Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda): U.S. and International Response to Philippines Disaster (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
This report examines the impact of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), which struck the central Philippines on November 8, 2013, and the U.S. and international response. Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) was one of the strongest typhoons (cyclones) to strike land on record. Over a 16 hour period, the “super typhoon,” with a force equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane and sustained winds of up to 195 mph, directly swept through six provinces and affected over 10% of the nation’s population of 105 million people. The areas damaged by the typhoon were some of the poorest parts of the Philippines.
Congressional concerns related to the storm and its aftermath include the immediate U.S. and international humanitarian response, the impact on the U.S. foreign aid budget, the long-term U.S. foreign aid strategy for the Philippines, and how the U.S. response to the disaster may impact the U.S.-Philippines relationship as well as regional geopolitical dynamics.
The disaster quickly created a humanitarian crisis. In some of the hardest hit areas, particularly in coastal communities in Leyte province and the southern tip of Eastern Samar, the storm knocked out power, telecommunications, and water supplies. Between 65% and 90% of structures were heavily damaged or destroyed. Two weeks after the typhoon, the Philippine government reported that an estimated 13.7 million people had been affected, with more than 3.43 million displaced (of which roughly 240,800 were housed in 1,096 evacuation centers). The government also reported that 792,000 people were evacuated in advance of the disaster. On November 25, an estimated 5,000 deaths were associated with the typhoon and more than 1,600 people were thought to be missing. All these numbers remain fluid and subject to revision.
The ongoing humanitarian relief operation is being led by the Philippine government. The United Nations, along with other partners, including the United States, is supporting the current on-theground response for humanitarian assistance. Apart from U.N. agencies, those responding to the crisis include international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Private Voluntary Agencies (PVOs), and bilateral and multilateral donors. On November 12, 2013, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs appealed for $301 million in the Haiyan Action Plan to provide life-saving assistance and early recovery support. On November 22, the Plan increased to $348 million, based on assessments completed as partners gained better access to affected areas. As of November 22, U.S. funding for the humanitarian response included nearly $52 million to support activities through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Department of Defense (DOD) humanitarian relief operations.
NOAA: Slow Atlantic hurricane season coming to a close
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially ends on Saturday, Nov. 30, had the fewest number of hurricanes since 1982, thanks in large part to persistent, unfavorable atmospheric conditions over the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and tropical Atlantic Ocean. This year is expected to rank as the sixth-least-active Atlantic hurricane season since 1950, in terms of the collective strength and duration of named storms and hurricanes.
Connecting Grassroots and Government for Disaster Response
Source: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Leaders in disaster response are finding it necessary to adapt to a new reality. Although community actions have always been the core of the recovery process, collective action from the grassroots has changed response operations in ways that few would have predicted. Using new tools that interconnect over expanding mobile networks, citizens can exchange information via maps and social media, then mobilize thousands of people to collect, analyze, and act on that information. Sometimes, community-sourced intelligence may be fresher and more accurate than the information given to the responders who provide aid. This report explores approaches to the questions that commonly emerge when building an interface between the grassroots and government agencies, with a particular focus on the accompanying legal, policy, and technology challenges.
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Small Business Contracting: Updated Guidance and Reporting Needed for Consolidated Contracts. GAO-14-36, November 26.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659255.pdf
2. Hurricane Sandy Relief: Improved Guidance on Designing Internal Control Plans Could Enhance Oversight of Disaster Funding. GAO-14-58, November 26.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659238.pdf
3. National Preparedness: Actions Taken by FEMA to Implement Select Provisions of the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006. GAO-14-99R, November 26.
Post Disaster Reunification of Children – A Nationwide Approach
Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency
This document reflects our Nation’s first attempt to establish a holistic and fundamental baseline for reunifying children separated as a result of a disaster and aims to assist local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area governments and those responsible for the temporary care of children, such as educational, child care, medical, juvenile justice, and recreational facilities, in enhancing the reunification elements of existent emergency preparedness plans and/or conducting new all-hazards reunification planning.
