• Nuclear attackHawaii launches a campaign to prepare islanders for North Korean nuclear attack

    Officials in Hawaii are preparing for a North Korean nuclear attack. State officials said they would not want to create a panic among the islanders, but that the right thing to do under the circumstances was to have the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency unveil a public education and information campaign aiming to inform people what to do in the event Pyongyang launched a nuclear-tipped missile targeting Hawaii.

  • Tunnel plugsInflatable plug for subway tunnels demonstrated

    A giant, inflatable structure designed to prevent flooding in subways was rolled out, literally, for media observers inside a full-scale, mock subway tunnel. In a demonstration, the plug, in under five minutes, nearly filled with pressurized air, created a flexible but extremely strong barrier. Full inflation is complete in less than twelve minutes.

  • Nuclear warWhy there’s no modern guide to surviving a nuclear war

    By John Preston

    The risk of thermonuclear war has rarely been greater. But despite the growing threat, the general public are less prepared than they ever have been to cope with an attack. Time is short – but the United Kingdom is not ready. In May 1980, the government created a series of public information films, radio broadcasts, and the booklet Protect and Survive. But the effort was mocked, and the government abandoned to effort. The failure of Protect and Survive is the reason the United Kingdom doesn’t have public information on how to prepare for a nuclear war today. There are good reasons for keeping us unaware. Releasing guidance may cause anxiety and even make other countries suspicious that our preparations are a sign that we intend to strike first. On the other hand, if the government does intend to issue information at the last minute then it is taking a huge risk as to whether it can get the advice out in time. If an accidental launch, or an unexpected first strike, occurs then there may be no time. Maybe now is the right time to buy that reprinted copy of Protect and Survive – just in case.

  • DisastersRadar simulator helps characterize scattering of debris in tornadoes

    Researchers have developed the first numerical polarimetric radar simulator to study and characterize the scattering of debris particles in tornadoes. “An improved understanding of what weather radars tell us about tornado debris can help provide more accurate tornado warnings and quickly direct emergency personnel to affected areas,” says one researcher.

  • Disaster responseS&T and New Orleans conduct flood-relief planning exercise

    Flood-related disasters present significant risks to life and property across our nation. During 8-14 August 2016, 6.9 trillion gallons of rain water flooded Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In cases like the 2016 Baton Rouge flood, response agencies need assistance from surrounding communities and citizens—whether it is manpower, technology, status reports, or basic relief supplies. However, jurisdictions often have different communications systems, which can make it difficult to request help. This means that when a city is paralyzed by water, emergency responders have a difficult time maintaining situational awareness and gathering necessary resources.

  • Disaster predictionPredicting floods, hurricanes with social media

    Social media can warn us about hurricanes, storms, and floods before they happen – according to new research. Key words and photos on social media can signal developing risks – like water levels rising before a flood. Researchers, who analyzed posts on Flickr between 2004 and 2014, found certain words – such as river, water, and landscape - take on distinct meaning of forecast and warning during time periods leading to extreme weather events. Words can be used as ‘social sensors’, to create accurate early warning system for extreme weather, alongside physical sensors.

  • Disaster responseHow disaster relief efforts could be improved with game theory

    By Anna Nagurney

    The number of disasters has doubled globally since the 1980s, with the damage and losses estimated at an average $100 billion a year since the new millennium, and the number of people affected also growing. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was the costliest natural disaster in the U.S., with estimates between $100 billion and $125 billion. The death toll of Katrina is still being debated, but we know that at least 2,000 were killed, and thousands were left homeless. Worldwide, the toll is staggering. The challenges to disaster relief organizations, including nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), are immense, and the competition among them is intense. My team and I have been looking at a novel way to improve how we respond to natural disasters. One solution might be game theory.

  • Disaster podsTsunami pod to the rescue

    What if you are a coastal dweller and you hear a tsunami warning – but you have no way, or no time, to run for high ground before the wave hits. What if there are no tall, sturdy buildings nearby? Mukilteo, Washington-based Survival-Capsule has a solution: A tsunami pod. The Survival Capsule is a patent-pending, personal safety system (PSS) is a spherical ball to protect against tsunami events, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and storm surges.

  • ResilienceRecovery lessons from Hurricane Sandy to help improve resilience, disaster preparedness

    Purdue University will lead a $2.5 million, four-year research to determine why some communities recover from natural disasters more quickly than others, an effort aimed at addressing the nation’s critical need for more resilient infrastructure and to enhance preparedness. The research team will apply advanced simulations and game-theory algorithms, access millions of social media posts and survey data collected along the New Jersey shore, which was devastated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

  • EducationUAlbany names dean of Homeland Security College

    The University at Albany has appointed Robert Griffin as its new dean for the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC). CEHC was created under the leadership of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2015, as the first of its kind in the nation. The college is dedicated to advancing educational and practical skills needed to prepare for, protect against, respond to, and recover from a growing array of natural and human-caused risks and threats in New York State and around the world.

  • Disaster preparationsUSGS, DoD partner in preparing for major natural disasters

    In 2003, USGS partnered with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) - U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) to establish a liaison between the two organizations to facilitate science support in the event of a major natural disaster. The USGS liaison coordinates requests for science information and expertise, and general civil support and humanitarian assistance activities. This science support enables USNORTHCOM to perform critical national defense and civil support missions, as well as understand the impacts of natural disasters.

  • ResilienceBe Prepared: Canada engages youth in disaster resilience

    Large-scale natural disasters have been on the rise worldwide, and while the exact cause is unclear, there is something most scientists, policy-makers, and legislators can all agree with — the increasing global need to invest in disaster preparedness, prevention, and recovery. Canadian experts say they are constantly evaluating and improving Canada’s emergency preparedness and the most effective ways to keep people safe. But some experts are taking a different approach to disaster resiliency: they are engaging youth.

  • FloodsRecent history of U.S. floods shows regional trends, but no national pattern

    A new study examined the recent history of floods in the United States for the time period 1940-2013. The scientists found some regional trends, but no widespread national pattern of flood change. “An important prerequisite for effective flood risk management is to have an accurate assessment of how flooding is changing over time,” said one researcher. “Of course, changes in climate as well as land- and water-use management are each potential sources of change in flooding frequency or magnitude. But the relative influence of these factors across broad areas has been difficult to discern.”

  • Oil spillsInsights on Deepwater Horizon disaster

    The soon-to-be-released thriller “Deepwater Horizon,” which opens in theaters 30 September, promises moviegoers a chilling reenactment of one of history’s worst oil rig disasters. One scholar of societal collapse will enter the theater with a big-picture view of the perfect storm of factors that led to the explosion and oil spill that killed eleven people and sent more than 200 million gallons of crude oil spewing toward the nation’s southern coastline for eighty-seven days.

  • 9/11: 15 years onCommand under attack: What we’ve learned since 9/11 about managing crises

    By Herman B. "Dutch" Leonard, Arnold M. Howitt, Christine Cole, and Joseph W. Pfeifer

    Major disasters pose difficult challenges for responders on the ground and for higher-level officials trying to direct operations. Some events are novel because of their scale, while others involve challenges that no one may ever have envisioned. Communities need to bring their response agencies together regularly to plan and practice. This can develop and maintain knowledge and relationships that will enable them to work together effectively under the high stress of a future attack or disaster. Any community can do this, but many have not. Where training and practice have taken place, these tools have worked. They can be improved, but the most important priority is getting more communities to practice using them more regularly, before the next disaster. One important way this nation can honor the victims of 9/11 is by using these lessons to create the conditions for even better coordination in future events.