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The MPA in Emergency and Disaster Management
Disaster Central
MCNY's Emergency and Disaster Management Blog

The Symposium at Brooklyn Borough Hall

September 23, 2010

Twenty-One MCNY Emergency and Disaster students pose for a photo after moderating a Symposium recently at Brooklyn Borough Hall. The symposiums was sponsored by the New York City Office of Emergency Management.

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Posted by Disaster Central in Emergency Management Planning, Events. Comments Off

Disaster Central is also a resource for information relating to MCNY’s MPA program in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, as well as providing insight and commentary on the topics of Disaster Management, Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

September is National Preparedness Month

September 23, 2009

September is National Preparedness Month – Here’s where you can go to register your organization to Become a Coalition Member  http://ready.adcouncil.org/.

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Posted by Disaster Central in Disaster Preparedness. Comments Off

Disaster Central is also a resource for information relating to MCNY’s MPA program in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, as well as providing insight and commentary on the topics of Disaster Management, Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Financial Incentives – Update

August 12, 2008

On the morning of August 12, 2008, a large section of glass-cladding tumbled 51 stories from the new Bank of America Building near Times Square, sailed across 42nd Street, and shattered on the sidewalk shed in front of the former Verizon building.  Thankfully, only one minor injury was reported.

However, as the situation indicates, it could have been much worse.  Since Emergency Management is often about prevention, the City of New York needs to take more strident steps toward mitigating the many hazards associated with construction sites in the City.  Taking a page from New York City’s War on Big Tobacco, skyhigh fines levied against the property owners, construction companies, and others associated with these projects will go a long way toward reducing the threats to the public and our first responders from shoddy construction and safety practices.  As the financial incentive argument contends, the City must make safety and responsibility a less expensive option than non-compliance.  Therefore, fines on the order of several million dollars per violation are in order.  Smoking is hazardous to your health – so are falling windows and debris, collapsing cranes, and improper construction practices.  Hopefully, just as the City has led the way in stamping out smoking, it will now address another clear and present danger to the health and security of all New Yorkers.

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Posted by Disaster Central in Emergency Management Planning. Comments Off

Disaster Central is also a resource for information relating to MCNY’s MPA program in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, as well as providing insight and commentary on the topics of Disaster Management, Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Politics and Major Disaster Declarations

August 11, 2008

It is not surprising that questions exist concerning the exact relationship between disaster preparedness, response, and recovery funding, and partisan politics.  In its August 9, 2008, edition, The New York Times published an article by Austin Bogues that indicated that during the seven and a half years of his administration, President George W. Bush declared 422 major disasters, the most of any prior administration.  The article further asks if there was (or is) a political connection between this seeming largess on the part of FEMA, and disaster-prone areas where the Bush administration has found its traditional support.

But the mechanics of disaster relief are far more complicated (and far more important) than a simple game of partisan politics.  Emergency Management is a profession, a noble endeavor with ethics and skills and traditions, which defies quantification as mere political pawns.  Some theorists and practitioners define Emergency Management as a purely logistical undertaking, while others consider it a more hybrid creation, one where logistics plays one of many supporting roles aimed at restoring an injured community’s vitality.  Emergency Management is often about saving lives through saving systems, and the rules of mitigation require that the endeavor touch upon preparedness, response, and recovery – the recovery of systems.

The most prevalent of these systems is economic.  President Calvin Coolidge once remarked that, “The business of America is business,” and in this sense all that we do as Emergency Managers is directed toward saving the systems – the commercial, retail, banking, health, education, and others – that sustain each of us; and in doing so, maintain our national standard of living.

When one considers the mechanics of liberal democracy, a jurisdiction’s political affiliation is often less important to Washington decision-makers than the ability of that jurisdiction to provide its citizens, businesses, and neighbors with a stable, prosperous environment.  By virtue of its obligations, the federal government is most concerned with the collection of taxes, as it is from this resource that its many other responsibilities can be fulfilled.  It is therefore not surprising that the federal government would want to use disaster declarations as a means for offsetting the economic losses sustained by communities from hydrological, seismological, and technological disasters.  On September 18, 1994, FEMA provided a disaster declaration – a major declaration – for California’s and Washington State’s salmon industry that had been disrupted by a strong El Nino configuration.  A similar declaration was issued in 1953 and 1954 for Alaska’s salmon producers, indicating the often-economic impetus behind disaster declarations.

