Resilience / Recovery | Homeland Security Newswire

  • ResilienceResilience through partnership

    In the aftermath of 2017’s devastating Atlantic hurricane season, and of Hurricane Maria in particular, the lessons learned in emergency response planning and recovery have been a central focus for agencies, contractors and utilities supporting the recovery in Puerto Rico. The 2018 Resilience Week Conference, which will be held 20-23 August in Denver, Colorado, aims to facilitate more inter-agency conversation on the subject of resilience.

  • Social media & disastersImproving disaster response through Twitter data

    Twitter data could give disaster relief teams real-time information to provide aid and save lives, thanks to a new algorithm developed by an international team of researchers. “The best source to get timely information during a disaster is social media, particularly microblogs like Twitter,” said one researcher. “Newspapers have yet to print and blogs have yet to publish, so Twitter allows for a near real-time view of an event from those impacted by it.”

  • Resilience3 reasons why the U.S. is vulnerable to big disasters

    By Morten Wendelbo

    During the 2017 disaster season, three severe hurricanes devastated large parts of the U.S. The quick succession of major disasters made it obvious that such large-scale emergencies can be a strain, even in one of the world’s richest countries. Why do some countries better withstand and respond to disasters? The factors are many and diverse, but three major ones stand out because they are within the grasp of the federal and local governments: where and how cities grow; how easily households can access critical services during disaster; and the reliability of the supply chains for critical goods. For all three of these factors, the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction. In many ways, Americans are becoming more vulnerable by the day.

  • ResilienceFacing “a new era of catastrophes,” book by Wharton profs offers tips for business leaders

    By Lauren Hertzler

    Wharton’s Howard Kunreuther and Michael Useem’s recent book Mastering Catastrophic Risk: How Companies are Coping with Disruption dives into the ways top companies have rebounded after their own worst-case scenarios. “The ‘unthinkable’ has gone from not being on anyone’s radar screen to now being central,” says Useem. “But to think about it, you need tools, and wisdom.”

  • ResilienceHow microgrids could boost resilience in New Orleans

    During Hurricane Katrina and other severe storms that have hit New Orleans, power outages, flooding and wind damage combined to cut off people from clean drinking water, food, medical care, shelter, prescriptions and other vital services. Researchers at Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories teamed up with the City of New Orleans to analyze ways to increase community resilience and improve the availability of critical lifeline services during and after severe weather.

  • Flood mitigationComprehensive strategy required to tackle Houston flooding problems

    A new report by leading Texas researchers analyzes in detail a variety of shortcomings with the Houston area’s current — and proposed — approach to flood control. The report calls on civil leaders to pursue a multifaceted and regional strategy which ensures that all communities receive better protection regardless of socioeconomic status.

  • Disaster responseSoutheastern European nations are latest to adopt emergency-response system

    By Kylie Foy

    The Next-Generation Incident Command System (NICS), developed nearly a decade ago by MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), is used today around the world for emergency response. Lincoln Laboratory, in partnership with NATO,  is modifying the system, and in its latest development, NICS has been implemented in the southeastern European nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Montenegro.

  • Hurricane responseNew technology aids hurricane response

    By Kylie Foy

    The 2017 hurricane season was catastrophic. Hurricane Harvey, plaguing Texas with floods, was followed quickly by Irma, whose winds battered Florida and the Caribbean. Hurricane Maria then raged upon Puerto Rico and other islands already reeling from previous storms. In the buildup and aftermath, Lincoln Laboratory quickly assembled teams and technology to aid federal agencies in managing these disasters. Lincoln Laboratory staff deployed tools to help FEMA plan evacuations, monitor storms, and assess the damage wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

  • Disaster aftermathLost in the numbers: The hidden traumas of disaster

    In the aftermath of disasters – hurricanes, earthquakes, epidemics, armed conflict, and the like – it is difficult to describe the true extent of damage wrought on society. Lost in these numbers is a hidden trauma that is difficult to measure, even when it is diagnosed. Disasters affect the mental health not only of those directly impacted by the disaster, but of those everywhere the disaster causes distress. Mental trauma is widespread, affecting far more people than physical injury. Long after physical wounds heal, mental trauma remains. Failing to address mental trauma neglects the well-being of tens of thousands of Americans, and millions more around the globe, each year.

