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

  • Update on the Blog’s Status

    16 Sep 2014 | 6:10 pm

    Update on the Blog’s Status NOTE on Sept. 17th:  Thanks to the loyal fans and supporters for their comments yesterday. At issue is the fact that about 350 people have signed up for a daily feed, but only about 20 have made a contribution during the past year. ———————————————————————————– After a few days of contemplation and some consultations with colleagues, the Diva has decided that this blog cannot generate the support to make it approach a self-sufficient enterprise. She will continue to produce it for a while longer and hope for donations for partial support. Comments and observations from readers are invited.  

  • Question for Readers from the Diva – update

    12 Sep 2014 | 9:18 am

    Question for Readers from the Diva – update The Diva has been writing this blog for more than 4 1/2 years, during which time she has tried to attract sponsors and donors. So far, the financial support is not strong enough to provide the incentive to keep up the service. In Sept. only 9 donors came forward voluntarily. If the blog staff  offered to provide one or more of the following services, would you be willing to pay a fee for them?  The services under consideration are: (1) Attend a major national meeting and provided a cogent written summary of the key discussion points, news items, findings or products covered there. (2) Compile a list of key new requirements and/or guidance documents for key current topics — e.g., disaster recovery frameworks and guidance or resilience measures and tools — and provide curating or analytical services. PLEASE VOTE USING THE POLL FORMAT BELOW: Take Our Poll We welcome other suggestions re needed services and an indication of your interest. No commitment needed…..

  • “The Economics of Disasters” – from Economist Magazine

    12 Sep 2014 | 6:33 am

    “The Economics of Disasters” – from Economist Magazine From the Economist magazine, Sept. 2014, The Economics of Disasters.

  • Digital Humanitarianism

    12 Sep 2014 | 6:00 am

    Digital Humanitarianism From Brendan Greenberg’s blog: Digital Humanitarianism is the Future of Disaster Volunteering. Sept. 4, 2014.

  • World Reconstruction Conference at the World Bank- update

    10 Sep 2014 | 6:14 am

    World Reconstruction Conference at the World Bank- update The Diva is attending this conference: From Adversity to Opportunity: How the Aftermath of a Disaster Can Lead to a Safer Future. Note: Live video and Twitter feeds are available; see conference site for details. This week, hundreds of experts, policymakers and practitioners will gather in Washington, D.C., for the second World Reconstruction Conference to explore how to use post-disaster recovery and reconstruction processes to create better lives and livelihoods around the world. Launching at the conference will be the Recovery Framework Guide, which provides guidance for governments to better design and implement comprehensive disaster recovery programs. Update: The newly issued documents are available for download: Post-Disaster Needs Assessment Guidelines; Vol. A and B (PDNA) and Guide to Developing Disaster Recovery Frameworks (DRF)

  • Questions re H. Sandy Task Force Report and Outcomes

    9 Sep 2014 | 11:00 am

    Questions re H. Sandy Task Force Report and Outcomes What ever happened to the many recommendations make in the H. Sandy Task Force Report?  It has been slightly more than one year since the issuance of the Task Force’s report. At that time the Diva was optimistic about the high-level federal interest in recovery (since the initiative for the Task Force was an Executive Order) and the requirement of some follow through on the recommendations to improve recovery in the future. The report contained 69 recommendations; however, finding out which ones have been acted upon and what the implementation has been is impossible to determine. HUD’s website for H. Sandy Task Force Report and actions is dated – their last report was in the spring. By way of background, see the article I wrote for Emergency Management Magazine (Nov./Dec. 2013 issue)titled: Hurricane Sandy Task Force Issues Recommendations for Long-Term Recovery. Too see the many other articles on the Sandy recovery process in this blog over the past two years  just use the search function on in the lower right column on the homepage of the blog. Update on Sept. 9: HUD staff told me that a fall report on progress is in the works.Filed under: Hurricane Sandy, implementation

  • Disaster Recovery Is a National Disgrace

    8 Sep 2014 | 11:00 am

    Disaster Recovery Is a National Disgrace This past week the NY Times featured a lengthy, detailed article about the travails of New York residents struggling to recovery from Hurricane Sandy. See: Hurricane Sandy Recovery Program in New York City Was Mired by Its Design; Broken Pledges and Bottlenecks Hurt Mayor Bloomberg’s Build It Back Effort. Shortly after it appeared I got a note from James Fossett making the following points:  “Your readers may be interested in this account of the difficulties New York City’s been having getting its home repair program moving after Hurricane Sandy. All the execution problems that have been noted before in trying to stand up an improvised program from scratch—bad design by expensive consultants, large numbers of untrained temporary hires who don’t quite get how programs are supposed to work, software that doesn’t work, plus too much focus on avoiding fraud. We still don’t know how to do large scale recovery effectively.”  [He is the author of an important piece titled Let's Stop Improvising Recovery, which I posted here some months ago.] I urge you to read the whole NYTimes article, but here are a couple of key points: While hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money sat waiting to be used, devastated homeowners were stuck in a n application process that was overdesigned and undermanaged……” Nearly every federally financed disaster recovery problem has stumbled because of complicated rules and the difficulty of creating a large-scale operation in the aftermath of a crisis. But there is a widespread perception … that[…]

  • Please Help Support this Blog

    5 Sep 2014 | 1:51 am

    Please Help Support this Blog In the past 4 1/2 years, this blog has offered more than 1200 postings. Consider us your research assistant and provide a donation to allow us to continue to gather information for you. It is a lot of work to maintain this site and the Diva needs some help. Continuation of the blog is dependent on donations, most of which are used to support student interns. This is the only blog devoted to disaster recovery, a unique focus that you would miss us if we could not continue. Help us bring you the latest news you can use. You may make a donation via the Donate Now button in the upper right hand corner of the homepage. Or mail a check to address in the About section of the blog. NOTE: donors who sent $25. or more will receive a free copy of the next full index of articles, which should be available in the next few weeks.

  • Resilience Measures — conference with online access

    4 Sep 2014 | 4:00 pm

    Resilience Measures — conference with online access UPDATE: The Diva attended this event. While there she meet a couple of blog followers. I believe any slides or videos from the session will be posted to this website: **************************************************** Workshop: Measures of Community Resilience: From Lessons Learned to Lessons Applied Friday, September 5, 2014 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. National Academy of Sciences Building – Auditorium 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W. – Washington, DC 20418 View the Agenda Access onlineThe Resilient America Roundtable will host a workshop that focuses on the kinds of indicators that exist for measuring resilience, and which indicators communities might use and why. The workshop will use as a foundation for discussion the four broad types of resilience indicators identified in the NRC (2012) report Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative:

  • BP Found Negligent for 2010 Oil Spill

    4 Sep 2014 | 1:48 pm

    BP Found Negligent for 2010 Oil Spill From the NY Times: BP Negligent in 2010 Oil Spill, U.S. Judge Rules From the HuffPost: BP’s Recklessness Caused Gulf Oil Spill, U.S. Judge RulesFiled under: BP Oil Co.

  • 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, and 28%[…]

  • 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 disaster.[…]

  • 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[…]