EOTW #8 Building Resilient Communities

The EOTW for this week is not so much an event, but a tool to get you all thinking beyond your Case Studies for what comes next in the course. Units 7 and 8 will focus on societal implications and issues and preparedness. One of the key parts of being a prepared community is resilience. Resilience is really a mitigation tool. Once a community recognizes which areas it has that are vulnerable to a particular disaster or disasters, it can make the decision to reduce the risk by increasing resilience. The word resilience means to be “able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.” (from the google dictionary). The two parts to this equation are to be able to withstand a disaster, as well as be able to recover quickly. It turns out that the National Institute of Standards and Techonology (NIST) has a program to help communities develop resilience to disasters. To get our brains thinking beyond the disasters we studied for Units 5 and 6, read the article by NIST and answer the questions below:

https://www.nist.gov/topics/disaster-resilience/helping-build-nation-resilient-communities

  1. Describe one new thing you learned from this article that shows that we are working in our country to improve our resilience
  2. Can you take what you learned and think of one way that your own community might be able to increase its resilience to a likely future disaster?

15 thoughts on “EOTW #8 Building Resilient Communities”

  1. Describe one new thing you learned from this article that shows that we are working in our country to improve our resilience.

    Their documentation and procedures change as time and knowledge progresses. They say it is a “living document.” I like this about their documentation. Knowledge changes with new understanding and technology. Because they created this to adapt to the new knowledge, they are able to adapt and overcome. Most bureaucratic documents should not be so fluid. However, this one makes it work.

    Can you take what you learned and think of one way that your own community might be able to increase its resilience to a likely future disaster? I know that currently many of the residence do not have running water. Not only does the frozen ground create problems, but the recent closure of a community source for water has caused them to source their water from a garden hose inside the fire station. What if the power was out and the backup generator failed. If building codes were to be enforced, these homes would have to be built with a functioning well. Then in the event of power loss, they would at least have what is residual in the pressure tank.

  2. Describe one new thing you learned from this article that shows that we are working in our country to improve our resilience.

    I was surprised to learn how important resilience is in a disaster scenario. It encompass both preventative and restorative care of infrastructure and city services. The faster an area can go back to operating like a normal day the better. However, it seems that most people don’t think about how they or their community can be resilient until they are in imminent danger of a disaster. I learned from the article that cities make resilience plans that talk about how to recover from a disaster, with Cedar Rapids, Iowa, shown as an example. In the end, the author of the article, Michael Newman, talked briefly in the Living Document section about NOAA, which I feel is important in resilience because of the potential for climate change to form different weather patterns and stronger storms.

    Can you take what you learned and think of one way that your own community might be able to increase its resilience to a likely future disaster?

    I think that in Fairbanks we need to focus on the preventative aspect of resilience and have our infrastructure and emergency services ready for a disaster because of our unique and remote location. Restorative care would be difficult up here because of the long time frame it would take to bring materials and emergency response personnel to the interior of Alaska, especially during the winter. With proper thought ahead of time, and depending on if the disaster is natural or human caused, I feel like Fairbanks is a good place to be during a disaster, maybe even advantageous, but preventative care of ageing infrastructure is crucial to bringing the community back to normal quickly.

  3. One thing I learned how we are improving our resilience from the article is that 82% of the U.S. population (23,000 communities) have disaster migration plans and we are working to 100%. I think I can take what I learned from this article and apply it to Fairbanks AK. We get lots of earthquakes of varying degrees here. We educated the community greatly about what to do about an earthquake but I feel we need more data collecting equipment (early warning system) here and around Alaska to better prepare for earthquakes. When the earthquake near chili happened a few months back, the college here (aka UAF) had a un-foreseen power outage that caused the equipment to not function. I think we could be more ready if we had more than just UAF and the USGS monitoring for quakes so we had multiple organizations to get data from. Easier said than done though.

  4. In my case studies, the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program has been an important part of the mitigation and reduction of hazards in geological disasters. I didn’t realize that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) played such an important part of that. Preparing for these natural disasters is detrimental to surviving and recovering from them in the quickest way possible. By using the Community Resilience Planning Guide for the Built Environment and Infrastructure Systems that is prepared by experts from across the nation is a great way to be proactive in creating a more resilient and less disaster prone community.
    Our community has numerous possible natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and seiches, floods, avalanches, landslides, fire and severe weather. Snow avalanche is a large concern for the municipal area. The downtown area is in an extreme hazard zone, which endangers 40 homes, a hotel, and a harbor. In the past 100 years, 70 buildings have been struck by avalanches near the downtown area and residents have been advised to consider reinforcing the structure of their homes to withstand the avalanche impact loads. Flooding is also a hazard with the high amounts of rain and the melting of snow. The areas have been mapped that are at risk of the overflowing rivers, creeks, and lakes in the area that could cause flooding in homes, flooding roads and cutting off access to vital areas of the community. The USGS has installed rain gauges to monitor the levels of the water. Coming up with a plan to reduce the amount of water with better drainage that could divert the water into safer areas could help reduce damage to homes. The Emergency Operations Plans for the city were adopted in 2016 which covers how to respond to all of these possible hazards. Implementing the Community Resilience Planning Guide for the Built Environment and Infrastructure Systems instead of just responding to these emergencies could possibly reduce how often the hazards occur, reduce the amount of damage, and reduce the amount of time that it takes the communities to recover.