  • Disaster aftermathUnderstanding community resilience, recovery in face of disaster

    From Puerto Rico to Missouri to California, Americans in recent years have confronted disasters that have disrupted communities and destroyed homes, businesses and infrastructure. A team of engineers, computer scientists, economists, urban planners and sociologists are part of 5-year study examining how communities recover from disaster and become more resilient to future adversity. “Resilience is a community’s ability to prepare for, anticipate and adapt to challenging conditions, and withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions,” says one researcher.

  • ResilienceIsraeli trauma experts teach resilience in Houston

    By Abigail Klein Leichman

    As Hurricane Harvey ripped through Houston last August, the trauma didn’t even spare those whose job is to help others cope. One social worker, barricaded on the second floor of her house, watched in horror as water and mud flooded her first floor. Another was stuck in a closet with her dog for twenty-four hours. Many mental-health professionals felt helpless or guilty for their inability to respond to people in need as they usually would. And other professionals, such as educators, did not feel adequately prepared to tend psychological wounds among those they work with. Mental-health professionals from the Israel Trauma Coalition kick off a series of train-the-trainer sessions for about 65 professionals.

  • Post-disaster reconstructionDisasters are destroying places we hold dear. What we do next will make all the difference.

    By Stephen Miller

    When fires, floods and other major disruptions alter natural areas, our first instinct is to restore what’s lost. But moving forward may mean leaving some treasured things behind. On 2 September 2017, a wildfire ignited in the Columbia River Gorge about 40 miles east of Portland, Oregon. Quickly, flames spread across the canyon’s south side and ascended the surrounding cliffs, where dry east winds blew them into an inferno. Within three days the Eagle Creek Fire had enveloped more than 20,000 acres and jumped the river to the north rim. With smoke still choking its skies, the community plunged into a debate over how it should respond to this profound loss: try to reconstruct the past, or accept a new reality? Inhabitants of a dynamic world have grappled with this question for eons, but today and in a future where climate change is quickly destabilizing our environments, the changes are becoming more frequent and more consequential. More than ever, policy-makers and land managers are needing to make tough choices about humankind’s role in managing the natural world. Biologist Johanna Varner does not intend to encourage complacency about disasters that arise as a result of human activity, but she points out that our new reality is likely to be a time of great loss, and how we choose to respond to those losses will make a big difference. In the Columbia River Gorge or elsewhere, whether we re-create what goes missing, build something new or leave it alone entirely, our decisions will seed the future.

  • Post-disaster reconstructionPost-disaster reconstruction divides society

    In 2004, a tsunami devastated much of the Indonesian city of Banda Aceh. An estimated 160,000 people were killed. In the years that followed, aid providers rebuilt homes on the same plots that had been completely destroyed by the tsunami, in order to avoid displacing the residents. In doing so, they were acting in accordance with a humanitarian principle that comes into play after natural disasters, namely to help survivors to return to their previous places of residence whenever possible. Yet in Banda Aceh, many tsunami survivors preferred to move inland instead, leading to a price premium for properties farther from the coast and socio-economic segregation. The unfortunate result is that lower-income residents are now disproportionately exposed to coastal hazards.

  • ResilienceTwo things matter when bouncing back from natural disasters

    Disaster happens. But solid local leadership combined with the right outside partners can mitigate the fallout and save lives. ‘The national actors who are there, whether they are firefighters, first responders, or people working on disaster and emergency preparedness policy — they are the ones who drive the conversation,” says one expert. But the second part of developing resiliency in the face of a disaster, she adds, is having international players acting as a catalyst. “This is central to the actual activities that you’re delivering.”

  • ResilienceCities with bad traffic may be more resilient to disruptive events

    New research shows that cities with bad traffic under normal conditions may actually be more efficient at handling adverse events, like accidents and storms. Conversely, some cities with typically low traffic congestion become severely backed-up under the pressure of these disruptive scenarios. Efficiency refers to the average time delay a commuter would face annually due to traffic. Resilience is the ability of road networks to absorb adverse events that fall outside normal daily traffic patterns.