The Costliest Natural Disaster in U.S. History: 10 Years Later


This week marks the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the event that changed the manner in which the country prepares for, responds to and recovers from domestic incidents of all kinds. There were many lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina and within each of the four phases of emergency management (preparedness, response, recovery & mitigation). These lessons are reflected the National Response Framework (NRF) which was released in 2008 superseding its successor document the National Response Plan (NRP).

The NRF is a continually updated federal document which outlines key response principles, roles and structures that organize a national response. It describes how communities, States, the Federal Government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector can coordinate efforts to respond effectively as a whole. This document can be found @

Katrina, the Category 5 hurricane that took over 1,800 lives and cost an estimated 108 billion dollars has many people in the south, to this day, working towards rebuilding their lives. However, many communities, as a whole, are strengthened as a result of the recovery and mitigation investments over the past decade. Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator visited the south this week to recognize these recovery efforts and acknowledge that there is much more preparedness to be done. The article can be found @

The greatest barrier to preparedness is complacency and, therefore, it is important to remember and recognize these historical anniversaries as terrible as they may be. In turn, we might, if even temporarily, resist the temptation to say “it won’t happen to me.”


Get Ready; Stay Ready Campaign 2015

August – Sanitation and Hygiene Supplies


The “Get Ready; Stay Ready” campaign focus for the month of August is on gathering the hygiene and sanitation supplies necessary to take adequate care of yourself in the days and weeks following a disaster. This task can be easily overlooked with all the additional concerns that may exist in the wake of a life-disrupting event. It not only helps keep you physically healthy but can also contribute to your mental well-being as well as it provides a sense of routine and normalcy. Consider the items below and determine which items are appropriate for your go kit/emergency supplies. Also, the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) offers some great tips on personal hygiene and sanitation care following a disaster. This information can be found @

  • Medium-sized plastic bucket with tight lid
  • Washcloth & towel
  • Towelettes, soap & hand sanitizer
  • Toothpaste & toothbrush
  • Shampoo
  • Comb, brush
  • Deodorant
  • Sunscreen
  • Razor & shaving cream
  • Lip balm
  • Insect repellant
  • Feminine supplies
  • Heavy-duty plastic garbage bags& ties for personal sanitation uses & toilet paper
  • Disinfectant
  • Small shovel for digging a latrine
  • Toilet paper
  • Contact lens solution
  • Mirror
  • Two, 1-gallon size ziplock bags

National Immunization Awareness Month 2015


As summer begins to wind down, children will be headed back to school or beginning school for their first time. This can be a busy time for parents as they start shopping for backpacks, binders, pens/pencils, clothes, shoes and a number of other items that will help their children have a great start to the school year. But let’s not forget the most important item on our back-to-school checklist: immunizations. This action, above all, will help ensure your child has a healthy and successful year.

The month of August is National Immunization Awareness Month which is sponsored by the CDC and coordinated by the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC). This initiative not only focuses on children going back-to-school but provides an opportunity to highlight the value of immunization across the lifespan. Activities focus on encouraging all people to protect their health by being vaccinated against infectious diseases.

Visit the NPHIC or CDC for more information regarding immunization recommendations for pregnant women, infants/young children, school-age children, pre-teen/teen & adults. Also, for UCI students, please visit the Student Health Center for additional questions/consultation regarding immunizations.


Cajon Pass Firestorm: Were I-15 Motorists Prepared?


Last Friday, July 17th a vegetation fire broke out in the Cajon Pass of San Bernardino County. This fire made headlines across the nation as it rapidly grew to an estimated 3500 acres before making its way on to the Interstate 15 freeway. At that time, motorists abandoned their vehicles at the order of the California Highway Patrol and ran for safety ( Many would later find their vehicles to be nothing more and a charred frame. Those who were not forced to abandon their vehicle were stuck for hours on a freeway that was not moving. Some chose to turn the car off and sit alongside of the road. It was a very hot day and the fire, smoke and wind conditions compounded to the uncomfortable climate. Thankfully, there were no fatalities as a result of this highly volatile and unexpected incident.

