More Attention On Children In Disasters

Last month, the Homeland Security Act for Children (H.R. 1372) was introduced to congress which, if signed in to law, would ensure a much greater level of attention to the needs of children in disaster preparedness, response and recovery planning. This bill, an amendment to a subsection within the Homeland Security Act 2002, is the result of findings dating back to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that children experience disasters much differently than adults and that such traumatizing events can change the trajectory of their lifetime.  The basis of this bill is similar to the recent legislation passed and progress made by local, state and federal emergency management agencies to fully integrate the Access and Functional Needs (AFN) community in all aspects of the disaster planning process rather than by mere representation in an annex at the back of the Emergency Operations Plan.

Specifically, the primary objectives of the bill would accomplish the following:

  • Direct FEMA to integrate planning for children in disaster into all facets of response, and includes the appointment of a technical expert;
  • Integrate feedback from organizations that represent children into the work of the undersecretary for strategy, policy and plans; and
  • Integrate the House and Senate Homeland Security committees into the conversation and accountability process to ensure the needs of children are met.

The Orange County Operational Area, chaired by the Orange County Health Care Agency (HCA) chairs a collaborative KIDs disaster planning working group which includes both public and non-profit partnerships. There is also a Schools committee which, inherently, integrate children in to the planning process.  These efforts have been ongoing for some now; however, a federal law mandating greater attention on children could assist in future planning efforts down the road for Orange County in terms of both financial and non-financial resource allocation.  More information on this bill can be found at https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1372/text

 

Tsunami Preparedness Week: March 27 – 31, 2017

Tsunamis are among Earth’s rarest hazards. But, even though tsunamis do not occur very often, and most are small and nondestructive, they pose a major threat to coastal communities, particularly in the Pacific. A tsunami can strike any ocean coast at any time. There is no season for tsunamis. We cannot predict where, when or how destructive the next tsunami will be. However, while tsunamis cannot be prevented, there are things you can do before, during and after a tsunami that could save your life and the lives of your family and friends.  The National Weather Service provides some excellent educational material on tsunamis and what you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe in the event of a tsunami. Visit them at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/Tsunami/

We have a lot of coastline here in Orange County and not that far from our UC Irvine community. So, in the event that our coast was struck by a fairly significant tsunami we would, without a doubt, be impacted here on campus.  Many of our community members live or have family/friends who reside in Newport Beach and neighboring jurisdictions.  The rest of us probably visit one of these coastal communities from time to time so it is extremely important to heed the warning and immediately move inland or to high ground following an earthquake.  Every coastal city in Orange County is “Tsunami Ready,” as designated by NOAA/NWS (http://www.tsunamiready.noaa.gov/) which is why you will see the Tsunami Hazard Zone signs near the beaches (image attached). Do not take this instruction lightly.  Tsunamis travel quickly and gain strength with each set of waves so it is no exaggeration to state that “every second counts.”

There have been hundreds of videos uploaded to YouTube with raw footage from the 2004 Sri Lankan Tsunami as well as the 2011 Tsunami that struck Japan after their devastating 9.0 earthquake. While these clips are sad to view, they provide us with a better understanding of the sheer magnitude and force carried by these types of disasters.  For more information on Tsunami Preparedness Week visit http://www.tsunamizone.org/california/

 

UCIPD Emergency Management Tours Sony Studios

On Tuesday, March 7th the UCIPD Emergency Management Division traveled up to Culver City to meet with Sony Pictures Global Security, Crisis & Emergency Management Team to learn how they protect their enterprise from natural and human-caused hazards worldwide.  The meeting included a tour of both Sony’s Global Security Operations Center (G-SOC) & Emergency Operations Center (EOC).  There were best practices shared between the two entities in regards to how each (UCI & Sony Pictures) prepares for, responds to and recovers from disasters discussing emergency management and business continuity.  One of the most beneficial conversations throughout the day was the information shared by the Global Security Team regarding the 2014 state-sponsored cyber hack on Sony Pictures and the extent of damage to which the corporation has still not yet recovered from.  This discussion was particularly relevant for the UCI emergency management team as Cyberterrorism is now ranked within the top five threats to the university following the most recent Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (HVA) that was completed at the end of last year.  Sony’s team was kind enough to squeeze in a tour of the studio campus as well for the UCI staff as seen in the picture with the original Ghostbusters ride (Ectomobile or ECTO-1).  Overall, a great day and unique opportunity to partner with a private-sector entity for mutual benefit as it relates to preparedness programming.  UCIPD Emergency Management plans to host Sony’s team on campus for a tour at the end of March to reciprocate the hospitality.

