As Hurricane Irene tracks up the East Coast, DIEM and our partners are running forecasts through the Coastal Emergency Risks Assessment tool. The model will be updated with each new advisory from the National Hurricane Center. Click on the “Advisory” box to view the latest forecast. The menus along the right hand side of the webpage allow you to view different model outputs, including water elevation, wave height, and wind speed.
A 5.8 magnitude earthquake, centered about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, Virginia, was felt across much of the East Coast on Tuesday afternoon. The USGS suggests that the quake is the largest to originate in Virginia since May 31, 1897.
The links below provide useful information about earthquakes and emergency preparedness. Additionally, our Preparedness page includes links to help individuals, households and communities prepare for earthquakes and other natural hazards.
- The “Did You Feel It” tool from the U.S. Geological Survey website allows those who were affected by the quake to complete a brief damage survey to let scientists know what happened when and where you felt the quake.
- To learn about earthquake preparedness, including what actions to take in aftershocks and other events, see the Drop! Cover! Hold On! website from the Southern California Earthquake Center.
- Sign up for earthquake notifications from the USGS to be alerted when an earthquake happens in your area.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are partnering to explore the intersection of climate change adaptation and local planning in North Carolina by providing technical assistance to two coastal communities facing impacts from sea level rise, more intense coastal storms, and changes in precipitation. Continue reading
Wes Highfield and Sam Brody from Texas A&M University at Galveston on the Bolivar Ferry, returning to Galveston Island following a tour of the Bolivar Peninsula
The DHS Center of Excellence – Natural Disasters, Coastal Infrastructure and Emergency Management (DIEM) is exploring opportunities to partner with The Center for Texas Beaches and Shores (CTBS), located at Texas A&M University at Galveston (see CTBS description below). Prior to attending a Hurricane Conference sponsored by the University of Houston’s Texas Hurricane Center for Innovative Technology (a member of the larger Coastal Hazard Center-see introduction to the DIEM website) in August, Dr. Smith met with Sam Brody, the Director Center for Texas Beaches and Shores (CTBS) and Wes Highfield, a Research Associate within CTBS on the Texas A&M Galveston campus. In addition to discussing potential areas of collaborative research and the translation of research findings to practice, Dr. Brody and Dr. Highfield conducted a tour of Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula, two areas that were particularly hard hit by Hurricane Ike. Continue reading
The Gulf Coast of Mexico is highly vulnerable to natural and environmental disasters. Since 2000, the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida have experienced over a dozen hurricanes as well as an unprecedented oil spill. Cities are still rebuilding from the devastation Hurricanes Katrina and Ike wrought, and many of the economic and environmental impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are yet to be realized. While some of the most severe disasters occurred in the past decade, it is highly likely that the region will experience more in the near future. Many have looked to community resilience as a way for the Gulf Coast to prevent, manage, and recover from these disasters. Continue reading
Rachel Meyerson is assisting DIEM in the development of hazards management courses at UNC-CH
Rachel Meyerson is a dual degree Masters candidate in City and Regional Planning and Public Administration at the University of North Carolina. Her educational and work experiences throughout the past two years have led to her interest in disaster planning and emergency management. From the beginning, Rachel immersed herself in land use and environmental planning courses where she began to learn about the impacts of natural disasters on the environment, community, and economy and development management techniques used by planners to mitigate those impacts. She furthered her interests as a research assistant at the Institute for the Environment, coding local hazard mitigation plans for plan quality and attending the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop in Colorado in 2010. This past summer, she was able to apply her research and educational experiences to practice as an intern at IEM in Washington D.C. Her experience this summer was both rewarding and challenging and she is continuing to work for IEM part-time throughout the school year at the company’s headquarters in Research Triangle Park. Continue reading
John Cooper, a DIEM Advisory Board member, and Phil Berke, a Co-lead of DIEM’s planning focus area, worked together to design and implement the Emergency Preparedness Demonstration Project described below.
