Natural disasters are having an increasing effect on the lives of people in the United States and throughout the world. Every decade, property damage caused by natural disasters and hazards doubles or triples in the United States. More than half of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coast, and all Americans are at risk from such hazards as fires, earthquakes, floods, and wind. The year 2010 saw 950 natural catastrophes around the world--the second highest annual total ever--with overall losses estimated at $130 billion. The increasing impact of natural disasters and hazards points
The United States will certainly be subject to damaging earthquakes in the future. Some of these earthquakes will occur in highly populated and vulnerable areas. Coping with moderate earthquakes is not a reliable indicator of preparedness for a major earthquake in a populated area. The recent, disastrous, magnitude-9 earthquake that struck northern Japan demonstrates the threat that earthquakes pose. Moreover, the cascading nature of impacts-the earthquake causing a tsunami, cutting electrical power supplies, and stopping the pumps needed to cool nuclear reactors-demonstrates the potential com
Many coastal areas of the United States are at risk for tsunamis. After the catastrophic 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, legislation was passed to expand U.S. tsunami warning capabilities. Since then, the nation has made progress in several related areas on both the federal and state levels. At the federal level, NOAA has improved the ability to detect and forecast tsunamis by expanding the sensor network. Other federal and state activities to increase tsunami safety include: improvements to tsunami hazard and evacuation maps for many coastal communities; vulnerability assessments of some co
Natural disasters--including hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and floods--caused more than 220,000 deaths worldwide in the first half of 2010 and wreaked havoc on homes, buildings, and the environment. To withstand and recover from natural and human-caused disasters, it is essential that citizens and communities work together to anticipate threats, limit their effects, and rapidly restore functionality after a crisis.
Increasing evidence indicates that collaboration between the private and public sectors could improve the ability of a community to prepare for, respon
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (9/11) on the United States prompted a rethinking of how the United States prepares for disasters. Federal policy documents written since 9/11 have stressed that the private and public sectors share equal responsibility for the security of the nation's critical infrastructure and key assets. Private sector entities have a role in the safety, security, and resilience of the communities in which they operate. Incentivizing the private sector to expend resources on community efforts remains challenging. Disasters in the United States since 9/11 (e.g., H
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration (LACPR) draft final technical report in March, 2009. In response to federal legislation, the Corps had to analyze hurricane protection, and design and present a full range of measures to protect against a storm equivalent to a category 5 hurricane. The request included measures for flood control, coastal restoration, and hurricane protection, and stipulated close coordination with the State of Louisiana and its appropriate agencies.
This is the second and final report from the National Re
Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans and surrounding areas in August 2005, ranks as one of the nation's most devastating natural disasters. Shortly after the storm, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers established a task force to assess the performance of the levees, floodwalls, and other structures comprising the area's hurricane protection system during Hurricane Katrina. This book provides an independent review of the task force's final draft report and identifies key lessons from the Katrina experience and their implications for future hurricane preparedness and planning in the region.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Insurance Rate Maps portray the height and extent to which flooding is expected to occur, and they form the basis for setting flood insurance premiums and regulating development in the floodplain. As such, they are an important tool for individuals, businesses, communities, and government agencies to understand and deal with flood hazard and flood risk. Improving map accuracy is therefore not an academic question--better maps help everyone. Making and maintaining an accurate flood map is neither simple nor inexpensive. Even after an investment o