 

March Is Red Cross Month

“Over a century and a half ago, as gunfire echoed through America’s skies and division flared between North and South, a trailblazing woman, Clara Barton, braved bullets and cannon fire to deliver much-needed care, comfort, and supplies to wounded soldiers of the Civil War. Undaunted by expectations of women at the time, Clara Barton persevered, as she had her whole life, and strived to aid those who sacrificed to save our Union. Determined that humanitarianism could thrive in peace as well as in conflict, she carried her resolve overseas upon the war’s end and was introduced to a relief organization in Europe that inspired her to come home to the United States and establish the American Red Cross.”

A tradition which began by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943 established March as American Red Cross Month. During Red Cross Month, the American Red Cross is recognizing the country’s everyday heroes – those who reach out to help people in need. These are the people who –

  • Help disaster victims get on the road to recovery
  • Give blood to help a hospital patient
  • Brighten the day of an injured service member who is in a hospital far from home
  • Take one of our lifesaving classes and step forward to assist someone having a heart attack or to save a drowning child

The Red Cross responds to a community disaster every eight minutes, providing shelter, food, emotional support and other necessities to those affected. It provides 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families at home and around the world. It must collect 14,000 units of blood every day to fulfill the country’s needs. It trains millions of people in first aid, water safety and other lifesaving skills. And it supports the vaccination of children around the globe against measles and rubella.

Red Cross Month is a great time to become part of the Red Cross. You can work on a preparedness plan with members of your household so you are ready for emergencies. You can also become a volunteer, give blood or make a financial donation. For more information, contact the local Orange County Chapter @ http://www.redcross.org/ca/orange-county

 

2016 Year in Review: Disaster Edition

Looking back on 2016, it’s difficult to believe that so many significant disasters could occur over a single calendar year. Many of these we recall seeing in the “headlines” but only long enough until news outlets and social media could catch the next major story. Oftentimes, the “camera” stops rolling before the storm has even moved on or the wildfire is contained. The aftershocks of an earthquake even have a difficult time getting news coverage unless it exceeds the magnitude or damage of the initial shaking. So, because “awareness” is a step towards “preparedness,” it seemed appropriate to recall these major incidents with a “2016 Year in Review: Disaster Edition.” Below is a summary of the most devastating disasters that took place over the last calendar year. Additional information on all of these can be found @ http://www.livescience.com/57303-biggest-natural-disasters-of-the-year.html

Winter Storm Jonas:

The massive winter storm left the northeast U.S. covered in such extensive snowfall that the white precipitation was clearly visible from space. Over the course of one weekend (Jan. 23-24), Jonas broke records for snowfall in various places along the East Coast.

Taiwan Earthquake:

On Feb. 6, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit 17 miles (28 kilometers) northeast of Pingtung City in southern Taiwan. It’s relatively shallow depth (14 miles, or 23 km, below the surface) caused widespread damage, toppling buildings in the city of Tainan. The quake caused an estimated 117 deaths and left hundreds more injured.

California Wildfires:

A series of wildfires blazed across California this year, burning more than half a million acres. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 6,938 fires had burned 565,070 acres (229,000 hectares) as of Dec. 11, 2015.

Louisiana Flooding:

Tremendous downpours inundated Louisiana in August, when some regions received more than 20 inches (50.8 cm) of rain over a 72-hour span (from Aug. 12‑14). At least six rivers hit record levels during the rainfall.

Italy Earthquakes:

Central Italy was rattled this year by three strong earthquakes in just three months. A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck Aug. 24 about 6.5 miles (10.5 kilometers) southeast of Norcia, Italy. The initial quake was followed by several aftershocks, including a 5.5-magnitude earthquake that struck 2.5 miles (4 km) northeast of Norcia the same day. The temblors rocked Central Italy, killing hundreds of people as medieval-era stone buildings collapsed.

Hurricane Matthew:

Hurricane Matthew was a powerhouse of a storm that circulated through the Atlantic Ocean in October. The strongest storm seen in the Atlantic since Hurricane Felix in 2007, Matthew briefly reached Category 5 hurricane status — with winds exceeding 157 mph (252 km/h).

New Zealand Earthquake & Tsunami:

A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand on Nov. 14. Though the quake’s epicenter was northeast of Christchurch, the massive temblor was felt as far away as New Zealand’s capital of Wellington, located 120 miles (200 km) away, on the North Island. About 2 hours after the initial quake, tsunami waves over 7 feet (2 meters) tall hit the coast.

