Claire B. Rubin has 32 years of experience as a researcher, consultant, and educator in the fields of emergency management and homeland security

  • Extensive Article on Ebola in NewYorker Magazine

    25 Oct 2014 | 7:28 am

    Extensive Article on Ebola in NewYorker Magazine The latest issue has an indepth account of the virus, featuring details re the genomic research being done on the disease.  

  • Two More Items re Power Supply

    24 Oct 2014 | 2:22 pm

    Two More Items re Power Supply (1) Apparently Princeton University has a mini power grid that which worked well after Hurricane Sandy.  An excerpt: ***Princeton’s “microgrid,” an efficient on-campus power generation and delivery network that draws electricity from a gas-turbine generator and solar panel field southeast of campus in West Windsor Township, NJ. Capable of producing 15 megawatts *** of electricity, the University’s microgrid enjoys a give-and-take relationship with the main grid available to the general public and maintained by the utility company PSE&G. When campus power use is high or utility power is inexpensive, the microgrid draws from the PSE&G grid, and when campus demand is low, Princeton’s microgrid can contribute power to the main grid. (2) From reader James Fossett: Your readers may be interested in a piece a couple of colleagues and I have just released on the use of solar power as a power source for the microgrids discussed in a recent posting. It will be remembered that the New York City area experienced widespread shortages of fuel after Hurricane Sandy when the power was out for over a week. Solar “supply” seems to be more reliable—power outages are generally caused by transient weather events that are generally followed by clear weather. With the right kind of batteries and “smart” grid configuration, solar emergency systems could operate almost indefinitely. The military is investing heavily in solar powered microgrids. The paper is on the website of the Rockefeller Institute of Government.  

  • More Resilience Sought by Power Industry

    24 Oct 2014 | 6:40 am

    More Resilience Sought by Power Industry Power Industry Seeks More Resilience

  • Insurance for Weather-Related Disasters

    24 Oct 2014 | 12:54 am

    Insurance for Weather-Related Disasters Article in the NY times titled a Retreat from Weather Related Disasters is mainly about obtaining insurance for weather-related disasters. Direct link to the Ceres report titled Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey Report & Scorecard: 2014 Findings & Recommendations Filed under: Insurance, Weather

  • Book Review: The Tulsa River

    23 Oct 2014 | 4:58 am

    Book Review: The Tulsa River The Tulsa River, written by local author Ann Patton, was issued in time to mark the 28th anniversary of Tulsa’s 1986 river flood. It is a beautifully illustrated, soft-cover book, 11 x 8 ½ inches. It’s available as a limited first edition from the website The new book features stories about Tulsa’s life with the Arkansas River. According to the author, “The Tulsa River tells the story of our city’s struggle to live in harmony with our river, which lured mankind to this spot on earth, shaped our town, occasionally terrorized and often sustained us, and promises to gather our diverse peoples together,” *** “We spent two years living with and learning about our river, and the more we learned, the more there was to explore and understand. This book is, simply, a labor of love for our river and our community.” It’s a natural and civic story of the river from its beginning millions of years ago in snow packs of the Colorado Rockies, as the river carved its way through the now-buried Tulsa Mountains and found its way to the Mississippi River in Arkansas. The story ends with the promise of A Gathering Place and River Parks, with Tulsans describing their diverse ideas for the future. For someone like the Diva, who has never been in Tulsa, the book provided a delightful opportunity to visit vicariously and read the stories of some local people. Ann Patton is a Tulsa-based author and consultant with 45 years’ experience in[…]

  • More Resources on Global Warming, Rising Seas, and Coastal Cities

    23 Oct 2014 | 4:57 am

    More Resources on Global Warming, Rising Seas, and Coastal Cities From the Journalists Resource website, maintained by Harvard University, here is a recent roundup of research on the topics of Global warming, rising seas and coastal cities: Trends, impacts and adaptation strategies.Filed under: Coastal hazards/disasters, Sea level rise

  • More Resources on Climate Adaptation

    22 Oct 2014 | 6:30 am

    More Resources on Climate Adaptation Climate adaptation plans are getting mixed results across the U.S. Ever wonder how state adaptation plans adopted across the country are actually being implemented on the ground? There’s now a website that tells you, and the results are mixed. The Georgetown Climate Center is launching an expansive online database analyzing progress on the plans, which provide guidance on adapting to floods, fires and other climate-related problems. The tool reveals whether a state has an adaptation plan at all, and if so, which programs, laws or regulations may have resulted from goals or guidelines within it. The center found that 14 states have finalized plans, meaning they have gone through an official state process with a task force or subset of officials and have sent the plans back to the governor or legislature. Additionally, eight more states and Washington, D.C., are moving toward a finalized climate plan via their internal planning process. However, less than half of the states have completed plans, even if their localities sometimes are taking action. **** In total, the 14 states that have finished plans are mainly coastal: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington. In those states, the rate of completion of the adaptation plans — meaning goals outlined in them have resulted in some sort of tangible outcome, like a regulation or program — ranges from a single digit to about 14 percent. When “progress” on the goals is included, the percentage rises to[…]