State Hazard Mitigation Plans & Climate Change : Rating the States (PDF)
Source: Columbia University Law School, Center for Climate Change Law
Climate change is affecting and will continue to affect the frequency and severity of natural hazard events, a trend that is of increasing concern for emergency managers and hazard mitigation agencies across the United States. Proper response to these hazards will require preparation and planning. Unfortunately, states are not required to include analysis of climate change in their State Hazard Mitigation Plans, which leads to uneven treatment of the issue and missed opportunities for m itigation planning. This survey identifies those state plans that address climate change and climate – related issues in an accurate and helpful manner and those that do not. Several states will be releasing updated State Hazard Mitigation Plans in 2013 and 2014, and this survey forms a basis for improving those plans through shared lessons learned and targeted communication. The results of the survey indicate that coastal states are more likely to include a discussion of climate change, possibly due in part to recent emphasis on and awareness of the relationship between climate change and sea level rise, coastal storms, and related hazards. The relative lack of discussion of climate change in land – locked states may point to a need for greater communication of how risks such as drought, floods, heat events, and non – coastal storms are affected by climate change. State plans that currently include climate change analyses and a daptation plans may be used as examples for improving other plans. This survey provides a basis for further analysis comparing future plans and determining whether they include an improved discussion of climate change.
The U.S. Military Response to the 2010 Haiti Earthquake: Considerations for Army Leaders
Source: RAND Corporation
The earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 collapsed 100,000 structures, damaged 200,000 more, killed more than 316,000 people, injured 300,000 others, and displaced more than 1 million people. It virtually decapitated the Haitian government, destroying the presidential palace and 14 of 16 government ministries and claiming the lives of numerous government officials and employees and the head of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti and his principal deputy. Shortly after the earthquake, surviving Haitian government officials made an urgent request for U.S. assistance. In reply, President Barack Obama promised U.S. support, directing a whole-of-government response led by the U.S. Agency for International Development with significant support from the U.S. Department of Defense through U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). Selected U.S. military elements began mobilizing immediately, and SOUTHCOM established Joint Task Force-Haiti (JTF-Haiti) to provide U.S. military support to the international response and relief effort through Operation Unified Response (OUR). U.S. Army forces constituted a principal component of JTF-Haiti. Researchers assessed the effectiveness of JTF-Haiti, with the goal of informing the U.S. Army on how to best prepare for and support future humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) operations. This report examines how JTF-Haiti supported the HA/DR effort in Haiti. It focuses on how JTF-Haiti was organized, how it conducted OUR, and how the Army supported that effort. The analysis includes a review of existing authorities and organizations and explains how JTF-Haiti fit into the U.S. whole-of-government approach, as well as the international response.
Comparing Homeland Security Risks Using a Deliberative Risk Ranking Methodology
Source: RAND Corporation
Managing homeland security risks involves balancing concerns about numerous types of accidents, disasters, and terrorist attacks. These risks can vary greatly in kind and consequence, and as a result are perceived differently. How people perceive the risks around them influences the choices they make about activities to pursue, opportunities to take, and situations to avoid. Reliably capturing these choices in risk management is a challenging example of comparative risk assessment. The National Academy of Sciences review of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) risk analysis identifies developing methods of comparative risk assessment as an analytic priority for homeland security planning and analysis.
The Deliberative Method for Ranking Risks incorporates recommendations from the empirical literature on risk perceptions into both the description of the risks and the process of eliciting preferences from individuals and groups. It has been empirically validated with the participation of hundreds of citizens, risk managers, and policy makers in the context of managing risks to health, safety, and the environment. However, these methods have not as of yet been used in addressing the challenge of managing natural disaster and terrorism hazards.
Steps in this effort include first identifying the set of attributes that must be covered when describing terrorism and disaster hazards in a comprehensive manner, then developing concise summaries of existing knowledge of how the hazards in a unique comparative dataset of a broad set of homeland security risks. Using these materials, the study elicits relative concerns about the hazards that are being managed. The relative concerns about hazards provide a starting point for prioritizing solutions for reducing risks to homeland security.
This research presents individuals’ relative concerns about homeland security hazards and the attributes which influence those concerns. The consistency and agreement of the rankings, as well as the individual satisfaction with the process and results, suggest that the deliberative method for ranking risks can be appropriately applied in the homeland security domain.
