• Post-pandemic recoveryThe Data Speak: Stronger Pandemic Response Yields Better Economic Recovery

    By Peter Dizikes

    With much of the U.S. in shutdown mode to limit the spread of the COVID-19 disease, a debate has sprung up about when the country might “reopen” commerce, to limit economic fallout from the pandemic. But as a new study co-authored by an MIT economist shows, taking care of public health first is precisely what generates a stronger economic rebound later. His study of the 1918 flu pandemic shows U.S. cities which responded more aggressively in health terms also had better economic rebounds.

  • Disaster planningOnline Economic Decision Tool to Help Communities Plan for Disaster

    Preparing a community’s buildings and infrastructure for a hurricane or earthquake can be an incredibly complicated and costly endeavor. A new online tool from NIST could streamline this process and help decision makers invest in cost-effective measures to improve their community’s ability to mitigate, adapt to and recover from hazardous events.

  • ResilienceBuilding a Flood Resilient Future

    By Tom Almeroth-Williams

    Seven of the United Kingdom’s ten wettest years on record have occurred since 1998. Its wettest winter in history came in 2013, and the next wettest in 2015. In a single week in November 2019, 400 homes were flooded and 1,200 properties evacuated in northern England. The frequency and severity of these events is expected to increase as a result of climate change, meaning that many more communities will suffer their devastating effects. A new book shows how we can adapt the built and natural environment to be more flood resilient in the face of climate change.

  • ResilienceFrom Bush Fires to Terrorism: How Communities Become Resilient

    By Tony Robertson and Sandra Engstrom

    The world has watched in sympathy as Australia has come to terms with the ravages of the worst bush fires on record. Communities have been devastated by this crisis, but many have shown incredible resilience in banding together to support one another through the harrowing experience. Challenges to communities come in many guises – social, political, economic, climatic, technological and cultural. Our study looked at ways of building community resilience in response to extreme events.

  • WildfiresBefore We Rush to Rebuild after Fires, We Need to Think about Where and How

    By Mark Maund, Kim Maund, and Thayaparan Gajendran

    Public support for rebuilding in the same disaster affected places is often high. But as fire-fighting agencies are aware, our bushfires are increasing in size, intensity and duration, and a warming climate will continue to worsen these factors. We need to start being more strategic about where we rebuild homes and facilities lost to fire, and how.

  • First respondersResponderCQ Measures Disaster Resilience, Response Capabilities

    Disaster response has dominated headlines for years, and technologies to enhance disaster response capabilities are rapidly emerging. Now, a new global dialogue is centering on resilience—how we not only come together to help communities quickly recover, and even thrive, post-disaster, but how we strengthen their defenses against future threats. DHS S&T funded the development of guidance and tools to help communities measure their “Capability Quotient (CQ),” which is the readiness to respond to risk and to respond to disruptions of any kind.

  • FloodsComparing Floodplain Protection Today to Predicted Future Flood Losses

    A new study seeks to answer an important question related to flooding in the United States – pay now to protect undeveloped areas that are likely to flood in the future or allow developments to go ahead and pay for damage when it occurs.

  • New Zealand volcanoWhy White Island Erupted and Why There Was No Warning

    By Shane Cronin

    White Island is one of several volcanoes in New Zealand that can produce sudden explosive eruptions at any time. In this case, magma is shallow, and the heat and gases affect surface and ground water to form vigorous hydrothermal systems. In these, water is trapped in pores of rocks in a super-heated state. Any external process, such as an earthquake, gas input from below, or even a change in the lake water level can tip this delicate balance and release the pressure on the hot and trapped water. The resulting steam-driven eruption, also called a hydrothermal or phreatic eruption, can happen suddenly and with little to no warning.

  • Thoughts and prayersPrayers May Crowd Out Donations for Disaster Victims

    People who offer prayers for victims of natural disasters may be less likely to donate to those victims, according to research. “The results suggest that the act of praying is a substitute for material help — in other words, prayers crowd out donations, at least in some contexts,” Professor Linda Thunstrom says.

  • Perspective: Post-disaster reconstructionBans on Rebuilding in Disaster-Prone Areas Ignore Homeowners Preferences – Raising Costs Works Better

    As California’s wildfire season intensifies, a growing number of residents in the state want to ban people from building in areas at greatest risk. That’s because taxpayers bear the burden of protecting homes in dangerous areas when fire breaks out – and they often help foot the bill when it’s time to rebuild. A recent assessment showed that 1 in 4 Californians live in an area at “high risk” of wildfire. And people tend to want to rebuild in the same spot that was hit by a disaster. Alexander Smith writes that as a behavioral economist who studies the psychology of decision-making, he tries to understand people’s motivations before taking a position in a policy debate. He believes there’s a better way for policymakers to achieve the same goal of getting people to avoid building in disaster-prone areas without forcing people from their homes.

  • ResilienceHelping an Iowa Town Recover from Tornado Through Research, Outreach

    In the months following the tornado which hit Marshalltown, Iowa, faculty and students in Iowa State University’s sustainable environments interdisciplinary graduate program examined the housing recovery experience of different groups of Marshalltown residents. The goal is to finalize a toolkit that communities can use to examine social and economic challenges that exacerbate a disaster’s damage and slow recovery efforts.

  • HurricanesDorian Lashes U.S. Carolinas after Pounding Bahamas, Weakens to Category 1 Storm

    Hurricane Dorian weakened into a Category 1 hurricane Friday, after generating tornadoes and flooding roads in North and South Carolina. Dorian is moving with maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers per hour. Dorian will remain a potent storm straight into the weekend, however, with tropical storm warnings posted as far north as Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, according to the National Hurricane Center.

  • Energy securityBoosting Energy Security: Lessons from Post-Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico

    By Mariela Santos-Muñiz

    It took nearly a year for the government-run Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), which is the only power company in Puerto Rico, to restore electricity throughout the island. This was the biggest and longest power outage in U.S. history.As scientists suggest that weather will probably become more extreme and weather-related natural disasters are likely to intensify in the coming decades,we can learn some valuable lessons from what Puerto Rico has gone through in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

  • Disasters & electricityOptimizing use of future wave electricity generators during disaster

    When hurricanes strike, loss of electricity ranks as one of the top concerns for relief workers. Blackouts lasting a week or more can hamper recovery efforts, shutter hospitals, threaten public health and disrupt transportation. The months-long effort to restore power to Puerto Rico following the 2017 hurricane season has led to renewed interest in finding innovative ways to get affected power grids back online. Researchers look to develop a strategy for how floating devices that harness the energy of the oceans’ waves might be able to provide this much needed aid.

  • EarthquakesSatellite observations help in earthquake monitoring, response

    Researchers have found that data gathered from orbiting satellites can provide more accurate information on the impact of large earthquakes, which, in turn, can help provide more effective emergency response.