• Hurricane MichaelFlorida Panhandle counties less prepared for emergency than rest of state

    found that the vast majority of counties in the Florida Panhandle were less prepared for emergency evacuation compared to the rest of the state. Of the 67 counties in Florida, 10 were rated as having weak levels of evacuation preparedness, and all of these counties were located in the Panhandle/North Florida. Eleven of 16 counties with moderately rated plans also were in this region. Only seven of the counties in the Panhandle had strong plans.

  • Earthquake forecastingA milestone for forecasting earthquake hazards

    By Kim Martineau

    Earthquakes pose a profound danger to people and cities worldwide, but with the right hazard-mitigation efforts, from stricter building requirements to careful zoning, the potential for catastrophic collapses of roads and buildings and loss of human lives can be limited. All of these measures depend on science delivering high-quality seismic hazard models. And yet, current models depend on a list of uncertain assumptions, with predictions that are difficult to test in the real world due to the long intervals between big earthquakes. Researchers have come up with a physics-based model that marks a turning point in earthquake forecasting.

  • Rescue robotsRoboCup 2018: Testing methods used to evaluate rescue robots

    Since 1997, several continents have played host to an international soccer tournament. No, not the World Cup — the RoboCup. Robots of all shapes and sizes test their “metal” in the world’s favorite sport. Engineers and fans from across the globe have gathered to watch hunks of autonomous steel try to nudge a ball into a miniature net.

  • Disaster planningDisaster planning saves lives

    There are a lot of scary threats in the world—extreme weather, terrorist attacks, deadly infectious diseases, mass shootings—but if health care organizations plan ahead for such disasters, lives can be saved. The first step for health care organizations preparing for emergencies is to accurately assess the kinds of hazards they may face, such as flooding, power outages, or violence, says an expert.

  • Be PreparedU.S. “prepping” culture influenced by events, not apocalyptic visions

    The culture of preparing for disasters in the United States is usually portrayed as a delusional response to the belief in the imminent long-term collapse of society due to irrational fears of foreign invasions, the conspiratorial plans of New World Orders or a religious apocalypse. New research finds most people hoarding items such as food and water do so “just in case,” rather than because of deeply held, irrational beliefs that society is on the verge of an imminent collapse.

  • Volcanic eruptionsPredicting volcanic eruptions

    Concern over the potential imminent eruptions of Earth’s supervolcanoes, like Taupo in New Zealand or Yellowstone in the United States, may be quelled by the results of a new study suggesting that geological signs pointing to a catastrophic eruption would be clear far in advance.

  • PreparednessU.S. health security preparedness improved, but some regions lagging

    A national snapshot used to gauge the health of the nation’s health security and emergency preparedness found that readiness has improved significantly over the past five years, but earlier identified gaps remain, with some parts of the country lagging.

  • HurricanesPlanning for hurricanes as weather patterns change

    We’re all aware of the impact of intense weather systems that make headlines, like 2017’s hurricanes Harvey and Irma. But even slight adjustments to weather patterns—like historic changes in precipitation levels and the increasing frequency of heat waves—can drastically change living conditions.

  • HurricanesPreventing hurricanes using air bubbles

    In recent years we have witnessed intense tropical storms that have taken many thousands of lives and caused massive destruction. For example, in 2005, hurricane Katrina killed more than 2,000 people and caused damage estimated to be in the billions of dollars. In 2016, hurricane Matthew swept across Haiti, taking 852 lives and destroying many towns on the island. Many people have tried to find ways of preventing hurricanes before they make landfall. Norwegian researchers believe that the answer lies in cold bubbles.

  • Medical countermeasuresBudgeting for medical countermeasures is essential for preparedness

    Preparedness against a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) threat requires a sustained and multi-pronged approach by both the public and private sectors. An essential component of this strategy is the development, procurement, and stockpiling of diagnostic tests, drugs, and vaccines in response to a potential event, as well as the ability to distribute these products where needed.

     

  • Disaster preparationsHouston-area officials approved a plan for handling a natural disaster — then ignored it

    By Jessica Huseman and Decca Muldowney

    Seven months before Hurricane Harvey inundated the Houston area with a trillion gallons of water and led to widespread criticism of the Red Cross, Harris County adopted a disaster-preparation plan whose key assumption was that the Red Cross would be slow to act. “In a major disaster where there is widespread damage, the local resources of the Red Cross may be overwhelmed and not available immediately,” stated the plan. “It may be upwards of seven days before the Red Cross can assume a primary care and shelter role.” But in the seven months between the plan’s passage and the landfall of Harvey, the county took few steps to implement its strategy. Indeed, when dire flooding forced thousands of people from their homes, 3,036 emails obtained in a public records request suggest, officials didn’t even seem aware that a plan existed.

  • Alarms & alertsLessons from a false-alarm

    On 13 January, by contrast, residents and visitors in Hawaii were alerted to an impending missile attack for which they had perhaps twenty minutes to take action. After thirty-eight minutes, they were told the alert was a false alarm, triggered by an emergency worker’s mistake. “We know a lot about what people do in terms of a hurricane, how they make decisions on such things as whether to evacuate, but this incident in Hawaii was different,” said an expert who went to Hawaii to study how people reacted to the alert. While many residents and tourists reported being frightened during the incident, the most common reaction was confusion during the alert and frustration after learning that it had been issued in error.

  • Storm decision-makingDisaster decision-support tool helps emergency managers ahead of storms

    S&T’s Hurricane Evacuation (HURREVAC) extended (HV-X) platform integrates forecast and planning data to provide emergency managers with decision support tools for use in advance of and during tropical weather. S&T made the developmental version of HV-X available to select Texas emergency management users in preparation for Hurricane Harvey. Emergency managers, who needed every tool at their disposal to make critical decisions on evacuations, preparedness, and response, found HV-X helpful.

  • Disaster preparationBe prepared: Society saves $6 for every $1 spent preparing for natural disasters

    A new report from the National Institute of Building Sciences, a public-private partnership Congress established in 1974, examines the cost savings of preparing for natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires, many of which are worsened by climate change. The report builds on, and updates, the Institute’s groundbreaking 2005 analysis of the same name. The original analysis found that for every dollar invested in pre-disaster mitigation there is a $4 savings to society. The new report makes an even stronger case for advanced planning, finding that for every $1 invested in federally funded pre-disaster mitigation grants society saves $6, and for every $1 spent on building codes society saves $4.

  • Disaster evacuationExplaining personal hurricane evacuation decisions

    Why do some people living in the path of a major hurricane decide to evacuate while others stay put? That’s what researchers want to know so that they can improve how emergency evacuations are handled. The researchers are gathering information about residents in areas hit by hurricanes Irma and Harvey to learn more about how people make decisions in risky situations. This will ultimately help officials and emergency personnel better manage evacuations in the future.