription may be required).
Southeast Coal Ash Map
It’s been six years since a ruptured dike at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston plant alerted the world to the dangers of coal ash repositories. Not surprisingly, the risks of slurry ponds are still an issue. Now, for those living in the southeaster United States, knowing the risk to nearby communities is as easy as clicking on a map. This site, created by Southeast Coal Ash.org, maps coal ash storage and provides information on each site, including hazard ratings, Environmental Protection Agency data, satellite images, and the full details on each site’s ownership, age, and threatened water supplies.
Extreme Event: Earthquake
Up until now, groups have been able to host hurricanes and other disasters, with the Extreme Event game series. Now it’s time to try your hand at an earthquake! The latest scenario in the game series by the Koshland Science Museum and the ResilientAmereic will let 12- to 48-players see how they’d fare when the ground starts shaking. 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.
Guide for Developing Cross-Jurisdictional Sharing Arrangements
Disease and public health emergencies don’t recognize jurisdictional boundaries, so it’s wise for health agencies to work around them, as well. This guide, developed by Center for Sharing Public Health Services and the Network for Public Health Law, can help communities set up legal documents for addressing issues and sharing resources during such emergencies. Although not a replacement for legal advice, the guide and accompanying checklist can help leaders begin thinking about the various elements that need to be in place before creating such agreements.
Medicare and Medicaid Emergency Preparedness Rule
Healthcare providers and suppliers accepting Medicaid and Medicare should know about an upcoming rule that will take effect beginning November 16. The Emergency Preparedness rule was created to insure providers have resources in place to address emergency planning, risk assessment, and communication in a variety of situations. This Web site has the full scoop, along with templates and checklists to help get a plan in place.
Resource Guide on Resilience
This guide from the International Risk Governance Council collects resources on resilience in the context of risk management for scientists and practitioners. The contents—which are searchable by concept, approach, or discipline—look at integrating, developing, and measuring resilience for governments and decision makers with an emphasis developing indicators and quantifying effectiveness. The site is a work in progress, so check back frequently while the collection grows.
Dam Safety in the United States
For those keeping tabs on the safety of the 87,000 dams in the national inventory, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recently posted its biennial report to congress on how well U.S. safety guidelines are working. Overall, the report finds many encouraging actions have been taken to support dam safety, but there is still much progress needed in the area of coordination, resilience, and risk communication. Take a look at the report for more on individual state response and FEMA’s action plan for the next two years.
World Heritage in the High Seas: An Idea Whose Time Has Come
With more than 1,000 protected areas under its belt the UNESCO World Heritage Center could be setting its sights on the sea. This new report explores ways that areas such as coral reefs, underwater volcanoes, and other ecosystems might be protected under the World Heritage Convention, even though they lack the national jurisdiction that would normally spur UNESCO involvement. The report lays out three potential concepts that could keep five marine sites safe from the ravages of climate change, sea level rise, and a host of technological disasters.
Science Literacy: Concepts, Contexts, and Consequences
In a world where attitudes regarding scientific findings on climate change and other contentious topics are often described in terms of belief or philosophy, it’s not too far-fetched to assume that more is at play than mere understanding of principles. This recent report from the National Academies Press confirms that better education will not generate greater support for science—instead a new take on science literacy that includes the relationship between science knowledge and attitudes about science, as well as how communities (as opposed to individuals) engage in science, is needed.
Introduction to FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program
If you’ve ever been confounded by the National Flood Insurance Program or its many parts, this primer from the Congressional Research Service will help you get a FIRM grasp on the program. The 25-page guide is a quick overview on everything from Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS), community participation, risk assessment, and funding. Whether you’re a community manager or wondering if you need flood insurance, this is a great place to start.
World Risk Report 2016
Quantifying risk isn’t easy, but each year the Institute for Environment and Human Society at United Nations University does just that. The annual report looks at a nation’s exposure to risk and multiplies it by its vulnerability to come up with an overall ranking of how likely a country is to suffer from the impacts of disaster. This year, the report puts a special emphasis on critical infrastructure and the role it places in shaping disaster risk. The report finds that infrastructure—and the ability to maintain it—greatly affect a country’s ability to recover from disasters.
