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Retro Report – video re earthquake readiness

April 17, 2014

Promises of Preparedness followed Devastation Earthquake and Yet…

This posting from the NYT Retro Report on the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta quake generated several comments from readers.

(1) Jay Wilson of Oregon noted that it prominently features Oregon’s influence from the California experience and also has Dennis Mileti discussing social science and preparedness.

(2) From several readers affiliated with the Natural Hazards Mitigation Association, these comments:Our thanks to Janiele Maffei and Mariann Knoy from the California Earthquake Authority for supplying information on the California Residential Mitigation Program.  While the article and especially the accompanying video is absolutely splendid, they would have been ever better if they  mentioned that:

  • The California Residential Mitigation Program (CRMP) conducted a pilot retrofit program called Earthquake Brace + Bolt: Funds to Strengthen Your Foundation in select neighborhoods in Oakland and Los Angles, California. The goal of the Earthquake Brace + Bolt Pilot Program is to decrease the physical and financial damage of earthquakes on soft-story single-family residential houses. A typical retrofit can cost between $2,000 to $10,000 depending upon the size of the house and the amount of work involved. The Pilot Program provides up to $3,000 to pre-qualified homeowners who make simple earthquake retrofits to help protect their largest investment and their loved ones. The pilot is currently under evaluation which will be used to inform program expansion efforts. For more information on the Earthquake Brace + Bolt Program, go on-line to:
  •  Some discussion of the Nisqually Earthquake mitigation efforts under Project Impact which significantly reduced damages following the 2011 quake in Washington State.





Recovery Outcomes in Christchurch, NZ

April 17, 2014

Christchurch has been recovering from a massive earthquake in 2011.  Here are a couple of articles about how victims and those working to help them have been faring in the nearly four years since then.

Thanks to Ian McLean for providing the citation.

The Business Community’s Take on Resilience

April 16, 2014

I am not sure why I was surprised, but I noted with interest the cover of the April edition of the Harvard Business Review, which features an article titled, The Resilient Company; How to Thrive in a Warmer World. An excerpt follows:

Though companies today face many global-scale challenges—from destabilizing demographic shifts to the threat of financial system collapse—extreme weather caused by climate change and increasing limits on resources are both having an unprecedented impact, threatening corporate profits and global prosperity. These “megachallenges” will require companies to fundamentally rethink their strategies and tactics.

To manage them, all parts of society—government and public institutions, the private sector, and citizens—must act in concert. But business, with its financial and material resources and unique innovativeness and talent, must lead the way.

As you would expect, the article provides a sophisticated discussion and analysis aimed at business leaders. I recommend it.


OARS: Organizations Addressing Resilience and Sustainability -updated

April 15, 2014

This is an update to the list previously shared. Full credit goes to Mr. Don Watson for his efforts in producing this useful 22-page listing of key organizations dealing with resilience and sustainability.  You can download the latest version of the document here:OARS 09. I hope you appreciate the fact that this is version 9, which means Don is very conscientious about this effort.

Please note that this is an ongoing effort, and Don welcomes suggestions and additions. Please send them directly to  him at this email address:

Resilient Cities Report – 3 Canadian Cities Top the List

April 15, 2014

Article in the Guardian about the report titled Resilient Urban Form and Governance Report.
The link to the full report, which is 122 pages, is here.  From the lead in:

The three most resilient cities? They’re all in Canada. Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary top a new report measuring the least vulnerable and most adaptive cities on the planet – while the high-growth cities of the Bric nations teeter precariously on the edge of danger

Thanks to Ashutosh Madhukar for the link.  [You have to love the Internet: a gentleman in India reading the online version of the Guardian (UK), finds an article highlighting Canadian cities and sends it to U.S.- based blog!]

QUESTION TO READERS:  The Diva has not yet had time to read this full report, but she is puzzled by the apparent conflict – 3 Canadian cities rank high on resilience, but just two weeks ago (April 1) this blog cited two reports lamenting the state of Canadian preparedness and readiness for natural disasters. Does anyone have an explanation?

Landslides and Mudslides — a deeper analysis

April 14, 2014

Prof. Rob Olshansky wrote in to provide some context for landslides and mudslides. He has been studying them for years and has published several papers on the topic. In reviewing the issues over the years he said:

*** there are two main points to all of this. First, landslide insurance does not exist (except for the “mudslide” provision in NFIP, a curiosity which is explained in my longer law review paper). This means that when a landslide occurs, everyone sues everyone (of course, it’s worse if deaths are involved). For local governments, it ends up being distracting and expensive, whether or not they are at fault. Hence, my message to local governments is: do everything you can to avoid damaging landslides in your jurisdiction. The Oso landslide would be my illustration of what I mean by this.

Second, if a landslide affects an existing subdivision, there are very few options. It’s hard to prevent others from building on lots in the subdivision. And it’s hard to fix the slide: everyone thinks that someone else should pay. My paper on landslide hazard mitigation looks at several possible financing structures (with estimates of dollar amounts at the time), including some ways to lure the insurers back into the game.  But landslides are too infrequent to attract sustained policy attention or the sustained attention of insurers, so nothing changes.

A special thanks to Rob Olshansky, who is Head of the Dept. of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Note: He send the Diva copies of 3 of his published papers. To avoid copyright violations, I have not uploaded them to this site. But I can share them with a selected no. of interested persons, if the intended use is for educational purposes. Contact me directly if you want to see them.


Another Note:  For those who want some basic information about landslides, as well as links to additional resources, check out the US Geological Survey and its Landslides 101 page.


Cimate Action Needed – ASAP

April 14, 2014

U.N. Climate Panel Warns Speedier Action Is Needed to Avert Disaster.  Intro begins:

The countries of the world have dragged their feet so long on global warming that the situation is now critical, experts appointed by the United Nations reported Sunday, and only an intensive worldwide push over the next 15 years can stave off potentially disastrous climatic changes later in the century.

Another version of the same report and warning, from the Wall St. Journal.


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