Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 1 August 2000



(2000), "ALL HAZARDS", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 9 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited



FEMA's Project Impact

"Lessons learned" from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) Project Impact are now on the Web and updated daily at the address above. With hurricanes Dennis, Floyd, and Irene, there were many opportunities in 1999 to highlight disaster prevention lessons in both Project Impact and non-Project Impact communities. Representatives from FEMA's disaster field offices have been submitting examples of effective disaster mitigation projects, and these accounts represent a large portion of the examples now online. To submit additional "lessons learned", contact: Barb Sturner, FEMA, 500 C Street, SW, Washington, DC 20472. Tel: +1 (202) 646-3650.

FEMA's Building Performance Assessment Teams (BPATs)

FEMA's Building Performance Assessment Teams (BPATs) are activated after disasters to assess building and infrastructure performance and to recommend improvements in construction codes and standards, designs, methods, and materials used for both new construction and post-disaster repair. The BPAT Web site provides current BPAT news, success stories, and reports from surveys of recent disasters, as well as complete copies of the BPAT newsletter, BPAT Update. The latest reports concern the Mid-west tornadoes of 3 May 1999, and hurricane Georges. FEMA is currently recruiting qualified persons to add to the BPAT roster database, and details are available from the Web site at:

FEMA is now offering an independent study course on how home and small business owners can reduce losses from natural disasters. The course, titled IS 394-Mitigation for Homeowners, is free and available for download from the FEMA Web sites above. Mitigation for Homeowners is intended to help residents:

  • identify which natural hazards affect their community;

  • determine which natural hazards are most likely to affect them personally;

  • locate specific risks unique to their particular home or business; and

  • formulate a targeted plan of action to reduce risks to their property, family, and home.

The course provides non-technical mitigation techniques for a home or small business - both pre-disaster (preventive) and post-disaster (corrective). In addition to signing up through the Web site, individuals and groups can enrol in this course by contacting the National Emergency Training Centre, 16825 South Seton Avenue. Emmitsburg, MD 21727. Tel: +1 (301) 4471076.

EMI's independent study Web page offers numerous other courses.

FEMA's Higher Education Project

Each summer for the past several years, FEMA's Higher Education Project has hosted a conference for educators and other persons interested in promoting emergency management training in colleges and universities around the country. The report for the 1999 Higher Education Project Conference is now available for download from the Emergency Information Infrastructure Partnership (EIIP) Virtual Library at the address above. This is a 97K Microsoft Word 97 file. The direct ftp address is:

Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED)

The Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) at the School of Public Health, Catholic University of Louvain, Brussels, Belgium, has placed a comprehensive database of disaster information online via their Web site. As the creators of this resource state:

In recent years, natural and man-made disasters have been affecting increasing numbers of people throughout the world. Budgets for emergency and humanitarian aid have sky-rocketed. Efforts to establish better preparedness for and prevention of disasters have been a priority concern of donor agencies, implementing agencies and affected countries. For this reason, demand for complete and verified data on disasters and their human and economic impact, by country and type of disaster has been growing. Planners, policy makers, field agencies engaged in preparedness have all expressed need for data for their work. The CRED/US Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) initiative responds to this need by making available a specialised, validated database on disasters that facilitates preparedness, thereby reducing vulnerability to disasters and improving disaster management.

The site includes:

  • background information;

  • a "what's new" update section; the searchable database covering over 10,000 disasters; "disaster profiles" (now including data on epidemics) in three sub-sets ("top 10", "chronological table" and "raw data") and grouped according to country, region, world, and disaster type;

  • summary data;

  • maps;

  • a soon-to-be added bibliographic database; and

  • many links to other useful sites.

For more information about this database and the work of CRED, contact: Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters, Unit of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Catholic University of Louvain, 30.94 Clos Chappelle-aux-Champs, 1200 Brussels, Belgium. Tel: +32 (0) 2 764 33 27; Fax: +32 (0) 2 764 34 41; e-mail:

Additionally, a country-by-country database compiled by OFDA and CRED is available via the United Nations Relief Web site at:

International Conference on Disaster Management: Co-operative Networking in South Asia

In late November 1999, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) hosted the International Conference on Disaster Management: Co-operative Networking in South Asia in New Delhi. The conference Web site includes dozens of papers on the many aspects of disaster management in Asia.

Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS)http://www.ibhs.org

The Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) has created a prototype database that displays the natural hazards faced by those who live in the counties of the New Madrid seismic region and surrounding areas. The database contains hazard information for 884 counties in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. After picking one of these counties from a list or map, the user receives information on what damage that county could experience if an 8.6 magnitude earthquake occurred in the New Madrid area. The database also provides information on the number of flood/flash flood, hailstorm, hurricane, tornado, and wildfire events the county experienced between January 1993 and July 1999. Additionally, the user is presented with information on steps he or she can take to protect a home or business from these hazards. Finally, users can also obtain critical information on building codes and land-use planning efforts in the given state. Among other goals, the database is intended to demonstrate that natural hazards in the region are more common than most people might think.

Global Disaster Information Network (GDIN)

The Global Disaster Information Network (GDIN) is a US initiative to make the information needed to conduct effective disaster relief operations available when and where needed via the Internet. For persons interested in the progress of the development of the GDIN, this US Department of State Web page provides information about past and future international meetings devoted to the creation this network. Included are the proceedings of the May 1999 GDIN meeting in Mexico City and several background papers.

Benfield Greig Hazard Research Centre

The Benfield Greig Hazard Research Centre at University College London, was the first multi-disciplinary natural hazards research group established in the UK. The centre staff, from many different university departments, study a wide array of natural hazards, including volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, windstorms, and landslides. The centre's newly revised Web site provides extensive information about the centre and its many activities. It offers:

  • a "News centre" with press releases, forecasts, feature articles, case studies, a "Fact file", project descriptions, other centre news, and links to related sites;

  • extensive descriptions of research and services;

  • information about the centre's new Disaster Management Unit;

  • a list of centre publications;

  • references to other new publications of interest to disaster researchers;

  • a photo gallery of hazards, etc.

For more information about the centre, contact: the Benfield Greig Hazard Research Centre, School of Geological and Geophysical Sciences, University College London, Gower Street, London WClE6BT, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 171 4193449; Fax: +44 (0) 171 388 7614; e-mail:

The Benfield Greig Centre hosts a very useful e-mail listserve ( from which the UNCRD Disaster Managment Planning Program Web site, discussed later, is taken.

HelpAge International

With the non-governmental organisation HelpAge International playing a major role, in September an international conference was held in Finland to look at the issue of older people in emergencies. A number of conference papers are now available on-line, together with HelpAge International's conference overview paper, "The aging world and humanitarian crises". These papers, available from the Web above Web site, reveal the particular problems faced by older people in disasters and the fact that humanitarian agencies appear to be largely unaware of them.

United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) Disaster Management Planning Program

In April 1999, the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) Disaster Management Planning Program moved from Nagoya to a new office in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, where the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake disaster occurred on 17 January 1995, and where its residents are now attempting to redevelop their city. The new office will examine the reconstruction process in Hyogo Prefecture and other disaster-damaged areas in developing countries, as well as carry out the following programs to fulfil the IDNDR goal of establishing disaster prevention as an essential element of sustainable development:

  • provide advisory services to communities vulnerable to disasters in co-operation with governmental and non-governmental agencies and academic institutions;

  • improve the safety of core community facilities, such as schools and hospitals, and cultural heritage that may be damaged by disasters; and

  • identify and promulgate best practices in disaster management at the community level and disseminate them through workshops and information technology.

This Web site includes information about the Hyogo office - its activities and its publications - as well as useful links to other sources of information about the Hanshin-Awaji quake. For more information about the office's mission and programs, contact the UNCRD Disaster Management Planning Hyogo Office, IHD Centre Building, 4th Floor, 1-5-7 Wakihama-kaigan-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe 651-0073, Japan. Tel: +8l-78-230-7561; Fax: +81-78-230-7565; e-mail: WWW:

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) launched the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) Project in 1995 with two components:

  1. 1.

    The GEO Process-a global, cross-sectoral, participatory environmental assessment process initiated by collaborating scientists from over 100 countries that incorporates regional views and perceptions and builds consensus on priority issues and actions through dialogue among policy makers and scientists at regional and global levels.

  2. 2.

    GEO outputs, in printed and electronic formats, including the GEO Report series, which periodically reviews the state of the world's environment and provides guidance for decision-making processes such as the formulation of environmental policies, action planning, and resource allocation.

Either of the Web sites above provides Global Environmental Outlook 2000, the latest GEO report, which identifies numerous environmental trends and includes several projections regarding natural hazards in the twenty-first century. Among others, it cites increased water shortages, desertification, deforestation, global warming, increased forest fires, and species and biological invasions due to increasing globalization as significant potential hazards in the coming century.

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