More Details on Pending Changes to FEMA’s Enabling Legislation

See this account of the pending changes to the Stafford Act, the enabling legislation for FEMA.  The author is an attorney with FEMA.

I am puzzled as to why the National Advisory Council to FEMA was chosen to do the essential analyses.  I think that either the National Academy of Sciences or the National Academy of Public Administration would have been better choices.

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New Disaster Reform Legislation Pending & Recovery Report re H. Sandy

For those who are interested in the ongoing recovery from H. Sandy, here are three new reports worth reviewing. Once again the Diva would like readers to dig into the two reports mentioned here and do an analysis or review, because she does not have the time presently to read and critique them.

Of special interest to me is the fact that these documents come from a Congressional Committee. It is the first analysis of post-Sandy recovery that I have seen from a congressional office. Also, it is the first time I have seen mention of  FEMA’s National Advisory Council  See: Pending Disaster Reform Legislation and a Recovery Report re H. Sandy

In the second report, there is mention of a major (140 pp.) report from the Army Corps of Engineers in Jan. of this year. A website that provides a full text copy, as well as graphics and an executive summary, go this this cite: North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study. 

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Update on Flood Ins. Reforms

FEMA Official: ‘We Are Undertaking Sweeping Reforms’ at NFIP

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it is working to give every Hurricane Sandy survivor who thinks they may have been defrauded or received less than they were entitled to under their National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policy, the opportunity to have their claim readjusted. The federal agency is also undertaking sweeping reforms that will change the way the NFIP is delivered, a top FEMA official said.

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Protection of Cultural Property

Not sure how many of my readers are concerned with this topic, but the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC is hosting this event:

National Conference on Cultural Property Protection, March 26-27, at the Warner Bros. Theater, NMAH

Please join the Office of Protection Services (OPS) and the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary for Collections and Interdisciplinary Support (DUSCIS) for the National Conference on Cultural Property Protection, March 26-27, 2015, at the Warner Bros. Theater, National Museum of American History.

The National Conference on Cultural Property Protection offers insight and proven solutions for new and seasoned professionals in the field of cultural property protection. Rooted in security, programming embraces an interdisciplinary focus on cultural heritage protection and preservation.

This year’s exciting agenda includes several Smithsonian presenters and topics such as: disaster resilience thinking, integrated emergency planning, lessons learned during real-life active shooter scenarios, and more.

Registration is just $275, and includes meals and evening networking opportunities.

Please see our website for the complete agenda and to register:

Questions? Please contact Donna Taylor in Office of Protection Services, (202) 633-5647 (3-5647) or

Be sure to read the comments from readers below for additional resources.



CA Water Shortage Is Very Serious

Drought-stricken California only has one year of water left, Nasa scientist warns

As backup supply dwindles, [scientist] says state has about one year of water left and calls for a more ‘forward-looking process’ to deal with crisis
Folsom Lake in California

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More Rehousing Options from Readers

The Diva got lots of useful examples and citations from readers, such as:

  • Ikea brings flatpack innovation to emergency refugee shelters
    Swedish furniture giant has teamed up with the UN Refugee Agency to develop a longer-lasting flatpack shelter. [Thanks to Mary Tyszkiewicz for the link.]
  • Probably worth noting that these are used in Alaska for all sorts of housing. For example, the motels seen in “Ice Road Truckers” are made from shipping containers. [Thanks to John Plodinec.]
  • The link is to a short video on how Christchurch, NZ used shipping containers to reestablish retail quickly after their earthquake. [ Thanks to Thom Rounds.]

Are Shipping Containers a Useful Source of Post-Disaster Housing?

After reading an article about the proposed use of shipping containers for affordable housing in Washington, DC, I asked one of my readers who is an architect for his view about the feasibility of using them for post-disaster housing. The original article, with some mention of the use of container housing in NY, is here.

In reply to my question, architect Don Watson offered the following:

“Cargo architecture” has made afoot hold. Using the units does not necessarily reduce costs. The Wash. Post article describes such accurately. New York City Emergency Planners have used the approach for disaster temporary housing….”temporary housing” is a misnomer….the units cost as much as convene final construction. But an advantage is that they can conceivably be built more rapidly as factory modules. It is the factory module technology that makes them quick to assemble on site. Thus part of solution. A few samples:

New modular disaster relief housing prototype developed...[Jul 07, 2014 • As of January this year 1,300 families were still living in temporary housing … shipping containers versus modular housing.] …
First NYC Shipping Container Home Receives Final Approval.[The couple plans to provide visiting musicians and scholars with temporary housing in … shipping containers.]
Designing for Disaster: Which is better, modular or ship [May 21, 2013 • Another look at the question of what is the best way to build good housing].

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