  • Ebola – some legal and ethics aspects

    21 Oct 2014 | 7:26 am

    Ebola – some legal and ethics aspects From the CRS, The Ebola Outbreak: Select Legal Issues; 2 page brief. From SARS to Ebola: Legal and Ethical Considerations for Modern Quarantine, by Mark A. Rothstein. University of Louisville – Institute for Bioethics, Health Policy, and Law; University of Louisville – Louis D. Brandeis School of Law. Indiana Health Law Review, vol.12, no.1, 2015 Forthcoming. Full paper, which is available for download, is 44 pp. Abstract follows: Quarantine remains an important part of the strategy for containing infectious diseases, especially when there is no vaccine or effective treatment. Recent experiences with SARS and Ebola indicate that large-scale quarantine is fraught with ethical challenges. In the United States, legislation authorizing quarantine has been enacted in every state, and these laws have been upheld by the Supreme Court. The following ethical principles should guide public health officials in deciding whether and how to impose a quarantine: (1) necessity, effectiveness, and scientific rationale; (2) proportionality and least infringement; (3) humane supportive services; and (4) public justification.

  • Why Don’t We Have a National Health Response Plan?

    21 Oct 2014 | 7:25 am

    Why Don’t We Have a National Health Response Plan? My former colleague Bill Cumming reminded me of this time line chart we completed in 2002. At that time there was no national health response plan, and from all indications there still is not one today. But for those people who are thinking about creating one, here is some of the history of Federal Civil Response Planning in the U.S. The chart is a bit dated. But anyone interested in having us update it, and providing the modest financial support to do so, please contact the Diva. Update: In the Washington Post, on Oct. 21, I found this article on the need for a national plan - mainly dealing with hospitals and public health matters.

  • Two Years After Hurricane Sandy – 5 views

    20 Oct 2014 | 5:00 am

    Two Years After Hurricane Sandy – 5 views From National Geographic, see: Two Years After Hurricane Sandy Hit the U.S., What Lessons Can We Learn From the Deadly Storm? In an era of extreme weather, we have to keep the risk of weather disasters in the front of our minds, author says. An excerpt from the author of the book: I think Sandy’s message to us is that we cannot know how big the risk is. We just have to assume it’s huge—and that when a storm is coming and people are telling us to evacuate, we have to listen. From the New Yorker, see: Retreat from the Water’s Edge Nearly two years after Hurricane Sandy, New York has begun a “managed retreat” from some low-lying areas that are vulnerable to flooding and storm surges. Many residents of the Oakwood Beach section of Staten Island have opted into a program that allows them to sell their homes at pre-Sandy value, to the State of New York, which intends to return hundreds of parcels of land to nature. The cleared neighborhood will then serve as a buffer zone to protect other parts of the island. The program has been extended to other areas of Staten Island and Long Island that are at continued risk of flooding in the face of climate-change-related events. In this video, residents describe their experiences with the buyout program, and urban planners explain why communities along the East Coast need to consider moving away from the water’s edge. From the Washington Post, two book reviews:[…]

  • Reach Your Audience in an Emergency: #SMEM

    1 May 2014 | 11:04 am

    Reach Your Audience in an Emergency: #SMEM Post by: Kim Stephens Keep the flood photos coming. Click here to upload: — WJZ | CBS Baltimore (@cbsbaltimore) April 30, 2014 Flooding was rampant yesterday for what seemed like half the country. Social Media was buzzing with images, safety tips and information about the event as it continued to get increasingly worse as the day wore on and the rain seemed unending. GALLERY: Heavy April Showers Bring Flooding To Maryland. Upload Your Flood Photos, Here: — WJZ | CBS Baltimore (@cbsbaltimore) April 30, 2014 Using social networks to communicate emergency, safety and preparedness information has now, in 2014, become a standard operating procedure for quite a few emergency management and response organizations. As with any standard procedure, each event can provide an opportunity to understand how to improve and adjust. As a person on the receiving end of the information stream yesterday, I noticed three things that could be improved upon. 1.  Ensure posts are “Mobile Ready” On a day where the situation is changing rapidly, as it does with flooding, people will be looking for information anywhere they can get it. It is important to keep in mind that there is a high likelihood that those searches will be occurring on a mobile device. According to the Pew Research Center “The growing ubiquity of cell phones, especially the rise of smartphones, has made social networking just a finger tap away.  Fully 40% of cell phone owners use a social networking site on their phone,[…]