While this was an incredibly unfortunate event, its incidents like these that validate our need to have “go bags” or preparedness kits in our cars as well as at home and work. I would be curious to know how many of these motorists had a pair of sturdy walking/running shoes in their car at the time they had to evacuate; particularly for those men and women traveling in formal attire. Did the motorists have bottled water in their trunk that they were able to grab before dashing out in to the hot and smoky environment? What about the motorists’ that were not forced to evacuate their vehicles but were stranded in their cars for hours well past their next meal time? Did they have non-perishable items to snack on and settle their stomach until they were able to eat a more substantial meal? Lastly, what were the implications for those motorists that failed to monitor and sustain a minimum of a ¼ tank of fuel in their vehicle prior to the gridlock?

The truth is that this could’ve happened to any one of us and the decisions we make regarding preparedness will largely determine the condition in which we find ourselves on that unfortunate day. Remember preparedness must take place wherever you go and not just where you rest your head at night; particularly because to most of us spend more time other places than we do at home. Please visit the following links for more information regarding “go kits” for your home, car and workplace.

Orange County resource:

American Red Cross resource:

UCI Resource:


California’s Drought: Facts and Water Conservation Measures


California is in its fourth year of a record-breaking drought which is rendering significant economic and environmental impacts leading to an unstable future for the Golden State. California produces the largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of any state in the U.S. averaging around 2 trillion dollars and this drought is having a significant impact on many of these water-dependent economic engines. Many quality-of-life issues are also of significant concern. Therefore, it is critical that we as University stakeholders and residents of this great state continue our efforts to conserve and be mindful of our personal water usage. Any water use other than that for direct hydration or hygienic purposes should be given careful consideration. In many cases, water conservation measures can be increased simply by an elevated sense of awareness during its use.

The following link provides excellent water conservation tips for your kitchen, bathroom/laundry, outdoors and while at work: All of which can help increase your awareness  These can all help raise the level of awareness needed to be better stewards of this precious resource.

Additionally, below are some of the most recent drought facts and information regarding the current status of this statewide water crisis:

  • More than 44% of California is in “exceptional” drought — the worst level of drought.
  • California is the world’s fifth-largest supplier of food.
  • The current drought cost the (farming) sector an estimated $2.2 billion last year.
  • An estimated 17,000 farm jobs were lost in California in 2014.
  • The diminished hydropower capacity of California’s dams cost electricity customers a total of $1.4 billion in the past three years.
  • California’s current drought is driest period in the state’s 163 years of recorded rainfall history.


Get Ready; Stay Ready Campaign 2015

July – Equipment, Tools and Other Items


The “Get Ready; Stay Ready” campaign focus for the month of July is on acquiring tools, equipment and other items you may need following a disaster. Some of the simplest things that we take for granted can make the difference between surviving and surviving comfortably during a disaster. Many of these items are things we use in our everyday life and you can probably find extra sets lying around the house. Others may require that you include them in your disaster supply budget and purchase at a later date. That’s ok; simply knowing what you need is a step in the right direction. In either case, consider the following list as a recommendation and, as always, base your decisions on whether or not these items are relevant to your personal needs.

Tools: NOAA weather radio (hand crank or battery-powered), multi- purpose tool/utility knife, dust or surgical mask (N95), flashlight and extra batteries, pair of sturdy; close-toed shoes, matches in a waterproof container (or waterproof matches), utility shut-off wrench, duct tape, protective eyewear, plastic sheeting/tarp, scissors, whistle, signal flare, compass, work gloves, paper/pens/pencils, ABC fire extinguisher, needles and thread, coil of ½” rope, staple gun, hammer, pliers, screw driver and rubber bands.

Kitchen Items: Manual can opener, mess kits or paper cups, plates, plastic utensils, household liquid bleach (treating drinking water), sugar/salt/pepper, aluminum foil and plastic wrap, reseal-able plastic bags, small cooking stove and a can of cooking fuel and hand sanitizer.