  5. One thing I learned that stood out to me was the focus on identifying vulnerable dependencies when communities are planning for resilience. Infrastructure systems like the power grid and the roadways are no use in a hazardous situation if they too are impacted beyond repair. By identifying the dependencies communities can plan and make updates to existing infrastructure. Clackamas County, Oregon is doing these steps as they prepare for the next potential large Cascadia earthquake.

    I think that Fairbanks could do an assessment of the vulnerable dependencies that the city has. Could our current roadways and even bridges handle a large earthquake or flood? Both of those hazards are likely to happen in the future and a major flood inundated the town in 1967 causing massive amounts of damage. The big question is, does Fairbanks have the necessary resiliency to swiftly comeback from a disaster?

  6. 1. Describe one new thing you learned from this article that shows that we are working in our country to improve our resilience.
    I had no idea the “Community Resilience Planning Guide for the Built Environment and Infrastructure Systems” existed. and i think its great being an open source document, this conserves funding not readily available to smaller communities, yet offers ideas to seek the larger funding from the government and be proactive.

    2. Can you take what you learned and think of one way that your own community might be able to increase its resilience to a likely future disaster?
    Fund emergency shelters and evacuation planning in at-risk
    communities along the banks of the rivers being eroded by climate change. This is caused by melting permafrost destabilizing and eroding the banks. Last year we lost two homes on the matanuska river, while other whole communities have relocated.
    https://www.commerce.alaska.gov/web/Portals/4/pub/RiskMAP/Climate_Impacts_Infrastructure_SRCox.pdf

  7. Describe one new thing you learned from this article that shows that we are working in our country to improve our resilience
    Throughout my time studying emergency management I have been taught how resilient individuals and communities are but never really how our country has improved a community’s overall resilience. I found the six step process to be very informative and agree that our critical infrastructures need to be just as resilient as the individuals in the community. I had no idea that the community resilience economic decision guide for buildings and infrastructure systems existed. “This document provides a standard methodology for evaluating investment decisions aimed at improving the ability of communities to adapt to, withstand, and quickly recover from disruptive events. It details how communities can have a long-term, robust resilience plan by engaging stakeholders, establishing performance goals for buildings and infrastructure systems, and developing an implementation strategy.”

    Can you take what you learned and think of one way that your own community might be able to increase its resilience to a likely future disaster?
    I think most communities can increase its resilience for future disasters. One problem that will be on the rise in the future will be transportation failures like bridges and roadways. I think communities should work to improve these critical infrastructures to better prepare for the disasters of tomorrow.

  8. 1. Describe one new thing you learned from this article that shows that we are working in our country to improve our resilience.

    As a country we are working to improve resilience by acknowledging that even if disasters may be random, preparedness does not have to be. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stated nearly 23,000 communities now have disaster mitigation plans covering 82% of the nation’s population.

    2. Can you take what you learned and think of one way that your own community might be able to increase its resilience to a likely future disaster?

    My community transforms into a transportation nightmare during tourist season, when school is released every day, morning time when everyone is heading to work, and evening time when people are returning home. There are two causal factors. First, most people commute between cities along a narrow two-lane highway. Second, traffic from three major intersections are funneled onto a single two-lane bridge. Unfortunately DOT did not plan accordingly so expanding the highway is unlikely due to the number of structures adjacent to the highway. Building another bridge is a viable option that I believe is being explored. Gridlock traffic jams present a serious risk for residents and first responders during disasters. Increasing flow would definitely be considered an improvement to resilience.

  9. 1. Describe one new thing you learned from this article that shows that we are working in our country to improve our resilience.
    One thing that I learned is that there is a process to help citizens achieve a more resilient and less disaster prone future. The National Institute of Standards and Technology put together a six-step process that provides a practical and flexible approach to help communities improve their resilience by setting priorities and allocating resources appropriately. This guide was released in 2015. It helps in the evaluation of structures/repairs/improvements, the reduction of physical and economic impacts, the evaluation of potential flood risks, the risk of technological or human caused mishaps, ect. Through planning, follow through efforts, and prioritization the guide helps communities to lessen the impacts of natural disasters and shorten the road to recovery.

    2. Can you take what you learned and think of one way that your own community might be able to increase its resilience to a likely future disaster?
    I think that my community can increase its resilience by being more proactive. I live in an area where we are prone to avalanches and earthquakes. Everyone in my community should have a plan of action if one of these disasters were to occur. I also think that everyone in my community should be educated on these disasters so that they know what to expect and what to do if one or both of these were to occur.
    A lot of houses are located in avalanche prone zones, which is extremely unsafe. I do not think that houses should of been built in these areas and I think that it is something that the community should address together.