  • Keeping the Lines of Communication Open: Atlanta Public School’s Long Snow Day

    29 Jan 2014 | 10:08 am

    Keeping the Lines of Communication Open: Atlanta Public School’s Long Snow Day Post by: Kim Stephens We had a light dusting of snow last night and schools are closed today in my county. I’m guessing there are some officials in Atlanta wishing they had made the same decision yesterday before snow and ice paralyzed the city‘s roadways. Although they tried to dismiss school early the traffic was so horrific some buses were unable to get children home and instead had to return them to school. Parents who normally pick up their children were stuck in traffic eerily reminiscent of scenes from the Atlanta-based series The Walking Dead. A shelter-in-place order was issued after 10:00 pm last night and about 452 staff and students spent the night in several different ATL public school buildings. This situation could be any public communicator’s nightmare scenario. However, the Atlanta Public School’s communications team provided a master class in emergency information dissemination, mainly through their @apsupdate (or Atlanta Public Schools Update) Twitter account. Here are a few things they did well. 1. Addressed parents questions and concerns directly Reply to @KharaJ1 be sure to reach out to your child's school. All students are allowed to use phones. — ATL Public Schools (@apsupdate) January 29, 2014 I have heard quite a few communicators debate whether or not they should address direct questions since it could overwhelm staff and bog down the message they are trying to convey. However, in this situation, the decision to address each person was the only logical choice–ignoring parents’ questions could have been its own[…]

  • Deaf People Use Social Media to Make Their Voices Heard: Can #SMEM be used to reach them in a crisis?

    15 Dec 2013 | 2:24 pm

    Deaf People Use Social Media to Make Their Voices Heard: Can #SMEM be used to reach them in a crisis? Guest Post by: Dr. Steph Jo Kent News about the #fakeinterpreter for Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service worsened daily: from grotesque incompetence to mental illness to a potential record of violent crime. If ever there was a cautionary tale for emergency management, this is it. Are you wondering “how such a spectacular mistake could have been made“? Before the latest horrifying turn, sign language interpreters and members of the Deaf community were already beginning to emerge from the first waves of disappointment, anger, and humiliation. One man’s audacity, and what appears to be a laissez-faire attitude toward providing real communication access, drew the lightning bolt flash of long pent-up Deaf frustration. Cathy Heffernan, writing for The Guardian, presents the background: “Bad interpretation is surprisingly common and something that deaf people who use interpreters face on a regular basis. Across public services and the courts unqualified people are asked to translate, even in situations where clear communication can make the difference between life or death.” The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf established a Task Force in 2009 to begin drafting an official position paper and process for integrating qualified sign language interpreters into all stages of the emergency management cycle: preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. Overtures to establish Emergency Management Interpreter Strike Teams have been made to responsible agencies and managers at many levels of government. Some jurisdictions have taken this seriously, most however have not. (See the Getting Real II Presentation for information on foundations laid in California, Georgia, and Florida.) Commentary from Rabbi Yehoshua Soudakoff, Director of Jewish Deaf Multimedia Deaf people were[…]

  • Information Design: Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words?

    12 Dec 2013 | 10:01 am

    Information Design:  Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Post by: Kim Stephens Looking back on the year, there was one  article that stood out because of its clear use of graphics and imagery to communicate risk information. During the summer of 2013, the Washington Post published a short online report about the hazards at the Potomac River Gorge titled “The Perils at Great Falls.” This spot in the river is a deadly place where 27 people have died since 2001.  Standing on the banks, it looks deceptively calm, but it is what people don’t see on the surface that can kill–erratic currents, jagged cracks, potholes and uneven terrain can trap swimmers.  The article explained those hazards with imagery that eliminated the need to read even one word.  Some commented that the piece was the definition of information design: “…the practice of presenting information in a way that fosters efficient and effective understanding of it.”  (Wikipedia) Each of the major hazards in the river were given a graphical representation. In the image above the person is shown fishing off the bank: water rises rapidly and unexpectedly, sweeping him away. I have captured a screenshot, but the original graphic is animated. The image below shows hazards beneath the water and on the banks–cliffs that tempt people to jump in, and varied terrain underwater that can kill if you dive in the wrong spot. The Dreaded Fact Sheet Too often,  in the world of emergency management, images are occasionally included–if one can be dredged up, but they are usually not the focus[…]

  • Social Networking Trends of 2013 and Implications for #SMEM

    4 Dec 2013 | 9:52 am

    Social Networking Trends of 2013 and Implications for #SMEM Post by: Kim Stephens December is a month of reflection and I, along with Patrice Cloutier and James Garrow are using our blogs to highlight interesting  social media and emergency management trends from the year and note future possibilities for improvement. 2013 could be seen as a pivot point for quite a few organizations: social networking graduated from being novel and experimental, to just one of the tools in the communication’s toolbox. That being said, however, we still have a long way to go before full integration is realized throughout the response community. Social Networks: The Stats  We’ve all seen the statistics–social networks have millions and millions of users, except Facebook which sits at 1.11 billion. A deeper look at these stats, however,  can help create a more informed communication’s strategy, for instance,  is this the year to get G+ and Pinterest accounts? Here are a few noteworthy stats I’ve collected from a variety of sources, along with some possible implications. Twitter boasts over 500 millions users, but one interesting note is what these users are talking about. According to Nielsen, 33% of Twitter users tweet about television shows. Implication:   Why not schedule tweets that appear during shows that discuss disasters with links to information about how people can prepare–or where they could turn for help if that type of event happened in their community? If you are uncomfortable promoting a show that you did not create and have no quality control over, then simply add qualifiers, or correct misinformation, if necessary. New[…]