2014 Vol. 5, No. 3

Display Method:
Near-Real-Time Analysis of Publicly Communicated Disaster Response Information
Trevor Girard, Friedemann Wenzel, Bijan Khazai, Tina Kunz-Plapp, James E. Daniell, Susan A. Brink
2014, 5(3): 165-175. doi: 10.1007/s13753-014-0024-3
Analysis of a disaster event can identify strengths and weaknesses of the response implemented by the disaster management system; however, analysis does not typically occur until after the response phase is over. The result is that knowledge gained can only benefit future responses rather than the response under investigation. This article argues that there is an opportunity to conduct analysis while the response is operational due to the increasing availability of information within hours and days of a disaster event. Hence, this article introduces a methodology for analyzing publicly communicated disaster response information in near-real-time. A classification scheme for the disaster information needs of the public has been developed to facilitate analysis and has led to the establishment of best observed practice standards for content and timeliness. By comparing the information shared with the public within days of a disaster to these standards, information gaps are revealed that can be investigated further. The result is identification of potential deficiencies in communicating critical disaster response information to the public at a time when they can still be corrected.
Assessing Potential Earthquake Loss in Mérida State, Venezuela Using Hazus
América Bendito, Jesse Rozelle, Douglas Bausch
2014, 5(3): 176-191. doi: 10.1007/s13753-014-0027-0
The focus of the Hazus earthquake model has been largely U.S. centric due to a lack of standardized building-infrastructure data formats applicable elsewhere. In a combined effort between FEMA Region VIII and the Universidad de Los Andes, Venezuela, the present study uses the Hazus 2.1 software to simulate earthquake loss estimations for Venezuela. Population totals and demographic distributions were developed using Oak Ridge National Labs Landscan 2008 population data and the census 2011 for Venezuela. The accuracy of the model was further enhanced for Mérida State, located in western Venezuela, by collecting, incorporating, and developing region and specific inventories including soil maps, liquefaction and landslide susceptibility studies, demographic data, and building inventory information. We used USGS ShakeMaps scenarios for two potential earthquake events with peak ground accelerations proposed within Performance Based Seismic Engineering of Buildings, VISION 2000 recommendations. The region has not witnessed an earthquake with a magnitude greater than M 7 in the last 120 years. Given the historical record of seismicity and the seismotectonics in the region, it becomes increasingly important to understand the potential implications from moderate to large earthquakes in Mérida State, Venezuela.
Collaboration Exercises—The Lack of Collaborative Benefits
Johan M. Berlin, Eric D. Carlström
2014, 5(3): 192-205. doi: 10.1007/s13753-014-0025-2
The purpose of this article is to analyze what professional emergency personnel learn during collaboration exercises and the benefits of what they have learned. Observations (n = 19) and semistructured interviews (n = 32) were carried out in conjunction with major exercises held in Sweden (2007–2012). The results show that exercises tend to be based on their own logic, which differs from actual events. Exercise participants believe that they mainly learn single-track, parallel, and pathdependent behavior. The exercises do not facilitate the use of cross-boundary activities. This means that learning, as well as benefits from the exercises for actual events, is limited. The exercises would be more appropriate if those participating had the opportunity to identify weaknesses, try alternative ways, and engage in comprehensive organizational analyses at the conclusion of the exercises. Based on the results of the study, alternative models for collaboration exercises are suggested, with elements that would better develop collaboration and contribute to learning.
Local Volunteerism and Resilience Following Large-Scale Disaster: Outcomes for Health Support Team Volunteers in Haiti
Jessica A. Carlile, Kira Mauseth, Noël E. Clark, Jennifer L. Cruz, John W. Thoburn
2014, 5(3): 206-213. doi: 10.1007/s13753-014-0028-z
In-depth interviews with local Haitian volunteers trained in a psychological disaster recovery program called Health Support Team (HST) provide insight into the psychosocial outcomes resulting from their engagement with the program. Qualitative interviews were conducted with four male Haitian participants who had survived the January 2010 Haiti earthquake and had worked as HST volunteers for at least 6 months. Interviews were analyzed using narrative inquiry analysis, which allows individuals to discover and disclose a deeper meaning in their experience and enables the researchers to access more detailed data. Previous research supports the claim that volunteerism provides many important psychological benefits, and the results of the present study suggest that among survivors of large-scale disasters, volunteerism is beneficial as a means of increasing psychological resilience and facilitating personal recovery. Results and themes of our analysis included a reported increase in both hope and purpose for the respondents. Findings suggest that volunteerism on the part of members of the surviving community following large-scale disaster increases resilience among the volunteers and further contributes to their recovery.
Assessment of Indoor and Outdoor Radon Levels in South Lebanon
Mohammed A. Kobeissi, Omar El Samad, Khaled Zahraman, Ibrahim Rachidi
2014, 5(3): 214-226. doi: 10.1007/s13753-014-0029-y
The presence of high indoor radon concentrations, Cx, is a major concern of the public worldwide. Measurements of indoor radon in South Lebanon have been achieved using CR-39 detectors. Cx values ranged between 30 and 122 Bq m-3 in one of the major towns in the area and are compared with measured atmospheric air Radon. Moderate seasonal variation of Cx indoors has been observed, although 90 % of the obtained indoor Cx measurements are below 100 Bq m-3. Some homes produced Cx readings above the permissible limit. Results showed that the ventilation effect played a major factor in reducing radon concentration levels indoors. Health assessment has been considered. Annual effective doses of radon varied from 1.01 ±0.10 to 8.65 ±0.50 mSv a-1 in six homes in one of the four cases studied. These dosage values are above the permitted limit of 2.5 mSv a-1. Several types of granite contained in the studied homes were identified and their contributions to radon levels indoors were calculated.
Mapping Natural Hazard Impacts on Road Infrastructure—The Extreme Precipitation in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, June 2013
Sina Keller, Andreas Atzl
2014, 5(3): 227-241. doi: 10.1007/s13753-014-0026-1
Infrastructures in Europe have been affected by impacts of extreme natural events with increasing frequency over the past decades. One of the most recent examples is the flooding that affected parts of Germany in June 2013. Global warming is expected to change patterns of climate-related extreme events affecting infrastructure. This article presents an explanatory approach. Based on an observational design, causal connections between the occurrence and patterns of extreme events and related road infrastructure impacts are analyzed. The hazard mapping case study in the state of Baden-Württemberg combines traffic information and data on the June 2013 extreme precipitation in Germany. It examines the precipitation occurrence and road infrastructure impact characteristics in Baden-Württemberg and identifies spatiotemporal hazard patterns. The article suggests further research needs and fields of application for risk mapping in climate change adaptation research in Germany.
Exploring Loss and Damage at the International Climate Change Talks
Karen Elizabeth McNamara
2014, 5(3): 242-246. doi: 10.1007/s13753-014-0023-4
In recent years, there has been a growing need to address loss and damage as a result of climate change through international processes. At the most recent November 2013 international climate change talks in Warsaw, 194 countries negotiated the best way to establish institutional arrangements for loss and damage under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Such a decision to establish these arrangements was made in 2012 in Doha in a decision known as the "Doha Gateway." While the 19th (2013) Conference of the Parties succeeded in delivering the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage Associated with Climate Change Impacts, there was concern by some negotiators earlier into the conference that this would never transpire given the staunch disagreements between countries and lobbying blocks on a way forward. This article provides a brief historical overview of loss and damage at the climate change talks, and examines the key discourses defining this issue between 2011 and 2013 by analyzing submissions by lobbying blocks and member countries, and final negotiated texts. These discourses revolve around causality and solutions, compensation, and the relationship between loss and damage and adaptation.