Army Corps of Engineers Water Resource Projects: Authorization and Appropriations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers undertakes activities to maintain navigable channels, reduce flood and storm damage, and restore aquatic ecosystems. Congress directs the Corps through authorizations, appropriations, and oversight of its studies, construction projects, and other activities. This report summarizes congressional authorization and appropriations processes for the Corps. It also discusses agency activities under general authorities.
CRS — Environmental Requirements Addressed During Corps Civil Works Project Planning: Background and Issues for Congress
Environmental Requirements Addressed During Corps Civil Works Project Planning: Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)
Under its civil works mission, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) undertakes water resource projects. The majority of Corps civil works projects involve commercial navigation, flood risk management, and ecosystem restoration.
Before Congress will authorize the construction of or appropriate funds for most Corps civil works projects, the agency must prepare various studies, reports, and evaluations of project benefits and detriments, including adverse environmental impacts. Those impacts, in turn, may obligate the Corps to demonstrate compliance with certain environmental requirements.
Disasters, Rebuilding and Leadership – Tough Lessons from Japan and the U.S.
Source: Knowledge@Wharton (U Penn)
On March 11, 2011, deep below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, enormous seismic forces reached a tipping point. At 2:46 p.m., one of the earth’s tectonic plates suddenly shifted, thrusting violently underneath another. The North American plate was pushed upward with such force that the movement generated a massive tsunami. It took the wall of moving water 51 minutes to reach the coast of Japan, some 45 miles away.
In some places, the tsunami towered more than 125 feet above the ground when it hit. Thankfully, the height of the wave was far less where it came ashore near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant — “only” 50 feet high. Still, the nuclear disaster caused by the earthquake and tsunami has been rated by the International Atomic Energy Agency as equal in severity to the 1986 accident at Chernobyl, the worst nuclear disaster on record.
The complex catastrophe — earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown — killed close to 20,000 people, displaced hundreds of thousands more and contaminated a large swathe of beautiful countryside for decades or longer. More than two years later, Japan is still struggling to recover and prevent even more devastation.
On May 24, 2013, the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) sponsored a panel at the Wharton Global Forum in Tokyo to consider the leadership lessons generated by the Fukushima disaster, and to look at its impact on Japan’s energy policy and the resettlement of afflicted areas.
While the scale of the natural disaster in Japan was beyond the experience of anyone now alive, it was far from unprecedented and should have been anticipated, according to several post-Fukushima reports. Yet those in leadership positions failed to adequately prepare for the catastrophic events of March 2011. Unwilling to face up to the rare but predictable worst-case scenario, government and industry leaders were quickly overwhelmed by events. The judgments they made and the actions they took — or failed to take — often compounded problems. A close look at these mistakes offers valuable lessons for leaders facing disasters in the future.
Emergency Preparedness for Disasters and Crises in the Hotel Industry
Source: Sage Open
Safety and security are the most important issues to tourist while traveling and the first aspect they consider is to be protected from hazards. Emergency planning and preparedness for a crisis are the most significant components of dealing with disasters. Hospitality practitioners noticed a rising number of natural and man-made crises that harm the hospitality industry, regarding its vulnerability to crisis and internal and external hazards. By using secondary data, this study aims to shed some light on this issue, contributing to knowledge and awareness on emergency preparedness for the hospitality industry. Moreover, the study aims to explain the management’s commitment to adopt, develop, and update emergency plans. The results of this study explain that tourism as an international mobile industry must respond to internal and external hazards such as disease movement and terrorist attacks. Marketing safety is important to promote hotels and tourist destinations to the guests and holiday advisors. Hotels have a long history of being a soft target for terrorist attacks, as can be seen in several accidents that have shaken the hotel industry in the past few decades. Hotels invest a lot to install protective techniques, but terrorists are becoming more organized. Practitioners propose disaster management frameworks using several measurements. Recovery from crisis and learning help business retention that minimizes negative impacts and prevent losses. Finally, evaluation and feedback are very important to overcome the hazards and return to normal, as well as adopting new ideas to deal with emergencies. Single- and double-loop organizational learning should benefit proactive preparedness.
After Sandy: A New ULI Report Looks at Mitigating Climate Change Through Land Use, Offers Recommendations on Strengthening Community Resiliency
The reality of climate change will forever change community building, with planning and development decisions increasingly based on strengthening community resilience through what is built, and where and how it is built, according to a new report released today by the Urban Land Institute (ULI).
