Why Was the Damage So Great in LA?

From a professor of geography at LSU: Suburban Sprawl and Poor Preparation Worsened Flood Damage in LA

* * * based on my experience studying risk and resilience in this region, I see parallels between the damage of current flooding and the damage caused by Katrina. In both cases, human decisions magnified the consequences of extreme natural events. Planning and permitting enabled development in areas that had experienced repeat floods, and agencies had failed to complete projects designed to mitigate flood damage before the storms hit.

Posted in Lousiana Floods (2016) | 3 Comments

The Role of Government in Rebuilding After Disaster

From the Huffington Post, the perspective of a scientist from Columbia Univ.: The Role of government in Rebuilding After Disasters.

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A Fundamental Dilemma

As Louisiana floods rage, Republicans are blocking modest climate action. If a common sense proposal for federal agencies to consider climate change in their decisions on the environment is shot down, what hope is there?

If we needed a reminder of the importance of taking climate change seriously, the floods in Louisiana are providing a big one on a daily basis. When it comes to the big environmental issues, our country’s polarization is historically unusual, and it’s already gone way too far. That’s why the latest fight to break out in Washington over climate issues needs more attention.

Posted in Climate Change, Lousiana Floods (2016) | 3 Comments

Looking for Federal Funds for LA

As I noted in an earlier posting, serious problems will surface in LA when the reality of no  insurance for many of the estimated 60,000 homes damaged is fully realized.

See: Louisiana residents without flood insurance face uncertainty.  Some details:

In Louisiana, an estimated 42 percent of homes in high-risk areas have flood insurance, according to FEMA. Only 12.5 percent of homeowners in low and moderate-risk zones do.

Many of the areas hit hard by record rainfall last week were not considered at high risk for flooding.

Those residents without flood insurance are eligible for up to $33,000 in FEMA individual disaster assistance funds, although most will likely receive less than that, based on payments following other major disasters.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, FEMA paid $6.6 billion to approximately 1.07 million households and individuals in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, an average of just over $6,000 per grant, according to agency figures. Superstorm Sandy in 2012 produced an average payout of under $8,000 for about 180,000 residents of New York and New Jersey.

 NOTE: See comments from Ed Thomas, President of Natural Hazards Mitigation Association.

Posted in Lousiana Floods (2016) | 1 Comment

Book on the History of Emergency Management in the U.S.

A word from our sponsor – the Diva is editor of this book

Just in time for the fall semester, this popular text book has just been marked down. See:    Emergency Management; the American Experience, 1900-2010. Details about the table of contents, authors, and contents can be seen on the publisher’s websiteIf you go to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble and then to DisasterBookstore.com, you will see the lowest price for the book presently.

And  for those of you who want to know the origins and history of FEMA, this book tells all!



Free Mapping Services from ESRI

Here is a nice gesture from a corporation to communities experiencing a disaster. See: ESRI offers free aid to agencies battling disasters.

GIS vendor Esri says it will offer free help to agencies dealing with a major disaster — whether or not that organization is an Esri customer. The company is currently providing help to governments coping with flooding in Louisiana and wildfires in California.

“Esri’s Disaster Response Program provides software support, data support, and consulting/technical support for active disasters,” Russ Johnson, director, global director for emergency response at Esri said in an emailed statement

That can include creating real-time maps with road-closing and evacuation-route information, mapping affected areas and available relief supplies, and incorporating social media posts from disaster areas with useful on-the-ground information.

Anyone at a government or non-profit agency dealing with a disaster such as fire, flood, hurricane or earthquake can request help at the Esri website.

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Planning for Large Scale Disasters and Displacement

As I watch the news accounts of the LA floods — with about 60,000 homes damaged to some extent and most owners with no flood insurance — I cannot help but think that our current federal response system and the National Flood Insurance Program are not adequate for the larger and more complex disasters the U.S. is experiencing. Whether or not these events are caused by climate change, the point is we need to think bigger and better about disasters. Also, I predict that FEMA is going to take a lot of abuse that it does not deserve, because of the limitations of its enabling legislation.

From the Wash. Post on August 19th: As People Flee Disasters Is This What Climate Change Looks Like? One quote from the article:

This is merely a foretaste of what will happen in the decades to come on a much more massive scale,” said Michael Gerrard, who directs the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. “Few places have undertaken serious planning that ultimately there’s going to have to be, and I’m talking about decades, large-scale movement inland in many coastal areas.”