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

  • Some Details on the National Disaster Resilience Competition

    24 Jul 2014 | 1:51 pm

    Some Details on the National Disaster Resilience Competition Please see these two documents from the Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Portal. In an earlier post I noted the National Disaster Resilience Competition Overview.  Newly available are the the Eligibility Guidelines.  [Neither document is dated.] Many thanks to Elaine M. Sudanowicz for providing me with these  URLs.Filed under: Resilience

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  • Coastal Disasters – new NAS report

    24 Jul 2014 | 4:25 am

    Coastal Disasters – new NAS report Article in the HuffPost: Scientists Urge For Funds To Prevent Coastal Disasters, Not Just Recover From Them. A group of top scientists has called for a fundamental change to how the United States deals with risks to its Atlantic and Gulf coasts from storms and climate change in a National Research Council report released Wednesday. Urging a “national vision” toward addressing coastal risks, the report comes on the heels of a Reuters analysis published earlier this month showing that coastal flooding along the densely populated Eastern Seaboard of the United States has surged in recent years, with steep financial consequences. The great majority of money — most of it federal dollars — spent on coastal risks goes toward recovery after a disaster rather than on planning for and mitigating against storms, climate change and sea-level rise, the report said. The direct link to the NAS for a free download of the full, 130 page report that is titled Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts is here. Here is another account, from the National Geographic.Filed under: Coastal hazards/disasters

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  • Drought is Different

    23 Jul 2014 | 5:42 am

    Drought is Different From the National Geographic: Storms Get Headlines, but Drought Is a Sneaky, Devastating Game-Changer. As California and the American West dry up, a way of life is threatened. A friend and I were recently discussing how difficult drought is.  He  asked how do you do mitigation for a drought. And I asked what does recovery from a drought entail? We welcome some input to this discussion. Update: Be sure to read the thoughtful comments from readers too.    Filed under: drought

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  • DHS- “simplified!”

    23 Jul 2014 | 5:40 am

    DHS- “simplified!” This is not exactly on topic, but I could not resist sharing it. First of all, thanks to Phil Palin of HLSwatch blog for pointing it out. And full credit to the Annenberg Foundation for the whole story. Given the complex relationship of Congressional committees to DHS, it is a wonder the staff at the agency can get anything done other than testify to the many committees !! Congress has resisted streamlining its oversight ever since DHS was formed.

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  • Profile of HUD Recovery Coordinator for H. Sandy

    22 Jul 2014 | 9:52 am

    Profile of HUD Recovery Coordinator for H. Sandy In the Wash Post today, there is a profile of the woman who coordinated the HUD recovery efforts for H. Sandy.  I have to say, she surely has been low profile to date; I tracked the Sandy Task Force effort closely and never heard her name mentioned. See:  HUD Official Coordinated Hurricane Sandy Recovery Aid. Some excerpts: While the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) oversaw the initial response to the storm, the White House created the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force several months later to provide government-wide coordination of the numerous federal agencies assisting the affected states and localities and dispensing the nearly $50 billion appropriated by Congress for disaster recovery. Marion Mollegen McFadden, the chief operating officer and later acting executive director of the recovery task force, led the ambitious interagency effort, harnessing the power of the federal government during an intense 10-month period to provide unified support to the hard-hit communities as they were making decisions about their rebuilding efforts. In my view, what remains is a full and current accounting of how the 69 recommendations of the Task Force are being implemented! HUD does maintain this site for info re the recovery process, but it is not very current.Filed under: HUD, Hurricane Sandy

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  • “How Industrial Disasters Discriminate”

    22 Jul 2014 | 6:31 am

    “How Industrial Disasters Discriminate” Interesting article from Al Jazeera America: How industrial disasters discriminate; The socioeconomic dimensions of chemical explosions

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  • New Issue of Australian Journal of EM

    22 Jul 2014 | 6:30 am

    New Issue of Australian Journal of EM The July issue of the Australian Journal of Emergency Management is now available online. There are two articles on resilience in it.

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  • Reminder: news re migrant minors are on separate blog

    21 Jul 2014 | 8:31 am

    Reminder: news re migrant minors are on separate blog Just a reminder that I am posting all news items about the immigration crisis and “migrant minors” on a separate blog: http://disastersandfaith.wordpress.com/  

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  • Climate Change Deniers Endanger Miami

    21 Jul 2014 | 4:23 am

    Climate Change Deniers Endanger Miami From reader James Fossett: Your readers may be interested in—or dismayed by– this story about Miami, which is possibly the most at-risk city in the country to the effects of sea level rise, yet continues to build and grow as if nothing were going on. Large areas already flood during seasonal high tides, and the city would be toast if hit by even a moderate sized hurricane. Local and state politicians oppose any effort to do anything because it would wreck the economy and won’t even talk in public about the city’s problem. It’s not a question of if, but when. From the Guardian: Miami, the great world city, is drowning while the powers that be look away Low-lying south Florida, at the front line of climate change in the US, will be swallowed as sea levels rise. Astonishingly, the population is growing, house prices are rising and building goes on. The problem is the city is run by climate change deniers. * * * What makes Miami exceptionally vulnerable to climate change is its unique geology. The city – and its satellite towns and resorts – is built on a dome of porous limestone which is soaking up the rising seawater, slowly filling up the city’s foundations and then bubbling up through drains and pipes. Sewage is being forced upwards and fresh water polluted. Miami’s low topography only adds to these problems. There is little land out here that rises more than six feet above sea level. Many condos[…]

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  • NIST Offers Webinar on Resilience

    20 Jul 2014 | 4:02 pm

    NIST Offers Webinar on Resilience Community Resilience Center of Excellence Webinar NIST will hold a webinar on the Community Resilience Center of Excellence on Aug. 5, 2014 from 1:00-2:30pm ET. The webinar will offer general guidance on preparing proposals and provide an opportunity to answer questions from the public about the program. Participation in the webinar is not required to apply. There is no cost for the webinar, but participants must register in advance. Update: See comment from Rob Dale re the grants available from NIST. Details are here.Filed under: Resilience

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  • 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: cbsloc.al/1iKbxhy http://t.co/YDfDp3XifU— 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: bit.ly/1heWjws http://t.co/NCLQygcrmE— 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%[…]

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  • 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.[…]

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  • 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[…]

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  • 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[…]

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  • 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[…]

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