Leading up to the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, ULI has prepared After Sandy: Advancing Strategies for Long-Term Resilience and Adaptability, which offers guidance on community building in a way that responds to inevitable climate change and sea level rise, and helps preserve the environment, boost economic prosperity, and foster a high quality of life.
ULI, a global research and education institute dedicated to responsible land use, has a long history of advising communities on repositioning after disasters. At the request of three ULI District Councils—ULI New York (city), ULI Northern New Jersey, and ULI Philadelphia, which serve ULI members in those market areas—ULI in July 2013 convened a panel of the nation’s foremost authorities on real estate and urban planning to evaluate local and federal plans for strengthening community resiliency post- Sandy, and offer guidance on rebuilding efforts. Candid insights and observations from these experts formed the basis for After Sandy, a comprehensive, practical set of 23 recommendations focused on four areas—land use and development; infrastructure, technology and capacity; finance, investment and insurance; and leadership and governance.
The report’s overriding message: The increased frequency of severe weather events, as well as rising sea levels, are compelling the real estate industry to address climate change by working with the public sector to implement adaptive measures that better protect both the built and natural environment.
Crisis Standards of Care: A Toolkit for Indicators and Triggers
Source: Institute of Medicine
Disasters and public health emergencies can stress health care systems to the breaking point and disrupt delivery of vital medical services. During such crises, hospitals and long-term care facilities may be without power; trained staff, ambulances, medical supplies and beds could be in short supply; and alternate care facilities may need to be used. Planning for these situations is necessary to provide the best possible health care during a crisis and, if needed, equitably allocate scarce resources.
Crisis Standards of Care: A Toolkit for Indicators and Triggers examines indicators and triggers that guide the implementation of crisis standards of care and provides a discussion toolkit to help stakeholders establish indicators and triggers for their own communities. Together, indicators and triggers help guide operational decision making about providing care during public health and medical emergencies and disasters. Indicators and triggers represent the information and actions taken at specific thresholds that guide incident recognition, response, and recovery. This report discusses indicators and triggers for both a slow onset scenario, such as pandemic influenza, and a no-notice scenario, such as an earthquake.
Crisis Standards of Care features discussion toolkits customized to help various stakeholders develop indicators and triggers for their own organizations, agencies, and jurisdictions. The toolkit contains scenarios, key questions, and examples of indicators, triggers, and tactics to help promote discussion. In addition to common elements designed to facilitate integrated planning, the toolkit contains chapters specifically customized for emergency management, public health, emergency medical services, hospital and acute care, and out-of-hospital care.
State Forester Releases Yarnell Hill Accident Investigation Report
Source: Arizona State Forestry Division
The Arizona State Forester today released the Yarnell Hill Fire Serious Accident Investigation Report, which analyzes the circumstances leading to the June 30 entrapment and deaths of 19 firefighters of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew. The report and accompanying documents are available at https://sites.google.com/site/yarnellreport/.
The State of Arizona convened an accident investigation team July 3 to review the conditions and events leading to the tragedy. The investigation team visited the site of the accident, reviewed audio and video files, interviewed individuals associated with the incident, reviewed fire weather and behavior data, and examined available records and physical evidence. The resulting report contains the most complete information available about the accident.
The 116-page report includes a fact-based narrative of the incident and offers the investigation team’s analysis, conclusions and recommendations. It also includes a discussion section that is meant to facilitate understanding and learning by exploring various perspectives and issues that arose during the investigation.
Model projections of atmospheric steering of Sandy-like superstorms
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Superstorm Sandy ravaged the eastern seaboard of the United States, costing a great number of lives and billions of dollars in damage. Whether events like Sandy will become more frequent as anthropogenic greenhouse gases continue to increase remains an open and complex question. Here we consider whether the persistent large-scale atmospheric patterns that steered Sandy onto the coast will become more frequent in the coming decades. Using the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, phase 5 multimodel ensemble, we demonstrate that climate models consistently project a decrease in the frequency and persistence of the westward flow that led to Sandy’s unprecedented track, implying that future atmospheric conditions are less likely than at present to propel storms westward into the coast.