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USFA: Operational Lessons Learned in Disaster Response

June 3, 2015 Comments off

Operational Lessons Learned in Disaster Response (PDF)
Source: U.S. Fire Administrtation

While after action reviews produce valuable lessons, lessons alone are not the end of the story. In fact, lessons learned should rightly be the beginning of a new chapter in a fire department’s operational behaviors. Lessons without a corresponding change in operational behavior are not lessons learned.

This report identifies gaps and needs in first responder training and resources and presents solutions that serve to better prepare local-level fire services for all-hazard events and to interact with federal resources. The disasters studied were weather-related events that required responding firefighters to assume duties for which they were unprepared or for situations they never anticipated.

The Rise of Alternative Capital

May 24, 2015 Comments off

The Rise of Alternative Capital
Source: Insurance Information Institute

A new Insurance Information Institute white paper examines the impact of alternative capital on reinsurance, says I.I.I. chief actuary and paper co-author Jim Lynch.

What sounds like a dry topic actually may in the long run significantly affect the entire insurance industry, right down to the humble buyer of a homeowners policy.

It’s a dry phrase, so let’s parse the phrase alternative capital on reinsurance by starting at its back end. Reinsurance is the insurance that insurance companies buy. Insurance companies accept risk with every policy. They work hard to ensure they don’t have too much risk in one area, like too many homes along Florida’s Atlantic coast.

When they do, they protect themselves by buying reinsurance. Instead of buying a policy that covers one risk, the insurance company enters into a treaty that can cover thousands in case of a catastrophe like a hurricane.

What Is Child Welfare? A Guide for Disaster Preparedness and Response Professionals

May 5, 2015 Comments off

What Is Child Welfare? A Guide for Disaster Preparedness and Response Professionals
Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway (HHS)

In preparing and responding to the safety and well-being of children and families during all phases of disaster, child welfare and disaster preparedness and response (DPR) professionals work most effectively in partnership. This guide provides an overview of child welfare, describes how DPR and child welfare professionals can support one another’s efforts, and lists resources for more information.

NIST Releases Draft Community Resilience Planning Guide for Public Review

April 27, 2015 Comments off

NIST Releases Draft Community Resilience Planning Guide for Public Review
Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today issued a draft guide to help communities plan for and act to keep windstorms, floods, earthquakes, sea-level rise, industrial mishaps and other hazards from inflicting disastrous consequences.

NIST is requesting public feedback on the draft Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure, which Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Acting NIST Director Willie May unveiled during a workshop at Texas Southern University in Houston today.

The official first version of the guide will be released this fall and updated periodically as new building standards and research results become available and as communities gain experience using the guide and recommend improvements.

Increasing Concentrations of Property Values and Catastrophe Risk in the US

April 24, 2015 Comments off

Increasing Concentrations of Property Values and Catastrophe Risk in the US (PDF)
Source: Karen Clark & Company

Residential, commercial, and industrial property values in the US continue to increase faster than GDP growth and the general rate of inflation. According to KCC estimates, insured property values increased by nine percent from 2012 to 2014.

In aggregate, building values now exceed $40 trillion, and when contents and time element exposures are added in, estimated insured property values swell to over $90 trillion. Along with increasing values, there are highly concentrated pockets of exposure, particularly in regions vulnerable to natural catastrophes.

For example, tier one counties along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts account for over 17 percent of total exposure at $16 trillion. Six counties have over $1 trillion of exposure each and on a combined basis, account for more than 12 percent of the US total. One county—Los Angeles—accounts for over three percent of exposed property values.

One implication of increasing concentrations of property value is the higher probability of megacatastrophe losses. A major storm or earthquake has not occurred in a densely populated metropolitan area such as Galveston-Houston, Miami, or Los Angeles for decades.

This study shows that when a large magnitude event occurs in specific concentrated areas, the losses will be multiples of the PMLs (Probable Maximum Losses) the insurance industry has been using to manage risk and rating agencies and regulators have been using to monitor solvency. Insurers typically manage their potential catastrophe losses to the 100 year PMLs, but because of increasingly concentrated property values in several major metropolitan areas, the losses insurers will suffer from the 100 year event will greatly exceed their estimated 100 year PMLs.

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CRS — Water Resource Issues in the 114th Congress (February 11, 2015)

April 22, 2015 Comments off

Water Resource Issues in the 114th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

The 114th Congress faces many water resource development, management, and protection issues. Congressional actions shape reinvestment in aging federal infrastructure (e.g., dams, locks, and levees) and federal and nonfederal investment in new infrastructure, such as water supply augmentation, hydropower projects, navigation improvements, and efforts to restore aquatic ecosystems. These issues often arise at the regional or local levels but frequently have a federal connection. Ongoing issues include competition over water, drought and flood responses and policies, competitiveness and efficiency of U.S. harbors and waterways, and innovative and alternative financing approaches. The 114th Congress also may continue oversight of operations of federal infrastructure during drought and low-flow conditions, past large-scale flooding issues (e.g., Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, Missouri and Mississippi River floods), and balancing hydropower generation, recreational use, and protection of threatened and endangered species. In addition to oversight, each Congress also provides appropriations for major federal water resource agencies, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation).

CRS — Wildfire Management: Federal Funding and Related Statistics (February 4, 2015)

April 22, 2015 Comments off

Wildfire Management: Federal Funding and Related Statistics (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Wildfires can have beneficial and harmful impacts on ecosystems (e.g., by reducing fuel loads, or by damaging communities and timber resources). These impacts are generally measured and discussed based on the priorities of humans in these ecosystems. Federal resources are typically deployed during wildfire season—an annual occurrence of intense wildfire activity typically running from summer into fall—to help manage wildfires and potentially minimize some of the impacts, including the loss of life and property. Approximately 3.6 million acres burned during the 2014 wildfire season, which was less than the 4.3 million acres burned in 2014 and the fewest acres burned since 2010. Acreage burned during the 2014 wildfire season was less than half of the 9.3 million acres burned in 2012, which was the third-largest acreage burned annually since 1960.

Federal funding for wildfire management is provided in the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. The bill funds wildfire management at the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior, which are the two principal entities tasked with federal wildfire management. Federal wildfire response activities involve preparedness, suppression, fuel reduction, site rehabilitation, and more. More than $3.4 billion was appropriated for wildfire management in FY2015. The total wildfire management appropriations for 2014 were more than $3.9 billion and included $600 million for the Forest Service to reimburse wildfire transfers that occurred in FY2013.

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