In the June 2008 edition of Homeland Security Affairs Journal, Professor Christopher Bellavita provides a survey of disasters as defined by FEMA.  In his article, “Changing Homeland Security: What is Homeland Security?” Bellavita indicates that between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2007, there were some 1,205 disaster conditions in the United States and its overseas territories, including 336 wildfires (first place) and 224 severe storms (second place).  In addition, during the same time, there were hurricanes (105 of them), winter storms (102), tornadoes (78), typhoons (in Guam and other North Pacific U.S. holdings), and coastal storms (3).  A comparison between the number of major disaster declarations and the number of “disasters” indicates that if politics were being played, the field could have been potentially much larger.

FEMA provides an excellent online resource that lists all disaster declarations (major and otherwise) by year, and by state and territory.  The database (which can be accessed at http://www.fema.gov/news/disaster_totals_annual.fema) indicates that Texas has, between 1953 and 2008, had the most major disaster declarations – 82.  The Lone Star State is closely followed by California, Florida, Oklahoma, and New York State.  In addition, there were dozens of disaster declarations that were not considered “major” disasters based on magnitude.  It should be noted that according to the FEMA database, 100% of Texas’ major disaster declarations were due to weather and/or fire-related conditions, while a disaster declaration (but not a major one) was issued for 47 states in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to provide federal assistance to communities impacted by evacuees from the northern Gulf coast.

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Posted by Disaster Central in Natural Disasters. Comments Off

Disaster Central is also a resource for information relating to MCNY’s MPA program in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, as well as providing insight and commentary on the topics of Disaster Management, Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Learning to Be Your Own Best Defense in a Disaster – NYTimes Article

August 5, 2008

In the August 5, 2008, edition of The New York Times, Tara Parker-Pope published an interesting and enlightening article titled, “Learning to Be Your Own Best Defense in a Disaster.”  The article can be accessed at:   http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/05/health/05well.html?em

In the interests of enhanced preparedness for everyone, Disaster Central encourages its reader to take a moment to read it.

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Posted by Disaster Central in Emergency Preparedness. Comments Off

Disaster Central is also a resource for information relating to MCNY’s MPA program in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, as well as providing insight and commentary on the topics of Disaster Management, Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Special Powers Legislation, Terrorism, and Emergency Management

August 4, 2008

Throughout history, governments have during times of crisis devised and/or enacted special powers legislation as part of their efforts to thwart acts of terrorism, the growth of insurgency movements, and to allow for a more effective response to emergency situations.  In some instances, this special powers legislation has taken the form of martial law or curfews in the wake of a hydrological or seismological event, while in others it has resulted in significant changes to national law, protocol, and tradition.  In the United States, many on both sides of the political aisle point to the USA PATRIOT ACT as an example of special powers legislation – there are, however, differing views as to its efficacy and Constitutional legitimacy, and each side has its respective strengths and weaknesses.

There may also prove future instances where special powers legislation might be needed to enable a more robust response to, and recovery from, a catastrophic event.  Emergency managers at all levels of government may want to consider those scenarios under which special powers legislation might be needed, and what form this legislation would take.  In addition to curfews, special powers legislation might extend to containment and quarantine regulations and procedures, or to the handling of hundreds of thousands of decedent remains in an expeditious manner.  As part of their respective preparedness matrices, Emergency Management planners and policymakers may wish to consider the value and appropriateness of special powers legislation in advance of a catastrophic event.

What are your thoughts on the use of special or emergency powers legislation as a strategy and a tactic in the Emergency Management and Homeland Security communities?  Should there be limits to special powers legislation, and should all legislation of this type contain “sunset” or “renewal” clauses?  Is it possible that special powers legislation successfully prevents acts of terrorism?

Disaster Central welcomes your thoughts and insights.

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Posted by Disaster Central in Anti-Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism, Emergency Management Planning, Homeland Security. Comments Off

Disaster Central is also a resource for information relating to MCNY’s MPA program in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, as well as providing insight and commentary on the topics of Disaster Management, Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

McCain or Obama? Obama or McCain?

August 3, 2008

The 2008 US presidential election cycle is well underway.  Not surprisingly, the outcome of this election will have some (possibly major) effect on the Emergency Management and Homeland Security communities in the United States.  Whether you’re a supporter of (in alphabetical order) Senator John McCain or Senator Barack Obama, from an EM/HLS viewpoint, who do you think will prove a more effective leader for the EM and HLS fields?  Before responding, please consider those issues that impact the EM and HLS fields, including vision, funding, legislation, and loyalty.