Comfort Items: Games, cards, puzzles, music, books, toys for kids, colored pencils (crayons melt) and coloring books/notepads, crossword puzzles and Bible (if applicable).

Other Items: Cell phone with camera and charger, extra underwear/socks, plastic bucket and lid, city map, poncho/rain gear and battery-operated travel alarm clock.

Remember that many of these items can be purchased at the Nexus disaster supply store online where you can receive 20% off with your UC discount:


4th of July Safety


The 4th of July is just around the corner and with this celebration of America’s independence comes many great opportunities such as BBQ’s, parades, fireworks and outdoor water recreation activities. All of these can be very enjoyable events; however, this day is notorious for being the busiest day of the year for emergency rooms nationwide. A few of the significant contributing factors to this include the irresponsible use of fireworks, excessive heat and outdoor exposure, and the large consumption of alcohol by the general population. While it may not be possible to escape all of these potential risks, there are several great links below that can mitigate these risks and help ensure that you, your family and friends safely enjoy this holiday.

Fireworks Safety: National Council on Fireworks Safety

Heat Safety: CDC

Water Safety: American Red Cross


Get Ready; Stay Ready Campaign 2015

June – Keys, Cash & Documents


The “Get Ready; Stay Ready” campaign focus for the month of June is on duplicating keys, storing cash and securing personal documents/records. These three items are oftentimes overlooked in disaster preparedness and are rarely a priority. However, all of these areas can contribute significantly to one’s ability to respond to and recover efficiently from disasters and should be given serious consideration.

Regardless of the nature of the disaster, you may find yourself without keys to your home, vehicle or anything else to which you require access. They may be lost, destroyed or in a location that you cannot access in the aftermath of an event. Therefore, it’s important to duplicate important sets of keys and carefully select where or with whom additional copies will be kept. Some keys, such as those requiring batteries or with built in alarms, keyless entry and other features can get pricy so be sure to budget accordingly.

Unexpected events scaling from brown/black outs to large scale natural disasters can render access to ATMs and the ability to use credit cards useless. This can, in turn, result in being unable to purchase something you need in a time that you need it. This risk can be mitigated by storing cashing in small bills and change in your emergency supply kit or “go bag.” Ensuring that the cash is in small increments is critical as the vendor from whom you are purchasing may not be able to provide you with change. How much is enough? That is entirely up to you and the amount that is affordable in your budget. If you can afford $50.00, great! If you can do more, even better!

Making copies of your personal documents/records and ensuring that you have access to these copies is an essential “best practice” in personal preparedness. If you can obtain duplicate official copies of some of these such as your birth certificate, social security card, etc. even better. The best location for which to store these documents is still up for debate. Some encourage these items to be placed in a disaster kit or “go bag.” Others favor keeping them with a trusted family member or friend. A safety deposit box and electronic downloading has also been recommended. All of these locations have their pros and cons but you should select the one that makes the most sense to you. If you can acquire multiple copies and use a combination of these locations options this may perhaps be your best bet. The following items are some examples of documents/records you may choose to secure, however, this list is not comprehensive and each individual must examine what’s important to them:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Driver’s license/Govt. ID
  • Social Security Card
  • Passports
  • Wills/Deeds
  • Pink slips to vehicles
  • Right to work documents
  • Immigration paperwork
  • Military discharge paperwork
  • Inventory of household goods
  • Family photos/sentimental pictures
  • Insurance paperwork
  • Medical & Immunization records
  • Prescription medication for people & pets
  • Bank and credit card account information
  • Stocks & Bonds
  • Emergency contact list and phone numbers
  • Map of area
  • Proof of address (copy of utility bill)
  • Legal custody, visitation, guardianship or adoption paperwork



UC Irvine Receives Risk Services 2015 “Spotlight On Collaboration” Award

Spotlight AwardLast week UC Irvine received the “Spotlight On Collaboration” Award at the annual Risk Summit conference in Oakland, CA. This award highlighted the multi-department, collaborative effort to develop the campus Rapid Building Assessment Team (RBAT) and post-earthquake damage assessment process. While not all the partners could attend this event, the recipient list included Anne Widney & Bobby Simmons from Police Department, Joe Rizkallah and Terri Warren from EH&S, Jim Henderson from Design & Construction Services, Melissa Falkenstein & Ben Delo from Housing Administration Services and Allen Shiroma from Facilities Management.

