Claire B. Rubin has 32 years of experience as a researcher, consultant, and educator in the fields of emergency management and homeland security

  • RR Transport and Haz Mat Cargo – 2 articles

    28 Aug 2014 | 8:11 am

    RR Transport and Haz Mat Cargo – 2 articles Grants funded to mitigate risk among railroads hauling hazardous materials. The Federal Railway Administration ( U.S.) has funded two grants totaling $350,000 to support development of a Short Line Safety Institute. The Institute would help mitigate risk associated with shipping hazardous materials by rail by working to improve the culture of safety within the short line and regional rail industry while improving its overall safety record. A related article re oil transport by rail from Huff Post Canada: Oil By Rail Is In Desperate Need of Clean-Up

  • Canada has Weak Safety Culture re Transport

    28 Aug 2014 | 7:10 am

    Canada has Weak Safety Culture re Transport Transport Canada’s lax safety practices go beyond rail; Self-reporting rules for marine, rail and aviation contributing to ‘weak safety culture.’ The deadly Lac-Mégantic train crash — and this week’s safety board report into what happened — raises questions not only about government oversight of the rail industry but of other sectors like air, marine and food as well, engineers and transportation experts say. On Tuesday, the Transportation Safety Board released its final report on the worst rail disaster in Canada’s history. In it, the watchdog agency criticized how the federal government ensures regulated companies follow safety rules.    Filed under: Canada, Regulations, Transportation

  • Lessons Learned from 2011 Joplin Tornado

    28 Aug 2014 | 6:39 am

    Lessons Learned from 2011 Joplin Tornado In the current issue of the Hazards Observer, which is always worth reading in its entirety, there is an interesting article about the recovery of Joplin, MO,  See: Lessons from the 2011 Joplin Tornado The Joplin piece is on pages 10-15  in this issue.Filed under: Research Studies and Documents

  • Flood Avoidance Tools for NJ

    27 Aug 2014 | 7:09 am

    Flood Avoidance Tools for NJ New website offers flood-avoidance tools in Hurricane Sandy’s wake ew Jersey residents and officials have a new tool, NJ ADAPT, to help them prepare for storms and sea-level rise. The project, led by Rutgers University, provides access to volumes of data related to climate, flood elevation and sea level, as well as video case studies on how different areas of the state have been affected post-Hurricane Sandy. The direct URL to Rutgers Site is here.Filed under: Floods

  • Earthquakes in CA

    25 Aug 2014 | 2:24 pm

    Earthquakes in CA To the surprise of many, CA has not had a major earthquake for about 25 years. If you are curious about earthquake history in CA, you might want to check out this chart: Earthquake Planning in CA ( 1906- 2008);  the time line chart is available to browse here: CAEQ.  Note that if you want a hardcopy of this poster-size chart, copies are available for a nominal fee from ___________________________________ Eric Holdeman is already offering Lessons Learned on his blog; and the ‘quake only happened 2 days ago!Filed under: Earthquake, Research Studies and Documents

  • New E-book Available (Free)

    24 Aug 2014 | 6:40 am

    New E-book Available (Free) Prof. Jos. Trainer of Univ. of DE. says that a digital copy of the new ebook he co-edited for FEMA – “Issues in Disaster Science and Management” — is available upon request to FEMA. Because the agency does not yet have a public release date for the 481 page book, which eventually will be posted online, copies will be made available upon request. [The holdup at this point is FEMA’s internal accessibility and technical compliance checks.] Barbara Johnson, of FEMA/EMI, has agreed to provide digital copies on disk to anyone who makes a request  until the document is cleared to be posted online. Email: Update:  Chapter 13, for which the Diva was co-author, is the successor to the earlier versions of What Keeps Me Up at Night.  

  • Recovery of Sea Ports

    23 Aug 2014 | 12:00 am

    Recovery of Sea Ports See the HSDL site for details about Port Recovery After H. Sandy

  • Use of Collaboration Tools in Christchurch, NZ

    22 Aug 2014 | 6:31 am

    Use of Collaboration Tools in Christchurch, NZ How Microsoft collaboration tools enabled disaster recovery after the Christchurch earthquake. Thanks to Ian McLean for this citation.Filed under: Christchurch

  • CA Drought Intensifies

    22 Aug 2014 | 6:29 am

    CA Drought Intensifies CA Water Crisis Pending And this one on the rise of land as it dries out. Another take on the topic from the LA Times.Filed under: drought

  • Long-Term Economic Outcomes of Disasters

    21 Aug 2014 | 6:25 am

    Long-Term Economic Outcomes of Disasters This is the second posting in a row that deals with the long-term outcomes of a disaster, in this case a set of cyclones.  While I think the title of the article is misleading — Emotional Storms Are No Response for Disasters -- it deals with a recent study that shows that government aid and World Bank projects are not enough to spur lasting recovery. This article in the National Review notes that a new National Bureau of Economic Research paper supplies strong evidence that national economies decline compared with their pre-disaster trend and “do not recover.” “The data reject hypotheses that disasters stimulate growth or that short-run losses disappear.” The conclusion: Cyclone-hit countries, rich or poor, experience such losses. Places where very big cyclones hit lose 3.7 years of development over the following two decades. This blow compares to a tax increase of 1 percent of gross domestic product, or a currency crisis. * * * Economies do experience a jolt of growth when governments or private companies, not to mention international nonprofits and agencies, dump cash and rock concerts in the rush that follows tragedy. That jolt may include food, bottled water, and blankets that save lives. But economically, a jolt is just a jolt. The growth is not sustained. The true economic picture, and a negative one, comes clear over the long term, the 10- or twenty-year period. The only reason we have not noticed this ….is that “the gradual nature of these losses renders them inconspicuous[…]

  • Reach Your Audience in an Emergency: #SMEM

    1 May 2014 | 11:04 am

    Reach Your Audience in an Emergency: #SMEM Post by: Kim Stephens Keep the flood photos coming. Click here to upload:— WJZ | CBS Baltimore (@cbsbaltimore) April 30, 2014 Flooding was rampant yesterday for what seemed like half the country. Social Media was buzzing with images, safety tips and information about the event as it continued to get increasingly worse as the day wore on and the rain seemed unending. GALLERY: Heavy April Showers Bring Flooding To Maryland. Upload Your Flood Photos, Here:— WJZ | CBS Baltimore (@cbsbaltimore) April 30, 2014 Using social networks to communicate emergency, safety and preparedness information has now, in 2014, become a standard operating procedure for quite a few emergency management and response organizations. As with any standard procedure, each event can provide an opportunity to understand how to improve and adjust. As a person on the receiving end of the information stream yesterday, I noticed three things that could be improved upon. 1.  Ensure posts are “Mobile Ready” On a day where the situation is changing rapidly, as it does with flooding, people will be looking for information anywhere they can get it. It is important to keep in mind that there is a high likelihood that those searches will be occurring on a mobile device. According to the Pew Research Center “The growing ubiquity of cell phones, especially the rise of smartphones, has made social networking just a finger tap away.  Fully 40% of cell phone owners use a social networking site on their phone, and 28%[…]

  • Keeping the Lines of Communication Open: Atlanta Public School’s Long Snow Day

    29 Jan 2014 | 10:08 am

    Keeping the Lines of Communication Open: Atlanta Public School’s Long Snow Day Post by: Kim Stephens We had a light dusting of snow last night and schools are closed today in my county. I’m guessing there are some officials in Atlanta wishing they had made the same decision yesterday before snow and ice paralyzed the city‘s roadways. Although they tried to dismiss school early the traffic was so horrific some buses were unable to get children home and instead had to return them to school. Parents who normally pick up their children were stuck in traffic eerily reminiscent of scenes from the Atlanta-based series The Walking Dead. A shelter-in-place order was issued after 10:00 pm last night and about 452 staff and students spent the night in several different ATL public school buildings. This situation could be any public communicator’s nightmare scenario. However, the Atlanta Public School’s communications team provided a master class in emergency information dissemination, mainly through their @apsupdate (or Atlanta Public Schools Update) Twitter account. Here are a few things they did well. 1. Addressed parents questions and concerns directly Reply to @KharaJ1 be sure to reach out to your child's school. All students are allowed to use phones.— ATL Public Schools (@apsupdate) January 29, 2014 I have heard quite a few communicators debate whether or not they should address direct questions since it could overwhelm staff and bog down the message they are trying to convey. However, in this situation, the decision to address each person was the only logical choice–ignoring parents’ questions could have been its own disaster.[…]

  • Deaf People Use Social Media to Make Their Voices Heard: Can #SMEM be used to reach them in a crisis?