Tennessee Wildfires:

Areas around Gatlinburg, Tennessee, were consumed by wildfires on Nov. 28, closing the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and forcing thousands to flee their homes. The inferno spread rapidly through the area’s drought-stricken forest, pushed by gusty winds. According to meteorologists, the gusty winds blowing dry leaves spread the blaze, also knocking over power lines and sparking new fires.

Indonesia Earthquakes:

During the first week of March, a 7.8-magnitude temblor struck about 500 miles (800 km) southwest of Sumatra, an island in western Indonesia. On Dec. 7, another earthquake shook the island nation. The shallow 6.5-magnitude quake’s epicenter was 12 miles (19 km) southeast of Indonesia’s Aceh province, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). It damaged hundreds of structures in the district of Pidie Jaya in Aceh.. At least 100 people were killed and 136 seriously injured.

 

Oroville Dam: Were Red Flags Overlooked?

The eye-opening events taking place in Northern California this week, with the breaches of the Oroville Dam, may prove to be an example of how disasters can sometimes be the result of a failure to act. There is a significant amount of documentation, dating back to 2008, that the remedial measures taken to fix the defects of the main spillway found in numerous inspection reports sent to state and federal officials were insufficient. Additionally, there were a number of other warnings and “red flags” raised about the possibility of massive erosion of the emergency spillway which, in fact, occurred and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 200,000 residents in downstream communities from the reservoir. However, there are a number of external inspectors and engineers that have defended that state’s management of the spillway and reported that all standards for dam inspections and maintenance had been met leading up to this incident. The following article provides more information about the Oroville Dam failures and debate over whether or not anything more could’ve been done to prevent the current situation: http://www.govtech.com/em/disaster/Alarms-raised-years-ago-about-risks-of-Oroville-Dams-spillways.html

Fortunately, this disaster was purely infrastructure-centric and did not result in a loss of life or community but it very well could’ve. The preliminary estimated cost associated with repairing this infrastructure suggests around $200 million and, again, this is without the subsequent costs of an actual disaster to the communities around it. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered the Department of Water Resources to perform a forensic analysis aimed at determining the cause of the chute failure. So, while the “jury” may still be “out” on whether or not gross negligence played a factor, this incident will likely be a great case study on the cost-benefit of mitigation measures for the outdated infrastructure in this country moving forward.

 

Orange County Proclaims State of Emergency

Unless you are a native of Orange County, you probably laugh when you hear about emergency preparedness for heavy rain or flood-related events. To be honest, most of the rest of the country does too. However, southern California has a significant history of “wet disasters” including flooding/flash-flooding, mud slides, debris flows and landslides. Many of these past incidents have led to state and local proclamations as well as federally declared disasters.

On January 22nd Orange County experienced its largest rainstorm in seven years which flooded roads, triggered mudslides, inundated vehicles and caused dozens of traffic accidents. As a result of this storm (which was the third and most powerful of three consecutive storms) as well as others throughout the state, the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) proclaimed a State of Emergency. Emergency Proclamations not only increase the number and expediency of resources needed for a given response but they also serve as an appeal to the federal government to receive reimbursement for costs associated with damage and response efforts. Additionally, each of the 58 counties throughout the state can make a local proclamation of emergency and, if their costs exceed a threshold unique to each jurisdiction, they may become eligible for both federal and state reimbursement. The Orange County Board of Supervisors issued a proclamation last Friday, February 3rd for the damage caused by the most recent storms.

As a result of Orange County’s Proclamation, coupled with the fact that this wet winter may continue for a few more months, it seemed timely to encourage our stakeholders to review some great preparedness tips provided by the American Red Cross @ http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/flood Here, you will find not only preparedness efforts to keep you and your loved ones (including pets) safe but also proactive measures you can take to protect your living spaces and businesses from unwanted water and debris.

Also, if you are interested in accessing FEMA “flood plain” maps they can be located on the OC Public Works website @ http://www.ocflood.com/nfc/floodplain/zone

 

California Tree Mortality Exceeds 100 Million

In November of 2016, the U.S. Forest Service confirmed that the number of dead trees in California since 2010, resulting from a five-year drought, now exceeds 100 million. Additionally, there are many more trees that have been infected by the invasive species known as the “Bark Beetle” which are anticipated to joint this growing rate of tree mortality in the coming years. There are differing opinions regarding what could’ve or should’ve been done to prevent the current condition of California forests but the fact remains that this is a nature epidemic. Tree mortality rates have not only led to a significant public safety crisis with elevated fire danger and risk of naturally falling trees but also a burdensome financial hurdle for state and federal agencies charged with mitigation measures.