The leadership committee (comprised of representatives from each of the aforementioned departments) met on a monthly basis throughout 2014 to develop a process to systematically evaluate the 567 buildings on campus after an earthquake. Buildings were evaluated and ranked based on a set of criteria: fire risk, lab risk, research replacement risk, response needs, and housing population/density. UCI coordinated with the California Office of Emergency Services to host the ATC-20/Structural Assessment Program course on campus and trained 30 staff members as building evaluators. Additionally, UCI developed a team training and functional exercise with structural engineers from Miyamoto International, to further prepare the RBAT team members to conduct post-earthquake building assessments.

The RBAT team is one of many examples of the emergency management collaborative efforts taking place here on campus. As we take a moment to congratulate this team for its outstanding work on the RBAT program, we also want to acknowledge the entire UCI emergency management community for its commendable spirit of resiliency.


Spotlight Plaque


Hurricane Preparedness Week 2015


Orange County is susceptible to many natural disasters; thankfully hurricanes are not one of them. However, we are frequently impacted by characteristics that make up a hurricane including storm surge flooding, inland flooding from heaving rains, destructive winds, high surf and rip currents. All of these events have been “repeat offenders” here southern California and many of the preparedness actions recommended for hurricanes are applicable to these hazards as well. Although we may not fear a hurricane making landfall at UCI this summer, thousands of us within the community will travel to hurricane-prone areas this summer. Likewise, some of our students will be returning home after finals to parts of the U.S. and abroad that are considered “hurricane country.” Therefore, we must know how to prepare for and respond to these types of events or the characteristics thereof, whether they occur locally or elsewhere we may be.

June 1st is the start of the Atlantic hurricane season which makes this week (May 24th – 30th) National Hurricane Preparedness Week. There are a number of resources and a plethora of hurricane preparedness information on NOAA National Hurricane Center website @ To assist with navigating some key messaging related to this topic please see information and links provided below:

Storm Surge: Historically, storm surge is the leading cause of deaths in the United States from hurricanes. The destructive power of storm surge and large battering waves can result in large loss of life and destruction along the coast. Storm surge can travel several miles inland, especially along bays, rivers, and estuaries. Watch this video to learn about storm surge and how to stay safe:

Evacuating Yourself & Your Family: If you reside in an area where a hurricane evacuation order is issued, it is critical that you develop an evacuation plan which identifies where you will go and how you will get there. Visit the following link to learn more:

Emergency Supplies: Get ready for hurricanes and severe weather with an emergency supply kit that includes three days of food and water. Having your supplies stored in one place will give you peace of mind if you need to take shelter or evacuate. Learn more about recommended supplies @

Communications Plan: Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes so it is important to plan in advance: how you will get to a safe place; how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations. Create a family communications plan using the guidance @

Pet Preparedness: During a hurricane, you may have to evacuate to a shelter. If you are going to a public shelter it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets. Learn more @

Hurricane Activities: The two links below will take you to a couple online hurricane games. The first is “Create-a-Cane” whereby the objective is to create the ideal conditions for a hurricane and the second is “Aim a Hurricane” which is exactly as it sounds; directing the path of a tropical storm.

Lastly, the NOAA National Hurricane Center has created seven streamlined hurricane preparedness video clips, each running about 90 seconds, that do a great job of putting hurricane preparedness in to perspective. They play consecutively one after another by simply accessing the following link: