Typhoon Haiyan

November 14, 2013

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

On Friday November 8th,  super-typhoon Haiyan swept through Tacloban, the provincial capital of the island of Leyte, leaving the city in ruins and its population of more than 200,000 in desperate conditions.  Typhoon Haiyan, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, devastated a massive central portion of the Philippines and continued its destructive and deadly path, also making landfall in Vietnam and inflicting more damage and suffering.

SDMI is monitoring the response and will provide updates on response and recovery efforts, as well as contribution information, on our website. You can visit the page here: http://www.sdmi.lsu.edu/typhoon-haiyan/

To date, over 11.8 million people have been affected by Haiyan, including an estimated 2,344 fatalities. President Benigno Aquini III estimates the number could climb as search and rescue operations continue. Those surviving the super-typhoon are currently in desperate need of food, water, and shelter. Of these 11 million, over 900,000 have been displaced in the storms aftermath, some relying on evacuation centers set up for temporary housing. While massive relief efforts are currently underway, blocked roads and poor conditions at some airports have made delivering aid to those in need an extremely difficult proposition.

One of the world’s most massive relief efforts is currently underway to help this area in desperate need. This effort will require support from across the globe to assist in both immediate and long-term recovery. As experts in Disaster Management, with direct experience in catastrophic events, SDMI recognizes that every effort helps in these times of need. To assist and spread the word in the response and recovery mission, SDMI encourages you to consider making any contribution you can, large or small, to any of the international agencies that are providing support to the recovery process.

We encourage you to continue to check back for the latest information on response and ways you can support the recovery from Haiyan.… Read the rest

NEMA Releases National Report, Produced by SDMI

July 1, 2014

The National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) recently issued a national report on states’ abilities to deploy private sector and volunteer resources through EMAC (Emergency Management Assistance Compact). SDMI was a major component of this project, being tasked by NEMA to conduct the studies and produce the report. Below is NEMA’s press release announcing the report:


“As states consider ways to increase their disaster response/recovery resource inventories, NEMA is releasing a new report on innovations and best practices in deploying private sector and volunteer resources through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). In partnership with the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute (SDMI), NEMA conducted a survey on these issues and received responses from 43 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Detailed follow-up interviews were conducted with 16 states. The report focuses on gaining insight into the experiences of states that have used the EMAC process to deploy private sector and volunteer resources to states with specific needs requested through EMAC. These states provided a wealth of information regarding their experiences, capabilities and concerns in deploying private sector and volunteer resources. This report provides specific examples of solutions that can be replicated in other states interested in building these capabilities.

The following documents are being released as part of the NEMA study:

  • EMAC Private Sector and Volunteer Resources Analysis
  • Sample Intergovernmental Agreement between State and Local, Non-Governmental and Tribal Organizations for mutual aid deployments.  We highly recommend all states take a look at this agreement if you need a model.  It can be modified to accommodate any state’s particular issues.
  • EMAC Best Practices and Lessons Learned on Private Sector and Volunteer Deployments
  • EMAC Case Study on North Carolina deployment of field hospitals with public and private personnel

NEMA would like to thank the states and territories that participated in the survey effort and a special thanks to those that agreed to follow-up interviews. … Read the rest

2014 Louisiana Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday

May 23, 2014

Stephenson Disaster Management Institute at LSU would like to remind everyone that this weekend, Saturday May 24 and Sunday, May 25, is the 2014 Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday. This tax holiday gives Louisiana residents and businesses an opportunity to prepare for the coming hurricane season which begins June 1.

Essential items such as flashlights, batteries, portable generators and other supplies are free from the four percent state sales tax. During the two-day annual holiday, tax-free purchases are authorized on the first $1,500 of the sales price of each of the following items:

  • portable self-powered light source;
  • portable self-powered radio, two-way radio, or weather band radio;
  • tarpaulin or other flexible waterproof sheeting;
  • any ground anchor system or tie-down kit;
  • any gas or diesel fuel tank;
  • any package of AAA-cell, AA-cell, C-cell, D-cell, 6-volt, or 9-volt batteries, excluding automobile and boat batteries;
  • any cellular phone battery and any cellular phone charger;
  • any non-electric food storage cooler;
  • any portable generator used to provide light or communications or preserve food in the event of a power outage;
  • any storm shutter device
  • any carbon monoxide detector; and
  • any blue ice product

For more information and conditions for exemption, visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov/hurricaneprepRead the rest

SDMI Welcomes Bill Read as Senior Fellow

May 21, 2014

SDMI is pleased to announce Bill Read has recently joined SDMI as its newest Senior Fellow.  Read, a KPRC Local 2 Hurricane Expert (Houston), has had a lifetime of following and forecasting tropical storms and hurricanes. He started his career by earning a BS in Meteorology from Texas A&M in 1971, followed by serving in the U.S. Navy where he came face to face with hurricanes by flying into the storms with the Navy Hurricane Hunters out of Jacksonville, Florida. After four years in the Navy, Read attended graduate school earning an MS in Meteorology at Texas A&M in 1976.

Following school, Read  pursued a 35 year career with the National Weather Service, starting out forecasting weather in San Antonio and Fort Worth, before making the leap into management. Read’s longest tenure was in the Houston area, where he was in charge of the National Weather Service Forecast Office for over 15 years. In 2005 his efforts to improve collaboration with emergency management culminated in the colocation of the Houston-Galveston Forecast Office with the Galveston County Emergency Operations Center. In 2007, he was given the opportunity to serve at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, and became Director of the Center in January 2008, retiring there in June 2012.

“During the last several decades I have watched our ability to forecast hazardous weather and communicate the threat to a much wider audience through the internet and social media, yet the economic costs of these events keeps climbing,” said Read. “Katrina showed us that large loss of life is still an unfortunate probability when vulnerable populations are impacted by natural disasters.  I look forward to working alongside the team assembled at SDMI to reduce the loss of life in future disasters.

SDMI Executive Director, Joseph Booth, said of Read joining the SDMI family, “Bill Read is a very widely known and respected expert in hurricane and other severe weather events.… Read the rest

SDMI Senior Fellow, Jeffrey D. Stern, Appointed State Coordinator of Virginia Department of Emergency Management by Governor Terry McAuliffe

May 8, 2014

Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe, recently announced additional appointments to his administration. Among those announcements was the appointment of Jeffrey Stern, an SDMI Senior Fellow, as the State Coordinator of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

Jeffrey Stern has over 25 years of local and federal government experience as an emergency manager and first responder, having been a firefighter, paramedic, and battalion chief, leading hazmat, technical, and swiftwater rescue teams with fire departments in Virginia, Maryland, and Colorado.  He served in leadership roles as Director of the Northern Virginia Emergency Response System and in the Arlington County Office of Emergency Management, and helped lead teams in response to Hurricanes Charley and Katrina and the Haitian earthquake.

“Governor McAuliffe has selected a highly qualified and well-respected person in Jeffrey Stern to lead the Virginia Department of Emergency Management,” says Joseph Booth, Executive Director of SDMI.  “Congratulations to Jeffrey Stern for his selection in this important role for the State of Virginia.  We are proud of our association with Jeffrey; his contributions at SDMI date back to our very beginning.  We are certain of his success in this position.”

Stern was also the Executive Director of the Homeland Security Advisory Council at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and he teaches disaster management at Georgetown University. Mr. Stern earned his B.A. in Government from the College of William & Mary, his MPA from the American University School of Public Affairs, and is a Ph.D. candidate at Virginia Tech’s Center for Public Administration and Policy.  He is a Certified Emergency Manager through the International Association of Emergency Managers, a member of the InterAgency Board, and is a Senior Fellow with the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute.… Read the rest

Cyber Security: A New Bug is Threatening Popular Websites. Are You at Risk?

April 16, 2014

An encryption flaw called the Heartbleed bug is one of of the biggest security threats the Internet has ever seen. This bug has affected many popular websites and services (such as Gmail and Facebook) and could have already compromised and exposed your sensitive account information.

What is Heartbleed?

Heartbleed affects encryption technology designed to protect online accounts for email, websites, instant messaging and e-commerce. Websites running certain versions of the OpenSSL software were affected. The vulnerability in the software could allow someone to see your user name and PIN/Password.

Why is Heartbleed a big concern?

Many companies use this technology to conduct business with you over the Internet.

Since it has not been clear which sites have been affected, Mashable.com reached out to some of the most popular social, email, banking and commerce sites on the web for their answers and published their responses on the Heartbleed bug. Some of the companies that were vulnerable to the bug have already updated their servers with a security patch to fix the issue, but this doesn’t mean users don’t need to take action. Companies are advising customers to change their passwords as a precautionary measure.

To read the complete story and get all the information you need to protect your sensitive online information and data, visit: http://mashable.com/2014/04/09/heartbleed-bug-websites-affected/

 More Resources:

Animals in Disaster Advisory Group (ADAG) Holds Quarterly Meeting

April 4, 2014

ADAG April4

The Animals in Disaster Advisory Group (ADAG) held its quarterly meeting at LSU’s Business Education Complex on Friday, April 4th. Members of ADAG gathered to discuss solutions and form working groups to tackle the various needs of pets and other animals that arise as a result of disasters and other emergencies, including: recovery policies, pet evacuations and sheltering, pet decontamination, pet evacuation mobile shelters and a pet identification plan.

Also included in the meeting was a presentation by Bruce Davis, Ph.D., Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security. Davis introduced a mobile image analysis tool, currently in development, which utilizes the functionality of currently available mobile tablets and smartphones and allows disaster responders to access pre and post disaster images as an intelligent map. The mobile tool permits search and rescue responders to gather photos and information of affected areas and animals and quickly update the system with the most current information in the shared system from their mobile devices.

Members of ADAG will also be participating in the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness’ (GOHSEP) full scale exercise on April 5th to test the disaster response capabilities of local, state and federal agencies. The Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) are active in the drill with a focus on animal rescue during disaster response.

The Animals in Disaster Advisory Group (ADAG) was formed by SDMI and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) to address these issues and lead a coalition of involved and interested organizations to reduce the harm to animals as a result of disasters. ADAG is made up of individuals representing local, state, and the federal government, academia, and private institutions, with expertise in emergency animal preparedness, response, and recovery matters. … Read the rest

SDMI Participates in “A Day Without Business” Symposium

April 3, 2014


The 2014 A Day Without Business Symposium kicked off April 3rd in Tulsa Oklahoma with representatives from SDMI attending the event to participate in a  business continuity and disaster preparedness panel. Attendees of the symposium hear from those who have experienced and survived  disasters first-hand and learn from experts in the fields of continuity planning, information technology, insurance, finance, disaster recovery, and more.

SDMI has participated in A Day Without Business in previous years and was asked to return for the 2014 symposium to share knowledge and resources with participants.  A Day Without Business is presented by Tulsa Parters, Inc., a non-profit organization with a vision to create disaster-resistant and sustainable communities.

To learn more about the symposium and Tulsa Partners, visit: www.tulsapartners.org

 … Read the rest

SDMI announces Industry Emergency Management Orientation

March 24, 2014

The Stephenson Disaster Management Institute (SDMI) is excited to announce a new initiative which involves introducing petro-chemical companies that are new to Louisiana to the local and state level emergency management process and response protocol. The Industry Emergency Management Orientation, created in partnership between SDMI, Louisiana State Police, Parish Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness (OHSEP) Directors, and the Louisiana Department of Environment Quality (LA DEQ), was designed to educate the industrial facility decision makers and help them prepare for, and hopefully prevent or lessen the effects of, any serious hazardous materials event at their facility.

The orientation also creates an opportunity for these decision makers to have an open discussion with emergency management professionals about their specific emergency plans and how a safer environment can be created for their employees and the communities in which they are located.

“The Industry Emergency Management Orientation initiative is based upon a very basic concept; working together to accomplish a common goal,” says Taylor Moss, Command Technician of Louisiana State Police Emergency Services Unit. “Most often it is easier said than done and requires an organization that has the ability to pull together a large number of stakeholders and to focus their energy towards accomplishing a unique task in a condensed timeline; the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute has accomplished this. With the participation of the industry decision makers in this program, we believe they will be better prepared to address serious issues and to take the actions necessary to protect their employees and the citizens in the surrounding communities. I am honored to be a part of such a worthwhile endeavor to have the opportunity to work with an organization consisting of the finest local and state emergency management professionals.”

The Industry Emergency Management Orientation kicked off in March in Ascension Parish with representatives from Methanex.… Read the rest

SDMI & Continuity Insights Host Small-to-Midsized Business Continuity Workshop

March 17, 2014

SDMI and Continuity Insights, in cooperation with multiple regional partners, are pleased to host the SMB Continuity Workshop on April 30, 2014 (to be held concurrent with the Continuity Insights Management Conference). SDMI is proud to continue serving as a partner of Continuity Insights and would like to invite you to attend this event to promote and enhance community resiliency.

Developing a fundamental business continuity and disaster recovery plan has become an SMB imperative. Recent disasters and other events have clearly given a newfound appreciating for planning. But strapped with tight budgets, resources and expertise, where do businesses turn? The Continuity Insights SMB business continuity workshop offers a valuable educational resource.

About the Workshop:

Continuity Insights, a leading business media for safeguarding and protecting businesses, has partnered with a number of regional organizations to host the SMB Business Continuity Workshop, on Wednesday, April 30, 2014, at the Sheraton New Orleans. Drawing upon the expertise of local subject matter professionals, the SMB Business Continuity Workshop will feature a number of introductory sessions to help businesses better protect their business, data, assets, employees, and facilities.These informative 30-minute “how-to” sessions will provide business owners with a solid foundation for developing a workable business continuity plan for their business.

Here are just a few of the topics on the agenda:

-How to Develop an Emergency Response Plan

-Lessons Learned: Small Businesses Share Their Stories

-Cost-Justification for Developing a Business Continuity Plan

-How to Conduct Emergency Drills

-Public Sector Agencies: Where Do You Turn in Time of Need

At the conclusion of the workshop at 11:00 am, the attendees are invited at no charge to tour the exhibit hall and learn about the many products and services currently available to support an effective business continuity and disaster recovery program. There will be a number of experts on hand to answer questions.… Read the rest

SDMI Hosts Visitors from Central American Universities & Georgetown University

December 12, 2013

Recognizing both the importance of the incorporation of disaster management studies in university curricula and the significance of disaster resilient universities in disaster-prone communities, SDMI is currently hosting visitors from the Central American Council of Universities (CSUCA) sponsored by USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and Georgetown University’s Executive Master of Professional Studies in Emergency and Disaster Management program to showcase Louisiana’s disaster and emergency management capabilities.

SDMI will introduce the Central American delegation  of professors and university administrators to federal, state and local, including university-level, programs that are in place in Louisiana to help  better prevent, prepare for, and respond to disasters. The delegation will visit federal, state and local agencies, and non-governmental organizations responsible for disaster planning and response activities, and will discuss with university faculty and staff disaster and epidemic-related academic programs as well as projects which have been incorporated into the university curricula.

“We are honored to welcome our esteemed guests to Louisiana and to LSU,” says Joseph Booth, Executive Director of SDMI. “Large scale disasters have given Louisiana the opportunity to design and deploy cutting edge capability in dealing with disasters.  There is a tremendous university role in disaster management that we continue to develop.  Working with practitioners and universities worldwide allows us to learn from each other and document practices that mitigate disaster hazards.”

The CSUCA delegation will also visit with officials and faculty from New Orleans universities that were impacted by Hurricane Katrina to discuss continuity of operations and emergency management for institutions of higher learning and see the ongoing revitalization of post-Katrina New Orleans.

Sidney Velado, Regional Advisor for the USAID- OFDA Office for Latin America and the Caribbean has great expectations for their visit to SDMI and Louisiana. “For USAID’s OFDA, serving as a bridge to Latin American universities to learn from LSU and Louisiana universities impacted by Hurricane Katrina will go a long way into incorporating disaster management into different diciplines and towards fostering resilient universities,” says Velado.… Read the rest