With public safety as its most pressing concern, the U.S. Forest Service has committed significant resources to help impacted forests, including reprioritizing $43 million in California in fiscal year 2016 to conduct safety-focused restoration along roads, trails and recreation sites. However, limited resources and a changing climate hamper the Forest Service’s ability to address tree mortality in California. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Forest Service officials are seriously hampered not only by short-term budgets passed by Congress, but also a broken budget for the Forest Service that sees an increasing amount of resources going to firefighting while less is invested in restoration and forest health, said Vilsack.

“These dead and dying trees continue to elevate the risk of wildfire, complicate our efforts to respond safely and effectively to fires when they do occur, and pose a host of threats to life and property across California,” said Vilsack. “USDA has made restoration work and the removal of excess fuels a top priority, but until Congress passes a permanent fix to the fire budget, we can’t break this cycle of diverting funds away from restoration work to fight the immediate threat of the large unpredictable fires caused by the fuel buildups themselves.” More information on this article published in Science Daily can be found @ https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161125083555.htm

For more information on California’s tree mortality epidemic and to see what measures have been taken by various levels of government visit http://calforests.org/governors-action-on-tree-mortality/

Additionally, over 1,000 trees at UCI have been significantly impacted by invasive species as well which has caused the university to take action. For more information visit http://sustainability.uci.edu/pshb-uci/

 

14th Annual Zone Crew/CSAR Meeting

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On Wednesday, January 11th the UCI Emergency Services Division hosted the 14th Annual Zone Crew/CSAR Meeting in Pacific Ballroom D of the Student Center. This meeting rendered the largest turnout yet with 208 participants and a large CSAR member presence. Featured speakers included Detective Roland Chiu of the UCI Police Department and Isaac Straley Chief Information Security Officer at UCI. Detective Chiu presented on his work with the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center (OCIAC) as the Higher Education Liaison and Mr. Straley presented on the cyber security risks and prevention initiatives taking place at UCI. The latter topic was very timely and relevant as Anne Widney, Emergency Manager, revealed the results of the recently updated campus Hazard Vulnerability Analysis (HVA); the results of which placed cyber risk as a new Top 5 campus threat.

In addition to the two keynote speakers, Anne Widney also shared some lessons learned that resulted from the UCLA murder-suicide incident last summer as well as discussing the major accomplishments of Emergency Services Division over the past year and what lies ahead in 2017.

The Zone Crew and CSAR programs, among others on campus, are vital to the preparedness mission of the university and it’s a continued pleasure to observe such a growing interest and spirit of volunteerism by these groups year after year. UCIPD and the campus thanks you for your time and effort to ensure the continued resiliency of the university.

For additional information on Zone Crew and/or Campus Search and Rescue (CSAR) please contact Anne Widney at awidney@uci.edu or 949-824-7147.

 

New Title IX & Clery Act Videos

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The Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity (OEOD), Campus Assault Resources and Education (CARE), and UCI Police Department have jointly collaborated on a project to produce a series of four videos to provide information on the various federal mandates and reporting responsibilities under Title IX and the Clery Act as well information on how to help victims and survivors of sexual violence.  These videos were produced by UCI staff who are directly involved with coordinating the Title IX and the Clery Act programs at UCI.

Video 1: This video provides an introduction and overview of two separate federal laws: Title IX and the Clery Act.  Specifically, in this video, you will learn about the types of positions designated as a “Responsible Employee” (under Title IX) and a “Campus Security Authority” (under the Clery Act) and why certain individuals at UCI and UCI Medical Center are required to report under these two laws.  To view video 1, click here.

Video 2: This video provides information on how to report under Title IX. Specifically, you will learn about the types of incidents that are reportable under Title IX and the specific reporting requirements of student employees, faculty members and staff members.  Additionally, this video will describe the various details of what you should and should not do and how to submit your report to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity (OEOD). To view video 2, click here.

Video 3: This video provides information on how to report under the Clery Act.  Specifically, you will learn about the various information that CSAs are required to report and when CSAs are required to report.  You will learn about Clery Act geography, the different types of crimes that are reportable under the Clery Act, and how to fill out a CSA Report Form for submission to the UCI Police Department.  You will also learn about what you should not do as a CSA.  To view video 3, click here.

Video 4: This video provides information on how Responsible Employees and Campus Security Authorities can support survivors of Sexual Violence (including Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence & Stalking) while fulfilling their obligations and duties under each law. To view video 4, click here.

You can also view all four of these videos directly on the UCI Police Department website available here.