• Infrastructure protectionTechnology assesses bridge safety after powerful storms

    Hurricanes and heavy rains often cause strong, overflowing river currents that can damage critical infrastructure, such as bridges. For example, after Hurricane Katrina, many National Guard convoys loaded with aid did not drive on bridges for fear the bridges could not support the heavy trucks. To safely transport, they had to use roundabout roads or boats to reach Katrina survivors. Loose or loosening soil is often the culprit in weakening bridge stability. Thus, an instrument that can quickly assess the soil conditions around bridge pillars is a top priority.

  • ResilienceCulture strongly influences coping behaviors after natural disasters

    Demographic and cultural differences strongly influence the coping styles young people use when they’re affected by a natural disaster, and these disparities should be taken into account when providing services to help them recover from these traumatic experiences, a new study found.

  • Grid protectionProtecting the national electrical grid from space weather

    It’s not often geology and national security wind up in the same sentence. Most people don’t think about electrical power in connection to either the ground under their feet or solar flares overhead, but one researcher says that connection presents a clear and present risk that power utilities need to consider.

  • ResilienceThe importance of community networks to disaster resilience

    Research finds that community networks and better official communication could aid in response and resilience to disasters. Researchers who worked in Houston and Corpus Christie after Hurricane Harvey write that they found “first, missed opportunities to harness social capital for disaster preparedness and, second, a greater need for government agencies and disaster relief organizations to effectively communicate with the public before, during and after disasters.”

  • ResilienceKeeping buildings functioning after natural disasters

    After an earthquake, hurricane, tornado or other natural hazard, it’s considered a win if no one gets hurt and buildings stay standing. But an even bigger victory is possible: keeping those structures operational. This outcome could become more likely with improved standards and codes for the construction of residential and commercial buildings.

  • 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.