    15 Dec 2013 | 2:24 pm

    Deaf People Use Social Media to Make Their Voices Heard: Can #SMEM be used to reach them in a crisis? Guest Post by: Dr. Steph Jo Kent News about the #fakeinterpreter for Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service worsened daily: from grotesque incompetence to mental illness to a potential record of violent crime. If ever there was a cautionary tale for emergency management, this is it. Are you wondering “how such a spectacular mistake could have been made“? Before the latest horrifying turn, sign language interpreters and members of the Deaf community were already beginning to emerge from the first waves of disappointment, anger, and humiliation. One man’s audacity, and what appears to be a laissez-faire attitude toward providing real communication access, drew the lightning bolt flash of long pent-up Deaf frustration. Cathy Heffernan, writing for The Guardian, presents the background: “Bad interpretation is surprisingly common and something that deaf people who use interpreters face on a regular basis. Across public services and the courts unqualified people are asked to translate, even in situations where clear communication can make the difference between life or death.” The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf established a Task Force in 2009 to begin drafting an official position paper and process for integrating qualified sign language interpreters into all stages of the emergency management cycle: preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. Overtures to establish Emergency Management Interpreter Strike Teams have been made to responsible agencies and managers at many levels of government. Some jurisdictions have taken this seriously, most however have not. (See the Getting Real II Presentation for information on foundations laid in California, Georgia, and Florida.) Commentary from Rabbi Yehoshua Soudakoff, Director of Jewish Deaf Multimedia Deaf people were[…]

  • Information Design: Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words?

    12 Dec 2013 | 10:01 am

    Information Design:  Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Post by: Kim Stephens Looking back on the year, there was one  article that stood out because of its clear use of graphics and imagery to communicate risk information. During the summer of 2013, the Washington Post published a short online report about the hazards at the Potomac River Gorge titled “The Perils at Great Falls.” This spot in the river is a deadly place where 27 people have died since 2001.  Standing on the banks, it looks deceptively calm, but it is what people don’t see on the surface that can kill–erratic currents, jagged cracks, potholes and uneven terrain can trap swimmers.  The article explained those hazards with imagery that eliminated the need to read even one word.  Some commented that the piece was the definition of information design: “…the practice of presenting information in a way that fosters efficient and effective understanding of it.”  (Wikipedia) Each of the major hazards in the river were given a graphical representation. In the image above the person is shown fishing off the bank: water rises rapidly and unexpectedly, sweeping him away. I have captured a screenshot, but the original graphic is animated. The image below shows hazards beneath the water and on the banks–cliffs that tempt people to jump in, and varied terrain underwater that can kill if you dive in the wrong spot. The Dreaded Fact Sheet Too often,  in the world of emergency management, images are occasionally included–if one can be dredged up, but they are usually not the focus[…]

  • Social Networking Trends of 2013 and Implications for #SMEM

    4 Dec 2013 | 9:52 am

    Social Networking Trends of 2013 and Implications for #SMEM Post by: Kim Stephens December is a month of reflection and I, along with Patrice Cloutier and James Garrow are using our blogs to highlight interesting  social media and emergency management trends from the year and note future possibilities for improvement. 2013 could be seen as a pivot point for quite a few organizations: social networking graduated from being novel and experimental, to just one of the tools in the communication’s toolbox. That being said, however, we still have a long way to go before full integration is realized throughout the response community. Social Networks: The Stats  We’ve all seen the statistics–social networks have millions and millions of users, except Facebook which sits at 1.11 billion. A deeper look at these stats, however,  can help create a more informed communication’s strategy, for instance,  is this the year to get G+ and Pinterest accounts? Here are a few noteworthy stats I’ve collected from a variety of sources, along with some possible implications. Twitter boasts over 500 millions users, but one interesting note is what these users are talking about. According to Nielsen, 33% of Twitter users tweet about television shows. Implication:   Why not schedule tweets that appear during shows that discuss disasters with links to information about how people can prepare–or where they could turn for help if that type of event happened in their community? If you are uncomfortable promoting a show that you did not create and have no quality control over, then simply add qualifiers, or correct misinformation, if necessary. New[…]