  10. 1. Describe one new thing you learned from this article that shows that we are working in our country to improve our resilience
    At Colorado State University, the Center of Excellence for Risk-Based Community Resilience Planning is developing databases, models, and software applications that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of alternative community-resilience measures. These tools can help communities improve their decision making efforts to build a “business case” and prioritize disaster risk management which can help better prepare communities.

    2. Can you take what you learned and think of one way that your own community might be able to increase its resilience to a likely future disaster?
    Since I just relocated to a new area last week, I think my new area needs to be informed of potential risks and hazards. They also need to understand the Yellowstone volcano and emergency preparedness if an emergency should arise. Just in the last few days of working in the weather department, we have had numerous calls from residents regarding this area- primarily due to Bison using sensors as scratching post. Since these sensors are located in extremely remote areas, it is hard to reach them when you have large amounts of snow in an already difficult place to reach. Maybe multiple ways of monitoring the area wold be good for the public in case you have Bison or a bad sensor. Being informed is key, and placing accurate information for the public to see is a top priority. I have already seen a lot of misinformation and facebook rumors, and in a small town, these rumors spread faster than a wildfire.

  11. Describe one new thing you learned from this article that shows that we are working in our country to improve our resilience

    One thing I learned from reading this article was that a good portion of the United States population, more than 82%, live in communities that have established disaster mitigation plans.

    Can you take what you learned and think of one way that your own community might be able to increase its resilience to a likely future disaster?

    Growing up in Alaska I became used to certain hazards like wind, ice, and snowstorms occasionally causing widespread power outages. To improve my families resilience against food shortages, we always kept a week’s worth of non-perishable food stored in the garage for emergencies. This worked on a small scale however at larger scales it becomes more difficult.

    The majority of Alaska’s food supply travels through a single port in Anchorage where it is distributed and transported to various communities. The remoteness of many Alaskan communities combined with the large distances separating them means that food is often trucked or flown to its destination. If something were to happen to the port in Anchorage or to major connecting roads or airports, most of Alaska’s food supply would be disrupted or cut entirely.

    I think that one way to increase my community’s resilience against likely future disasters would be to improve Fairbanks’ emergency food storage. This failing was evident in Fairbanks last winter when shipments of milk and other groceries were delayed due to hazardous conditions and supply disruption.

    http://www.govtech.com/em/disaster/Alaska-Secure-Food-Supply.html

  12. Describe one new thing you learned from this article that shows that we are working in our country to improve our resilience

    One thing I just learned was that they are testing pipeline to help prevent failures to the public water supply in the event of a large earthquake. This will help communities restore a sense of normalcy following a disaster like this. It also is critical for the first responders to have water available in the event of a major earthquake that causes fires.

    Can you take what you learned and think of one way that your own community might be able to increase its resilience to a likely future disaster?

    I can take it to my home. I can store water at my house for when the pipes fail in my neighborhood (they leak al the time anyway). I currently store a small food supply but have done a poor job on an emergency water supply.

  13. A new thing that I learned from this article is that even across international borders, cities and countries are cooperating to mitigate disasters that could affect them both. For example, San Diego and Tijuana have joined efforts to study and prevent the possible effects of earthquakes that could impact the two cities.

    I think that one thing that could help Alaskans in the event of a natural disaster would be to preemptively start a garden and have an emergency first aid kit and food stash. If something happens and Alaska is cut off from shipping or trucking, our food supply is essentially eliminated. I think that having an emergency cache would help save lives if something were to happen here.

  14. 1. One thing I learned is that 23,000 U.S. cities, containing roughly 82% of the population, have disaster mitigation plans.

    2. This makes me think whether or not my hometown, Juneau, has a mitigation plan. I would think it does, considering the gale force winds we experience as well as the neighborhoods located directly on the forefront of a avalanche hazard zone. If it does, I’d like to learn more about it and turn my family and friends’ attention to it if a disaster ever actually ensues. And if it doesn’t, I’d like to know why we don’t have one and exactly what our plans are for one in the near future.

  15. 1) Describe one new thing you learned from this article that shows we are working in our country to improve our resilience.

    I like the fact the brough up resilience plans into building and zoning codes. Seems like they are embracing the “when not if” way of thinking. Also I read something about inner agency cooperation. That seems like a long shot, but at least it was mentioned. The biggest thing I liked what the description of “living documents.” I think that’s the most important thing most people miss. Ya gotta be able to adapt and change.

    2) Can you take what you learned and think of one way that your own community might be able to increase it sresilience to a likely future disaster?

    I think this community (Juneau, and Southeast AK) could benefit from some type of recurring training or discussion on prepardness. For the most part people are fairly self reliant here, but a little talk would go a long way. But it would need to be a constant thing. We’ve got such a huge turnover in the population that we would need some type of training or refresher every 2 or 3 years.

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