• Raw cotton offers new, ecologically friendly way to clean up oil spills

    The Deepwater Horizon disaster highlighted the need for better ways of cleaning up oil spills. A new solution addresses this need. It is based on the finding that unprocessed, raw cotton may be an ideal, ecologically friendly answer, with an amazing ability to sop up oil.

  • Motivating businesses to adopt building resiliency standards

    Increased resilience for buildings in the face of hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorism, or cyberattacks has been a major national security focus over the past decade. Such resilient buildings not only would be less susceptible to damage and work interruption but could become community gathering places in a general crisis. It will not be easy, however, to secure voluntary adoption of resiliency standards by industry and builders without adequate justification.

  • Oil-devouring microbe communities a mile deep in the Gulf

    The Deepwater Horizon explosion on 20 April 2010, caused the largest marine oil spill in history, with several million barrels of crude oil released into the Gulf of Mexico over the course of three months. Soon after the spill began, a massive oil slick was visible from orbiting satellites, yet once the underwater gusher was sealed, obvious traces of the crude oil disappeared much sooner than nearly all observers predicted. Some of the oil evaporated; some was skimmed off. Microbes “ate” much of the oil as well.

  • Treating oil spills with chemical dispersants may do more damage than good

    Treating oil spills at sea with chemical dispersants is detrimental to European fisheries. Post-spill chemical dispersants may reduce problems for surface animals, but the increased contamination under the water reduces the ability for fish and other organisms to cope with subsequent environmental challenges.

  • Texas to appeal FEMA decision not to declare West, Texas a disaster area

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said President Obama would not declare West, Texas a disaster area in the wake of the massive fertilizer plant explosion there two months ago, and Texas governor Rick Perry is not happy. FEMA said Texas did not make the case the state lacked funds for cleanup and recovery efforts.

  • Making buildings more tsunamis-resilient

    Often in disasters such as tsunamis, people escape the on-rushing wall of water by climbing to higher ground, called vertical evacuation. As people race to the third or fourth floor of a building, however, how do they know whether the building will hold up? Walls of water often carry with them cars, trucks, and 60,000-pound fully loaded cargo containers, transforming them into projectiles which slam into buildings with tremendous force. Most structural systems are designed to defy gravity, not a side kick from a shipping container. Engineers are now studying the impact of tsunami-carried debris in order to make buildings and other structures more disaster-resilient.

  • Improved disaster resilience is imperative for U.S: report

    A new report from the National Academies says that it is essential for the United States to bolster resilience to natural and human-caused disasters, and that this will require complementary federal policies and locally driven actions that center on a national vision – a culture of resilience; improving resilience should be seen as a long-term process, but it can be coordinated around measurable short-term goals that will allow communities better to prepare and plan for, withstand, recover from, and adapt to adverse events

  • UAVs with dexterous arms to help in infrastructure repair and disaster recovery

    With current technology, most UAVs perform passive tasks such as surveillance and reconnaissance missions, tasks which are performed well above ground; researchers are interested in how UAVs might interact with objects at or near ground level; a UAV with dexterous arms could perform a wide range of active near-ground missions, from infrastructure repair and disaster recovery to border inspection and agricultural handling

  • The bicycle's next frontier: disaster response

    Cities in seismically active regions are examining their emergency response policies in the wake of the March 2011 tsunami in Japan; the city of Portland, Oregon, as well as citizen-led Neighborhood Emergency Teams(NET), have been including the cargo bike in their emergency response plans

  • Planetary exploration vehicle for earthly search-and-rescue missions

    A researcher develops a NASA-sponsored autonomous lake lander for the purpose of exploring lakes on distant planets; this mission is many years in the future; in the meantime, the vehicle is ready to deploy on missions related to defense and security, such as harbor surveillance and cleanup operations of littoral munitions dumps and mines; it is also ideal for search-and-rescue operations in oceans, lakes, and hazardous environments, as well as for environmental research projects

  • Brown graduate students help bankrupt city create disaster plan

    To help the cash-stricken city of Central Falls, Rhode Island, thirty graduate students from Brown University have banded together to help create a disaster preparedness plan

  • Study shows violence against women increases following disasters

    A new study shows that in the aftermath of a devastating natural disaster domestic violence against women tends to increase

  • Nebraska debates disaster housing fund

    Legislators in Nebraska are currently debating a law that would create a $2.5 million temporary housing fund for families who lose their homes in natural disasters

  • Virginia receives $40 million in federal disaster aid following quake

    Following the rare east coast earthquake last year, Virginia has received nearly $40 million in federal disaster aid

  • Study finds disaster survivors more prone to fatal mistakes

    A new study concludes that survivors of traumatic natural disasters may suffer from a decline in mental capabilities causing them to make grave errors in their daily lives