Voice Radio Communication Guide for the Fire Service
Because firefighters often face different conditions when using the radio—including communicating through smoke, protective gear, and in areas where radio signals don’t reach—the U.S. Fire Administration has released this guide to help improve communications for increased safety. The guide gives an overview of basic technology, interoperability, and different types of systems; as well as insight on radio spectrum licensing and FCC reconfigurations.
NIOSH Storm, Hurricane, and Flood Resources
Considering recent weather stretching from Hawaii to Gulf Coast, it might be a good idea to keep this collection of resources from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health on hand. The compilation includes recommendations for emergency responders, assessment tools for hospitals and shelters, information on disaster cleanup hazards, and general advice on everything from motor vehicle safety to identifying human remains.
Emergency Preparedness Planning Guide for Child Care Centers and Child Care Homes
When it comes to keeping kids safe during disaster—especially for those five and under—having a plan in place is paramount. This guide can serve as a template to help childcare facilities plan for a wide range of emergencies, assess threats, reunite children and parents, and collaborate with local authorities before disaster strikes. Although created for the State of Illinois, the sample checklists, information release forms, resources, and reference sheets are a good place to start for other care providers, as well.
National Institute of Health Disaster Research Response
For those interested in the health implications of hazards and disasters, this Web site—which supports the National Institute of Health framework for research on the topic—will be invaluable. The site offers and array of data collection tools, research protocols, disaster research news, and events. Check back often for the latest information on topical subjects, such as the Zika outbreak or oil spill response.
The Making of a Riskier Future: How Are Decisions Are Shaping Future Disaster Risk
Disasters are out of our control, but factors that increase risk aren’t. This report by the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction argues that individuals and policy makers need to do more to avoid the main drivers of risk—but can’t do so effectively until better way of assessing the dynamic nature of risk is developed.
Wildland Urban Interface Toolkit
This go-to resource has a wealth of information to help fire departments need to prepare for and respond to wildland urban interface fires. Communities threatened by the possibility of wildland fires on their outskirts will find communication templates, assessment tools, codes and standards, and training opportunities that can help make a difference when wildland fire comes to town.
World Health Organization Zika App
Healthcare workers and first responders can keep up on ever-changing information about the Zika virus, thanks to this app developed by the WHO. The app has real-time information about disease spread, technical guidance, response, training, and the latest news and research. The app is available in a variety of languages on both iPhone and Android platforms.
Terrorism Risk Insurance: Comparison of Selected Programs in the United States and Foreign Countries
When it comes to terrorism risk insurance, United States insurers could pay more than the coverage offered by Australia, Austria, India, Spain, and the United Kingdom combined. That is just one of the findings of this U.S. Government Accountability Office report, which looks at the structures of 16 terrorism insurance programs and the loss-sharing agreements between government and the private sector. The report was created as part of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act and offers no recommendations.
Community-Based Water Resiliency Tool
What would your community do if it had to go without water for a day…or longer. Download this electronic assessment tool from the Environmental Protection Agency and find out. The tool will help communities gauge their ability to handle emergencies that affect water availability, suggest resources for increasing resilience, and create an action plan to keep the water flowing during disaster.
The C³ Voluntary Program
The C³, or C Cubed, voluntary program was created to help organizations increase cybersecurity by connecting them to existing Department of Homeland Security cyber risk management programs and introducing them to the Homeland Security-developed Framework. A project of the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, this program is especially focused toward increasing critical infrastructure security and resiliency.
Climate Information and Early Warning Systems Communications Toolkit
This toolkit provides resources and templates that will help multiple audiences design and implement a complete communications strategy that supports sustainable investments in climate information and services. While applied to the specific needs and political contexts of sub-Saharan Africa, the toolkit can also be easily adapted for other developing nations.
Planning for Hazards: Land Use Solutions for Colorado
Although nearly three years has past, the ongoing recovery from the 2013 Colorado floods point to the need incorporate disaster risk reduction and resilience into planning effort. This new guide and accompanying Web site provide a road map to doing just that, with an eye toward Colorado risks. Visit the site to access the guide, find profiles of land-use tools that reduce loss and, and read interviews with communities of various sizes and capacities.
Disaster Collaboratory Journal List
If the Disaster Collaboratory wasn’t a useful enough (and as a place where disaster researchers can share ideas, experiences, and resources, it really is handy)—then this list of disaster-centric journals makes it all the more so. The list was compiled based on a number of factors such as credible scholarship, peer-review practices, and publisher credentials—and they’re all open access, because we know the best disaster research should be widely shared.
