Academy Reports and Publications

Launching a National Conversation on Disaster Resilience in America: Workshop Summary

With the increasing frequency of natural and human-induced disasters and the increasing magnitude of their consequences, a clear need exists for governments and communities to become more resilient. The National Research Council’s 2012 report Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative addressed the importance of resilience, discussed different challenges and approaches for building resilience, and outlined steps for implementing resilience efforts in communities and within government. Launching a National Conversation on Disaster Resilience in America is a summary of a one-day event in November 2012 to formally launch a national conversation on resilience. Nationally-recognized experts in disaster resilience met to discuss developing a culture of resilience, implementing resilience, and understanding federal perspectives about resilience.

 
Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative

No person or place is immune from disasters or disaster-related losses. Infectious disease outbreaks, acts of terrorism, social unrest, or financial disasters in addition to natural hazards can all lead to large-scale consequences for the nation and its communities. Communities and the nation thus face difficult fiscal, social, cultural, and environmental choices about the best ways to ensure basic security and quality of life against hazards, deliberate attacks, and disasters. Beyond the unquantifiable costs of injury and loss of life from disasters, statistics for 2011 alone indicate economic damages from natural disasters in the United States exceeded $55 billion, with 14 events costing more than a billion dollars in damages each.

 

Increasing National Resilience to Hazards and Disasters
The Perspective from the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi: Summary of a Workshop

Natural disasters are having an increasing effect on the lives of people in the United States and throughout the world. Every decade, property damage caused by natural disasters and hazards doubles or triples in the United States. More than half of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coast, and all Americans are at risk from such hazards as fires, earthquakes, floods, and wind. The year 2010 saw 950 natural catastrophes around the world–the second highest annual total ever–with overall losses estimated at $130 billion.

 

Dam and Levee Safety and Community Resilience:
A Vision for Future Practice

Although advances in engineering can reduce the risk of dam and levee failure, some failures will still occur. Such events cause impacts on social and physical infrastructure that extend far beyond the flood zone. Broadening dam and levee safety programs to consider community- and regional-level priorities in decision making can help reduce the risk of, and increase community resilience to, potential dam and levee failures.

 

 

Building Community Disaster Resilience through Private-Public Collaboration

Natural disasters–including hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and floods–caused more than 220,000 deaths worldwide in the first half of 2010 and wreaked havoc on homes, buildings, and the environment. To withstand and recover from natural and human-caused disasters, it is essential that citizens and communities work together to anticipate threats, limit their effects, and rapidly restore functionality after a crisis.

 

 

Private-Public Sector Collaboration to Enhance Community Disaster Resilience: A Workshop Report

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (9/11) on the United States prompted a rethinking of how the United States prepares for disasters. Federal policy documents written since 9/11 have stressed that the private and public sectors share equal responsibility for the security of the nation’s critical infrastructure and key assets. Private sector entities have a role in the safety, security, and resilience of the communities in which they operate. Incentivizing the private sector to expend resources on community efforts remains challenging. Disasters in the United States since 9/11 (e.g., Hurricane Katrina in 2005) indicate that the nation has not yet been successful in making its communities resilient to disaster.

 

Applications of Social Network Analysis for Building Community Disaster Resilience: A Workshop Summary

Social Network Analysis (SNA) is the identification of the relationships and attributes of members, key actors, and groups that social networks comprise. The National Research Council, at the request of the Department of Homeland Security, held a two-day workshop on the use of SNA for the purpose of building community disaster resilience. The workshop, summarized in this volume, was designed to provide guidance to the DHS on a potential research agenda that would increase the effectiveness of SNA for improving community disaster resilience.

 

National Earthquake Resilience: Research, Implementation, and Outreach

The United States will certainly be subject to damaging earthquakes in the future. Some of these earthquakes will occur in highly populated and vulnerable areas. Coping with moderate earthquakes is not a reliable indicator of preparedness for a major earthquake in a populated area. The recent, disastrous, magnitude-9 earthquake that struck northern Japan demonstrates the threat that earthquakes pose. Moreover, the cascading nature of impacts-the earthquake causing a tsunami, cutting electrical power supplies, and stopping the pumps needed to cool nuclear reactors-demonstrates the potential complexity of an earthquake disaster. Such compound disasters can strike any earthquake-prone populated area. National Earthquake Resilience presents a roadmap for increasing our national resilience to earthquakes.

 

Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report

As geological threats become more imminent, society must make a major commitment to increase the resilience of its communities, infrastructure, and citizens. Recent earthquakes in Japan, New Zealand, Haiti, and Chile provide stark reminders of the devastating impact major earthquakes have on the lives and economic stability of millions of people worldwide. The events in Haiti continue to show that poor planning and governance lead to long-term chaos, while nations like Chile demonstrate steady recovery due to modern earthquake planning and proper construction and mitigation activities.

 

Community Disaster Resilience: A Summary of the March 20, 2006 Workshop of the Disasters Roundtable

At the outset of the March 20, 2006 Community Disaster Resilience workshop of the Disasters Roundtable, the 16th in the series, roundtable chair William Hooke asked workshop participants to consider a scenario wherein residents of the U.S. Gulf Coast were successfully evacuated in advance of Hurricane Katrina, and suggested that tens of thousands of people would still be unemployed and hundreds of thousands of people would still have been displaced—many permanently. Noting that the United States faces future disasters, Hooke stressed the importance of building and enhancing community resilience—the ability to reduce the impacts of a disaster, as well as to effectively respond and recover following a disaster—as a matter of both physical and social engineering.

Creating a Disaster Resilient America: Grand Challenges in Science and Technology: Summary of a Workshop

The 12th Disasters Roundtable workshop, held earlier this year, focused on grand challenges in science and technology related to society s vulnerability to disaster. Agencies and stakeholders from the disaster research and policy community gathered to discuss research and program priorities for the future. They identified problems in science and technology that might be resolved by coordinated and sustained investments in research, education, communication, and the application of knowledge and technology. Attendees talked about how such investments might help produce significant reductions in the loss of life and property from natural, technological and human-induced disasters.

 

Terrorism and the Electric Power Delivery System

The electric power delivery system that carries electricity from large central generators to customers could be severely damaged by a small number of well-informed attackers. The system is inherently vulnerable because transmission lines may span hundreds of miles, and many key facilities are unguarded. This vulnerability is exacerbated by the fact that the power grid, most of which was originally designed to meet the needs of individual vertically integrated utilities, is being used to move power between regions to support the needs of competitive markets for power generation. Primarily because of ambiguities introduced as a result of recent restricting the of the industry and cost pressures from consumers and regulators, investment to strengthen and upgrade the grid has lagged, with the result that many parts of the bulk high-voltage system are heavily stressed.