Please note that Disaster Central’s professional standards prohibit interference in the political process through the providing of direct endorsements.  Disasters are non-partisan, and so is Disaster Central.  That does not, however, preclude Disaster Central’s readers from sharing their respective opinions of EM and HLS, and their relation to the 2008 US presidential election, in this blog.  We welcome your viewpoints.

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Posted by Disaster Central in Emergency Management Planning, Homeland Security. Comments Off

Disaster Central is also a resource for information relating to MCNY’s MPA program in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, as well as providing insight and commentary on the topics of Disaster Management, Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

MPA Emergency Management and Homeland Security Symposium

June 26, 2008

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSg2goHm_j4[/youtube]

The MPA program in Emergency and Disaster Management at Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY) was pleased to welcome Joseph F. Bruno, Commissioner of the New York City Office of Emergency Management (NYC OEM), as the keynote speaker for our first annual Emergency Management and Homeland Security Symposium.

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Posted by Disaster Central in Emergency Management Planning, Homeland Security, MCNY EDM Program, Videos. Comments Off

Disaster Central is also a resource for information relating to MCNY’s MPA program in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, as well as providing insight and commentary on the topics of Disaster Management, Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Why More Men Die in Floods

June 25, 2008

In its June 24, 2008, edition, TIME Magazine published an interesting article by Senior Writer Amanda Ripley titled, “Why More Men Die in Floods.”  Disaster Central encourages its readers to read this article as it contains a number of valuable points concerning the relationship between gender and survivability.  The article can be accessed at:  http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1817603,00.html

For some time, we’ve recognized a connection between social/economic class and survivability - now there appears to be further evidence to support a connection between gender and survivability.  Are men less prepared than women?  Or are these statistics due to the fact that many first responders are male, and therefore more likely to die while carrying out their duties?  It has been suggested that many emergency management preparedness programs be directed at females as they most often play an integral role in protecting children during emergency situations – does this lead to an unintended gender imbalance in the preparedness and response matrices?

Disaster Central invites your comments.

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Posted by Disaster Central in Disaster Preparedness, Evacuation. Comments Off

Disaster Central is also a resource for information relating to MCNY’s MPA program in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, as well as providing insight and commentary on the topics of Disaster Management, Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Financial Incentives

June 2, 2008

With increasing frequency, communities are turning to the tax code to affect changes in (largely undesirable) social behaviors.  Since 2002, for example, New York City has followed a policy of implementing deterrent tax rises in its ongoing efforts to end smoking in the five boroughs.  According to figures released by the New York City Mayor’s office, these deterrent tax increases have reduced smoking by some 30% – although it should be noted that there is some variance in these figures.  At the same time, the deterrent tax increases have added significant funds to the City’s treasury, with a portion of this revenue earmarked for smoking-cessation programs.

Given the success of New York City’s efforts to control social behavior through the selective implementation of the tax code, do you believe a similar model should be applied to enhancing emergency preparedness in New York City?  For businesses and other organizations, failure to implement business continuity, preparedness, response, and recovery protocols would result in the imposition of tax surcharges and increases that could then be applied to improving preparedness, response, and recovery levels in those respective firms.  In another example, those high-rise buildings that have yet to install communications systems and radio-repeaters would be assessed a sky-high (no pun intended) tax surcharge in order to force them to better protect both their tenants and our first responders and public safety personnel during response and recovery periods.  A similar plan could be applied to private homes.  After all, just as smoking represents a public health hazard, so does a lack of emergency preparedness in New York City.

How far are you willing to go to provide yourself, your family, and friends with safe working and living environments?  Do you support this initiative?  Do you believe it would improve safety and preparedness in New York City?  In terms of public health, New York City has indicated that it has no intention of “simply blowing smoke.”  Has the time come to expand this approach to achieving higher levels of emergency preparedness in New York City?  Disaster Central welcomes your thoughts on this.

Professor Longshore

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Posted by Disaster Central in Emergency Preparedness. Comments Off

Disaster Central is also a resource for information relating to MCNY’s MPA program in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, as well as providing insight and commentary on the topics of Disaster Management, Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

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