USGS Induced Earthquakes Web Site
The U.S. Geological Survey recently created a stir with the release of a new model that forecasts induced earthquakes. While that assessment was eye opening, it’s only part of a suite of information USGS has about induced seismicity. Check out this great source from the Earthquake Hazards Program and find observational studies, hazard estimation, and more on the myths and misconceptions surrounding manmade quakes.
NASA’s Planetary Defense
Because asteroids hurtling toward the earth exist outside Hollywood blockbusters, there’s NASA’s planetary defense. Check out the Web site and learn more about what types of hazards lurk in space, the systems in place to monitor them, and how they might be redirected. Bonus perk: you’ll probably be the only one of your friends to know that the Asteroid Grand Challenge isn’t a video game.
Isle de Jean Charles Resettlement
In just over 60 years, erosion and sea level rise have swallowed 98 percent of Isle de Jean Charles. This has posed a significant problem for the band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians that has called the island their home since the early 1800s. Recently, though, island residents have received funding to resettle. This Web site will let you take the journey with them as they implement their novel plan, as well as provide background and insight into what it takes to relocate an entire community.
Attributions of Extreme Weather in the Context of Climate Change
Weather experts have often been cautious about connecting climate change to individual weather events, but advances in the science of extreme weather attribution are changing that. This report from the National Academies Press looks at how this relatively new branch of inquiry is advancing, and the extent to which it can separate human-caused climate change from other factors in individual weather.
Tsunami Awareness Fact Sheets
You don’t have to make waves to keep your community aware of tsunami dangers, thanks to these handy fact sheets from the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program. The recently updated material is available in a two-page or trifold format and has space to add your logo and contact information. Download and distribute yours today.
Public Health System Training in Disaster Recovery
Public health workers can play a key in disaster recovery—even more so with this helpful training program developed by the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health. The materials—handy for individuals or organizations—include presentations, worksheets, and resources for both trainers and trainees.
EERI Taiwan Earthquake Clearinghouse
The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute has created a helpful clearinghouse of information related to the February 6 earthquake in Taiwan. Visit the site to find reports from EERI’s reconnaissance team, information on specific building damage, maps and photos, and other resources.
Canadian Climate Opinion Maps
If you want to know what Canada thinks about climate change, there’s a map for that. This project from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication visualizes Canadian opinions on issues such as human contribution to earth warming, cap and traded systems, and support for increasing taxes on carbon-based fuels. Available in English and French.
Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program Premiums
This two-part report by the National Academies of Sciences examines recent changes to National Flood Insurance Program premiums which, although implemented to make the program more fiscally sound, ended up making flood insurance unaffordable for many homeowners. Together, the reports provide an overview of the program and offer alternatives for evaluating when premium increases make pricing unaffordable.
East Coast Lab: Life at the Boundary
Life at the boundary of two tectonic plates is all about natural hazards—earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and coastal erosion—and so is East Coast Lab. This project, led by a collection of New Zealand’s national and regional agencies and universities, offers opportunities to participate in citizen research, monitor hazards in real time, and discover more about the hazards off the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.
Student Tools for Emergency Planning (STEP)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has stepped up its game for the STEP program with a recently revamped curriculum. Teachers will find updated resources, lessons, and handouts for the program, which aims to teach kids in fourth and fifth grades the basics of emergency planning, preparedness, and communication.
Many people in the United States are at risk from damaging earthquakes, and many know it. Still, it’s one thing to realize the risk and another entirely to understand it. Temblor is a beta-version web-based app that can help. Enter an address and building details, and learn the risk for experiencing quakes, what a serious quake would cost, and how much cheaper and safer retrofitting would make you.
The National Center for Climate and Security Warriors and Weather Compilation
Alone, The Economist’s video, Warriors and Weather: Climate Change and National Security in America is a useful, ten-minute look into how the U.S. Department of Defense is approaching climate issues. But the National Center for Climate and Security takes that reporting a step further, pairing it with a list of suggested readings that range from statements by the administration to government reports and testimony.
NCDMPH Access and Functional Needs Video Series
It’s important to consider people with special access and functional needs during disaster, and communities that have worked to address these issues have a lot to share. Now, the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health is collecting their stories in a series of videos that explores how such challenges can be met. Take a look at the first in the series, which discusses the relationship between Oklahoma’s State Emergency Preparedness and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.