Disadvantaged households (including low-wealth, children and the elderly, people with disabilities, those of different race or ethnicity) suffer disproportionately during major disasters. To understand barriers preventing disadvantaged communities from being more aware of and prepared for disasters, FEMA entered into a cooperative agreement with MDC, Inc. to launch the Emergency Preparedness Demonstration (EPD). MDC collaborated with researchers from the University of North Carolina’s Center for Sustainable Community Design (CSCD) and Texas A&M’s Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center to carry out the EPD in eight states (DE, MD, MS, NC, PA, TX, VA, WV) and the District of Columbia.
- To learn why disadvantaged communities are typically less prepared for disasters, as well as what preparation strategies have and haven’t worked
- To test ways to engage disadvantaged communities in helping with disaster planning and preparedness
- To test promising strategies for improving disaster planning and preparedness in disadvantaged communities
The EPD team worked with staff at FEMA and state emergency management offices to identify communities with a history of disasters and a large proportion of disadvantaged citizens. The EPD team also looked for places with a capable community based organization (CBO) to collaborate with and a supportive local office of emergency management (EM), to ensure the implementation of promising strategies. The project team then recruited a taskforce of citizens – representing disadvantaged groups and public and private organizational stakeholders–to engage in an inclusive planning process aimed at identifying promising practices for increasing disaster awareness and preparedness among disadvantaged groups.
- New or improved relationships between emergency management, CBOs, and citizens;
- Inventory of planning resources/capacities both internal and external to participating communities;
- Assessment of the most vulnerable populations in participating communities;
- Increased use of methods appropriate for the disadvantaged in preparedness planning;
- Increased awareness among disadvantaged groups.
- A step-by-step guide for inclusive local disaster preparedness planning;
- A guide for assessing the extent to which current local plans account for the disadvantaged;
- A guide for assessing the extent to which the disadvantaged are vulnerable to disaster;
- An index of promising practices to inform local strategy decisions;
- A set of case studies and peer reviewed articles documenting the experiences of EPD sites and lessons learned.
MDC helps organizations and communities close the gaps that separate people from opportunity. For more information about the EPD or MDC, contact Program Director John Cooper at 919-381-5802 ext. 347
The failure to plan for disaster recovery results in a process of rebuilding that often presages the next disaster. It also limits the collective maximization of governmental, nonprofit, and private resources, including those resources that are available at the community level. As individuals, groups, communities, and organizations routinely struggle to recover from disasters, they are beset by a duplication of effort, poor interorganizational coordination, the development and implementation of policies that are not shaped by local needs, and the spreading of misinformation. Yet the perceived value of pre-event planning for post-disaster recovery remains low.
Increasing evidence indicates that collaboration between the private and public sectors could improve the ability of a community to prepare for, respond to, and recovery from disasters. To address this need, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Human Factors Behavioral Sciences Division asked the National Research Council to form a committee of experts to assess the current state of private-public sector collaboration dedicated to strengthening community resilience, to identify gaps in knowledge and practice, and to recommend research that could be targeted for investment.
The resulting report, Building Community Disaster Resilience through Private-Public Collaboration, is now available from The National Academies Press.
A key finding of the report is that local-level private-public collaboration is essential to the development of community resilience. Sustainable and effective resilience-focused private-public collaboration is dependent on several basic principles that increase communication among all sectors of the community, incorporate flexibility into collaborative networks, and encourage regular reassessment of collaborative missions, goals, and practices.
Ward Lyles, a doctoral candidate in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of City and Regional Planning, was selected as a PERISHIP Fellow in Hazards, Risks, and Disasters. Ward has worked with Drs. Philip Berke and Gavin Smith on the DIEM-funded project, “Analysis of Federal Mitigation Policy in the U.S.: Mitigation Plans, Expenditures, Civic Engagement, and Local Capacity.”
Started in 2004, the PERISHIP Fellowship was initially established as a partnership between The Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado and the Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI) with funding from the National Science Foundation to support dissertation fellowships for work in all aspects of natural and human-made hazards, risks and disasters across all disciplines.
Ward’s dissertation, “Stakeholder Networks Influences on Hazard Mitigation Planning Outputs,” seeks to add to the current understanding of factors driving the development, adoption, and implementation of hazard mitigation plans that increase community resilience through planning outputs. His research questions center on the influence of the networks of stakeholders involved in the planning processes on the incorporation of sustainable land use and development management policies and programs into mitigation plans.