• Joplin recovers quickly, schools open on time

    In a show of resiliency and determination, schools in Joplin, Missouri opened on time last week less than ninety days after a devastating tornado leveled much of the town; the tornado’s 200 mile per hour winds tore through Joplin killing 160 people, destroying thousands of homes, and damaging ten schools while completely destroying four others, yet despite the destruction more than 90 percent of Joplin’s students returned to school on time as promised

  • Purdue helps Chicago prepare for disasters

    To be better prepared for a major natural disaster or a terrorist attack, seventeen counties near Chicago, Illinois have banded together to create a disaster preparedness plan with the help of Purdue University and the University of Illinois, Chicago

  • Innovative disaster communication tech developed

    Communication networks typically collapse when they are needed most — during and in the immediate aftermath of massive disasters; researchers have developed a — an innovative wireless system called LifeNet designed to help first responders communicate after disasters; LifeNet is a mobile ad-hoc network designed for use in highly transient environments that requires no infrastructure such as Internet, cell towers or traditional landlines

  • Ensuring reliable wireless alarm beacons for first responders

    Wireless emergency safety equipment could save lives — if signals are transmitted reliably; NIST is studying interference between Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS) with wireless alarm capability, and radio-frequency identification (RFID) systems

  • Researchers develop controversial earthquake detection network

    Researchers at a Silicon Valley company are hard at work developing an experimental network of electromagnetic sensors that could predict large earthquakes as much as two weeks in advance; the theory behind the research is disputed, but Tom Bleier, the inventor and chief engineer behind project QuakeFinder, hopes to prove seismologists wrong

  • U.S., Canada to share hazard risk assessment software tool

    Hazus, or “Hazards U.S.” is a risk assessment software tool for emergency management professionals that combines science, engineering, and geospatial information technology to estimate potential loss of life and property damage from disasters and natural hazards; FEMA is using it and now Canada will, too

  • Radiation fears cripple Japanese food exports

    Japanese agricultural exports have yet to recover from the 11 March earthquake and tsunami due largely to fears of radioactive contamination; to combat these fears, local governments have done all they can to assure consumers that their products are safe; consumers remain wary despite these reassurances, and as a result the Japanese agricultural sector is struggling

  • New rescue robot can reach trapped miners, people under rubble

    A new rescue robot can find dangers — poisonous gases, flooded tunnels, explosive vapors, and unstable walls and roofs — and provide relief to trapped miners or people buried under rubble; it is able to navigate through eighteen inches of water, crawl over boulders and rubble piles, and move in ahead of rescuers to evaluate precarious environments and help plan operations

  • Still too early to determine Joplin tornado recovery costs

    As Missouri recovers from the colossal tornado that leveled Joplin and the severe flooding in other parts of the state, cleanup efforts have been complicated by the lack of financial data on how much rebuilding will cost; state officials still do not have an exact figure for the costs of reconstruction

  • Arkansas farmers and ranchers crippled by natural disasters

    This year’s series of natural disasters have crippled Arkansas’ farming and ranching sectors; the barrage of natural disasters including floods, droughts, and fires have resulted in more than half a billion dollars in losses for farmers in Arkansas

  • Developing countries at highest risk from natural disasters

    A new report warns that China and India are at high risk from natural disasters as their economies are less resilient in dealing with the massive costs of reconstruction

  • First quantitative measurements of Fukushima leakage

    Atmospheric chemists report the first quantitative measurement of the amount of radiation leaked from the damaged nuclear reactor in Fukushima; the researchers calculated that 400 billion neutrons were released per square meter surface of the cooling pools, between 13 March, when the seawater pumping operation began, and 20 March 2011

  • Earthquake insurer seeks to diversify risk

    In an effort to diversify its risk and expand earthquake coverage, the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), an insurance provider, has begun issuing bonds; the company says the initial bond issuance is part of its larger goal to expand the number of homes it covers

  • Calls for more stringent standards in wake of increasing storm damage

    Researchers from a team funded by the National Science Foundation have examined some of last spring’s massive tornado damage and conclude in a new report that more intensive engineering design and more rigorous, localized construction and inspection standards are needed to reduce property damage and loss of life

  • New coatings show promise as flame retardants

    Ignition of soft furnishings account for about 5 percent of residential fires, and the consequences are disproportionately high; these fires are responsible for a third of fire-caused deaths of civilians and 11 percent of property losses due to fires in homes; NIST and Texas A&M researchers developed novel carbon nanofiber-filled coatings which outperformed conventional flame retardants by at least 160 percent and perhaps by as much as 1,130 percent